If you're at all familiar with Acer's lineup of LCD PC monitors, you may feel somewhat at home with the company's new range of LCD TVs. Available in 42-, 37-, 32- and 27-inch sizes, they're of a very similar design to many of Acer's LCD monitors, although naturally enough in a rather larger form factor. We tested the largest of the range, the 42 inch AT4220B LCD TV, which will set you back an impressively inexpensive AU$2,799. Plasma TV makers have long decried the larger sized LCD TV market as being too expensive, but that kind of pricing puts LCD into a very attractive position, especially when you consider that most homes simply aren't suited for TVs larger than 42" to begin with. If you're unsure about the ideal size for your living room, why not consult our DIY TV Buying Guide.
The review unit we tested came with an integrated stand, although it's also capable of wall mounting, with dimensions of 1066 x 794 x 303 mm and a gross weight of 38.6kg. The main thing you'll notice about the AT4220B is the speaker grille, which sits at the bottom of the screen in a horizontal line. This isn't unique, but it is in contrast to a lot of flat panels that mount stereo speakers on either side of the display. Aside from the mandatory Acer logo, the AT4220B's front is otherwise stark and unremarkable, with none of the glossy piano black that seems de rigeur with so many TV makers these days. If you're after a very flashy looking TV before it's switched on, the AT4220B's matte finish may not excite you.
Just like the panel, the AT4220B's remote is on the plain side, although this has the benefit of making it an uncomplicated remote that's very easy for anyone to pick up and use. The one standout feature here is what Acer calls its "Empowering" button; this is a big friendly green button on the remote that by default changes to one of six different viewing modes -- standard, movie, game, sports, concert and user defined -- but can be toggled to switch between five favourite tuned TV channels.
The AT4220B features a 42" (106cm) LCD panel with a top resolution of 1366 x 768. Acer claims a brightness rating of 500 nits, a contrast ratio of 1200:1 and viewable angles of 178 degrees to either side. It's capable of Picture-In-Picture, Picture-By-Picture and Picture-On-Picture if you're a big fan of visual overload. The vast majority of the AT4220B's inputs come in dual flavours, with two component, two S-video and two composite inputs running along the back of the panel, along with a single HDMI and VGA inputs, although there's no pure DVI input. The dual inputs are shared in terms of the actual AV channels offered -- and the composite and S-Video inputs share single L/R audio in sockets -- but there's still plenty of connectivity for multiple input purposes. The inbuilt tuner is only an analogue one, so you'll still have to plump for a digital STB to get the best possible TV picture.
The AT4220B's inputs offer a lot of variety, but the one thing that's missing are side-mounted AV inputs -- typically used for connecting up short term AV connections such as digital video cameras or game consoles. The only thing you'll find on the side of the AT4220B are the volume and channel controls, which are rather bizarrely located on the lower right hand side of the display.
The AT4220B's menu setup, rather like its remote, is very simple to operate, although we were left initially stymied by the layout for altering certain calibration options. The inbuilt viewing modes worked well in our testing, although we found that the game setting tended to overemphasise the bright colours in some games, further accentuating their artificiality.
Picture quality on the AT4220B was decent through most of its input sources, especially (and not surprisingly) HDMI and component sources. Calibrating with a Monster ISF calibration disk and DisplayMate revealed some weaknesses in the overall level of blacks, which isn't terribly uncommon in lower-cost LCD panels. For most circumstances and tastes this wouldn't be a deal-breaker, but if you're a big fan of movies with very dimly lit scenes it's worth keeping in mind.
We're yet to see a flat panel TV with a really impressive inbuilt audio solution, and the AT4220B certainly didn't disabuse us of this notion; it's 10W speakers were acceptable for, say, low-level video gaming, but in almost every other entertainment endeavour we'd connect up a home theatre solution rather than just make do.