Back in February, Acer’s AL2671W blew me away by offering a 26 inch LCD TV for only just over £600 – cheaper than anyone else on the market. While cheap doesn’t always mean cheerful, pleasingly enough the quality was there to make it a recommended purchase. And last week, out of the blue, its new 32in display arrived in the office for our perusal.
Featuring a 16:9 aspect ratio and a High Definition TV (HDTV) ready native resolution of 1,366 x 768, as well as a wealth of connectivity options, the specs on the AT3201W seemed impressive, especially considering the £999 including VAT asking price. Has Acer managed to pull off the same trick it did with the 26in AL2671W?
The difficulty for Acer is that at 32 inches, (or in fact 31.5 viewable diagonal), the panel is in proper TV territory, as it's large enough to be the main display for most houses (at least in the UK). When you walk into a room and see an LCD TV you’ll normally expect to see a Sony or Samsung badge rather than that of Acer displayed on the front. But while you might not be impressed by the logo, the Acer AT3201W at least does itself a favour by looking the part. Its large screen is set in a shiny black bezel surrounded by silver grille speakers at the side. The grille continues underneath, which at first gave me the impression that it was a built-in centre speaker. This actually isn’t the case, though the two side speakers do feature SRS Wow processing. The speakers can even be unscrewed and disconnected it you wish, which might make sense if you are using a surround sound system and wanted to mount the unit on the wall.
Below the logo are seven neat silver buttons for the menu but you can also use the remote control, which is not surprisingly identical to the one supplied with the 26in screen. It’s a fairly hefty affair, with large buttons and I do like it’s look and feel in the hand, though on reflection the four thin buttons around the central button selection could be easier to use. A backlit display for use in a darkened room wouldn't go amiss either. The display is placed on a basic but smart looking silver stand and rotates easily from side to side, which is useful as many TV don’t.
As a 32in screen, it’s little surprise that the box is large, and you’ll need two people to manoeuvre it. Once it’s out of the box though it’s not too heavy at 20.7Kg - a damn site lighter than the hernia inducing 90Kg than my 36in Sony CRT. Solid proof indeed that things have moved on in the world of displays. Also in the box, there are composite, S-Video, SCART and component cables, as well a D-Sub connector for connection to a PC. As usual there’s no DVI cable which as ever, seems a bit mean.
These obviously correspond to the connectivity to be found on the rear of the unit. Two panels cover the ports, which face out to the sides. The one on the right covers the two SCARTS, one of which supports RGB, S-Video and Composite, which the other support Component as well. Above this is the connector for the built-in analogue tuner. On the other side there are also RCA Component connections supporting Progressive Scan, along with a Composite and S-Video ins and a mini-jack headphone socket, though this would have been better placed on the front. The display can hook up via DVI to a PC, laptop or suitably equipped DVD player, and there's an analogue PC D-Sub socket too. The manual also states that the DVI socket is HDCP compliant, so you can use this display with Sky’s upcoming HD broadcasts. The manual for the AL2671W made no mention of this, and it took some digging to find out that it did support it, so stating this from the outset makes things easier for everybody.