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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  • erple2 - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    I bought the hp 2475w to replace my old Dell 2001FP model. I don't have any complaints about it. The color is better than the Dell was. I wound up using both monitors, however, as I have the space on my desktop for both of those monitors. It's nice to have the side monitor (relegating the 2001FP to side monitor ... heh heh) for "other tasks" while focusing on the main monitor. Plus, they're about the same vertical size.

    Again, I haven't noticed any real complaints with the 2475w beyond what I'd also complain about the 2001FP. In fact, the brightness appears better and more uniform.
    Reply
  • Mastakilla - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Are you crazy?

    I (and I hope smarter people allow me to say "we") do NOT want high color gamut, because there is simply no support for it...

    until it is supported on OS level, 99% of the applications that 99% of the people use simply look like crap :(

    stop supporting this wide gamut bullshit please!!

    I want to see what I'm supposed to see and not some over saturated crap

    and even if you are a graphics artist using correct wide gamut hardware / software: what is the point in it? 99% of the people will see the image wrong anyway...
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    graphic artists prepare photos for PRINT not web viewing :-)

    also a proper wide gamut monitor has an sRGB mode where the colors match (or should match) sRGB, no oversaturated colors.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    The OP is misinformed. A wide color gamut is very important for color accuracy. Maybe not for the casual user, but definitely to the content creator. Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    Hence that's why I think most of the users commenting here aren't really in the business to even use, appreciate or know what they're getting. It's all about having the best but now knowing what to do with it. That's just my opinion of course.

    Now before anyone starts getting upset, I am still in the printing business dealing with credit cards and checks. I can tell you from numerous research and seminars that most people really don't care, don't know or don't appreciate what some of these technologies provide. And rightly so because it's a niche market.
    Reply
  • 10e - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    You said "In the case of the FP241VW, color accuracy and color gamut are lower than average, but that a better backlight could address that shortcoming."

    I'd agree the factory accuracy of the FP241VW is not good, but the fact that it was always a standard gamut display is/was an advantage. We get caught up in numbers and forget that in regards to gamut, for 99% of the users out there sRGB gamut is more than good enough, and is preferable to the over saturated reds and greens of wide gamut panels, which is something that so far even Windows 7 has not been able to properly address.
    Reply
  • 10e - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    In my experience the Samsung S-PVA panels used in these monitors lag: Dell 2408WFP, 2709W, Samsung 245T, 275T Plus. There is noticeable input lag where the mouse cursor plays "catch up" with what the mouse hand is doing. I had an FP241VW and it never displayed this characteristic in DVI or VGA. It goes to show that some people will notice it, and others won't. Reply
  • darklight0tr - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    I understand, but it is getting tiring to constantly get beaten over the head with that info, as is done in this article.

    I think PVA gets a bad rap, and I think the lag has more to do with the image scalers than it does with the panel technology itself. Just look at the reviews for the S-IPS 3008WFP. There are the same complaints from a few users about input lag on that display, and one of the main changes from the 3007WFP was the addition of an image scaler. All of the PVA displays you mention have scalers as well.

    That said, despite all of the hype you read on the Internet over lag, there are probably tons of very happy PVA users (including myself) playing games on their PVA displays, oblivious to any lag.
    Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    Indeed I have two Samsung 214T 21" 4:3 PVA panels and they are super sharp and I see no ghosting or 'catch up' whatsoever.

    Running through COD4/BF2/EVE etc. etc.

    As stated above I dont think its the panels. I reckon its the case of more expensive panel so often the manufacturer will cut corners on the other electronics inside to make it hit a price point.

    PVA's are fine. However, as with any monitor purchase, if you are serious about screen quality...do your homework!
    Reply
  • jabber - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Been using PVA screens pretty exclusively for gaming for around 3 years now. Havent noticed or seen any performance/screen lag issues in all that time.

    Maybe you are thinking back to the turn of the century screens?

    Certainly isnt an issue in my opinion.
    Reply

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