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I paid Euro 300 for this and that makes it the cheapest I've seen anywhere. It was for the kids as part of a HTPC project so I didn't want to spend a fortune on something that was going to be used for "target practice" whenever they discovered a new object to use as a weapon. Given its price I expected it to look and feel cheap and be of only acceptable image quality but I was pleasantly surprised.
First Look: The packaging feels a little light for what it is, my Dell 2001FP (an absolute peach) is a lot heavier, so that did not bode well but when I looked inside I found that it looked and felt like a good quality item, Bang & Olufsen won't be loosing any sleep over it but it's almost up there with NEC and the usual suspects. The contol buttons are slim and work well though they're prettier to look at than they are good to use. That's OK 'cos the only one you'll use much will be the on/off. There's no external power supply (nice) and the stand is sturdy and quite stable. Inputs are simple, VGA (yuck) and DVI (yummy). It doesn't have any speakers or USB ports but it doesn't have a steering wheel or an ornamental dagger either, if you need any of that stuff then go and buy it. It's a monitor that's all! All good stuff so far.
Getting Turned On: Plug in, power on and... NICE. A reasonably clear and crisp display which at 1200*1024 yields very readable text on this size monitor. First impressions are good, no dead pixels, little colour bleed, blurring or other artifacts. This is with the DVI input of course. Most monitors near this price-point only come with analog VGA input and that means a more blurred image. Don't buy a digital screen without digital input, it's silly!!! Contrast isn't its' strong point but then again, that's a problem with this technology generally though it's far from the best in this regard. If you need the darkest blacks around look elsewhere. As a desktop companion for lots of typing, Web browsing or the like you'll hardly notice it.
Colour Me Beautiful: When viewed on its own the Benq is as bright and even as you could possibly desire but put it beside a nice TV set (36inch Panasonic CRT) and suddenly the whites look kind of yellow and the flesh tones are sooo red. Greens are too green and blues too... well, blue. This is a common failing of TFT screens and although it does no worse than most it certainly does nothing to move the genre on. But for most people this won't even be an issue, just don't site it beside a CRT monitor or high quality TV. And if you're a professional photographer, then don't even think about it.
Getting A Move On: As you might expect, this is the area where all the weaknesses show up. This monitor displays all the usual TFT problems when showing moving images like TV or DVD. When characters walk or move suddenly they seem to leave a ghost image or trail behind them. Most people can't tell you this unless you point it out but they always "know" there's something not quite right. This isn't so much of a problem when the image is in a small window but at full screen you can see it much more clearly. The real issue is that when the characters stop moving they are crystal clear and that's what "jars" with the moving images. If everything had a soft edge it wouldn't be so bad. The colour problems mentioned above are still here on moving images too, though you knew that already. That said, I've seen some commercial LCD TVs with similar problems and they just fly out of the shops. Some of this is also down to the MPEG encoding of the original DVD source so some discs look worse than others. Overall it's very usable. Looks great when watching cartoons or kids shows though, all that saturated colour!
In Conclusion: This is a fine monitor with proper DVI input, solid flicker-free, quite sharp images and decent resolution. You'll never go blind from using it and it's solidly made with no bits dropping off anywhere. It's not perfect as a TV but it doesn't claim to be though it is fine and my kids just LOVE it. The colour rendition is hardly faithful but I know only a handful of people who can tell or would care. Finally, it's about the cheapest way to get DVI (which is very worthwhile). If you can find a reason not to buy this monitor you're probably missing something. A good product at an excellent price.
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