We looked at a couple of BenQ LCDs last year and were generally pleased with their features, pricing, and performance. The E2200HD and E2400HD were among the first 21.5" and 24" 1080p computer LCDs to hit the market, and since that time we have seen a veritable deluge of similar displays. Pricing has dropped even further, and if you're not super concerned with image quality you can basically grab any of the current crop of 21.5" to 24" LCDs and walk away pleased with your purchase. The short summary of what you get is:

  • A reasonably large LCD
  • Pricing of under $200 for 22" or under $300 for 24" (and less during sales)
  • Limited extras - usually no height adjustment, portrait mode, or other extras beyond USB ports
  • Good processing speed - little to no image lag relative to other LCDs
  • Decent (average) color accuracy
  • Mediocre color gamut
  • Poor vertical viewing angles

The last four items in that list can be summarized with one simple statement: these inexpensive LCDs all use TN panels. There tend to be two types of display users, those that care a lot about image quality and those that really have no idea what image quality means. The latter are not necessarily wrong or uninformed; they just don't care enough about such things to worry about low-level details and they will usually be happy with any current LCD purchase. These are the type of users that give 5-star reviews to pretty much every LCD on Newegg, as an example. I say good for them and enjoy your inexpensive LCD. In truth, I use TN panels on a regular basis (pretty much every laptop out there uses a TN panel), and while I might notice the difference initially it will fade from conscious thought after a few minutes.

For those that want something better, the choices are far more limited… and far more expensive. Upgrade from a TN panel to a similarly sized PVA or IPS panel and you can usually count on spending 50% to 100% more - or more! - on the purchase. That might be perfectly acceptable if the PVA/IPS panels were all universally better, but that's not always the case. Color accuracy is almost random it seems, with some IPS panels scoring exceptionally well, PVA panels running the gamut from great to average, and TN panels that likewise fall anywhere from excellent to mediocre. Viewing angles always favor IPS and PVA panels over TN panels, especially in terms of vertical viewing angles. Color gamut is tied to the backlight used in the panel, so you can have poor or great color gamut with any panel technology. Last but not least is image processing speed, and here's where things get interesting.


To date, the fastest panels in terms of image processing speed (frequently referred to as "input lag") are all IPS or TN panels. These displays are essentially equal and very few people would notice any lag. PVA panels are a different story, unfortunately, with lag ranging from 20 to 50 ms in testing. That means if you purchase a PVA display, you should plan on your display running 1 to 3 frames behind your current input. Most people associate this lag with gaming, and it can certainly affect your performance in fast-paced, competitive games. If what you see is actually three frames behind the current action - and add in networking lag and other types of lag and it could be delayed five or more frames! - you could end up with a competitive handicap. However, it's not just a problem with gaming. Even in general computer use, a laggy display can make it seem like your mouse is sluggish. Personally, PVA panels with 40+ ms of processing lag feel like the early wireless mice, where there was a small but perceptible delay between moving the mouse and seeing the result on screen. Doing precise image editing, as another example, is an area where faster display processing times are desirable.

The vast majority of LCDs these days are TN panels, and the trend appears to be moving even more in that direction. With a soft economy, many are looking for any way to save money, and even those who really like quality displays may be willing to settle for a less expensive TN panel. S-PVA panels all come from Samsung (they hold the patent on the technology), while IPS displays come from a couple manufacturers. Similar to PVA is a lesser-seen panel type called MVA (A-MVA), and these panels also come from one source: AU Optronics. Some users prefer PVA/MVA images over IPS, for whatever reason, so while my personal preference tends to IPS I was excited to finally have an opportunity to look at an A-MVA panel.

BenQ is one of the retail arms of AU Optronics; they shipped me their FP241VW several months back, and I began testing. Before I could finish with the review, unfortunately, I was informed that the model was being discontinued. However, while that makes the review of the FP241VW less meaningful, AU Optronics still has A-MVA panels and these show up in other displays. That being the case, I felt it would be good to discuss some of the highlights of the A-MVA panels and show limited testing results for the BenQ FP241VW. Why would that even be useful? As you might have guessed there are some interesting performance characteristics to discuss.

