Buy the Benq E2200HD 21.5IN 16 9 Widescreen
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Introduction

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Every year, users can count on new CPUs, GPUs, and other hardware to make their once great computer system seem old and outdated.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.

BenQ E2200HD Overview
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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    I have a BenQ MVA panel up next for review, along with a couple other 24" LCDs. I'm going to be very interested to see if the MVA panel can offer colors and viewing angles equal to S-PVA but with processing lag equal to S-IPS/TN. Stay tuned.... Reply
  • 10e - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    Keep in mind, that if you set 1:1 pixel mapping on your video card whether ATI or nVidia, both of these monitors will display 1:1 with black borders. 1680x1050 works perfectly as do other resolutions. To me this is the only reason you need 1:1 pixel mapping, and if the monitor supports it, it's not a big issue if it is not explicitly stated in the menus.

    A PS3 is a good benchmark here, and if the monitor was set to 1:1 you would get a full screen XMB/dashboard, and most games, running at 720p would display a tiny image with large black borders elsewhere. This is why proper aspect ratio scaling is important.

    Additionally, for the seldomly used 480p resolution, the monitor can simply be set to stretch to full screen so that this content is displayed at proper aspect ratio.

    I would say 1:1 pixel mapping in all cases is more useful for 16:10 monitors as opposed to 16:9.
    Reply
  • wicko - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    One problem I've had with TN panels is that under certain conditions in a game I've noticed a strange artifacting appear. It is most obvious under Source engine games, like Lost Coast, HL2, CS:S, but also noticeable in other games and even in movies. In the game, to reproduce it all you have to do is look at the sky and move the mouse around at varying speeds, and pay attention to the clouds. I noticed this magenta colouring appear in the silhouette of the cloud in the position it used to be, and then it will quickly disappear. Sometimes its other colours, it depends on whats being displayed. I've noticed this in movies (in the latest Bourne movie with the fight where he pistol whips the guy in the end) and in games. I think it was really bad in Quake 4, the part where you're launched into the air in a pod, and fog is rushing past, you can see a strange discolouring going on. Not sure what this is called, I haven't been able to find any info about this. I've noticed it with 3 different monitors with TN panels (a year or two ago) and since I've bought an LG panel with 5ms response time (not sure which panel) I haven't been able to reproduce it. Can anyone tell me what that artifacting is called, and do these new BenQ monitors have the same issue? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    It may have simply been an issue where the transitions between colors ended up with some image persistence that looked weird. You can see in the lag/response time images that there's an afterimage on moving objects, which ends up being half way between what was there last frame and what will be there in the next frame. It's likely that in some instances the half way point looks magenta.

    Some people call this "smearing", others "ghosting", or "motion blur". I call it image persistence I guess.
    Reply
  • wicko - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    I think this is a little different. I've seen ghosting before, and I was under the impression that low response time monitors don't have that issue. You only see this situation occur with certain colours, otherwise its completely unnoticeable. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Wednesday, November 05, 2008 - link

    Whatever you choose to call it, in my experience 5ms or < = none of it. On 8ms monitors it is still noticeable. My advice when buying a monitor is to shoot for integrated no speakers, HDMI, 1080P, matte finish on the screen and bezel, and at a 2ms response time. Also, anything under 21.5" is a waste of time in my opinion. A 19" or 20" monitor will suit many people just fine. I use Samsung Monitors and I think they're fantastic. I have the 204B and the 215tw, both of which have served me well with only one dead pixel in 4 yrs. I got the 20" for gaming with a 2ms response time, and the 22" (8ms response time) because it has component jacks. The only downsides are that I bought them as HDCP and HDMI were just coming into fruition, and that the 215tw has some worthless speakers which not only contribute to a rise in the cost of the product, but the weight and size of it too. Reply
  • wicko - Wednesday, November 05, 2008 - link

    Like i said, I've only seen this occur with 2ms panels. 2 of them were samsung (I can't remember what the models were) and another was the Viewsonic Vx922 (although there was considerably less of that happening to the VX922, a much higher end panel than the samsungs). On the LG, a 5ms panel, I haven't noticed this problem, which leads me to believe that its *not* ghosting. I've seen ghosting before. The whole screen kind of slides around, and its more obvious in darker areas. However, this only happens with certain colors, as far as I could tell, and they were all light colours. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Wednesday, November 05, 2008 - link

    The ms ratings of monitors is pretty often bs anyway. The overdrive required to get the fast speeds you mentioned can be done well or poorly, it sounds like the ones that had the problem were done poorly. Reply
  • Gizmonty - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    I bought an E2400HD about a month ago (in Australia) and it came with a DVI cable as well as a VGA cable. I've been very happy with it. Reply
  • Slash3 - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    Regarding the lack of 1:1 mapping, it can still come in quite handy for people who sometimes play older games, which commonly supported resolutions no higher than 1280x1024. With 1:1 mapping, this would result in a very close vertical fit, as intended (albeit with the unavoidable black bars on the left and right). Having to stretch the image to what amounts to 28 pixels in each direction (up and down) will result in reduced image quality with no perceived gain in size. This won't affect all users, but it is certainly a feature which separates the quality displays from the budget models.

    For 1280x720 content, scaling to fit is the obvious solution, as the aspect ratio is unchanged. That said, it's always nice to have the option. Sometimes, the pixels should only go where they're intended to be.
    Reply

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