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Introduction

BenQ have been producing desktop monitors for quite a long time and have always had a close affiliation with AU Optronics, who are one of the leading panel manufacturers in the World. As a result, BenQ have historically been the first to adopt some of the interesting new developments and panels from AUO. Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment (MVA) panels have been a big part of AUO's panel strategy, a close rival to Samsung's PVA offering and an alternative to LG.Display's popular IPS technology. Like most panel types, it has gone through several generations and the current version which AUO produce is defined as Advanced MVA, or AMVA to give it an abbreviated name.

We first started to see a new generation of AMVA panels emerge in the market towards the end of 2010. AUO had started to combine AMVA technology with the latest, and increasingly popular, W-LED backlighting. BenQ released their first screen to use these new AMVA + W-LED panels and we tested the interesting BenQ EW2420 at the time. We found this latest generation of AMVA + W-LED to offer some impressive performance in many regards. There have since been a fair few AMVA based screens released with W-LED backlighting, and Samsung have also followed suit with the combination of W-LED with their own PVA technology to match.

We now have with us for testing the larger brother of the 24" EW2420, which is BenQ's 27" EW2730V. This too combines AMVA panel technology with LED backlighting and is designed to bring the user a screen for both PC and multimedia use. It will be interesting to see whether some of the positives of the 24" model carry through to this screen and whether it can offer decent performance in areas where the EW2420 was perhaps lacking a little. BenQ's website states: "BenQ EW2730V seamlessly integrates audio and visual dimensions of entertainment; it is even equipped with true 8-bit for a smooth visual presentation, giving you the full cinematic experience at right at home. BenQ EW series has tailored a personalized audio-visual entertainment centre just for you."

 


Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen:

Monitor Specifications

Size

27"WS (68.6 cm)

Panel Coating

Anti-glare (matte)

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Interfaces

D-sub, DVI-D, 2x HDMI, component (HDCP)

Resolution

1920 x 1080

Pixel Pitch

0.311 mm

Design colour

Silver coloured aluminium stand with part silver / part black bezel

Response Time

8ms G2G

Ergonomics

-5 ~ 20 Tilt only

Static Contrast Ratio

3000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

20 million: 1

VESA Compatible

Yes 100 x 100mm

Brightness

300

Accessories

audio cable, USB cable, power cable, remote control

Viewing Angles

178/178

Panel Technology

AMVA

Weight

With stand: 7.4 Kg

Backlight Technology

W-LED

Physical Dimensions
 

(WxHxD with stand)
661.5 x 515 x 190.1 mm

Colour Depth

16.7 million (8-bit)

Colour Gamut

Standard gamut (~sRGB)

Special Features

4x USB 2.0 ports, 2x 3W integrated speakers, PiP and PbP, Various 'cinema' enhancements, remote control

The EW2730V offers a decent range of video and audio connections which is great to see. There are 2x HDMI, 1x DVI-D, 1x component and 1x D-sub provided for video interfaces and with the screen only offering a 1920 x 1080 resolution they are all capable of supporting this. BenQ have opted not to provide the increasingly popular DisplayPort connection though. It's nice to see dual HDMI here which is very widely used for external devices, and BenQ have even provided a component connection for even wider support of DVD players, games consoles etc. The digital interfaces are HDCP supported for encrypted content. The sample we were provided for review was not provided with any of the cables which would normally come packaged with the screen. According to some sources you are supplied with a USB and audio cable, but no video cables for some reason. If true, then that is an odd omission.

The screen also offers various audio connections and includes integrated 2 x 3W stereo speakers if you want to use them. A four port USB hub is provided on the left hand side of the screen for connection of printers, cameras etc which is useful. The screen even comes packaged with a remote control (again sadly we didn't have one with our sample to test). There are no further features such as ambient light sensors or card readers here but overall I thought the range of options available was very good.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

D-sub

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB Ports

Composite

Card Reader

Audio connection

Ambient Light Sensor

HDCP Support

Touch Screen

Integrated Speakers

Hardware calibration

Uniformity correction



Design and Ergonomics

 
Above: front views of the screen

The BenQ EW2730V is quite a square and straight edge design. There is a black glossy bezel around the panel on all sides which measures about 28mm thickness. This looks quite attractive with a glossy finish but does mean the screen can pick up finger prints quite quickly. There is then a very thin silver coloured trim edge around the outside of the screen on the sides and top, which measures about 2mm thickness. At the bottom, this silver section is larger and measures about 25mm in thickness. This is an attractive aluminium style finish and is slightly slanted towards the user. This thicker section at the bottom houses the integrated stereo speakers and is home to the power on/off button on the right hand side.


Above: view of the lower edge of the screen with BenQ logo. Click for larger version

In the middle of the bottom black bezel there is a silver coloured BenQ logo, and in the lower left hand corner there are labels for 'LED' and 'Senseye 3'. The top right hand corner also has an 'EW2730' label.

 


Above: Some front side views of the screen. Click for larger versions

With a black glossy bezel it is quite hard to capture pictures of the screen without a lot of reflections, but these side views give you an idea of the style of the screen. You can make out the slant to the lower part of the screen here. The stand is also finished in a silver aluminium and looks sleek. This is quite blocky but has a wide base to stand on your desk.


Above: views of the stand and base from the front and back. Click for larger versions

The front of the stand arm is finished in the same aluminium as the base so as not to stand out. The back of the arm is a mirror finish though which looks nice (if you are ever in a position to see the back of the screen). There is a small plastic clip at the top which hides the screws connecting the stand to the back of the screen which you can see in the image above (right). There is no cable tidy provided here sadly although with the screen sitting quite low to the desk it is hard to spot the cables if you position them centrally behind the arm.


Above: Back side view of the screen and stand. Click for larger version

The back of the screen is also finished in a glossy black plastic with a large BenQ logo in the middle. There are screw holes located in the middle to allow you to wall mount the screen (VESA 100mm).


Above: view of the bottom of the base and screen. Click for larger version

The base of the stand is shown above. There is a small screw at the top of this picture which is used to attach the base to the stand when you first set up the screen. The base is packaged separately in the box but it is easy to connect.


