Those “speakers” are mounted inside the back of the bottom edge of the monitor, and are just about good enough for application noises, but only just. I could go on wondering why they’re even needed, but suffice to say we’re in MP3 players for GPS systems territory here.
Control buttons are located on the underside, just below the Acer logo with symbols on the front. Pleasingly, the buttons are quite well spaced so it’s easy to locate the correct button by touch alone.
OSD options are fairly limited, mainly because beyond size the AL2623W doesn’t boast a great many features. Using the Auto button and arrow keys you can switch between User, Text, Standard, Graphics and Movie display settings. User is self explanatory, so I’ll move straight onto the other modes.
Text mode primarily reduces the Brightness, making prolonged reading more comfortable, but otherwise has no greater effect. Standard is the default mode, and is the one you’ll most likely use in all instances. This is because the Graphics and Movie modes are hopelessly over-saturated, thus washing out colours on the higher end of the spectrum and ruining the black levels.
Black levels are, however, boosted by the DCR mode, which artificially boosts the contrast ratio up from the fairly ordinary 800:1 to a more serviceable 1,600:1. In general the effect is quite good, boosting blacks and whites significantly, which was especially good when watching video.
As a test I loaded up Apocalypse Now to some of the final scenes, which involve Martin Sheen skulking about in muddy water and shadows. The difference was very evident, with DCR really improving the black levels during dark scenes and brightness overall. It should be noted, however, that the effects of so called “dynamic contrast” modes, not just this one, do vary from application so where it can be beneficial in one instance results aren’t by any means consistent. In general I found I avoided using DCR unless I knew it would be beneficial and only then after I’d tried it out before.
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