The BenQ 24-inch EW2430 is a follow-up of the EW2420 and as far as we can tell the panel is identical, but the design has been given an overhaul in the EW2430 with a nice-looking brushed aluminum stand/highlights and slightly more powerful built-in speakers (2W vs. 1.5W). It’s a great-looking monitor in several ways; not only is the design appealing, but the contrast is nothing short of amazing thanks to the monitor’s VA (Vertical Alignment) panel.
The VA Panel is combined with LED backlighting for improved brightness and power efficiency. On the downside it has the usual shortcomings of a VA monitor compared to IPS and TN, namely color washout at sharp viewing angles and relatively high response time (8ms), respectively. It does, however, try to make up for the high response time with a feature called AMA (Advanced Motion Accelerator).
Design and Features
Interestingly, the EW2430 is only being sold in Europe thus far, so potential US buyers will have import one or stick with the EW2420. Nonetheless, it is currently selling for less than £200 in the UK, which is a very attractive price tag for a monitor of this caliber. The VA panel in the EW2430 (and EW2420) offers a very impressive 3,000:1 static contrast ratio / 20,000,000:1 dynamic along with true 8-bit color depth providing a full 16.7 million colors. It also comes with BenQ’s “Senseye” technology, which supposedly improves contrast, color and clarity even further.
BenQ is not targeting the professional crowd with this monitor–rather the discerning home user or amateur photographer who want something better than what the average TN panel can offer (or any TN panel for that matter). This is evident in the lack of height and swivel adjustments. It can only be tilted 25 degrees backwards or forwards. The monitor is also equipped with built-in speakers, something that you rarely find on professional displays. These sound better than the average pair of laptop speakers, but not much beyond that–there is no bass whatsoever. It’s sufficient for system sounds and the occasional YouTube clip, but for listening to music or watching movies you will want to hook up a pair of external speakers anyway.
In terms of connectivity, the EW2430 has two HDMI ports, one DVI and one D-Sub/VGA port, as well as audio in/out and a 4-port USB hub. All of the inputs and outputs except for USB are placed at the bottom of the screen. The USB hub is a nice addition, but it’s somewhat awkwardly placed on the side of the monitor, so attaching gadgets to the hub means that you will have cables protruding from the side of the screen.
On the other side of the screen from the USB ports you will find the OSD menu buttons. These take some getting used to, since they are plain black buttons at the back of the monitor and the instructions as to what they do is on the front. It would have been easier having the buttons in front, but this is a design choice that we can live with as it keeps the brushed aluminum front panel clean save for the dimly lit power button. After a bit of training the menu become easy to use instinctively.
The image quality on the whole is excellent. We put it through the built-in calibration tool in Windows 7 only to find out that there was nothing to adjust. Colors are vivid and naturally reproduced thanks to the 8-bit panel and the brightness is more than adequate, with minimal backlight bleed. What really reaches out to grab you though is the exceptional contrast. A contrast ratio of 3,000:1 is something that you only find in VA panels and it is really pronounced in the BenQ EW2430.
One aspect where it fails in comparison with IPS monitors, on the other hand, is the viewing angles. Although they are specified as 178/178 just like virtually IPS panels, the colors become increasingly washed out when viewed at sharper angles. This is a well-known issue with VA panels and the EW2430 is no exception, even if the viewing angles are still much better than the average TN panel.
The comparatively high response time of 8ms might indicate that it doesn’t handle games well–another common problem with VA panels–but this is not entirely true. Although this monitor isn’t and shouldn’t be the first choice for gamers, we played Dragon Age 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops on this monitor and both looked great, although some blur was noticeable during fast movements.
To summarize our experience with the BenQ EW2430, it’s a very good monitor in this price range. Although it doesn’t offer the same (consistent) viewing angles as an IPS monitor, the VA panel makes up for it in the contrast department by producing exceptionally sharp images. BenQ’s proprietary AMA technology seems to make up for the high response time somewhat, but it is still not as responsive as the faster TN panels.
For professional users, the EW2430 is not an optimal choice due to its lack of physical characteristics, namely its lack of adjustment options. The most likely buyer is quite possibly a home user looking to trade something built around a TN panel for one that offers a little extra, and in this case the EW2430 is definitely a major step up, with the added benefit of a very reasonable price tag.