Of course, itâ€™s not all about buttons, lights and curvy lines, and the key to a great TFT monitor is picture performance. As with all the monitors on test in this roundup, the AL2021ms was tested at its native resolution of 1,600 x 1,200. First of all, we were happy to see that the AL2021ms had no problems locking onto an analogue signal and passed DisplayMateâ€™s pixel tracking and phase lock test with relative ease. No jittery pixels were observed after several hours too, which is always a good sign.
After switching over to a crisp and clear digital signal, we then ran the colour and greyscale tests. Disappointingly, this is where the AL2021ms started to fall behind the rivals. When assessing the various shades of grey, banding was minimal, but a purple/blue tinge was clearly evident possibly indicating a colour tracking issue. This was further echoed in our test images and DVD movies where skin tones appeared harsh and unrealistic. What was also a little worrying was the compression along the highlight ends of the colour ramps, especially in the blue scale, which explains the rather stepped look to the blue skies in some of our pictures. In terms of viewing angles there werenâ€™t too many problems in the horizontal plane but vertically, a strong colour shift after about 30 degrees from centre both up and down was clearly seen.
On the plus side, the screen is certainly a bright and vibrant one thanks to its impressive contrast ratio of 600:1 and there appeared to be no obvious motion smearing during gaming or video playback. We should also comment on the sub Â£680 price tag which to be honest is impressive when you consider the price of a 1,600 x 1,200 display only a few months back. On the other hand, the next monitor in our line-up, is cheaper still.
The AL2021msâ€™ low price and alternative design is not quite enough to see it rise above average in terms of image quality and usability. The carry-in warranty also falls short of the competition.