Above: power button and OSD control labels (left), OSD buttons on the back of the screen (centre) and side USB ports (right).
Click for larger versions

The bottom right hand corner of the screen features a round power button as shown above (left). This glows green during normal operation, red when the screen is powered off, and amber when it enters standby. Above that you will notice five small labels on the front of the screen which act as the labels for the OSD operational buttons. However, the buttons themselves are situated on the back of the screen and you have to feel your way behind the right hand side to use these. They are small round buttons as shown in the centre photo above. On the left hand side of the screen there are four USB 2.0 ports available for quick connection of external devices which are useful.

The EW2730V offers a very good range of video connections which are designed to support a wide range of different multimedia uses as shown above.


Above: left hand section of connections. Click for larger version

The connections are split on the back of the screen on either side of the central stand. On the left (when viewed from behind) are connections for power and audio. This includes an audio line in (to use the speakers) and a headphone socket if you want to use it. The screen has an integrated power supply so you only need a kettle lead to power the screen.


Above: right hand section of connections. Click for larger version

On the right hand side of the stand are the video connections. There are two HDMI ports, one DVI-D, component and one D-sub (VGA) available. It is a shame that DisplayPort was left off here as that is perhaps the only mainstream video connection missing on this display. To the right of these is the upstream USB connection so that you can use the ports on the side of the screen. It's also a shame there aren't a couple of USB ports on the back of the screen for devices you might want to leave permanently connected.



Above: side view showing minimum and maximum tilt range. Click for larger versions

The side profile of the screen is nice and thin, and measures about 63.2mm depth without the stand. This is largely down to the use of a W-LED backlighting unit.

The screen offers a limited range of adjustments from its stand sadly. There is only a tilt adjustment available but it is pretty easy to manoeuvre, and smooth to adjust. It offers a decent enough range in both directions as shown above. When positioning the screen there is a fair wobble to it due to its weight and the fact that the stand connects quite low on the back of the screen. During normal use the screen is quite sturdy on the desk at least.

Sadly there is no height adjustment included here which is a shame as that is always useful I think from a monitor stand. We can live without side to side pivot, and certainly without a rotate function on a screen this size, but the absence of height adjustment is disappointing. Without it, the bottom edge of the screen is ~95mm above the top of the desk.

A summary of the screens ergonomic adjustments is shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

-5 ~ 20

Smooth

Moderate

Height

n/a

-

-

Swivel

n/a

-

-

Rotate

n/a

-

-

Overall

Limited adjustments with only tilt available. Screen is a bit wobbly when moved

The materials used are of a good standard and build quality feels good. There is a no audible noise from the screen even if you listen closely.

The screen coating is a traditional anti-glare (AG) solution. Unlike modern IPS panels though, which are often criticised for their aggressive, grainy coating, this is quite smooth. AU Optronics have kept the AG coating quite light which means that you won't pick out any 'dirty' feel when viewing a lot of white backgrounds.

 



OSD Menu


Above: view of OSD operational buttons. Click for larger version

The OSD operational buttons are situated on the back of the right hand side of the screen. The labels for these buttons are on the front bezel and are pretty subtle. You have to reach to the back of the screen to feel the relevant buttons you want to press. The navigation is fairly intuitive and the buttons are easy to use. It can sometimes get a bit confusing with the "up" and "down" arrow buttons being used to scroll through the various sections of the menu however.

The buttons also give quick access to "auto" (auto configure for analogue connections), and input selection (shown above - via the 'enter' button. You can customise the up and down arrow buttons to control certain options as well from within the menu, so you may wish to have one controlling brightness, and the other one controlling volume perhaps.

The OSD menu itself offers a wide range of options and these are spread across 6 sections. When you bring up the menu, these sections are shown as tabs across the top of the menu. You can enter each section using the 'enter' button, and can then use the up/down arrows to scroll through each option from there. Pressing 'menu' returns you back up a level or exits the OSD.

The first section is labelled 'display' and allows you to control the picture when using analogue connections. When using digital interfaces this section is greyed out. This seems a bit of an odd starting section to be honest and it would have perhaps been better as a section later in the menu structure. The second section as shown above is the 'picture' section. This offers you the usual control over brightness, contrast etc. There is a gamma setting with options of 1 to 5 being available. We will test these a little later on. There is also access to the 'color' sub-section and control over the AMA (Advanced Motion Accelerator) which we will test later on as well.

The 'color' sub-section gives you access to a series of preset colour temperature modes as well as control over the individual RGB channels if you wish.

The next section is the 'picture advanced' tab. This has options for various BenQ Senseye preset modes including options for standard, movie, game, photo, sRGB and ECO. Some of the further options seen here are only available in certain preset modes. There is a brief 1 second or so delay when switching between each preset during which time the screen goes black. You will see here that there is also an option for the dynamic contrast ratio control which we will test later. The 'Display mode' option also gives you access to the hardware level aspect ratio control.

You will see here that there are also a couple of options for super resolution, noise reduction and smart focus. We will discuss these throughout the course of the review.

The audio menu allows you to control the volume and a couple of other parts of the integrated stereo speakers and the PiP/PbP section allows you to adjust various option related to those technologies as well.

Lastly the 'system' section allows you to control a few things including the input being used and customisation of the up/down arrow keys for quick access.

You can also access the screens factory menu if you want, although it doesn't really tell you anything particularly useful or allow you to control anything much further. If you want, you can turn the BenQ boot logo off here though. If you are curious you can access the menu as follows. Use this section at your own risk!:

Access: Hold 'menu' button while powering on. Once turned on, press 'menu' again to bring up this service menu
Return: Turn off and turn on power.
 

All in all the OSD menu was pretty easy and intuitive to use. The up / down arrows allow you to easily navigate between sections and you can go back and forth into each option without problem. The order of these sections was perhaps not quite right (the first 'display' section could do with being later on for instance) but overall no real issues. It was good to see options in here for DCR, response time control, preset modes and PiP/PbP.

 


Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturers spec states typical usage of 70W maximum. In standby the screen apparently uses <1W.

