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Review #1: BenQ 24 inch EW2440L (Monitor)

First up, kudos to Flipkart for their service. It took some convincing, but they refunded the price difference that was effected the day after I received delivery of the product through Flipkart First. 5 stars for that.Coming to the product itself, I would rate it a 4.5/5 and my line of thought goes as follows:

Having used a TN panel for 6 years, there was no way I was going to buy another one of those again. Gaming is one of my main purposes, but even 120Hz and 1ms response time (at a significant price premium) was never going to convince me otherwise.

The default option then was an IPS panel display, especially from the Dell Ultrasharp series. It overcomes the shortcomings of my previous display, mainly the flicker, colour and viewing angles, but has its own cons in the form of IPS glow and a higher price which need to be balanced out.

With my mind set on finding the middle ground, I came down the path presented by the AMVA panel. This Benq model features an AU optronics panel which is about as good as it is going to get for this technology. I say middle, but while it comes at a small price premium over TN panels, it trades punches with IPS panels in terms of quality. In effect, it is a real VFM.

So how do the listed features stack up on the goodness scale?

MHL: Seems like a cool thing to have if your phone is MHL compatible. For now, my mobile sits snuggly in the stand while getting charged, alerting me of any notifications while I work/play.

Cinema Mode: Just a preset mode with higher contrast and sharpness.

Super Resolution: Really cranks up the sharpness and is not very pleasing to use.
Smart Focus: Dims out certain part of the screen to watch videos that are not in full screen mode. If it sounds banal, it is.

Flicker-free: A deal clincher for me. I had to previously take recourse to a pair of Gunnar’s to be able to use the PC for an extended period of time. This monitor is really easy of the eyes as it does not use PWM to adjust the brightness.

Low Blue Light Mode: Another “healthy feature”. Ruins the colour akin f.lux, but is particularly useful when reading in low light conditions. ‘

Apart from these, I would like to mention some of the other hardware aspects that are kind of unique to this product. 

First up, the bezels. The picture accompanying the product is certainly marketing drivel as it chooses to ignore the inner bezel. However, all things considered, the bezels are still slimmer than most monitors of this size. Also, the thin outer bezel makes this thing a piece of art when switched off, a perfect aesthetic complement to the living room.

Next up, the touch controls. It is frankly undetectable in all but flood-lit conditions. The
“Low Blue Light” sticker aids in finding its location but you have to take random vertical swipes hoping to hit one of the controls. Thereafter, on-screen prompts aid in completion of the task and in that way it is better than having physical buttons that wear off quickly or act wonky over time. Regular usage in my case is limited to switching between picture modes and hence there isn’t much to complain about. However, something as simple as luminescent markings would have helped immensely.’

The other aspect is the ports provisioning which is conspicuous by the absence of DVI. It immediately renders my GPU’s dual DVI ports useless along with the cables. I did have an HDMI cable on hand (not supplied by Benq) to connect my monitor, but that meant I had to disconnect my TV as my GPU has only one HDMI port. This is nothing an adapter won’t solve but just brings in to picture (pun intended) an extra hassle that can be done without. 

Coming to the display attributes, the settings allow enough freedom to come up with a satisfying picture quality. The true 8-bit panel without dithering enables to easily come up with an eye-pleasing setting which is more than enough in the absence of any calibration equipment. Among the cons, there is the “MVA glow” which I honestly find to less irksome than IPS glow or general backlight bleeding. Also, while screen legibility is not impacted when viewing at extreme angles, there is certainly a perceptible off-centre colour shift which might be an issue if you are not viewing the monitor straight up. The speakers are best forgotten. 

I would like to put in a special mention for the contrast of this monitor which is frankly breath-taking and cannot be matched by any TN/IPS panel. I had engaged in back-to-back sessions of the original Bioshock on my old monitor and this one, and was frankly astounded at the details I could make out in the dimly lit regions. The contrast remains intact even with low brightness settings which is also useful for reading and surfing in a dark environment.

To sum it up, unless you are a professional gamer or artist/photographer, this is the best everyday 24″ inch monitor you are going to get at this point of time. Bang for the buck at Flipkart’s price of 12420.

Originally published on Flipkart on 6th September 2014.

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