The rear TV tuner
The TV tuner on the back of the monitor is actually a removable unit. The combination gives you VGA, DVI, SCART, Composite and S-Video inputs, as well as an antenna input for TV reception. All that's missing is Component and arguably HDMI. But if all your equipment is current generation, you should be covered.
The rear of the monitor looks great, apart from one little problem - the DVI and SCART sockets. These are mounted right on the back, and require you to plug the cables in horizontally. In use, this looks pretty horrendous. The VGA is neatly hidden away underneath the stand, and cables are routed through a neat flat in the stand. It would have been much nicer if we could have had the DVI port in the same position. Personally, the positioning of the inputs doesn't bother me, but a number of people walked by this display in the office and commented that it looked a bit dodgy from the rear.
In use, the TV tuner is pretty reasonable. TV quality is dictated by signal and source quality far more than by the quality of the actual tuner, and we found that it coped with broadcast TV fine, and also fielded our Xbox 360 admirably over VGA.
Controls are fairly simple. There are four buttons on the side of the device: Power, Menu, one rocker that acts as an up/down menu control, and one button that serves as a Select button. Below the display there is a rocker for channel up and down when using the TV tuner, and also a button for switching through inputs.
We found the input switching to be a little slow in use, which can be a little frustrating if you are moving from one end of the selection cycle right through to the other. We found something of an odd problem with the Brightness, too. When turning the brightness down, we got a very strange humming noise from the speakers, which increased as we got darker and darker. We're not sure if this is a 'characteristic' or a fault with our review unit - we'll be contacting Acer for an update on this issue.
The Ferrari display comes with a hefty complement of cables, which is definitely to be welcomed. The power brick is small and silent. There is a SCART cable as well as a composite video / audio cable, Svideo cable, DVI and VGA cables, a remote control for the TV tuner and even a cleaning cloth for keeping the unit pristine. In short, everything you could need to populate the display.
The monitor includes speakers at the bottom of the front, and also an extra speaker on the rear. Unfortunately, these aren't really up to any kind of decent standard. They seem to live exclusively in the mid-range, with both treble and bass details being lost. We found that we were able to compensate a little by boosting both in the equaliser of our audio source, but frankly, there's no way you'd want to replace any existing speakers with the audio from this.
You can't really fault the F20 for this - pretty much all LCD monitors have rubbish built-in speakers. They're certainly better than nothing, and can be handy for travel, but little else.
The display has a contrast ratio of 800:1 and a luminescence of 300 cd/m2. The response time is 8ms. These are perfectly acceptable figures for a display in this range. Regardless of the numbers, the picture quality of the monitor boils down to just a couple of things in my eyes: the F.E.A.R. playtest
and the Lost in Translation
F.E.A.R. is a brilliant test because it really taxes a monitors ability to differentiate between shades of grey and black. On poor monitors, dark colours all bleed together, making it almost impossible to distinguish characters from the backgrounds. The effect is what I like to call the 'Counter-Strike Contrast Conundrum', where it becomes impossible to spot Counter-Terrorists in dark areas of maps such as Aztec on a poor monitor.
Thankfully, the Ferrari monitor looked brilliant, even outperforming our reference Viewsonic VX924
when it came to the black differential. This is a monitor you can happily play games on, especially since ghosting was also non-existent.
Lost in Translation
is a great DVD to run through any display. The film contains a mixture of high-contrast scenes with some great gaudy colour, and also has some very subtlety coloured scenes which can look washed out on bad monitors. The Acer was pretty good in this test, although didn't manage to deal with the subtler elements quite so well.
Viewing angle was average-to-good. As with many displays, it suffered more on the up-down range than the left-right range. This means that you should be able to get a couple of mates around it to game, but is especially unfortunate given the lack of height adjustment.