State and Brightness Setting

Power Usage (W)

Factory Default (100%)

41.2

Calibrated (0%)

21.1

Maximum Brightness (100%)

41.2

Minimum Brightness (0%)

21.1

Standby

1.3

We tested this ourselves and found that out of the box the screen used 41.2W of power while at its default brightness setting which was 100%. The additional power usage specified would be related to the draw on the USB ports if devices were connected. At the lowest brightness setting, power consumption was reduced to 21.1W. This was also the power consumption after calibration since we had reverted to a 0% brightness setting during that process to achieve our desired luminance. In standby the screen used 1.3W of power.

I have plotted the results of these measurements on the graph below:


 



Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

AU Optronics

Colour Palette

16.7 million

Panel Technology

AMVA

Colour Depth

True 8-bit

Panel Module

M270HW02 V0

Colour space

~sRGB

Backlighting Type

W-LED

Colour space coverage (%)

~ sRGB
~72% NTSC

The BenQ EW2730V utilises an AU Optronics M270HW02 V0 AMVA panel which is capable of producing 16.7 million colours with a true 8-bit colour depth. The EW2730V uses White-LED (W-LED) backlighting. The colour space of this screen is approximately equal to the sRGB reference and is considered a 'standard gamut' backlight type. A wide gamut screen would need to be considered by those wanting to work outside of the sRGB colour space of course.

Removing the back of the screen confirms the panel being used as photographed above.

 


Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

I restored my graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using the DVI interface, and analysed using an X-rite i1 Pro Spectrophotometer (not to be confused with the new i1 Display Pro colorimeter) combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An NEC branded and customised X-rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro is less reliable at the darker end.


Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - validates the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.

 


Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Brightness

100

Contrast

50

RGB Channels

100, 100, 100

Color Temperature

Normal

Gamma

3


BenQ EW2730V - Default Factory Settings

  
 

 

Default Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

386

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.16

Contrast Ratio

2364:1

 

The out of the box performance of the EW2730V was very poor unfortunately. The screen is aimed at multimedia users and so perhaps rather than focus on accuracy and a decent setup, BenQ have opted for an overly bright, unrealistic appearance with cartoony and exaggerated colours. This may actually be quite desirable when connecting a Blu-ray player or games console, but for PC use it leaves a lot to be desired.

 

The CIE diagram on the left confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) matches the sRGB colour space (orange triangle) reasonably closely. It extends a little past the sRGB space in some greens, blues and reds in this 2D view of gamut, but does fall a little short in some areas.

 

 

Default gamma was recorded at 2.8 average, leaving it 27% out from the target of 2.2. Gamma was too high in all grey tones, ranging between 2.71 and 2.82 and so grey shades didn't look right and were not well balanced. White point was much closer to the desired level thankfully, being measured at 6946k but still leaving it too cool and 7% out from the target of 6500k. Note that we are using a Spectrophotometer to make these measurements which is not sensitive to the W-LED backlight as some colorimeter devices can be. When using a standard gamut colorimeter not designed to work with modern backlighting units like W-LED, there can be a typical deviance of 300 - 600k in the white point measurement which is why some sources may refer to a different white point in this test incorrectly.

 

Gamma Mode

Average Gamma

1

2.4

2

2.5

3

2.8

4

3.0

5

3.2

 

The screen offers 5 preset gamma modes via the OSD menu with mode 3 being the default. We tested the others as well in case any were more accurate than the default Mode 3. The lower modes actually brought the average gamma closer to the 2.2 target with mode 1 being 2.4 and the closest. At the higher settings of 4 and 5, gamma ranged up to 3.2 average which is even further out from the target. I'd suggest mode 1 as a starting point at least if you want to try and reach the 2.2 default gamma for computer monitors.

 

Luminance was recorded at a very high 386 cd/m2 which is way too bright for comfortable use. At this high 386 cd/m2 luminance, the black depth was 0.16 cd/m2. This gave us an excellent static contrast ratio of 2364:1. This was of course very high for a static contrast ratio, and much higher than modern TN Film, IPS and PLS panels can offer. However, we'd seen even higher figures from some other AMVA (and Samsung cPVA) panels we had tested, and we were frankly hoping for the same here. A figure of 3000:1 would have been expected given past experience with these panels and the screens spec, but sadly it can't quite reach that. Still 2364:1 is very good.

 

Colour accuracy was very poor at default factory settings with an average DeltaE (dE) of 6.5, ranging up to a maximum of 11.2. You will need to make a lot of adjustments if you want to use this screen for day to day normal PC use or anything which involves more accuracy. For multimedia, it is probably fine but some changes to the OSD menu controls might help bring more balance in some areas. Proper profiling with a calibration tool is preferred of course for PC use to correct the remaining errors.

 

 

 


Testing Colour Temperatures

 

 

The EW2730V features a range of 'Colour temperature' presets within the OSD menu which offer you various colour temperature modes. We measured the screen with the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer in each of the preset modes to establish their colour temperature / white point. All other settings were left at factory defaults and no ICC profile was active. The results are recorded below:

 

Selected Preset Mode

Measured Colour Temperature (k)

Normal

7018

Reddish

6170

Bluish

9861

User mode

7018

 

The colour temperature modes were not labelled as a specific defined temperature, but with a description of how they would make the screen appear. The normal and user mode presets were the same out of the box, and returned a white point / colour temperature which was just a bit higher (cooler) than the 6500k recommended for an LCD screen to match the temperature of daylight. These were recorded at 7018k. The reddish preset made the screen warmer as you might expect, down to around 6170k. The bluish setting returned a much cooler appearance of 9861k.

 

 

 

Calibration Results

 

I wanted to calibrate and profile the screen to determine what was possible with optimum settings and profiling. I used the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An NEC branded and customised X-rite i1 Display 2 was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.


