Acer AL1715ms review

Price when reviewed
If you don’t have much money to spend on a monitor, but you still want a 17in TFT, Acer’s AL1715ms may be the answer. The specification list misses nothing out: 1,280 x 1,024 pixels, a 450:1 contrast ratio and, most impressively, it comes with a quoted 12ms response time.

If the features don’t reflect the price, though, the styling certainly does. The OSD buttons are prominent, arranged along the bottom of the bezel, and there’s a budget finish on the plastics. However, the assembly is solid and there’s a three-year warranty to back it up. Stand adjustment is the barest minimum, tilting the screen back by around 20 degrees.

Behind the display there’s a captive D-SUB cable for analog video input and a 3.5mm jack for audio. Sound is handled by two 1W speakers at the front, with laptop-like audio quality and volume. It’s nice to see that the power supply is internal, too.

Auto-tuning does a good job of stabilising the image, although text doesn’t match the crispness of more expensive DVI panels. The OSD menu is easy to follow and has the necessary basic settings. There are also Warm and Cool colour-temperature options and a User setting that lets you adjust the RGB components individually.

Backlighting appears a little uneven, but much of this is due to modest viewing angles: you can read text from a wide angle, but there’s a drop-off in contrast not far off centre. For personal use, it’s fine; it’s just not ideal for sharing. Running through our DisplayMate tests showed limitations in certain areas, but nothing fatal for everyday use. The image washed out near maximum brightness, making the 256-level greyscale ramp appear white at the top end, so it isn’t easy to distinguish detail in areas of similar high saturation. Distinctions at the dark end were clear though, and black was pure over most of the screen, save for a faint purplish glow along the bottom edge. Complex patterns were noise-free, showing steady timing, and we found no dead pixels on our sample.

There are always compromises at this price but they’re primarily in forgivable areas, such as the finish and the stand’s limited adjustment. With satisfactory image performance and the convenience of an internal power supply, this is an amazing bargain for anyone on a tight budget.

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