CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
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.
We tested the BenQ M2700HD using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." In its Movie preset, the M2700HD was able to display more accurate color and more detail in dark scenes than the Asus VE27Q. Blacks were suitably dark but not as dark as on the Asus. The M2700HD displayed more accurate color, as the Asus had a slight but noticeable green hue.
Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft (WoW), it remains the best tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. In its Game preset, the BenQ M2700HD displayed vibrant color that was suitably saturated and much more pleasing than the color on the Asus VE276Q.
The built-in speaker bar produced tinny sound that lacked bass and produced a constant hiss. It's fine for Internet videos and certain games, but movies and music will be shortchanged.
The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the way down from the top of the screen. At this angle, you're viewing the colors and gamma correction as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles. The BenQ M2700HD uses a TN panel, and when it is viewed from the sides or bottom, we perceived the screen to darken about 6 inches off from center.
Recommended settings and use:
During general use, watching movies, and playing games, we found the Normal preset, with the contrast set to 45 and the color temperature set to User Mode, to be the 2700HD's optimal picture setting.
As with most TN-based monitors, the BenQ M2700HD shouldn't be used if pinpoint-accurate color reproduction is required; however, the monitor is good for watching movies, playing games, and for general use. With its many connection options, built-in speaker and headphone jack, the monitor makes for a great console or PC gaming monitor. If you do have stringent color needs, we suggest you narrow your search to IPS or PVA-based panels only. The more expensive Dell UltraSharp U2711 is a good place to start.
The BenQ M2700HD achieved poor power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 47.7 watts, compared with the Asus VE276Q's 52.17 watts in the same test. The consumption delta was higher in our Sleep/Standby test, with the M2700HD costing 0.72 watts and the VE276Q drawing 1.1 watts. With both monitors' center point calibrated to 200 candelas per square meter (cd/M2), the M2700HD drew 35.2 watts, whereas the VE276Q drew a higher 44.01 watts. Based on our formula, the BenQ M2700HD would cost $14.73 per year to run, compared with the Asus VE276Q's $16.33 per year.
|BenQ M2700HD||Picture settings|
|On (max luminance)||49.8|
|On (min luminance)||22.8|
|Calibrated (200 cd/m2)||35.2|
|Annual power consumption cost||$14.73|
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.
Service and support
BenQ backs the M2700HD 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. Pacific. The monitor's user manual is