BenQ EW2730V - Calibrated Settings

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Brightness

0

Contrast

50

RGB Channels

100, 91, 93

Color Temperature

User mode

Gamma

1

 

Calibrated Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

120

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.06

Contrast Ratio

1977:1

 

I first of all reverted to the 'user mode' in the colour section of the OSD menu which would allow me access to the individual RGB channels. I also changed the gamma mode to level 1 from the default level 3, as we had found this returned us the most accurate starting point in our earlier tests. This allowed me to obtain an optimum hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. Adjustments were also made during the process to the brightness control and to the RGB channels as shown in the table above. After this I let the software carry out the LUT adjustments at a graphics card level and create an ICC profile. The screen does not feature a hardware LUT calibration option so other than the OSD alterations, the rest of the process is carried out at a graphics card level in profiling the screen.

 

 

The calibration was a success. The gamma discrepancy that we saw before (a massive 27% out) had been almost corrected now to leave us with 0% deviance and an average gamma of 2.2. There was still some slight discrepancy with the gamma curve with some grey shades but it was much smaller than before and they were closer to 2.2. White point was also corrected to 6531k, bringing it <0.5% out from the target. Luminance had been reduced to a much more comfortable 120 cd/m2 thankfully after the adjustment of the OSD brightness control. We had needed to change the brightness control all the way down to 0% here due to the limited adjustment range of the backlight (see our contrast stability tests for more information about this). Combined with some minor adjustments to the RGB channels we had achieved a luminance of 120 cd/m2 though afterwards. Black depth was a very low 0.06 cd/m2 which left us with an excellent calibrated static contrast ratio of 1977:1. Again this was lower than that of the EW2420 and some cPVA + W-LED screens we have tested, but still extremely good. Colour accuracy was also improved massively with dE average now only 0.5 and maximum only 0.9. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be excellent overall.

 

 

Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed fairly smooth transitions. Without the ICC profile active (and therefore a lot of these corrections not in place), gradients were mostly very smooth. There was some gradation and 'stepping' in darker tones which is common from a lot of screens really. There was no banding evident though which was good. Once calibrated, and with corrections made to the gamma curves a very small amount of banding was introduced in darker tones but it was very slight. Not a problem for a normal average user but if you're working with a lot of gradients type content it's something to be aware of.

 

You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

 

This was quite a significant improvement over the default settings of course and we had largely corrected the gamma curve, white point, luminance and colour accuracy. Thankfully it is possible to do so with this screen and if you are intending to use it for any colour dependent work day to day, you will really want to be able to calibrate it properly. As I've said, the strange and inaccurate default set up might ok for games consoles, DVD players and the like, but for PC use it is not really very good. If you can use a colorimeter or calibration device you can actually achieve some nice results for desktop use. At the very least, some of the changes in the OSD menu will help, and you may have some luck using our calibrated ICC profile as well.

 

 

 

 

Calibration Performance Comparisons

 

 

I've provided a comparison above of the EW2730V against some of the other screens we have tested. Out of the box average dE was 6.5 which was poor. Compared to some of the other 27" models we have tested it was a considerable way behind at default settings. The recently tested Samsung S27A850D had performed better (3.6) which also had a similar level of accuracy out of the box to the wide gamut IPS Dell U2711 (3.7) and a bit better than the IPS Hazro HZ27WB (5.1).

 

The 27" Hazro HZ27WC and HP ZR2740w have W-LED backlighting and IPS panels, and offered a good factory calibration with a default dE average of only 1.5 and 2.4 respectively. The professional grade 27" NEC PA271W and SpectraView Reference 271 were better still at 1.1 dE and 1.5 dE average respectively. We will ignore the result of the HZ27WA here since that model was not factory calibrated and was a pre-release sample. The TN Film based ViewSonic VX2739wm was also ahead of the BenQ model in terms of default colour accuracy with an average dE of 3.4. The EW2730V could have performed much better here really, and it's a shame to see such a poor default setup and lack of attention to factory calibration from the manufacturer. Some form of software profiling using a colorimeter is very important to correct these issues wherever possible if you intend to use it for general PC or any form of colour critical work.
 

 

Once calibrated the dE average was reduced to 0.5. This would be classified as excellent colour fidelity by LaCie. It was not quite as low as some of the other screens here which reached down to 0.2 average, but in practice you would not notice any difference here. Some of the professional range models from NEC are even more accurate. Professional grade monitors like the NEC PA series and P241W also offer other high end features which separate them from some of these other models, including extended internal processing, 3D LUT's and hardware calibration. These comparisons are based on a small selection of tests, so it should be remembered that other factors do come into play when you start talking about professional use. For further information and tests of a high end professional grade screen with hardware LUT calibration, you may want to have a read of our NEC SpectraView Reference 271 review.

 

 

 

The calibrated black depth and contrast ratio of the BenQ EW2730V were excellent, with a very impressive static contrast ratio of 1977:1. This was a long way ahead than any modern TN Film, PLS or IPS panel could offer which only really reach up to around 1000:1 in the best examples. We had actually been hoping for a little more to be honest though since we had seen static contrast ratios of ~3000:1 from previous AMVA + W-LED tests (BenQ EW2420W) and also from a couple of cPVA + W-LED alternatives (NEC EX231Wp and Samsung F2380). Nevertheless, can't really grumble at such a high calibrated static contrast ratio like this.

 

 

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Contrast Stability

I wanted to see how much variance there was in the screens contrast as we adjusted the monitor setting for brightness. In theory, brightness and contrast are two independent parameters, and good contrast is a requirement regardless of the brightness adjustment. Unfortunately, such is not always the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an NEC branded and customised X-rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

377.9

0.16

2362

90

364.3

0.15

2429

80

341.2

0.14

2437

70

316.1

0.13

2432

60

292.9

0.12

2441

50

267.5

0.11

2432

40

244.1

0.10

2441

30

218.4

0.09

2426

20

194.2

0.08

2427

10

168.4

0.07

2406

0

143.6

0.06

2393

 

Luminance Adjustment Range = 234.3 cd/m2

Black Point Adjustment Range = 0.10 cd/m2

Average Contrast Ratio = 2421:1

The luminance range of the screen was wide with a full adjustment range of 243 cd/m2. At the top end the screen was very bright, with a maximum luminance of 378 cd/m2 when at 100% brightness. This was even a lot higher than the specified maximum brightness from BenQ of 300 cd/m2. At the lower end there was a bit of a problem however as the 0% brightness adjustment only lowered the luminance down to 144 cd/m2 minimum. If you wanted to use the screen at lower luminance or in darkened room conditions, this could present a problem. Again this probably isn't an issue for multimedia use, external devices etc where a bright picture is desirable. However, for desktop use and prolonged day to day office use you may find this adjustment range limited. If you want to get closest to the 120 cd/m2 recommended for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions you will need to adjust the screen down to the 0% setting.

