Acer AL2671W LCD TV Review

skinny - 2007-02-18 14:59:42 in Monitors
Category: Monitors
Reviewed by: skinny   
Reviewed on: August 23, 2006
Acer
GF City Computers
Price: N/A

Introduction:


“Wow, that’s a big box” was my first thought as this screen arrived at my house. “That’s a REALLY big box” was my second thought. I then convinced myself that it must simply be full of packing materials, to keep it safe during shipping.

Then I opened the box. Yes, there was a decent amount of packing in there, but when I actually saw the size of the screen, I started giggling like a 13-year old school girl after meeting the captain of the school football team. Every single thing in my life was put on hold until I got this thing hooked up. I moved my 19” CRT out of the way (which I previously believed was the biggest computer screen I would ever need). It was placed unceremoniously in a corner of my room, relegated to “has-been” in my computer hardware collection.

After plugging everything in and starting up the computer, my eyes opened wider than they had ever opened before. While giddy before, this was a pure feeling of awe. My eyes opened so fast, I got a headache from my eyelids slamming into my brain. I couldn’t decide what to do first. Play a game? Throw in a DVD? Edit some photos or videos? Or email all of my friends, bragging about this new toy sitting on my desk…

The AL2671W is a 26” widescreen LCD TV. Acer also makes similar models in 27”, 32”, and 36” sizes. While marketed as a television, it works quite well as a computer monitor as well. It also makes monitors (and desktops, laptops, servers, projectors, and other business products), but their monitors, marketed in 6 distinct ranges, are available at a maximum of 24”. Using a TV like this also allows for more versatility, as it has five different types of inputs available.

As stated above, Acer sells a variety of PC products aimed at almost all types of computer users, from business to home users and everything in between. The business was founded in Taiwan in 1976, and employs 5600 people around the world. Their global headquarters remain in Taiwan. In keeping with their Business Model which promotes partnerships, they recently signed an agreement to become a sponsor of the Ferrari Formula 1 race team, and in doing so have released a line of monitors which show off that fact.

Closer Look:


The Acer TV comes in a standard, relatively plain cardboard box. It is wrapped in plastic and tucked into form-fitting Styrofoam spacers for shipping safety. Included with the TV is a remote control, power cord, TV cable, composite cable, component cable, s-video cable, D-Sub cable, and a user guide, quick setup guide, and warranty card. The TV comes attached to a swivel stand that allows for a small degree of sideways angle adjustment, but no adjustment for height or vertical angle. However, the completely clear 170 degree viewing angle ensures you get a clear picture from wherever you are in relation to the screen.

  

Installation:


The stand comes pre-attached, so simply clear a large space on your desk and set the screen down. Let me stress this: clear a LARGE area. While the screen and stand are relatively slim while standing up, you will find it almost impossible to hook up your VGA and DVI cables while the TV is standing upright. I first tried by setting the screen face down with the bottom of the screen at the front edge of my desk, and turning the stand as far as it would go. Unless you have tiny hands and extremely nimble fingers, this will still be difficult. I found it much easier to just remove the stand from the TV first. This is done by setting the TV screen-down and taking out four screws on the back. You then have wide open access to the area where the VGA and DVI cables plug in. If you are hooking up S-Video, Component, or Composite cables, all you have to do is access the back panel. The power cord plugs in on the bottom edge, similar to the VGA/DVI, but as it simply plugs in and doesn’t have to be screwed in securely, it was a little easier to plug in.




As this screen is designed as a TV and not a computer monitor, there are no drivers available for it. This would become an issue later.

Testing:


Things may have worked out a lot better for me if there were drivers available. I tried using three different video cards (x300SE, 6500 Forsa, and 6800 GT), and I had nothing but problems in trying to get the resolution set properly, and I never did succeed in running this screen off of DVI. I could not even estimate how many hours I spent adjusting settings, changing video cards, reinstalling video card drivers, and researching this issue online. Once I gave up and settled for running the screen off of VGA, I found some settings that worked, and began using the monitor for day to day use.

