We see a lot of LED-backlit monitors come through CNET reviews, but what we don't see are a lot of LED-backlit monitors with AMVA panels. That's kind of a new thing and the BenQ EW2420 is the first monitor we've seen to feature the technology. Now while we still prefer IPS panels for our monitors, AMVA is nothing to sneeze at. As far as specs go, it offers larger viewing angles and better color reproduction than a TN panel. Specs are one thing though and realization of those specs is something else entirely. The monitor is available for a low price, but those looking for a high-performing MVA panel monitor may be disappointed.
Design and features
From a purely aesthetic point of view, the BenQ EW2420 would have a tough time standing out in a room full of monitors. It has a typical black chassis, a semiglossy black bezel measuring an inch on each side, and an oval footstand with a width and depth of 10.5 inches and 7.25 inches respectively. Honestly, I could be describing about 90 percent of the monitors released in the last year; the EW2420 doesn't offer much in the way of visual flourishes.
The screen has a semiglossy look and while it doesn't provide 1:1 reflection of the environment, at off angles reflections become much clearer. The initial panel depth is about 1.1 inches, but the panel extends back another 1.25 inches to include the connections and to allow for proper ventilation. The distance from the bottom of the panel to the desktop is about 3 inches. Under the bottom of the bezel is a thin gray cylinder that stretches the width of the panel--one of the EW2420's few unique aesthetic flourishes.
The neck of the footstand includes a cable router on the back that resembles a soda can's flip-top opener. Unfortunately, flipping it doesn't reveal a corn-syrup-enriched, sugary, teeth-rotting beverage; only a space for routing your cables.
Each connection option is denoted with a clear label carving on the back of the monitor. The connections include two HDMI ports, one DVI, one VGA, two USB downstream, one upstream, and a speaker port. On the left side of the panel are two USB downstream ports and a headphone jack.
On the bottom right of the bezel sits the On Screen Display (OSD) Array. When viewed from the front, white text denoting the placement of each OSD button can be seen. From the right side, the five vertically aligned OSD buttons are clearly visible, each about .25 inch in diameter and separated by slightly less than 0.5 inch. The buttons consist of Auto, Menu, Up/Volume, Down/Preset, and Enter. Each button convincingly presses and depresses with an audible pop. Below the buttons is a slightly larger power button that flashes orange when the monitor is in standby mode and glows a light green when powered on.
The EW2420's OSD preset modes are Standard, Movie, Game, Photo, sRGB, and Eco. Each preset changes the color temperature and brightness of the display in a manner intended to be appropriate to the task; for example, Eco lowers the brightness significantly to save on power. Additionally there are Normal, Reddish, and Bluish color temperature options and the monitor's RGB values can be changed individually.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Connectivity:||DVI, VGA, HDMIx2|
|Ergonomic options:||10 degree back tilt|
|VESA wall-mount support:||Yes|
|Included video cables:||DVI, HDMI|
|Pixel response rate:||8ms|
|Number of presets:||6|
|Picture options:||Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness|
|Color controls:||RGB controls, sRGB, 6500K, 7500K, 8500K, 9300K|
We tested the BenQ EW2420 through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 90 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
The EW2420 faltered on a few of our color tests, the color scales test in particular. Color scales tests look for a smooth and linear transition from light to dark colors. The BenQ unfortunately showed a very obvious and nonlinear transition instead, indicating that it could have trouble reproducing some darker colors.
Fortunately, the EW2420 was able to muster a low black level, displaying dark gray about four levels above true black, and showed little signs of white-level saturation, meaning that colors near the light end of the spectrum aren't likely to get washed out. We did see some static streaking, but backlight bleeding was minimal, only revealing itself on the bottom right and left edges. Also, thanks to its very low black level, the EW2420 produced one of the highest contrast ratios we've yet seen.
Text: In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size. We did see a lot of blooming around text with both blue and pink fonts on a black background.
Movies: We tested the BenQ EW2420 using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Although we did see deep blacks when using the Movie preset, there was a definite green push as well, most noticeable in the faces of the actors.
Minimizing the green was a challenge and we never got to a point where we felt 100 percent comfortable with it, but we list the best settings we could come up with below.
Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with StarCraft II (SCII), it is our new favorite tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. At default graphics settings when using the Game preset, characters in SCII were jaggy and colors were oversaturated. We found softer and smoother results after moving to the sRGB preset.
To test refresh rate, we used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and watched a bunch of graphics fly around the screen, looking for evidence of streaking. Compared with the Samsung PX2370, the EW2420 showed more visible levels of streaking. Given that the EW2420 houses an AMVA panel and not a faster TN like the PX2370, the results were not surprising.
Photos: The BenQ EW2420 delivered photos with a noticeable green tint, especially compared with the more accurate and natural-looking faces we saw on the PX2370. Using the sRGB preset or bringing the green down to the mid-70s improved things.
Viewing angle: The optimal monitor viewing position is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors as the manufacturer intended them. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the panel type, picture quality at non-optimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when they are not viewed from optimal angles. Again, the EW2420 uses an AMVA panel that purports to provide a wider viewing angle than typical TN panels.
While a TN panel would show evidence of color shifting viewed from about 6 inches off from center, we saw no color shift evidence on the EW2420 until our viewing angle was about 10 inches off from center. However, the picture quality from this angle doesn't remain as high as it would on an IPS-panel monitor seen from the same angle. The biggest problem we noticed was that from such a wide angle, reflections in the screen became much more visible.
Recommended settings and use: When playing games we found the sRGB preset was best. What you lose in vibrancy with this preset you definitely make up in smooth, clean graphics.
With movies, we saw a low black level, but we noticed a green push, especially when compared directly with the PX2370. It's not overt and many casual users will likely not notice it, but for the most natural look, we'd recommend going with the Standard preset over the Movie preset and using the following settings:
For general, all-around use, we would recommend the sRGB preset.
Power consumption: The BenQ EW2420 achieved good power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 32.1 watts, compared with the Samsung PX2370's 25.01 watts in the same test. In our Sleep/Standby test, the EW2420 drew 0.58 watts and the PX2370 pulled a lower 0.27 watts. Based on our formula, the EW2420 would cost $9.98 per year to run, compared with the PX2370's lower $7.65 per year.
|BenQ EW2420||Average watts per hour|
|On (default luminance)||32.1|
|On (max luminance)||32.1|
|On (min luminance)||15.6|
|Calibrated (200 cd/m2)||29.1|
|Annual power consumption cost||$9.98|
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.
Service and support
BenQ backs the EW2420 with a standard three-year parts and labor warranty that also includes support for the backlight. As long as you're under warranty, BenQ provides free phone support weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT. Currently, the monitor's user manual, drivers, and additional software are not available on BenQ's Web site.
At a price of about $240, it's difficult to fault the BenQ EW2420. Any imperfection that crops up could just be excused with, "But, hey, at least it's cheap!" While $240 is indeed a great price, that only goes so far. Fortunately, with the EW2420, that's far enough, given its features. With two HDMI ports, built-in speakers, and multiple USB ports, not to mention the standard VGA and DVI, you definitely get something for your money. While the LED backlight-AMVA panel combo didn't deliver the kind of performance we were hoping for, we did see wider viewing angles than TN panels deliver and much lower black levels than we've seen on either TN- or IP-based panels. Unfortunately, movie performance was hampered by a green push, but the monitor performed well for general tasks. If you're looking for a top performer, this isn't it; however, for a general-task display with a surprising number of useful features and a low price, you'll have a hard time finding a better bargain than the BenQ EW2420.