Black depth was very good across the range thanks to the modern AMVA panel. This ranged from 0.16 to 0.06 cd/m2 with adjustments to the brightness setting.

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should, with a reduction in the backlight intensity controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting.

Static contrast ratio remained very high and stable across the range, with an average figure of 2421:1 which was impressive. It was much higher than any IPS, PLS or TN Film panel can offer and was certainly a strength of these new AMVA + W-LED panels.

 


Dynamic Contrast

The BenQ EW2730V features a dynamic contrast ratio (DCR) control within the OSD menu and the manufacturers spec boasts a DCR of 20 million:1. Dynamic contrast ratio involves controlling the backlight of the screen automatically, depending on the content shown on the screen. In bright images, the backlight is increased, and in darker images, it is decreased. We have come to learn that DCR figures are greatly exaggerated and what is useable in reality is often very different to what is written on paper or on a manufacturers website.

For this test I would use the colorimeter to record the luminance and black depths at the two extremes. Max brightness would be recorded on an almost all white screen. Black depth would be recorded on an almost all black screen. In real use you are very unlikely to ever see a full black or full white screen, and even our tests are an extreme case to be honest. Carrying out the tests in this way does give you a good indication of the screens dynamic contrast ratio in real life situations however.

The DCR feature is available in the photo, game and movie preset modes, and it has 5 setting levels you can select. The DCR setting itself seems to control the absolute limits of brightness and darkness reached a little so for this test we opted for level 5.

 

Dynamic Contrast

Specified DCR Range

20 million: 1

Available in Presets

Photo, game, movie

Settings

1 - 5

Max luminance (cd/m2)

319.7

Min Black Point (cd/m2)

0.03

Max Dynamic Contrast Ratio

10,657:1

During this test you could see that if you switched from a black to white screen, the DCR changed the brightness of the screen very quickly, making the full transition between the two extremes in around 2 seconds. The maximum luminance measured was 319.7 cd/m2 and the minimum black depth was 0.03 cd/m2. Interestingly this DCR seemed to be able to turn the backlight down even further than the normal brightness controls. We had seen in our contrast stability section that even at 0% brightness the black depth reached 0.06 cd/m2 minimum. It seems that the DCR can control the backlight range a little further at the lower end.

This gave us a useable dynamic contrast ratio of 10,657:1 which was very good. It might not be as high as the crazy specs you will see advertised like the supposed 20 million:1, but at least it worked in real life applications unlike many other displays. Some screens actually turn the backlight off completely when a completely 100% black screen is shown. In real uses you would probably never see content like that so it's pretty unrealistic, but does allow manufacturers to quote crazy specs based on unrealistic factory measurements. Here the EW2730V did not do this, and so goodness knows where their 20 million:1 spec came from? Even if the DCR could control the full backlight range at the top end, that would give us a maximum luminance of ~386 cd/m2 (from our default performance tests), and a minimum black depth of 0.03 cd/m2 (from these DCR tests, below the 0% brightness adjustment in fact). That would only give us a DCR of 12,867:1 which is only a little more than what we achieved. To get a figure of 20 million:1 you would have to be turning the backlight off in which case the black depth would tend towards 0.00 cd/m2 and in fact give you a DCR of infinity:1!

We would like to start seeing realistic DCR figures being quoted from manufacturer really, not made up numbers which don't translate into real performance. I'd rather see a screen with a useable DCR of 10,000:1 like the EW2730V than a screen with an advertised 100 million:1 which only works in the most extreme and unrealistic circumstances that a user will never see.

 


Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the EW2730V were characteristic of an AMVA panel. Horizontally they were reasonably wide although was a contrast shift from an angle of >40 either side which made the image go a little yellow/green and quite pale. From a wider angle still the image had a more pronounced yellow and white tinge to it and you can pick this out from the images above. Vertically they were a bit more restrictive with a fairly noticeable contrast shift detectable with even a slight movement up or down, and a pale tinge to the image being more obvious. However, the viewing angles were certainly better than TN Film matrices in these regards, and free of the obvious vertical darkening you see from TN Film technology. However, they were not as wide as IPS or PLS matrices and the contrast shifts were more noticeable unfortunately.

There was also a pretty obvious off-centre contrast shift which is inherent to VA panel types. Using a test image which shows a dark grey font on a black background you can easily test this 'feature'. From head on, the text was invisible and largely lost within the black background. This is down to the pixel alignment in a VA matrix. As you move away from a central line of sight the text becomes lighter and is more easily visible, especially from an angle of about 45. This is an extreme case of course as this is a very dark grey tone we are testing with. Lighter greys and other colours will appear a little darker from head on than they will from a side angle, but you may well find you lose some detail as a result. This can be particularly problematic in dark images and where grey tone is important. It is this issue that has led to many graphics professionals and colour enthusiasts choosing IPS panels instead, and the manufacturers have been quick to incorporate this alternative panel technology in their screens. I would like to make a point that for many people this won't be an issue at all, and many may not even notice it. Remember, many people are perfectly happy with their TN Film panels and other VA based screens. Just something to be wary of if you are affected by this issue or are doing colour critical work.


Above: View of an all black screen from the side. Click for larger version

On a black image, there is a pale white / blue glow when viewed from an angle. This picture was taken in a darkened room though and in normal working conditions this shouldn't present much of a problem.



Panel Uniformity

Measurements of the screens luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with the NEC customised X-rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter. The above uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the luminance recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the reference point of a calibrated 120 cd/m2. This is the desired level of luminance for an LCD screen in normal lighting conditions, and  the below shows the variance in the luminance across the screen compared with this point. It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.

