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Acer AT3705-MGW review: Acer LCD TV AT3705-MGW

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The Good Multiple connection options including SCART, HDMI, etc.. Integrated media gateway with wired and wireless access. Media card reader for viewing photos, videos and listening to music. Pre-defined settings optimised for viewing different programs/content.

The Bad Connection ports may be difficult to reach if wall-mounted. Some ghosting effects on action-intensive analogue TV.

The Bottom Line If you are thinking about integrating a media server into your home theatre, this is the LCD for you. With a host of top-end features, multiple inputs and stand-out performance, the AT3705-MGW is the perfect compliment to your home media network.

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Review Sections

Design
When you first pull the box off of the AT3705, the first thing you notice is the size-this is a really, really big TV. The 37-inch screen is framed in a case that is 1185mm by 724mm and will definitely be a focal point of your living room or home theatre. The unit features clean lines, tasteful graphics and controls and sits comfortable on a stylish curved stand and wouldn't look out of place in a board room or in your living room. The speakers on either side of the unit don't detract from the clean lines and generally, the design falls into the high-end of LCD TV designs we have seen.

The front panel on the unit includes volume, channel, menu and input controls, just in case you can't find the remote control. There is also as a media card reader (which we will get to in a moment) , as well as a headphone jack and video and audio inputs.

On the rear panel of the unit, there are four (yes, four) SCART hacks, as well as two component inputs, an S-Video input and CVBS-Outputs. At the bottom rear of the panel, there are also HDMI, DVI, VGA and Audio In ports, as well as an input for the analogue tuner, the DVB-T tuner and an RJ-45 port for Ethernet.

Given the amount of hardware on the back, I wouldn't recommend actually wall-mounting the unit unless you have sorted out all of your input and output collections first. There is some clearance if you wall-mount the unit, but as always, it is easer to plug and unplug cables when you can actually see what you are doing.

The remote for the unit is equally as stylish, with clearly labelled buttons and controls, as well as easy-to-understand icons, making it intuitive to use. You won't need to be diving into the user manual to find everything you need -- it's all laid out for you.

Features
To start, when you plug the unit in for the first time, there is a setup wizard to help you get started. It will guide you through setting up the language, local time zones, etc. as well as scan for digital and analogue channels to automatically tune your TV for you, which is quite nice.

Once you have got the initial tuning complete, you can then turn your attention to connecting up your peripheral equipment. And with the AT3705, you have a number of options as to how you connect up your DVD, VCR, PC, Laptop, gaming console, etc. The manual provides clear diagrams and instructions, as it can get a bit confusing with so many ports to choose from.

With everything connected, you can use the remote to access the on-screen display and there is a well-organised menu system that categorises all of the features and functionality that the unit provides.

There is also a large "E" button on the remote that toggles the "empowering mode" where you can choose from a range of pre-set modes and settings like "Movie", "Game", "Sports", etc. where all of the audio and video settings are optimized for what you are viewing. You can also setup your favourite channels, with up to five channels available. This makes it easy to press the "E" button then select your favourite channel and is definitely a time-saver.

On the features side, you can view movies, TV, etc. using picture-in-picture, picture-by-picture or picture-on-picture with up to 13 screens at one time. This sounds like a lot, but you have a lot of real-estate on screen to use. The widescreen modes available on the unit are 4:3, 16:9, Panorama and Letterbox 1-3, ensuring that no matter what input (DVD, TV, Computer, etc.) you get the most out of the available viewing area.

You can also lock the unit with a password and block a single channel, multiple channels or all TV sources and the unit is equipped to handle TV ratings when viewing digital TV and you can block unwanted content with a PIN code. (Don't forget to hide the manual from your kids, as the reset code is in there as well.)

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