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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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    The glossy vs. matte debate is one of those areas that comes down to personal preference. Me, I really dislike glossies - and I know plenty of others that feel the same. However, I also know people that prefer glossy displays. More power to 'em, but I'm not going to encourage the trend. :-) Reply
  • photoguru - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    - Vizio 32" LCD Full HDTV (VO32LFHDTV10A) - $527 at Sam's Club US
    I've swapped out my 20" Apple Cinema Display for this 32" TV and I was completely shocked at the quality of the panel. If you run your image through one of the HDMI inputs text looks crisp and it even can run PIP for watching TV while working.

    I am a creative director and so I spend a lot of time staring at screens working on print, web, and television programs... I would like to have an LED back lit screen but for the money this thing is ridiculous.
    Reply
  • iwodo - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Are there any major different between panel type in terms of power consumption?

    And i really do hope either TN solve their "in-viewable" vertical viewing angle. ( Sorry "poor" in your article simply would not justify it ) with special coating that has been developed for a long time but there are yet wide spread of use.

    Or E-IPS will give the best performance per dollar. TN is possible the worst invention for Display Monitor history in All times.
    Reply
  • aceh0 - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link



    The FP241VW launched in early 2007 and had nearly a two year run. Street pricing was under 500$ near the end of the product life cycle.
    Reply
  • evilspoons - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    I found an missing-box demo model at a local computer store for $250, but I passed on it seeing the noticable lag between moving the mouse and seeing the cursor respond. That, and the asinine stand, made me keep looking. I hate my 22" Gateway monitor (it does a terrible job dithering) but I'm not going to spend money on virtually the same thing as a replacement, either (i.e. any other new monitor).

    I tried to buy an IPS 24" HP monitor a few months ago (lp2475w) but the distributor I attempted to order from jacked the price up $200 (from $700 Canadian to nearly $900 - ouch) in the time between me placing the order and it shipping, so I just cancelled.

    Then... I just gave up entirely because I realize I spend 99% of my computer time on my MacBook Pro now and I have to live with its LCD. Ha.
    Reply
  • erple2 - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Why not just buy directly from hp? They have it for 729 Canadian dollars. Was it really that much cheaper when you got it from the distributor than directly from hp? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Sorry for the error; I have clarified things now I hope. You're right that it first came out in 2007, but I believe it was announced early 2007 and actually available round about Sept/Oct. Anyway, it is discontinued, unfortunately just around the time the pricing was becoming desirable. You can find them online still at some places, but no major resellers carry them anymore so you'll have to take a bit of a chance if you buy one these days. Reply
  • IlllI - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    "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"

    while TN is indeed cheapest, you can actually get a 22in e-ips lcd for around (or sometimes under) $200. while not as good as the more expensive ips panels, it is (in my opinion) better quality than TN. certainly, you guys know of it? http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...">http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...
    Reply
  • Grooveriding - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    It's a real shame the tendency towards TN these days. Most consumers are just not informed as to the much more satisfying experience given by PVA/IPS panels.

    If you can get someone to sit in front of a TN and high quality monitor side by side that is usually enough to settle it, of course for some image quality is not a concern. For the enthusiast hardware user though, it usually is.

    I have an older LG246WP-BN which is a fantastic screen with great quality as well as a Dell 2408. Reading this article has made me think my eyes are bad though, as I prefer the IQ on my LG to the Dell, which according to this review ought to be superior with it's more modern panel tech.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    Consumers are mostly going to want something average with a good low price. This isn't going to go away. And on most of their part they don't really care whether it's a TN panel or better because as long as it's "clear" and they like it then they'll buy it.

    I'll use myself as an example. I have 2 Dell 3007wfp-hc, 1 2407wfp, 2 22" viewsonics, 1 Acer 24" with TN, and 1 Acer 22" with TN. My main computer uses the 3007's of course but even when I switch to the other panels I rarely care. That's because the content I'm working with really doesn't require the extra 5-15% gamut, high contrast and so forth.

    Now if I really really care about colors, brightness, details and what have you then sure I'll spend the extra money on better panels and features. But then again why wouldn't I spend it on the medical LCDs :)

    I am pretty sure many of you commenting about wanting/needing a better than TN panel actually don't care whether you do or not on a daily basis. If you do you'll be a stickler like my co-worker who spends time paying attention to ghosting, blurs, etc EVERY time he uses his TV. I'm pretty sure many of you don't do this nor have the time to do this. If you do then....well, no comment. :)
    Reply

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