Uniformity of Luminance

The luminance uniformity of the EW2730V was reasonable with around two thirds (66%) of the screen being within 10% deviance from the 120 cd/m2 calibrated central point of the screen. In the most extreme cases, the luminance dropped down to 100 cd/m2 in the upper right and left hand corners. It was also slightly higher just above the central area, reaching up to 122 cd/m2 maximum. We had seen a fairly similar pattern of luminance uniformity in fact from the EW2420 when we tested it but all in all the screen performed pretty reasonably.


Backlight Leakage

Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

As usual we also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. The overall appearance of the screen in this test was very good, and the black content was rich and dark thanks to the high contrast ratio. You could detect some very slight leakage from the backlight in the four corners which you can just make out in the above photo. There was no severe leakage anywhere and thankfully none along the edges which can become distracting in some uses.

 


General and Office Applications

The BenQ EW2730V isn't like many other 27" screens in the market. It does not offer a massive WQHD 2560 x 1440 resolution and instead sticks with a smaller 1920 x 1080 resolution across its 16:9 aspect panel. While this of course has some cost saving advantages, and is perfectly suitable for multimedia use, it is not as good for general day to day office work. This relatively low resolution on such a large screen means there is a 0.311mm pixel pitch and the text appears large as a result. This might be good for those with any kind of eye sight issues, and for those who prefer a larger text size for a lot of web and text based work. However, you need to consider that this same 1920 x 1080 resolution can be found on small screens as well, including 21.5" diagonal models. On screens that size the resolution is arguably a little too high and text is a little too small, but on a 27" diagonal sized screen I personally think it is too low. The screen is certainly comfortable for a lot of text reading, but it just doesn't look quite as sharp and crisp as a higher resolution equivalent.

The resolution is still adequate for side by side splitting of content on the screen which is useful. Although the aspect ratio is still 16:9, it doesn't feel quite as short vertically for some reason as the same resolution feels on a smaller (21.5 - 23") sized screen. Perhaps that is something to do with the huge screen size. The digital DVI interface offered a slightly sharper image quality than the D-sub analogue interface and so should be used wherever possible for your PC connection. At least with the AG coating being pretty light here the white backgrounds did not appear too grainy or dirty as they can on some modern IPS panels.

There was no specific 'text', 'web' or 'internet' preset available from the Senseye menu and so you will need to stick with your standard mode really for office work. You will definitely need to turn the brightness control down considerably to make the screen comfortable, as it is far too bright out of the box. You may even need to reduce the brightness down to 0% to achieve a low enough luminance for comfortable working in normal lighting conditions. Unfortunately the backlight control does not afford you control to much lower than this which could present a problem for those wanting to use the screen in low lighting conditions.


The screen offers a 4 port USB 2.0 hub which is useful for connecting external devices. These are all located on the left hand side of the screen which is good for quick access. However, if there's something you want to leave permanently connected it isn't so good as you'd have an ugly wire poking out of the side of the screen all the time. It would have been better to feature a couple on the back as well next to all the power and video connections. There are also very limited ergonomic adjustments available from the stand with only a tilt function provided. This does allow a reasonable adjustment range back and forth, but height adjustment is certainly missed. There are no added functions such as ambient light sensors or human motion sensors here, but BenQ have included 2x 3W stereo speakers which should be ok for some casual 'office noises' and the odd mp3 or YouTube video.
 

 
Above: photo of text at 1920 x 1080 (top) and 1600 x 900 (bottom)

The screen is designed to run at its native resolution of 1920 x 1080 and at a 60Hz recommended refresh rate. However, if you want you are able to run the screen outside of this resolution. We tested the screen at a lower 1600 x 900 resolution while maintaining the same aspect ratio (16:9) to see how the screen handles the interpolation of the resolution. At native resolution the text was sharp as you can see from the top photograph. As I've already discussed, on a screen this size it can look a little big, and does not appear as crisp and sharp as on a tighter pixel pitch screen (e.g. 27" with 2560 x 1440 resolution). When you switch to a lower resolution the text is more blurry of course. There was fairly high levels of overlap of the pixels but text was still reasonably readable. Native resolution is recommended where possible of course for optimum picture quality.



Above: example of supposed operation of 'Super Resolution' feature

Within the OSD menu there is an option for Super Resolution. According to BenQ's website, this "improves picture clearance; accurately capturing details and enhancing picture quality." In reality it of course does not change the resolution available from the screen or anything like that. The panel at the end of the day still only supports 1920 x 1080 pixels. It seems to act a bit like turning the sharpness setting up would in the other section of the menu, making text appear slightly more jagged, but perhaps not as useable for prolonged period. I'm not sure this is particularly useful as a feature but it's there in case you want to try it.


 


Responsiveness and Gaming

The EW2730V is rated by BenQ as having an 8ms G2G response time which implies the use of overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology, used to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes. The AU Optronics M270HW02 V0 AMVA panel being used is rated by AU Optronics with a 12ms ISO response time (black > white > black).

Before we get in to the side by side screen comparisons I want to quickly talk about the AMA overdrive control available through the screens OSD menu. AMA is just BenQ's name for their overdrive technology, which is called 'Advanced Motion Accelerator'. This option is available within the 'picture' section as shown above. This allows you to manually control the level of AMA overdrive / RTC impulse being applied to the pixels, with options of off, high and premium being available. Overdrive is designed to help improve pixel responsiveness and reduce motion blur and ghosting in practice by speeding up the transitions the pixels make to change from one colour to another. You may wish to read our specs section for some further information about overdrive / response time compensation.


The screen was tested using the chase test in PixPerAn, a good bit of software for trying to quantify differences in real terms responsiveness between monitors. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared. The images above are the best case examples from the screen with the 'AMA' setting at each level.

In the 'off' mode there was a very noticeable ghosting to the moving image with a high level of blurring detectable. The panel itself is inherently unresponsive and without the AMA feature turned on the screen does not perform well in fast moving images. When switching to 'high' the ghosting was reduced somewhat and there was a less noticeable trail behind the moving car. However, it was not nearly as fast as we would hope from a modern screen with an 8ms G2G rated response time. Thankfully there is also another AMA setting labelled as 'premium' which boosts the RTC impulse a little more. This again helps reduce the blurring a little bit further, but it does not eliminate it. The trail image is also a little darker in this setting in practice as it seems a small amount of RTC overshoot is introduced because of the more aggressive application of RTC in this mode. To the naked eye you can notice a slight improvement in overall responsiveness when switching between 'high' and 'premium' but it's not a big amount. This 'premium' setting seems to be the optimum for moving images and gaming and I would recommend switching to this setting if you intend to use the screen in this way.

