Acer's AL1951 19-inch LCD monitor has a businesslike design, from the solid base of silver plastic through to the no-design-frills black bezel. It does manage the neat trick of having a thin bezel that leads directly into screen real estate; the practical effect of this design is to make the monitor appear perceptibly larger than it actually is. The screen itself can be tilted forwards or backwards to get a proper ergonomic viewing angle, and the base arm for doing so is suitably stiff, so it should hold its position well over many viewing hours.
All of the monitor's controls are located on the base of the stand, and cover the usual features for defining screen size, refresh rates and focus settings. The menus themselves are somewhat blandly functional, but they're by no means hard to follow, with left/right selection buttons for menu choices, and the Menu/Auto buttons performing selection and going back one menu level respectively. The Auto button will also attempt to autoconfigure the monitor for best performance based on the input signal coming in.
The AL1951 supports both VGA and DVI connections through the rear of the monitor base, along with a single audio socket for powering the monitor's twin speakers. It's also here that the unit's notebook-style power adaptor plugs in. It's naturally less of a hassle to have a large power brick for something that's deskbound, although depending on your desk setup you may find the cable irritating to place easily.
The AL1951's display panel measures 19-inch diagonally, with a display area of 376mm by 301mm. Resolution tops out at 1280x1024, and the monitor itself will attempt to auto-configure itself to scale to the resolution of the signal going into it. Acer rates it with a speedy response time of 2ms, a contrast ratio of 500:1 and brightness of 250cd/m2. It's rated for a typical power consumption of 45w with an estimated viewable life of around 50,000 hours -- so if you switched one on at the time of writing, you could expect it to conk out sometime in 2011.
We tested the AL1951 with both real-world applications and DisplayMate Multimedia Edition. Testing with Displaymate revealed good focus, no stuck pixel problems and decent colour reproduction, although we did note that the screen appeared a touch bright on lighter colours, especially if we let the screen run its auto-adjustment routine prior to testing.
The auto-adjustment feature was something of a bust in our testing, especially if you're planning to hook up an older VGA connection. Testing with a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop with an ATI Radeon X300 graphics processor delivered reasonable images over VGA, until we auto-calibrated -- at which point we experienced a quite strong amount of ghosting on text and window bars. Resetting the image alleviated the problem, however.
Any monitor with a 2ms response time is a natural fit for gamers, and in this respect the AL1951 performed quite adequately in our tests; likewise as a video monitor it worked with no discernible motion blur. The inbuilt speakers won't blow you away, but in our testing they gave a reasonable response that'd certainly suit a lone office inhabitant -- or someone who wanted to annoy people several cubicles away.