BenQ E2200HD and E2400HD - 1080P FullHD LCDsby Jarred Walton on November 4, 2008 5:00 AM EST
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Technology often seems to be running along at a breakneck pace; many people are still trying to find good uses for quad-core Core 2 processors, and yet already those are yesterday's news. Every year, users can count on new CPUs, GPUs, and other hardware to make their once great computer system seem old and outdated. Thankfully, there are areas where progress occurs at a more sedate pace. Yes, once again it's time to talk about displays.
That's not to say that displays haven't changed a lot over the years; besides lower prices, we have seen some technological innovations particularly in the LCD arena. Five years ago, the best you could hope for was pixel response times that weren't atrocious. These days, numerous displays boast 2ms response times, and while the reality may be that typical response times are quite a bit higher, at least that's one area where technology has reached the point that you don't need to worry about it too much anymore.
BenQ is a company that has been around for a while in one form or another. Originally established in 1984, the BenQ name officially came into existence in 2001, when they separated from Acer. While they do make other peripherals (Joybook laptops, optical drives, digital cameras, phones, and even a mobile Internet device), BenQ is best known among computer users for their displays and projectors.
Their latest "innovation" is that they are leaving behind 16:10 aspect ratios and instead going with 16:9 FullHD/1080P displays (at least for some models). Why is that important? Honestly, if all you ever do on your PC is surf the web, play games, and do office work there's a very good chance you will not appreciate the difference. Where this is useful is in support for native HDTV resolutions. Instead of a vertically stretched image filling your 16:10 display or black bars on the top and bottom, you can watch HD content at its normal aspect ratio and have it fill the whole display. This is supposed to help with watching the latest Blu-ray movies, but there's just one small problem: a lot of HD content doesn't use a 16:9 (1.78) aspect ratio. Instead, many DVDs and Blu-ray movies now use a 2.39 AR, so you still end up with black bars on the top and bottom.
Certainly there is an amount of marketing involved in promoting FullHD/1080P LCDs, but 16:9 video content does exist (and gaming content as well -- Assassin's Creed being a prime example) so there are occasions where this isn't pure marketing hype. How big of a benefit the 1080P resolution is will depend largely on how much multimedia content you view. Note also that the two displays we are looking at today support HDMI, so besides functioning as computer LCDs they can also stand in for an HDTV, or you can hook up an Xbox 360 or PS3. In that case, the native 16:9 AR can be very important!
Today we are looking at the BenQ E2200HD and E2400HD. Both have a native resolution of 1920x1080, with the difference being that one is at 24" panel and the other is a 22" panel (technically 21.5"). In terms of features and appearance, the two LCDs otherwise look identical. Naturally, the larger E2400HD does cost more, but depending on your eyesight the extra ~$100 may be money well spent. If you only plan to use your display as a computer monitor, we wouldn't worry too much about the debate over 16:9 vs. 16:10 AR -- instead, get whichever display offers the best image quality at the most reasonable price. What we want to find out then is how well these new BenQ displays perform. After all, if image quality, processing lag, or other aspects are really poor, aspect ratio support may be the least of your concerns. So let's get to it.