Accordingly, I ran though DisplayMate’s set of test screens and overall colour balance when using either an analogue signal or a digital one was commendable. A great test to back this up is to assess a series of images that you’re very familiar with. I use several high-resolution images of friends and familiar locations and I have to say the AL1921ms got the balance right. However, you’ll notice that I am careful to say balance, and not richness, saturation or contrast for that matter, and there’s a reason for this. The AL1921ms seems to suffer from an overall pasty look, and that’s with the contrast set to a high level. Colours are more pastel than vibrant, and contrast does not seem to be as high as the 600:1 contrast ratio would suggest.
Now I could be wrong here, but I’ve seen this before in other monitors that also use a 19in MVA (Multi-domain Vertical Alignment) panel, and so I’m going to propose that this pastel (and slightly mottled) look to the overall picture is a result of the way the liquid crystals are arranged in more than one angle in this type of display. That of course is not an opinion to slam this technology, and to be honest MVA panels are renowned for their wide viewing angles and in terms of illumination, this is certainly true of the AL1921ms. Indeed, the illumination was maintained through a viewing arc of about 85 degrees from centre, although I should add that a colour shift was also noticeable when viewing the screen from the sides.
Moving on to greyscales these were smoothly stepped and showed no signs of any changes in hue. Greys were grey and whites were white, and the 256 greyscale was very smooth with no signs of compression at high and low intensities. Some banding however was slightly visible but I’ve seen far worse in more expensive units.
As for the colour scales, again this 8-bit panel coped well with portraying clean and constant colours right through the ramps although as I’ve said earlier, they’re not as vibrant or as well saturated as I had hoped. This was further reinforced in my images and our test DVD movie where the overall look was one that lacked real punch. That’s not to say the AL1921ms could not handle movies. In actual fact, movie playback was silky and suffered from much less noise than the 17in LG Flatron L1730P I reviewed before – and that’s comparing a TFT monitor with a 25ms response time with one that has a 12ms one.
All in all, I would say that the AL1921ms is a well-priced 19in monitor that is fine for working with text documents in say a business environment. But if you spend much of your day editing images like I do, you’ll find that the AL1921ms will always leave you wondering if you’ve set the contrast and colour saturation levels correctly.
The Acer AL1921ms LCD won’t break the bank if you’re specifically after a DVI-D and D-SUB enabled 19in monitor that makes standard sized Windows fonts that bit easier to read than 17in LCD, but if image manipulation and a high degree of panel adjustability are the things you desire, then the AL1921ms is difficult to recommend.