Apple, IBM, and sometimes aside, display manufacturers seem to put little effort into making the most of an LCD's style potential. We think design is important, especially in an LCD that does double duty as a computer and a home-entertainment display. Acer's AL1931 is no Cinema Display, but it has decent design and image quality and multimedia capability, and it's not terribly expensive. If silver plastic matches your office or home-theater setup and you don't need adjustability, picture-in-picture function, or an HDTV-compatible display, the AL1931 is a good choice.
The AL1931 has a few distinguishing physical characteristics. Its slim, 1-inch bezel is made of pale silver plastic, a discreet cluster of round chrome-colored buttons sits on the bottom bezel, and the power button glows a cool, soothing blue. Unlike most LCDs, its base and neck are made of metal, which adds about a pound to its weight, and its cables are made of braided silver rope encased in clear PVC. It's not austere Apple white, but at least Acer's trying.
The display has both digital and analog signal ports, conveniently arranged one on top of the other on the back panel and situated well clear of the neck, making them very easy to get to. Between the neck and the back panel are S-Video and composite-video inputs, left and right audio-in jacks, and a jack for connecting the built-in speakers to your computer. Unlike many larger multimedia LCDs, the AL1931 is not HDTV ready and has no picture-in-picture function. If you want the full range of video options plus more adjustability, check out the HP L2035.
The AL1931 has a solid neck with no cable feed system, but the panel sits a mere 2 inches from the base and has no telescope function, so cable dangle isn't an issue. However, most people will need to put it on a riser. You can neither swivel the display from left to right nor pivot it between Portrait and Landscape modes. The only adjustment you can make is to tilt the panel forward and back through a 25-degree range, but the hinge between the neck and the panel is so stiff that you have to grab it with both hands and use a good amount of force to tilt the display. The AL1931 is compatible with VESA mounts.
Acer's onscreen menu handles all the usual adjustment options, such as brightness, contrast, and color temperature. What we love most about the onscreen menu are its unusual yet easy to navigate layout and its cheerful color scheme.