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BenQ E2220HD review: BenQ E2220HD

BenQ offers an excellent screen that gamers are sure to love. Its colour accuracy isn't up there with the likes of the Dell 2209WA, but if you're not a designer, this monitor is worth the dollars saved.

Craig Simms Special to CNET News
Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.
Craig Simms
8 min read

Way back in the fog of 2001, a brand called BenQ came into existence, spun off from Acer. Acer was to be the business brand, BenQ the lifestyle. Things didn't quite work out this way, and in 2006 Acer removed its interest in BenQ entirely, leaving the company to fend for itself.

8.8

BenQ E2220HD

The Good

Excellent price. Low light bleed. Large amount of inputs. Next to no input lag. Headphone hanger.

The Bad

Black levels aren't great. Speakers are low quality. Side-mounted buttons. HDMI shouldn't be used with 1080i sources. Can't do 24p.

The Bottom Line

BenQ offers an excellent screen that gamers are sure to love. Its colour accuracy isn't up there with the likes of the Dell 2209WA, but if you're not a designer, this monitor is worth the dollars saved.

In the monitor space, BenQ has typically delivered mid-range to high-end consumer products. Things haven't changed with its latest entry, the E2220HD. Despite the prevalence of twos in the model name, this isn't a 22-inch monitor; rather it's a 21.5-inch. While losing half an inch might be damaging to some people's reputations, in the case of monitors it's not too bad, as the shrinking in panel size coalesces with an increase in resolution to the full HD 1920x1080. In short, it's not the size that matters, and BenQ sure knows how to use it.

Also sloshing around in the positive bucket is BenQ's styling. The crisp, clean lines; piano black and silver accents creating an attractive monitor that anyone would be proud to have on their desks. The funky standout feature of the E2220HD though is a hook that clips into the back of your monitor, containing what looks like a smiley bear.

BenQ's smiley bear

Awww, it's so cute. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

This cute little mascot does more than make you feel like you've dropped into a Japanese cartoon; it holds your headphones, too. By and large it's quite effective, and keeps things neat provided you can be bothered to hang your headphones in the first place.

BenQ E2220HD

The E2220HD is rather attractive, and reasonably slim with a plethora of inputs. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Specs at a glance

Size 21.5 inches
Resolution 1920x1080
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch 0.248
Panel technology TN
Viewing angles
(10:1 contrast)
H: 170°
V: 160°
Response time 5ms
Max vertical refresh 76Hz
Connections 2x HDMI, DVI, VGA, 3.5mm line in/out, headphone jack, 4x USB
Accessories DVI, VGA, USB upstream, 3.5mm audio and power cables

Stand and ergonomics

The E2220HD's stand is ovoid, and offers tilt functionality only. The stand isn't quite heavy enough though, as when tilting the panel back, you'll need to hold down the stand with your other hand at the same time lest the whole thing lift up with it. A single liftable loop on the neck provides cable management. By itself it's too small to fit a DVI cable through, although you can unclip the loop from the neck to fit through any cables you might need. It's not the most elegant solution, but it works.

BenQ E2220HD stand

It's fine once you've adjusted to your desire, but the stand really isn't heavy enough to make easy adjustments.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Connections

BenQ E2220HD inputs

Power, 3.5mm line in and out, 2x HDMI, DVI, VGA, USB upstream and 2x USB downstream. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

BenQ E2220HD inputs

Two more USB ports and a convenient headphone jack. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Speakers

BenQ has fit two 1.5W speakers to the bottom of the E2220HD, but you're better off using your own speakers or headphones, as they're tinny, weak and unconvincing at best.

Buttons and on-screen display (OSD)

BenQ persists in using annoying side-mounted buttons. Despite having labels (which are difficult to find in the dark), placing the buttons on the side and their order feels clunky and unintuitive, resulting in many mistaken button presses and slow configuration.

The buttons also act as shortcuts, with the Enter button acting as an input switcher, the Up button allowing quick access to volume controls, and the down button cycling through the image presets.

BenQ E2220HD buttons

BenQ still falls back on the highly frustrating side-mounted buttons. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Thankfully, the OSD is modern and well designed, and offers gamma and sharpness settings above the usual fanfare. Scaling abilities include Overscan, Full and Aspect, but you won't find a 1:1 option here.

BenQ has also embraced the way of the preset, bundling Standard, Eco, sRGB, Photo, Game and Movie profiles. As usual we suggest going with the standard/custom profile and calibrating yourself, as these built-in presets are sub-standard as nearly always seems to be the case.

While Dynamic Contrast Ratio is thankfully turned off by default, BenQ has also thrown in something called SenseEye, which dynamically adjusts contrast and sharpness. Despite the gushing PR, we'd suggest you leave it at its default state: off, where it can't mess with your images.

BenQ E2220HD OSD

BenQ's OSD is tabbed, and, confusing button layout aside, works well. It doesn't contain any extraordinary options, but isn't missing anything either. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Performance

Lagom.nl LCD tests
After calibrating to a target brightness of 140cd/m² with an
X-Rite i1Display 2, Eye-One Match 3 and tweaking with HCFR, the E2220HD was run through the Lagom.nl LCD tests.