We had seen a similar operation of this AMA function from the EW2420 when we tested it, although that model only had options for on and off. The 'on' setting for the EW2420 performed in practice most like the 'high' setting here, with the 'premium' option not being available. It's good to see BenQ have added an additional level of control over this overdrive impulse but it seems it still doesn't make up for the fact that the panel technology is very slow.


Display Comparisons

The screen was tested again using the chase test in PixPerAn for the display comparisons. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared, with the best case example shown on the left, and worst case example on the right. This should only be used as a rough guide to comparative responsiveness but is handy for a direct comparison of the impact of this setting:


27" 8ms G2G AU Optronics AMVA (AMA setting = Premium)


27" 5ms G2G Samsung PLS (response time = faster)


27" 12ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


27" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


27" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


I have provided a comparison of the EW2730V first of all above against 4 other 27" screens we have tested which use IPS or PLS panel technology. The EW2730V is shown here with AMA turned to 'premium' since that had returned us the optimum performance in these tests. However, even with AMA turned up to its highest setting there was still a pretty noticeable level of motion blur apparent, even though a lot of the more severe ghosting had been removed. Compared with the other 27" screens here it was less responsive unfortunately. The HP ZR2740w was perhaps closest with a fairly high level of blur of the moving image, but not quite as high as with the BenQ model. The new Samsung PLS model, S27A850D performed very well and was faster than the IPS based 27" models shown here in fact.


27" 8ms G2G AU Optronics AMVA (AMA setting = Premium)


24" 8ms G2G AU Optronics AMVA (AMA setting = On)

I have provided a comparison here against the smaller 24" EW2420 model we tested in December 2010. As already said, the EW2420 performed quite similarly to the EW2730V when the AMA setting is left on 'high' (on the EW2730V model). When you switch the EW2730V to 'premium' there is a slight improvement again but it is very small as you can see from the above. This comparison gives you an idea of how responsive (or not!) modern AMVA panels are.



27" 8ms G2G AU Optronics AMVA (AMA setting = Premium)


24" 6ms G2G LG.Display e-IPS (Video OverDrive = On)


24" 8ms G2G LG.Display e-IPS


23" 8ms G2G LG.Display e-IPS (W-LED)


Above is a comparison of the EW2730V against some popular models in smaller sizes. Again these other 3 models are IPS based. The HP ZR2440w had performed very well in these tests and showed a much lower level of motion blur to the EW2730V in practice. There was a very slight dark and pale halo trail evident in those tests but it was very slight. The Dell U2412M and U2312HM again offered low levels of motion blur but a more obvious dark overshoot trail was introduced. Sadly the AMVA panel of the EW2730V could not keep up with these fast IPS models.




27" 8ms G2G AU Optronics AMVA (AMA setting = Premium)


27" 1ms G2G CMO TN Film (Response time mode = Advanced)


23.6" 2ms G2G CMO TN Film (120Hz)


22" 3ms G2G Samsung TN Film + 120Hz

I've also included a comparison above against 3 gamer-orientated screens, including the 27" TN Film based ViewSonic VX2739wm. This is a competing screen at the same size, but with different panel technology it is significantly different in performance in a lot of areas. That model is aimed primarily at gamers and even has a 1ms G2G quoted response time. It performs significantly better than the EW2730V in these tests as a result and overall the motion blur is at a very low level on that screen.

The other two models here both featuring heavily overdriven TN Film panels, and are combined with 120Hz technology. The pixel responsiveness of both of these is ahead of the EW2730V as well, but more importantly the 120Hz frequency allows for improved 120fps frame rates and the support of 3D content as well. The BenQ XL2410T does show some even more obvious RTC overshoot in the form of very dark trails behind the moving image (speech bubble and head) which is unfortunate, and a sign that the RTC impulse is too aggressive. The Samsung 2233RZ remains our champion in this test.


The responsiveness of the EW2730V was a little disappointing to be honest. With AMA turned off you would not want to use the screen for any kind of fast moving images, whether that be in games or movies. You can at least enable AMA to boost the responsiveness of the panel somewhat but it is still ultimately limited by the fact that AMVA has never been a particularly fast technology in the first place. The 'premium' AMA option seems to offer the least blurring but the screen cannot compete with fast IPS, PLS or TN Film panels. It should be ok for some moderate gaming and certainly ok for movies and video with AMA on 'premium', but any more serious gaming would be better suited to another screen.



Additional Gaming Features

Aspect Ratio Control - The screen offers a few options for hardware level aspect ratio control. There are settings for 'full' (fill the screen no matter what the source resolution and aspect), 'aspect' (maintain the source aspect but expand to fill the screen as much as possible), and 1:1 pixel mapping which will directly map the source resolution to the screen.

Preset Modes - There is a 'game' preset mode available from within the picture mode menu if you want a mode with boosted brightness and a more unnatural feel. The dynamic contrast option is available within this mode as well which some users may want to use.

 



Input Lag

We have recently written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. We have also improved our method by adopting the SMTT 2.0 tool which is used to generate the results below. Please see our full input lag testing article for all the details.

Input Lag Classification


To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels:

  • Class 1) Less than 16ms / 1 frame lag - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 16 - 32ms / One to two frames - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming and FPS

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 32ms / more than 2 frames - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming


For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

 Class 3

Our tests here are based on the new format using SMTT 2.0. We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. However, please note that the other screens tested here were using older stopwatch methods and not the SMTT 2.0 tool.

