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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  • james jwb - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    PS, also want to say that trying to get S-IPS/PVA in notebooks is also a great service to us out there who dream of this day, again, thanks for trying to highlight this issue :) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    Dual-link DVI can do 120Hz at 1920x1200 - it's twice the bandwidth of single-link DVI. Most modern GPUs also support dual-link, but right now to my knowledge only 30" LCDs require it. Reply
  • james jwb - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    ah that's good to know, and now you've said it, pretty obvious! Reply
  • stubey - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    I have the Benq FP241w, the older version of this model (without the lag-reduction technology). It is still widely available for around £350. Well worth it.

    It has 1:1 pixel-mapping, brilliant viewing angles, colour, adjustable / rotating stand etc.

    Another example of older monitor better than the majority of newer more expensive ones.

    The HP LP2475w is meant to be brilliant also - although probably more like £450......

    Reply
  • marraco - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    THANKS A LOT
    for reviewing the real lag, instead of the "pixel response time".

    Is the reason for I keep my CRT monitor instead of upgrading to a LCD. I really would like to update to a LCD, but never found a LCD without "phantoms". Vendors lie, lie, and lie about 5 ms response time, but when you see the images, they are really crappy.

    This is somewhat hidden by the blur effect on some games, but I hate the blur effect, and ever disable it.

    Most LCD monitors on exhibition shows only static or slow motion images, and I know why: they can't show fast framerates without ghosts.

    I cannot buy a monitor until I see it working, but most retail vendors do not show the monitor working with fast moving images, so I absolutely crave for benchmark articles reviewing it.

    I even written to nvidia.com forum asking for driver support. Drivers should include a calibration tool for remediation of this lagging ghosts. A possible enhancement would be to display the new framerate substracting a dimmed quantity of the former frame, so ghosts gets somewhat hidden, but got no answer from nvidia. Maybe they have really high quality monitors, and don't understand the need for it, so please, if you are reading this article, go to nvidia/ATI, forums/support, and ask for it.

    Thanks a lot. I hope this kind of reviews generalize on internet, so LCD really improve.
    Reply
  • marraco - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=99591">http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=99591 Reply
  • marraco - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    here is a link to the nvidia forum where you can ask for this driver feature:
    Reply
  • marraco - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    This is the link for ATI/AMD:
    http://forums.amd.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=...">http://forums.amd.com/forum/messageview...=347&...
    Reply
  • marraco - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    I got an answer from ATI:

    http://forums.amd.com/game/messageview.cfm?catid=2...">http://forums.amd.com/game/messageview....279&...

    It looks like such feature is implemented at least for video.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    My biggest concerns with monitors are Viewing angles first, then response times, (I don't care if it's processing or pixel lag or input lag I shouldn't EVER see ANY ghosting or be seeing 1 or 2 frames behind what my computer is processing and outputting), then contrast ratios and brightness and last is color accuracy. I'm completely satisfied with my current 20" Sceptre's color accuracy. It's a HELL of a lot better than my Dell Studio Laptop, that thing is so far off it's "almost" funny; but not really cause it's also kinda pissing me off. I AM NOT satisfied with the viewing angles, I use cardboard to prop up the back of it to angle down so the image isn't mucked up when I watch tv on it; it has tilt, it just doesn't tilt far enough. Reply

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