Sunday, August 3, 2014

Acer Ferrari F-20 (Black, Red) 20 inch LCD Monitor - Another Excellent Ferrari

I have been using the 19-inch Dell UltraSharp 1905FP LCD monitor for over 3 years, but I wanted a slightly larger monitor and preferably with a smooth glass-like surface. So when I saw a good deal on the Acer Ferrari F-20 20-inch widescreen LCD monitor, I pulled the trigger. I did not care for its Ferrari logos, but the black/red color scheme looked nice and it had all the specs I needed. It is also a non-TN model, so it has great colors. This was unlike most cheap LCD monitors and virtually all 22-inch models, that at the time used cheaper TN panels.

Although you could find a 22-inch model for the price comparable to the one I paid, color reproduction and the view angle are very important to me and those cheap, large and fast-response-rate monitors lack that.

Why not just any cheap LCD monitor?

The fact that I would not be able to coexist with a 6-bit TN-based monitor became apparent to me during my ordeal with a broken power button on my Dell UltraSharp 1905FP, when Dell shipped me a replacement (Dell 1907FP).

That monitor was also a 19-inch digital LCD flat panel TFT (Active Matrix) with both digital DVI-D and analog VGA inputs. It also featured a built-in USB 2.0 hub with 4 jacks, including two on the side.

On paper, the 1907FP looked better than my older 1905FP in some respects and worse in some others. It had much faster response time of 8ms (gray to gray) vs. 16ms of the 1905FP. Its brightness was higher by 20% (300 vs 250 cd/m^2). But its contrast ratio was less than the 1905FP (500:1 vs 800:1) and the angle of view was only 140/130 (H/V) degrees versus 170 for the 1905.

At the time, I heard that the manufacturers improve the response time by switching form the more color-accurate 8-bit models to less color-accurate 6-bit models. I am afraid the 1907 is one of the results of the switch. I could see the result and I was not happy.

Unfortunately since consumers most of the time care about size and prices, but not over specifics, the newer models can perform slightly worse as long as the price is lower and people will buy them.

The problem that newer monitor was its performance in the area of picture quality. The images were sharp and clear, especially over the DVI input (I use its native resolution of 1280x1024 at 32 bit color). I used the monitor over DVI with the Chaintech XGI Volari V3 DVI-equipped video card and over VGA with a Dell Dimension 3100 computer. But however much I tried, the colors just look cartoonish and overly saturated. The gradations in photographs are coarse, which was definitely not the case with the 1905. No doubt this is the result of use of a 6-bit panel instead of the 8-bit one to reduce response time. The contrast ratio also suffers.

This will not be a big deal if you do not work with photos but only use business applications and/or games. But I work with photos and find this kind of tradeoff unacceptable.

And another, very annoying, issue with this monitor was its viewing angle. Whereas my old monitor had 170-degree viewing angle, the newer 1907 was rated at 130/140 (vertical/horizontal). Although on paper the difference seems minimal, in reality it is huge. If you look at the new monitor at an angle even slightly different from the optimal 90 degrees, the contrast and brightness change dramatically. So much so that it is difficult to distinguish yellow unread emails in Hotmal from the read white ones.

I had to call Dell again and request that they sent me the same model as I had before. Originally the tech rep told me that they do not produce the 1905FP anymore and they cannot send one to me.

After going back and forth for almost an hour, he told me that he has, quote "great news" for me. They decided to give me a, quote "top of the line" model that currently sells for $460+. When I asked him what model it was, he said it is 1905FP. Which is the same model I had before. When I told him that, he said that the "model number might be the same, but this is a different, top of the line monitor". Yeah, sure.

The new "top of the line" model turned out the same as my previous monitor. And although it still has stiff buttons and slow DVI/VGA switching, the image quality more than makes up for it.

So I Got the Acer Ferrari F-20

The monitor arrived in a nice-looking black box with a handle. The packaging was first-rate. The monitor comes with an audio cable, VGA cable, DVI cable, power cable and a brick-style power supply, small manuals and a CD with manuals. It even comes with a black microfiber cloth for wiping the screen.

The monitor itself is pretty heavy, but features excellent, durable construction. It features black/red color combination with red touches on the back panel and the stand. The front panel is shiny black and features a large Ferrari logo underneath the screen. Pretty lame, but I don't care. The frame around the screen is rather wide and there is an area underneath the screen houses the speakers (two speakers, 5W).

If we disregard the tackiness of the logo, the monitor actually looks very nice, if unusual.

The stand is not height-adjustable and does not let the monitor rotate side to side, but lets you tilt it up and down, albeit you have to apply a lot of force to do so.

The ports on the back are located in strange places. The DVI port is under a large rubber plug on the back panel. The rest of the ports are right under the hinge where the stand is attached.

Some Specifications

The monitor is a 20-inch widescreen model with a native resolution of 1680x1050. The contrast ratio is 800:1. The brightness is 200 cd/m². The response time is 8 ms.

The monitor has both DVI-D and VGA inputs and built-in sound. The maximum viewing angle is 176 degrees in both H/V.

For the sharpest picture possible, you need to run the monitor at its native resolution. I used it with my Dell Dimension 3100 and with my laptop: Lenovo T60.


The monitor has nice-looking menus and a lot of adjustability. Its controls are red buttons on its side. The monitor arrived with its brightness set way too high. After I dialed it down some, the picture quality proved to be amazingly good.

Picture Quality

The picture quality is excellent. The images are sharp, the colors are vivid, yet true to life and the colors or brightness do not change when viewed at an angle. The contrast is great and the blacks are very deep.

Not only the photos look natural, video works great also. I see a definite improvement in comparison with my Dell 1905FP when it comes to black level, response time/fluidity of video, contrast, sharpness and even (unexpectedly) color. And it blows away the newer Dell 1907FP and any TN-based panel (which is virtually any 22 and most larger LCD monitors).


The built-in speakers cannot play very loud and are not really suitable for music. The somehow also produced a quiet ticking sound when the volume is over 50% as soon as the audio cable was inserted.


I have had this monitor for about 6 years and it works well.

Pros: Excellent construction, image quality, features, looks, warranty, non-TN panel, supplied accessories
Cons: Tacky Ferrari logo, no one-button source switching, no height adjustment

Bottom Line

I am very impressed by this monitor and wish my video card supported its native resolution. It looks stylish, features super-sturdy construction, produces excellent picture quality in all respects. And it is a kind of Ferrari most people can afford. I highly recommend it.

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