Available for $350, the BenQ M2700HD is quite the deal. It includes a 27-inch screen with a 1,920x1,080 resolution, a plethora of connection options including two HDMI ports and multiple USB ports, and a built-in speaker bar. We saw good performance in movies and games and our DisplayMate tests, but its high brightness raised the black level and dark screen clouding to a noticeably detrimental extent. The display also lacks ergonomic options, and the sound from the speaker bar is lacking. However, thanks to its plentiful features, large screen size, and reasonable price, the BenQ M2700HD makes for a sound monitor investment.
Design and features
The 27-inch BenQ M2700HD looks larger than some other 27-inchers, thanks mostly to its built-in speaker bar, located along the bottom of its bezel. The glossy black bezel measures 1 inch on the left and right sides and about 1.2 inches on the top and bottom. There's about a half inch of space between the bottom of the bezel and the speaker bar. A clear fiberglass plate, which connects the speaker bar to the panel, runs through the middle of the monitor.
The panel's initial depth measures 1.1 inches but extends back another 1.5 inches when the connection options are factored in. This brings the monitor's full depth to 2.6 inches; not a great depth, especially considering its screen size. The display's full width measures 26 inches; about what we'd expect from a monitor of this size. The circular footstand measures 8.8 inches in diameter. The neck of the display attaches to the foot stand and provides a 10-degree back tilt, but no other ergonomic options are included.
The back of the panel shares the front's glossy-black look and includes VESA wall support, if that's your thing. On the top back are many small ventilation-providing holes. On the right side of the back are two HDMI ports, a DVI port, VGA, composite, component, and S-Video. Also, there are two USB downstream ports and one upstream port. On the left side of the bezel are two additional USB downstream ports and a headphone jack.
On the spine of the bottom right side of the bezel is the onscreen display (OSD) array, with the power button below it. The array consists of five buttons: Auto, Menu, Up, Down, and Enter. Below the array, embedded in the fiberglass, is an LED that glows light green when the monitor is powered on. The labels for each function are located to the left of the buttons, on the front face of the bezel. The labels are dull white in color and are difficult to see when calibrating the monitor's settings in a dark room.
The M2700HD's preset modes include Standard, Movie, Game, Photo, sRGB, and Eco. Each preset changes the color temperature and brightness of the display with the intent of them being appropriate to the task; for example, Eco lowers the brightness significantly to save on power. Its additional color preset options include Normal, Reddish, and Bluish color temperature options and BenQ provides you with the capability to change the monitor's RGB values individually; however we were unable to get the latter to work properly on our model. The option was visible when we changed the Color Temperature to User Mode, but the R, G, and B can't be selected and, thus, can't be changed. BenQ did not get back to us about this issue by post time.
The OSD is fairly easily navigated, but our preferred method of navigating it is to use the included remote control. The remote allows you to access all OSD options quickly and navigate through them easily.
Also, thanks to the speaker bar's placement at the bottom of the bezel, moving the display may be a challenge. In our experience, usually the best place to grab a monitor when moving it is under the bottom of the bezel. With the M2700HD, however, you greatly increase the chance of damaging it when grabbing it in this fashion.
|Connectivity: HDMIx2, DVI, VGA, composite, component, S-Video|
|Ergonomic options: 10-degree back tilt|
|Aspect ratio: 16:9|
|Audio: Built-in speakers, optical audio|
|VESA support: Yes|
|Included video cables? DVI, VGA, HDMI|
|Panel Type: TN|
|Screen film: Matte|
|Number of presets: 6|
|Picture options: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness|
|Color controls: Normal, Color temperature control (Bluish, Reddish), RGB controls|
|Gamma control: Yes|
|Additional features: Remote control included|
We tested the BenQ M2700HD through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 87 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests--a few points higher than the Asus VE276Q's 82. In our Extreme Grayscale Bars test, the BenQ M2700HD was able to display dark gray down to level one, unlike the Asus, which, though it had a deeper black level, crushed dark gray and was only able to display as low as a level-eight gray. Thanks to the M2700HD's high brightness, the display struggled in our Dark Screen test; its clouding was easily noticeable.
In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were visible down to a 6.8 size, but were less sharp compared with the VE276Q. Increasing the sharpness of the display improved this somewhat, but not greatly.