Let's Talk Panel Technologies
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  • TA152H - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    Even back 20 years ago, only a certain amount of companies made shadow masks too. Nanao did not make their own, but, yet, their screens were the best. It's not as simple as you make it sound.

    It's actually possible that NEC might make a better monitor in some instance, although I've never seen it, but, by and large, Eizo is much better. You know when you're looking at an Eizo.

    The picture quality is much better than NEC, or anyone else. I'll say this though, I have had uneven reliability with Eizo. Some monitors have been fine, and but more than there should be died quickly or had intermittent problems they should not have. This happens with all monitors, of course, but, in my small sample set, Eizo monitors have had more problems than others, but a small degree.

    Clearly, all that money is put into picture quality, not reliability.
    Reply
  • darklight0tr - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Expensive != Quality and Eizo is proof of this.

    Our internal graphics department recently moved to 24" Eizo monitors at $1700 a pop and HATE them. They are inconsistent across the display, and are no better than the standard DELLs we use for the rest of the environment. They had high expectations for those displays and were really let down and the Eizo rep was no help at all. Its funny how communication diminished as soon as the sale was completed.

    What a waste of money.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    It's funny, because two people where I work got two Eizo's, and everyone wants them, and comments on them.

    Even on independent reviews, when they actually do get reviewed, they always are rated extremely highly, except for price. I don't know why your experience would be so much different, but, it sounds like you guys are either stupid (for not looking at the monitors first before buying a bunch), or it's made up.

    Probably the latter, since no one would buy a monitor that was really expensive without seeing it and judging it first.
    Reply
  • darklight0tr - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Wow, a whole two people. What a great example you have there.

    We have a whole department with them (almost 20 monitors) and while they work okay, most of them don't live up to the price tag. As I said, the colors aren't consistent across the display, even after calibration (yeah, us stupid people actually know how to do that). This happens with pretty much every one we have. We didn't buy them sight unseen either, which would have been pretty moronic. I think it is the backlight that causes many of the issues, which is unfortunate. I hope LED backlight displays help with this problem.

    Who cares if they are reviewed well? I have them here in person and they don't live up to the price OR the reviews.

    Calling me stupid, how mature. How about not judging me based on your own limited experience?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    See, that's the problem: server CPUs start out as super fast but the tech makes its way to consumer products. The same thing has happened with GPUs, HDDs, RAM, etc. to varying degrees - it's all substantially cheaper now and performance has improved. But LCDs? Well, Eizo makes high quality LCDs, certainly, but they cost an arm and a leg. The cheapest 24" Eizo (taking a quick look) is over $800, with other models costing $1500 or more. They may be the best displays on the market, but what I want is to see that quality make its way into $500 LCDs. Reply
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    http://translate.google.com/translate?prev=hp&...">http://translate.google.com/translate?p...mp;sl=nl...

    Launched in japan just yesterday with a $500 pricetag...

    Now if only they would sell it abroad as well with a similar pricetag. And we need a review, it's "VA" technology but which one?
    Reply
  • Mastakilla - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Eizo is not at all that good for it's price

    For a similar price you get a muuuuuuch better NEC monitor (check out the xx90 series)
    Reply
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Not going to happen. Well, maybe eventually the cheapos arrive at todays quality of Eizo, but then Eizo would have moved beyond that again. :P

    Quality and spending a few hundred bucks just doesnt go together. Buy Eizo and be happy for many, many years - not only due to the 5 years on-site warranty (not that I've ever had to make use of it, though..)
    Reply
  • HexiumVII - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    I've been using of those old Soyo 24" with the MVA I got for $250 a few years back, its great, has all the advantages of MVA and color is very accurate with my spyder. At school we have 24" iMacs and the screen is just friggin amazing. It's just so much better than everything else out there. A lot of it has to do with the glossy screen. So here's to a 24" 16:10 screen with gloss for a reasonable price one day. Reply
  • marraco - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    I got crazy trying to play Crisys 2 at the morning on a glossy monitor. There was no way to see clearly the image without reflections. There was no way to accommodate the monitor to reduce reflex.
    glossy is an absolute crap. I hate it from gut.
    Reply

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