These days, £200 doesn't get you much. It's not enough for an iPad, and it's probably only enough to fill your car up with petrol four times. But the Acer AT2356 costs only £200 or thereabouts, and it's a 23-inch, 1080p LCD TV with a built-in Freeview receiver and two HDMI sockets.
Aimed at people who want a TV for the kitchen, study, bedroom or for use with a games console, the AT2356 is a pretty attractive option. We can see students in particular queuing up to get their hands on one of these. It's well suited to that market thanks to its built-in Freeview receiver and a VGA jack that means you could, at a push, use it as a monitor, although it doesn't have any tilt adjustments.
Design and inputs
The AT2356's appearance is quite pleasant. It's a small, black box that should be quite at home in any room you care to place it in. Out of the box, it comes in two parts -- a stand and the main body of the screen. Connecting the two is simple. You just screw the base onto the bottom of the TV -- it only goes one way, so it's idiot-proof.
The TV offers a pair of HDMI inputs, which is fair enough for its size. Also present are Scart, component video, VGA and composite input connections. That's a decent amount of sockets for a little TV, and almost certainly more than enough for a bedroom or small study.
We also rather like the remote control. It's pleasant to hold and really easy to use. The buttons are logically laid out and, even more importantly, the TV responds to commands quickly.
Hook the AT2356 up to a computer, and you'll see that it's a surprisingly good monitor. It's capable of accepting 1080p signals via its VGA socket, which is great. What's not so great is the fact that Acer doesn't provide a tilting stand. That means it's nearly impossible to use the AT2356 as a monitor unless you mount it up high, and peer up at it.
Most people probably won't buy the AT2356 for use as a monitor, but it's a shame to see that it functions so well in this capacity apart from one flaw.
No Freeview HD
There are two features a TV needs to have in order to receive Freeview HD broadcasts. The first is the ability to cope with H.264-encoded video. On this score, the AT2356 passes with flying colours.
In the UK, unlike most of the rest of Europe, you also need the TV to support the DVB-T2 standard, which the AT2356 sadly doesn't. We can't criticise Acer too much for this, though. The AT2356 is, after all, a budget TV, and it does have a standard Freeview receiver, which is likely to be enough for most people.
Full HD on a pretty tiny screen
Gamers and Blu-ray lovers rejoice, for this TV is capable of displaying 1080p video. It's surprising that such small screens can now support resolutions that would have been impossible on even a 32-inch TV only a couple of years ago.
Generally, you need a display twice the size of the AT2356 to really see a benefit from 1080p material. That said, having this resolution doesn't add anything to the price, and it certainly doesn't harm the overall quality of the TV. So it's a thumbs up from us.
Oh, that's NICE
One extra feature that we like is the TV's New Intelligent Colour Engine (NICE). When you put the TV in this mode, it automatically sets itself up to display an optimised picture for what you're watching. This mode might prove useful for people who want their TV to automatically tweak its own settings.
We opted to tweak the settings manually most of the time, and you can achieve decent results with some fiddling. In the default mode, we found the images to be slightly too bright.
Freeview and HD picture quality
The AT2356's Freeview picture quality is certainly pretty decent, although it's not stunning. The small screen is an advantage, because scaling Freeview material to fit larger screens is always a problem. Images are certainly sharp enough, with appropriate amounts of colour and a general lack of noise.
The set's HD pictures are also very good. Blu-ray content looks as stunning as usual, and, although this TV is small, it's still great to see plenty of detail in the picture. Our District 9 Blu-ray looked top-notch, and that's an impressive feat when you consider how cheap this TV is.
Minor subtitle irritation
When we first tuned the TV in, we noticed that it would turn on the subtitles every time we changed channels. That's pretty annoying, and it took us a while to work out that there's a menu option to stop this happening. It clearly isn't engaged by default.
The Acer AT2356 is likely to be a great gift for someone heading off to university. It's ideal for small rooms, and it's a cracking little TV for the price. We think it's well worth your money.
Edited by Charles Kloet