BenQ EW2420 review: BenQ EW2420

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The Good The BenQ EW2420 packs in tons of connection options for a surprisingly low price.

The Bad The BenQ EW2420 has a plain design, has trouble with dark color reproduction, and coats movies with too much green.

The Bottom Line With its large number of features and low price, the BenQ EW2420 is one of the best monitor bargains available.

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7.1 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 8

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
Resolution: 1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Audio: Headphone jack
VESA wall-mount support: Yes
Included video cables: DVI, HDMI
Backlight: LED
Panel type: AMVA
Screen film: Matte
Pixel response rate: 8ms
Number of presets: 6
Overdrive: No
Picture options: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness
Color controls: RGB controls, sRGB, 6500K, 7500K, 8500K, 9300K
Gamma control: Yes
Additional features: n/a

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.

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