LCD monitors aren't just displays anymore--they often come with a full suite of extras such as speakers, USB ports, and yes, even an iPod dock. While the extras are nice, they have a habit of driving the price of the display up and if you already have PC speakers and plenty of USB ports, just a plain monitor may be all you need. That's where the Acer AL2216W (also sometimes called the AL221Wbd) fits in, offering 22 inches of screen real estate with a list price of $330--although we've seen it going for as low as $280 online. That's a heck of a deal, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the AL2216W did pretty well in our testing as well. Sure, the lightweight styling might strike some as cheap, but we actually liked it. In all, the price is right on the AL2216W, and its basic feature set will suit many people who just need a monitor.
Anytime you see a 22-inch display at this price, you begin to become a bit suspect of how it will perform. Well, for the most part, you can lose those suspicions as we found the AL2216W to perform fairly well--especially for the price. Overall, it scored a 72 on the CNET Labs' benchmark test, which puts it in good standing versus similar displays. We didn't see any evidence of ghosting or streaking in our gaming tests, and DVDs looked pretty good. Sure, we've seen stronger performance on games and DVDs from more expensive displays, but it's perfectly fine for the vast majority of people who will just do everyday computing. Text was readable at 7.5 font size, although stepping down 6.8 made it very hard to read.
At the end of the day, the Acer AL2216W is a fairly good value stacked up against the competition. Overall, the AL2216W wound up getting a higher score than the Viewsonic VX2235wm, which is a very similar monitor but costs more. Sure, there are no built-in speakers, but savvy consumers might not want to spend the extra money for built-in speakers that almost always sound pretty weak. It would have been nice to have some handy USB ports on the stand, but we're betting the low price and relatively good performance will more than make up for that for many consumers.
The Acer AL2216W comes with an industry standard, three-year parts and labor limited warranty, which includes the backlight. Additionally, similar to all Acer displays, the AL2216W is backed by toll-free service and support, and there also is online support with a knowledge base, downloadable manuals, and drivers.