By David Hague
It's not often I get the chance to review a monitor; in the main monitor manufacturers tend to overlook Auscam, possible forgetting that everyone who does video editing has one or usually two monitors nailed to their PC and perhaps even a third strictly used for playback.
In fact, in the video world monitors are probably more critical than any everyday old computer monitor is. Serious photographers who play with Photoshop will know what I mean. Calibration is everything.
Which leads me neatly to the BENQ GW2450 which landed on my desk today.
I am a writer and editor who understands colour but when it comes to the technical aspects of why a good monitor IS a good monitor, I had to go a-searching and the results were interesting. In simple terms, there is cheapo and cheerful, mid-range and excellent colour and then expensive with top shelf colour, but in terms of using for editing, colour grading and photography has downsides.
The cheap and cheerful are known as TN panels and these are fast and responsive, but let down by narrow viewing angles, they're not as bright as some and the colour repo is not that flash.
At the top end are IPS based monitors and these have super colour, wide viewing angle and they are s-l-o-w in comparison to VA based panels. These have much better viewing angles than TN panels, a far superior brightness an exceptionally good response time (but admittedly not as fast as TN panels) but the kicker for video and colour grading is they have the best blacks. I am told this is Very Important.
And this is where the BENQ GW2450 slots neatly in.
I replaced a 12 month old brand name 21" with the Benq and the differences were immediately obvious. Hooking them up side by side on a twin NVidia card was chalk and cheese. The only thing I needed to do out-of-the-box was lower the brightness about 10% from the default, but that is a result of my eyesight and not the monitor's fault (too much sun in the Kimberley's in the 60s, 70s and 80s I am told - I hate brightness nearly as much as decaf coffee or shiny dunny paper).
On that note though, the bigger 24" meant that I could view better and not have to lean forward as I did with the 21" with the corresponding trips to the physio every 3 months to get unravelled. Native resolution is the full HD spec of 1920 * 1080 by the way and there are built in audio speakers.
And not that it is THAT important - yet - but when you touch the screen of the Benq you don't get that characteristic wavy motion as the pixels readjust. When we are all using Windows 8 and touch screens is when this will become an issue I suspect.
Gripes? Only a couple and I suspect they are personal things anyway. Firstly I am not a fan of having to push plugs into vertical sockets i.e. power, video in etc. I accept this means the monitor profile retains its "thinness", it's just to me an annoyance to have turn a monitor upside down just to plug it in. Yes, I know, picky, but we all have our foibles.
The second is something I had to investigate a bit further. The instructions (and on the website) say this monitor is Windows 7 certified and will work as soon as it is plugged in.
My first (and preferred) connection was and is HDMI. The monitor has it and my NVidia card has it. If I plug my Sony Bravia TV in via HDMI, it is detected and works immediately. However investigation showed the HDMI "switch" is off by default on the Benq. Again perhaps a little semantic but should be spelled out in the instructions. By the way no HDMI cable is supplied with the monitor and just as it does when not supplied with HDMI aware cameras, is a sore point with me.
Apart from that, highly recommended indeed. And the price is bloody brilliant!
- Performance 9
- Documentation 7
- Features 9
- Setup 8
- Value for Money 9
We liked: clarity, contrast ratio, black blacks, supports HDMI, brilliant value for money, wide viewing angle
We didn't like: vertical sockets/ports, HDMI off by default, no HDMI cable supplied
For more information: http://www.benq.com.au/product/monitor/GW2450HM