This use included everything from my everyday computing, to game play, and to watching movies. I found that the picture quality and possible screen settings varied greatly depending on which video card I used. With the 6800 GT, it did not matter which setting I tried, there was a very noticeable flicker on any dark screens which gave me quite a headache. With the X300 SE set at 60 Hz, and the resolution set at 1024 x 768 and the TV set to 4:3 instead of 16:9 (widescreen), I could get an almost flicker-free picture.

Game tests

I tested this screen with three games: Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Battlefield Vietnam, and Far Cry. My video settings were limited by the video card that I was using (the Gigabyte x300SE). However, to test, I set the video settings to their highest level and played the games until the system crashed.

Need for Speed provides for a fast-paced scenery change. There were no issues whatsoever, as the graphics refreshed cleanly with no lag or ghosting.

Far Cry also provided a variety of scenery and brightness levels. Again, with the video settings set to the max, the video was crisp and easily viewable, no matter how bright the scenery was. I especially noticed in Far Cry how the colors appeared to pop out of the screen. I was very impressed.

Other Tests

As this screen was used for my daily computing, I had the chance to check it out with a large number of programs. With such a large viewing area, I found it great for working in Photoshop, as I didn’t need to zoom as often to get part of the picture to an easily viewed size. As stated above, with certain video cards and viewing web pages with dark backgrounds, I experienced a very noticeable flicker. However, this changed when I swapped video cards, so I cannot place the blame on the screen.

Since this is a TV as well as a monitor, I tested it as such. I watched movies on it, both DVD and VHS, and hooked my dish up to it as well. As a high-definition TV, this is where this screen really made me go “Wow!” While it is not especially large in the TV world these days, in a smaller room, it was excellent. Whether hooking your equipment up through DVI, Component, Composite, or S-Video, the picture quality was perfect. I watched movies ranging from action (Batman Begins) to animated (Family Guy: Stewie Griffin, The Untold Story), and was extremely impressed with everything.

I did find, however, that the picture-in-picture feature does not work with every viewing option. For example, you cannot split the screen between a DVD on Component inputs (red/green/blue wires) and your PC (VGA or DVI). With PC, your only other options for PIP are S-Video, Composite, and Cable. There is a nice assortment of choices for how you split your screen, though losing size, picture clarity remained high.

The sound through the on-board speakers was adequate, but nothing spectacular. The remote was comfortable, with easy button presses, and well laid out.

Conclusion:


Writing this review has me torn. Do I write a sparkling review of this TV that happens to work quite well as a monitor? Or do I write this review on how disappointed I was that this monitor, which happened to work quite well as a TV, was so difficult to get working properly?

As stated, this monitor caused nothing but headaches for me when trying to set it up with my PC. Now, a lot of that can be blamed on video card issues, but I can’t help but think how much easier this would have been if there was some sort of driver available to assist in setting it up.

Plugging the DVI and VGA cables in was also a hassle I was not expecting. I appreciate that they are trying to tuck them out of the way, combined with being limited on space with a flat screen, but this was just downright silly. I also understand that most people only need to hook wires up to their TV once and then just leave it where it is. However, with the amount of changing that I do at my desk, as well as trying to test different types of cables for performance, I found this to be an extreme hassle. The rest of the cables were easy to install though, and tuck nicely out of the way.

The included base, while stable, offers no adjustability for height and viewing angle. It was a very small amount of swivel with the base, but I found it easier to just move the entire base. I understand that there is a wall mount available for this TV, but was not told the price.

Even with all that negative stuff, I really don’t want to get rid of this screen when my review is done. The viewing size is awesome. I think the word “awesome” is overused a lot in society these days, but that is the only word I can think of that fits it. I honestly never thought that my 19” CRT would feel small to me, yet I find myself squinting when I am using it on another system. Switching to the 15” LCDs at my workplace is downright painful.

So, through all that, here is what I decided. If you are looking for simply the best performance in a large monitor, look elsewhere. There are companies that make LCDs this size purpose-built for computing. However, if you are in the market for both an excellent TV and a pretty-darn-good monitor, and don’t mind using them for both, then this is the item for you. This would be the perfect setup in a small dorm room or bedroom where space is at a premium, yet video quality and picture size is still important. Even as I write this though, I keep thinking to myself that I would like to keep this as a TV and get a purpose-built monitor around this same size.

Pros

Cons