Image tests
Contrast Sharpness Gamma Black level White saturation Gradient
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Inversion pixel walk tests
Test 1 Test 2a Test 2b Test 3 Test 4a Test 4b Test 5 Test 6a Test 6b Test 7a Test 7b
Pass Slight flicker Pass Rolling upward motion Flicker Slight flicker Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass

The E2220HD waltzes through the initial tests with some excellent greyscale gradients. It fails four of the pixel walk tests, but this isn't anything worse than normal.

Input lag
Measured against a Samsung SyncMaster 975p CRT, and using a Canon 40D set to a shutter speed of 1/320, an average of over 60 photographs were taken using Virtual Stopwatch Pro. The average result over DVI came in as 2.67ms, meaning almost no input lag. Bizarrely, a great number of frames came in with the BenQ faster than the Samsung, something that shouldn't be possible. Usually this is an artefact of two numbers merging together to appear like a larger number, but there were many clear shots where the BenQ was around 10-20ms faster. We're unsure what causes this, but one thing is certain — the E2220HD is fast.

Colour accuracy
ΔE is the measurement of how far a measured colour deviates from its expected value, allowing us to determine the colour accuracy of a monitor. While a ΔE value of 1 is considered perceivable, as long as it's less than 3, the shift shouldn't be too obvious. HCFR was used to determine ΔE for the monitor, and dynamic contrast ratio was turned off.

Measured levels
Contrast ratio 659:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.40
White level (cd/m²) 263.55
Gamma 1.89
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
57.7 7.0 7.0 9.2 9.5 9.7 9.9 9.7 9.6 9.7 9.8
Colour ΔE
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
13.9 9.7 10.7 1.4 13.7 19.5

BenQ E2220HD CIE chart

The uncalibrated CIE chart. The white triangle is the colour space of the monitor, the dark is the sRGB gamut it's trying to match. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

The greys are out by a consistent amount, excluding the black. The gamma is out pretty horribly though, and the black level isn't too crash hot either. With the use of Eye-One Match 3 and HCFR, let's see if we can bring the greyscale down to a more acceptable level.

Measured levels
Contrast ratio 496:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.29
White level (cd/m², target 140cd/m²) 143.70
Gamma (target 2.2) 2.11
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
63.1 17.6 5.2 2.0 1.4 0.7 0.3 1.3 0.8 0.3 0.3
Colour ΔE
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
14.3 12.1 5.9 3.3 12.7 13.8

BenQ E2220HD CIE chart

The calibrated CIE chart (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

The greys may be better, but the colours aren't amazingly accurate. Still for a screen of this price and using TN technology, it's perfectly acceptable.

HDMI performance
While a monitor might have an HDMI port that's no guarantee it'll display images as expected. We hooked up a PlayStation 3 and checked for 24p capability, as well as judder and ran the HQV Blu-ray test to see how well it coped with an interlaced source and noise.

24p capable Understands YUV Mission Impossible III
Scene 11 judder test
Mission Impossible III
Scene 14 judder test
No Yes Pass Pass

HQV noise
reduction
score
HQV video
resolution loss
score
HQV jaggies
score
HQV film
resolution loss
score
HQV film
resolution loss – stadium
score
Total score (out of 100)
15 0 0 0 0 15

The E2220HD's 1080i content was a little blurry, and increasing the sharpness to maximum didn't seem to help too much. Based off the HQV tests, we wouldn't use this for 1080i content either. It did, however, pass both judder tests in Mission Impossible III, and had excellent noise reduction, which means as long as you're not fussed about 24p playback, it could be a good screen for watching Blu-ray movies on.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles were taken with a Canon 40D in spot metering mode, with only shutter time adjusted to obtain a good exposure.

BenQ E2220HD viewing angles

The usual TN inversion from underneath the panel shows up, but there's nothing out of the ordinary here. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Backlight uniformity
Backlight uniformity was measured by placing HCFR into free measure mode, displaying a completely white image and recording the brightness along a 5x3 grid on the screen. This should be considered a guide only, as backlight uniformity is likely to change from unit to unit.

BenQ E2220HD backlight uniformity

Nothing amazingly out of the ordinary here — it's expected performance for a screen of this price. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Light bleed
The E2220HD exhibited minimal light bleed from the top of the screen, excellent for a monitor of this price.

It's important to note that the effects of light bleed will likely change from monitor to monitor, regardless of make.

Power consumption
We measured power consumption using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. It's important to note here that due to limitations of the meter, measurements are limited to values of 1W and greater, and are reported in 1W increments.

All measurements, screen brightness and contrast were set to 100 per cent, and a test image displayed.

Juice box
Maximum power draw 34W
Power-saving mode 7W
Off 7W

The E2220HD represents middle-of-the-road power consumption. There are monitors with worse, and monitors with better power consumption.

Warranty

BenQ supports the E2220HD with a three-year, on-site pick-up warranty. BenQ's pixel policy covers a 14-day DOA period where the monitor can be returned if any bright or dark subpixels are noticed. After this, the monitor must accrue either three bright subpixels, five dark subpixels or any combination of five disfunctional subpixels.

Conclusion

BenQ offers an excellent screen that gamers are sure to love. Its colour accuracy isn't up there with the likes of the Dell 2209WA, but if you're not a designer, this monitor is worth the dollars saved.