The Acer P241w can be found for as cheap as $380--a very fair price for a 24-inch LCD--and boasts a unique look and very bright image. Of the five 24-inch displays we've reviewed this year, we'd rank it fourth, but it still does some things better than its higher-ranked competitors. It posted the highest score we've yet seen in our brightness test, although we discovered it comes at the cost of producing full and deep colors and true black. At $380, it's the second cheapest of the five we've reviewed, with the V7 D24W33 coming in lowest at $371. If you wanted something a bit prettier, however, with a better designed connection layout, check out the BenQ V2400W, which can be found for $434. The most expensive of the lot is the $679 Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP. It's the overall best 24-inch display we've tested, thanks to its many connection options and outstanding performance. Unless you absolutely need the brightest screen for the lowest price, we recommend not the Acer P241w but the V7 D24W33 for 24-inch LCD bargain hunters.
The 24-inch Acer P241w may look plain at first glance, but it has some subtle details that reveal a thoughtful design. The glossy, black bezel is conventionally flat along the top of the display, and the left and right sides of the bezel slope toward the back. The bottom edge of the bezel slopes downward and out toward the user before flattening out and then sharply sloping toward the back. From the bottom corners of the display, the bezel subtly dips downward toward the middle to create a kind of "nose" right in the bottom center, with the silver Acer logo located right above it. With each side of the bezel having a different design, a unique and sleek look is created for the display.
The bezel measures 0.8 inch at the top by 0.9 inch on the side and the bottom section is 1.5 inches at its longest point. The top and sides are about average bezel size, but the bottom is a lot longer than what we're used to seeing, thanks to it dipping toward the center.
The foot stand has a gray matte finish and looks to be shaped like a giant "A" with the neck acting as the cross in the middle. The stand is about 14.5 inches wide and about 8.2 inches deep at its longest points, which creates a fairly stable base that does wobble a bit when knocked from the front or back, but not when knocked from the side.
The onscreen display controls are located near the lower right-hand corner of the display and include five buttons; a left and a right arrow, a Menu button, and an Auto button. There is also the "e" button that lets you select from four preset settings; Text, Standard, Graphics, and Movie. Each setting changes the black level (brightness) to be appropriate the activity. The OSD navigation is cumbersome with the Menu button doubling as the "enter" button, which can get confusing. However, we like that you can configure how long the OSD stays onscreen--up to 120 seconds--so you don't have to keep navigating back to whatever setting you were trying to tweak when it disappears after 10 seconds. The power button, which sits to the right of the OSD controls, has a cool blue LED in front of it that stays on as long as the display is on.
The back of the display has a plain black matte finish. The HDMI port is a bit too close to the neck of the display, making it difficult to get to and not as easy as it is with the BenQ V2400W. The display tilts back about 20 degrees but it does not rotate. Nor does it adjust in height. The display features a matte screen that we prefer over the glossy alternative as that type can get very reflective at times and is more easily smudged.
Resolution: 1,920x1,200 pixels
Pixel-response rate: 2ms (gray to gray)
Contrast ratio: 3000:1 (Dynamic Contrast Ratio)
Connectivity: HDMI, DVI, VGA
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI, VGA
The three connections that are fast becoming the standard for displays of this size are VGA, DVI, and HDMI, and the Acer P241w includes them all. Acer only includes cables for DVI and VGA, however. Those connections will fit most user's needs, but if you are interested in more options, like composite, component, or DisplayPort connections we recommend you check out the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP.
The display includes the standard 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution for 24-inch screens. As far as additional features, that's pretty much it, though. No headphone jack or USB ports here.
In CNET Labs testing, we connected the Acer P241w via DVI and were impressed with a very high 1,074:1 contrast ratio. By comparison, the V7 D24W33 and the BenQ V2400W achieved 670:1 and 996:1, respectively, on the same test. While impressive in its own right, we attribute the Acer's high contrast ratio in large part to its very high brightness that came in at 465 candelas per square meter (cd/m2). After setting the display up to test the contrast ratio, we measured the blacks and whites and found that although the blacks were only coming in at about 0.38 (cd/M2)--on average--the whites in the measurement were still measuring very high. Thus creating a large span between the darkest blacks and the brightest white as per our test setup. The V7 D24W33 and the BenQ V2400W scored 190 and 218, respectively in the brightness test. The Acer's 465 is the highest brightness score we've yet recorded--only the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP comes close with a 452 brightness score. In our overall DisplayMate-based tests the Acer P241w got a composite score of 87, which came close to matching the 90 achieved by the V7 and the 89 of the BenQ.
There were just a couple areas where the Acer P241w struggled. For one, the display did not produce color as vividly as the other displays, and as a result there was no real pop to them. We tried tweaking the manual color settings but could not get the colors to show much depth without over saturating them. Also, the backlight seems set too high for the display. Even when turned down to 0, the image on screen still looked too bright as long as the contrast was at a reasonable level. We found it very difficult to get the Acer to display deeps blacks as the image just looked dim when we turned the white and black levels down.
We looked at King Kong on DVD and found the image to be sharp, but it still lacked the color oomph we would have liked to have seen. Kong's facial details were easy to make out though. World of Warcraft looked good, and we think the high brightness actually helped the image here, but the lack of color depth was apparent as well. We saw no signs of streaking or ghosting during either DVD or games playback.
Testing note: We noticed that a number of users have been experiencing problems with the Acer P241w. It seems that some are having trouble getting it to display a picture at times. In our time with the display (two weeks) we did not experience such problems.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.
Service and support
Acer's warranty for the P241w includes three-year parts-and-labor support that covers the backlight as well. We were able to find the drivers for the P241 on their Web site, but not specifically for our model, the P241w. Toll free phone support is open from Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT, Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. 5 p.m. Acer's support Web site is not as clearly helpful as it should be as we had trouble actually finding the support phone number.