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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  • darklight0tr - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Agreed. I've owned the DELL 2707WFP and recently upgraded to the 2709W and never experienced any lag with either one. I guess it just depends on the user. Reply
  • Lucfx - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    FYI
    One of the best displays I have ever seen (and cheap, too):
    http://www.lge.com/products/model/detail/w2600hp.j...">http://www.lge.com/products/model/detail/w2600hp.j...

    Stop buying garbage, buy this one. I have it, I love it.
    Reply
  • darklight0tr - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately that particular display isn't in the US. We get the crappy W2600H-PF, which uses a TN panel instead. Reply
  • darklight0tr - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    isn't available in the US is what I meant to say. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Saturday, June 27, 2009 - link

    Well that's just goofy that Americans can't buy it, lol!

    I don't want a larger dot pitch anyway for a monitor, which is why I use 1920x1200 @ 24" (.27 dot pitch). The 26" 2600 models are 1920x 1200 too, and have a .287 dot pitch; too big imo. Got more 'screen door' effect already than I like.

    ;)
    Reply
  • adder - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    well AU optronics made P-MVA and then it was replaced by the newer and much improved A-MVA,the sony Z4xxx series of lcd uses the AMVA which are as good as the S-PVA in viewing angles and contrast.
    AU optronics never made S-MVA which is made by CMO or chi me optronics.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Oops!

    s/S-MVA/A-MVA/g

    Sorry for the error - I get stuck thinking of everything "Super" whatever and forget that MVA used P and now A. Anyway, this is an AUO LCD panel and the S-MVA references have been fixed. :-)
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    there were quite a few 16:10 panels that had 170 degree viewing angles or better, which is enough for my monitor uses, which include using it as a tv. And LCD televisions generally have 178 degree viewing angles.

    So WHY are ALL the 16:9 widescreen displays 160 degree viewing angles??? Were the 16:10 monitors not TN panels??? I thought they were. So yeah, I understand getting cost down, and I'm not willing to pay much more than 200 for a monitor; so I don't want cost going up. But why are viewing angles so terrible on these new 16:9 monitors than use TN panels when the slightly older 16:10 monitors had better viewing angles??

    That needs to change NOW!!!!!!!!!! Also EVERY monitor should be LED backlit; and I'd pay a little more for RGB LED backlit.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    All the older 24" LCDs were S-PVA initially, and TN is only recently coming into favor there. I think the first TN 24" LCDs showed up maybe 18 months back. The problem is, the advertised viewing angles are bunk. Maintaining a 10:1 contrast ratio is NOT "viewable" by any stretch of the imagination, and that doesn't take into account color shifting seen on TN displays. Anyway, if it says more than 170 degrees on the vertical viewing angle, it's *probably* not a TN panel. Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    if those monitors that said 170+ vertical viewing angles weren't TN panels AND the price got down UNDER 200 dollars for a 22" then apparently whatever panel they were wasn't very expensive. So there's no reason to not use them. Also, I agree, how they test viewing angles needs to change. I shouldn't see ANY darkening of the image or shadowing when I'm looking down on or looking up at my monitor.

    Also, anandtech needs a way to email us when someone replies to out comments on here; and preferably have us be able to read the comment and respond if we want ALL in the email.
    Reply

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