The BenQ EW2730V showed an average display input lag of 33ms during this test, ranging up to 37ms maximum. This is the overall lag of the image compared with a CRT, taking into account signal processing delay and pixel response times. This was a little slower than some other screens, not helped by the slow pixel response times of course which add to the overall image lag. With an average lag of just over 2 frames it is perhaps not ideal for fast FPS gaming, something which we'd already identified through our responsiveness tests as well. The lag of this screen has been categorised as CLASS 3 as detailed above. This should be ok still for some moderate gaming and movie / video use, but for those wanting to play fast FPS it might prove an issue.
 

For more information about the SMTT 2.0 tool, or to purchase a copy please visit:

http://smtt.thomasthiemann.com/index_en.html

 


Movies and Video

 The following summarises the screens performance in video applications:

  • 27" screen size makes it a pretty good option for an all-in-one multimedia screen and comparable to smaller LCD TV's in size.

  • 16:9 aspect ratio is more suited to videos than a 16:10 format screen, as it leaves smaller borders on DVD's and wide screen content.

  • Native 1920 x 1080 resolution can support true 1080 HD content

  • Digital interfaces 1x DVI and 2x HDMI support HDCP for any encrypted and protected content

  • Good to see two HDMI connections available which are very popular with external devices including games consoles and Blu-ray players. There is also an additional component connection which is nice to see. Would have perhaps been good to see DisplayPort as well which is really the only thing missing from a modern multimedia screen.

  • Black depth and contrast ratio are excellent. Detail in darker scenes and shadow detail should not be lost due to these measurements.

  • Dynamic contrast ratio is available and works well, allowing for a DCR up to around 10,657:1

  • 'Movie' preset mode available if you want a different set up to your normal mode. This seems to exaggerate the sharpness and make everything feel a little less realistic though.

  • Adequate pixel responsiveness for movies and video which should be able to handle fast moving scenes without issue. I would recommend using the 'premium' AMA setting.

  • Pretty wide viewing angles thanks to AMVA panel technology meaning several people could view the screen at once comfortable and from a whole host of different angles. Not quite as wide as some other technologies such as IPS, and the off-centre contrast shift can be a little annoying depending on your line of sight.

  • Limited ergonomic adjustment range available from the stand with only tilt available. It could prove difficult to obtain a comfortable position if you are watching from various locations and angles.

  • No significantly noticeable backlight leakage, and none from the edges which is good. This type of leakage may prove an issue when watching movies where black borders are present but it is not a problem here.

  • 2x 3W integrated stereo speakers available if you want, along with a couple of audio pass-throughs and a headphone socket. Might be useful for the occasional video but of course the speakers aren't up to a great deal.

  • Remote control provided which adds to the multimedia feel of the screen and helps it cross over from desktop monitor to LCD TV. I was unfortunately unable to test or see the remote since it was not provided with the sample we had been sent.

  • For PAL sources, we have tested the screen and confirmed it will support the full native resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 50Hz refresh rate.

There are also a couple of extra features available from the EW2730V via the OSD menu. The information below comes from BenQ's documentation but these include:

3D Noise Reduction

This is designed to automatically remove visible noise from the source to create advanced quality output in multimedia use.

3D De-interlace

Reduces cross-over interference flickers produced by HDMI and other components; providing consistent smooth high visual presentation.

PIP (Picture In Picture) & PBP (Picture By Picture)

Able to receive signals from 2 different sources, allow switching between windows easily to maximize entertainment.

Smart Focus

The Smart Focus option gives you a way to highlight a particular part of the image you are looking at and darken the rest of the screen. You can change the size and position of this 'window' which may be useful for watching movies embedded in websites, or sites like YouTube I suppose.

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Conclusion

I had mixed feelings about the EW2730V after our tests. On the one hand, BenQ have obviously made a big effort here to create a screen which is suitable for multimedia use, and not just as a desktop monitor. They have provided some nice features and options to help bridge the gap between desktop monitor and LCD TV. It was good to see a wide range of video and audio connections available here, including two HDMI which I would say are vital for any 'multimedia' orientated screen nowadays. The addition of a remote control and a few extras like PiP, PbP, dynamic contrast and noise reduction are all nice to have for a multimedia screen. Having said all of this, it feels like BenQ perhaps fell a bit short in some areas and didn't quite go all the way to producing a truly great screen for multimedia uses.

The screen was missing a DisplayPort which we can just about forgive. However, the stand adjustments were pretty limited which was a shame when you compare it with many desktop screens. The use of AMVA panel technology may well allow for very dark blacks and a high contrast ratio, but its responsiveness and slightly limiting viewing angles aren't ideal. The default setup of the screen was also very poor for PC use, and it seems BenQ have certainly opted for an overly bright, unrealistic and cartoony appearance more suited for videos and games than any kind of accuracy. Combine this with the fact the display only supports a 1920 x 1080 resolution on a 27" panel and you can't help feel that some sacrifices have been made for PC and desktop use in order to make it a multimedia screen for connection to external devices. It also feels a bit like it falls short of being a great multimedia screen as well, and is stuck somewhere in the middle.

The BenQ EW2730V hasn't really changed our opinion of modern AMVA based screens either. It did offer a very high static contrast ratio and deep, dark blacks. However, these weren't quite as good as we'd perhaps hoped based on the spec and on experience with the 24" EW2420 model. AMVA still has some issues though when it comes to response time and viewing angles and it doesn't really offer the all round performance of modern IPS panels.

Having said all that, there is perhaps one thing which is very much a positive for the EW2730V, and that is the price. It currently retails for ~290 GBP in the UK which makes it a considerable amount less than some other popular 27" models. The Samsung S27A850D for instance retails for ~560, and the Dell U2711 for around 550. TN Film models are of course available for lower costs still, but are more basic and more limited by their panel technology as well. BenQ may have made some cut backs and missed a few things off, but there's no denying this low cost is attractive for an AMVA panel and some nice features. If you are looking for a screen which is to be used perhaps more for gaming and movies from with external devices, and has a nice set of features and connections, this could be worth a look at this price.
 

Pros

Cons

Excellent black depth and static contrast ratio

Slow pixel response times and reasonably high input lag

Nice set of interface options

Limited ergonomic adjustments from the stand

Extras such as remote control, speakers, PiP and PbP

Limited resolution which is quite low for a panel this size.


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Further reading: TestFreaks

 

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