After arriving back in our test labs in June of this year with its first TV since 2007, Acer is today underlining its new commitment to the TV (as opposed to PC monitor) world with not only a new TV model, but a new, self-consciously designer TV model.
Of course, it’s very easy for anyone to just declare that their new TV is ‘designer’ without having anything particularly impressive design-wise to back the statement up. But Acer can back its ‘designer’ claims up in pretty emphatic fashion, since the look of the 23in Acer AT2358ML is the brainchild of no less a style icon than Pininfarina.
For those of you who don’t know your Armani from your Primark, Pininfarina is best known for its work in the car world, having designed such classics as the Ferrari 458 Italia and Maserati GranCabrio. But it does turn its stylish attentions to other things on occasion, such as Guerlain’s Homme aftershave bottle, Primatist speed boats, and now Acer’s AT58 TVs.
According to Acer’s press blurb on the AT2358ML, Pininfarina’s work on its TVs has resulted in ‘devices... engineered to impress, fascinate, and enchant even the most discriminating consumer’. Ooh.
In fact, now the press release is on a roll, we might as well let it carry on for a bit:
'Right angles and straight lines are softened to harmonise with their surroundings: the design of Acer AT58 TVs was especially designed by Pininfarina to attract and relax the user. The slightly curved edges recall those of the first televisions that we would switch on furtively when we should have been doing our homework. But the ultra-thin silhouette, the transparent frame, and the glossy pedestal seduce and allude to the technological perfection that this TV has to offer. Moreover, the logo designed by Pininfarina on the frame of the TV is immediately transformed into the prestigious signature of the artist on his painting, granting added value to the work itself.'
The only problem with all this fine, high-fashion talk is that it raises expectations of the AT2358ML being the prettiest TV this side of Bang & Olufsen, or Samsung’s C9000 series. But in reality, to our presumably heathen eyes, it only looks a bit better than all those other affordable small TVs we mentioned earlier!
Yes, its finish is glossy. Yes, it has a few subtle curves here and there. Yes, there’s a narrow smokey see-through trim along the TV’s extremities that reminds us of current credible designs from Samsung, LG and Philips. And yes - most significantly - its use of edge LED lighting means that it’s unusually slender round the back for a 23in LCD TV.
But weirdly all these potentially good parts don’t add up to a whole that pushes boundaries or even looks particularly original - except, perhaps, for its slenderness.
Oddly our review sample didn’t carry the Pininfarina logo either, contrary to the press release text and press photographs.
Trying to think more positively about the design, we could imagine it working more effectively on a larger screen - Acer is intending to release a 42in version before Christmas. And it’s also definitely the case that the design approach is better on the white version of the AT2358ML Acer is also selling for a tenner more than the black version we’re testing here.
The bottom line, though, is that if you were hoping for the TV design equivalent of a Ferrari, the AT2358ML isn’t it. Pininfarina logo or no Pininfarina logo.