So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- LED backlight, exceptional colour
- Over sharpening on text, poor viewing angle
While the technology behind the Acer AL1917L is quite impressive, the application still needs a little work. Colours are exceptional but the viewing angle and over sharpening don't do it any favours. There are better monitors on the market, but if you want to be more environmentally conscious, this monitor will do the job.
The Acer AL1917L is a 19in LCD monitor with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Upon first glance, it looks like any other monitor, but this unit uses LED backlighting to achieve more colours in a more environmentally friendly manner. While this technology is exciting and new, the image quality is a little disappointing. Colours are exceptional, but the AL1917L has problems rendering text and is hampered by poor viewing angles.
Conventional LCD monitors use cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) to produce light behind the LCD panel which is filtered, pixel by pixel, to create colour. Unfortunately, CCFL tubes are not the particularly environmentally friendly. To create light, a tube ionizes a mixture of neon and argon gasses with between 2 and 10 milligrams of mercury. While the mercury is safely contained in the tube, it's the disposal of the monitor in the long term that poses a problem. Mercury is a harmful substance that can easily be absorbed by wildlife. In the event that this wildlife is eaten by humans, as in the case of marine animals, the effects can be dangerous, particularly for pregnant women and children.
Until recently, LED arrays have been used in display devices on a small scale but the technology is progressing at a rapid rate; to the point where computer monitors and even LCD televisions are being developed and released into the consumer space. LEDs are a completely environmentally friendly alternative to CCFL as they don't use mercury and have less power consumption.
An array of red, green and blue LEDs emit bright coloured light which, when combined, back light the LCD panel with a broad spectrum of white light. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, the light produced by LEDs allow a wider colour gamut meaning they can produce up to 30% more colours than NTSC (the American colour standard). With the environmental and colour space benefits, LED lit LCD panels have a lot of potential for the future.
The first issue we encountered was moderate over sharpening on all text and edges. All text has a "halo" around it. Despite adjusting the sharpness via the "Focus" control we were unable to find a happy medium for the text reproduction. When the setting is too low, the text blurs or looks too thick, while the higher it is set, the thinner the text becomes and the more prominent the halo effect. A measured amount of this problem will need to be tolerated if you purchase this unit.
Using DisplayMate Video Edition software, we found very few problems. Colour is exceptional and the grey scale patterns are all delivered well with no discolouration, streaking, noise or stepping. The over-sharpness problem is apparent in the text tests, though. All the resolution tests were passed without issue, while the uniformity tests showed excellent light dispersion, with no dark spots or backlight bleeding.
Unfortunately, the AL1917L has an appalling viewing angle. From only a few degrees off-centre, a large amount of magenta colour shift washes over the screen, rendering it useless. If you only use your monitor head-on this won't be a problem, but viewing from any sort of angle is largely useless.
To test the speed and colour capabilities of the monitor we ran gaming tests using World of Warcraft (for colour) and Unreal Tournament 2003(for speed). The colours in the various environments in WoW are exceptionally rich and bright with no contrast or brightness issues, while the UT 2003 tests showed no ghosting or streaking. Overall, the AL1917L worked quite well with gaming, although the 4:3 aspect ratio won't appeal to many hardcore gamers.
The AL1917L's design isn't inspiring, and its silver bezel and black stand aren't particularly ground breaking or outstandingly attractive. It has a DVI and VGA D-Sub port for connectivity and basic front mounted controls.
While the technology behind the Acer AL1917L is quite impressive, the application still needs a little work. The colours are exceptional but the viewing angle and over sharpening don't do it any favours. There are better monitors on the market, but if you want to be more environmentally conscious, this monitor will do the job.
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