The $359 BenQ FP72G+S is a good-looking, well-designed 17-inch LCD with fine adjustability options and a quick enough pixel response rate to deliver good gaming performance. Still, its overall image quality is only average, and for superior everyday performance, we recommend the less expensive Envision EN7220 or the stylish Sony SDM-HS75P/S.
The BenQ FP72G+S has a suave, low-luster, silver-and-dark-blue finish and a svelte bezel that runs half an inch wide along the sides and three-quarters of an inch along the top and the bottom. A square base with rounded corners provides excellent stability, and a lazy Susan built into the base lets the FP72G+S swivel almost 360 degrees.
A double-hinged neck makes the display's height easy to adjust: you can lower the screen to millimeters above the desktop or raise it up to four inches above the desktop, though even with this amount of adjustment, the display won't be tall enough for many users. Along the back are one digital and one analog connection, and BenQ kindly includes cables for both.
A brochure-style quick-start guide leads you through setup with easy-to-follow graphical instructions. A more detailed user guide is included on the FP72G+S's installation CD, which also contains a test pattern you can use to optimize the display's image quality. Adjusting the settings via the onscreen menu (OSM) is fairly easy, and you can use the iKey button to autoadjust. The two arrow keys adjust brightness and contrast and navigate the OSM. In addition to closing the OSM, the Exit button toggles between four preset viewing modes: Standard, Movie 1, Movie 2, and Photo. BenQ suggests Standard mode for everyday computing, but we found Movie 1 the most neutral and best for everyday computing; Standard seemed overly blue and dim, and Movie 2 and Photo looked brighter but pinkish.
Tested at its native resolution of 1,280x1,024, the FP72G+S received a low score on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based image-quality performance tests. The FP72G+S's lowest scores came in two of the most crucial categories: sharpness and color. While small-size sans-serif fonts were legible and reasonably clear, fonts with serifs were indistinct and difficult to decipher. We saw a small amount of signal irregularity, or digital noise, sections of the screen where pixels took on a shimmering quality and appeared to move around. The FP72G+S could not produce an error-free color-intensity scale, nor could it make a smooth color gradient. Flesh tones in DVD-playback tests looked overly yellowish, and we saw noticeable dithering--visible, shifting dot patterns--in both foregrounds and backgrounds. The FP72G+S's quick 8-millisecond pixel response time helped it perform well in our gaming tests, displaying even fast-moving gaming backgrounds clearly.
The BenQ comes with an industry-standard three-year limited warranty that covers parts, labor, and the backlight. Technical support is provided toll-free during the warranty period. BenQ tech support answered our test call promptly, courteously, and correctly. Drivers, manuals, answers to general FAQs, and the opportunity to e-mail questions to tech support are all available on BenQ's Web site.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)