BenQ EW2430

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Incorporating white light emitting diodes (WLED) into the backlight of an LCD monitor was once truly innovative – nowadays it’s about as creative as a house with a front door. BenQ were one of the first companies to integrate such technologies into their displays and it is only fitting that they would take things a stage further. By incorporating an LED backlight into a Vertical Alignment (VA) panel monitor they have been able to create PC monitors which are not only energy efficient but are also refreshingly different; offering improvements in contrast and colour reproduction that takes image quality above and beyond others in their price range. It isn’t all peaches and roses though as responsiveness is very important for many users as well. This is a niggling weakness of this panel type compared to the more conventional Twisted Nematic (TN) panels which we don’t expect the EW2430 can overcome.

The EW2430 is a refresh of one of the principal models of BenQ’s LED-backlit VA panel range; the EW2420. It isn’t clear what (if anything) has changed internally between the two monitors but what is eminently visible is that the new monitor has undergone a bit of a facelift. We will be looking beyond these simple aesthetic differences and scrutinising the performance of the EW2430 in our recently updated testing suite of movies, games and other bits of software. Although we will be predominantly looking at the new monitor for its individual merits it is only natural that we will draw comparisons between this model and its older cousin.

Specifications

The BenQ EW2430′s specifications reveal a number of distinguishing features which have been highlighted for your reading convenience. The first noteworthy feature is the AMVA panel – the AU Optronics M240HW02 V1. This is the same panel that is featured in BenQ’s previous VA panel monitors such as the EW2420. The electronics that accompany this and the fine-tuning of the whole monitor may indeed be different, though.

This panel provides a particularly impressive static contrast ratio which BenQ states as 3000:1. The viewing angles are also superior to the usual 170 horizontal and 160 vertical degrees BenQ states for their TN panels whilst the native 8-bits per sub-pixel colour support is favourable to the usual 6-bits per pixel plus dithering. As you would expect from a VA panel the stated response time is relatively weak at 8ms G2G. The ISO response time is undoubtedly a lot higher but BenQ understandably chose not to specify this.

The EW2430 also features an LED backlight which reduces typical power draw to a mere 24W – which is very good for a monitor with this panel type. We chose not to highlight this feature specifically because, as we stated in the introduction, this feature is becoming fairly ubiquitous. In this review we will test a broad range of applications to see if these specifications can be realised in practice and what the implications of this are for the monitor’s performance.

Screen size: 24 inches
Panel type: AU Optronics M240HW02 V1 Vertical Alignment (AMVA) LCD
Native resolution: 1920 x 1080
Colour support: 16.7 million (8-bits per pixel without dithering)
Response time (G2G): 8ms
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Weight: 5.6kg
Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 (20m:1 Dynamic Contrast)
Viewing angle: 178º horizontal, 178º vertical
Maximum power consumption:25W typical using our settings
Backlight: W-LED (edge-lit)
Typical RRP as reviewed: £170 ($US TBC)

Features

and

aesthetics

The front of the EW2430 offers a refreshing change from the norm by combining the usual glossy plastics with brushed aluminium. Glossy black plastic is still the dominant material used in the monitor’s bezel with a protruding matte silver lip, but the gently angled bottom ‘lip’ and power button make good use of brushed metals.

The most liberal use of brushed metals is found on the stand of the monitor. The base is topped with a large sheet of brushed aluminium whilst the neck of the stand contains chrome (or a convincing imitation that is cold to the touch). The overall construction of the EW2430 is very good with a solid look and feel that surpasses that of the already decent EW2420.

Although ergonomic adjustability is limited to 20 degrees backwards and 5 degrees forwards tilt. The solid nature of the stand is evident when adjusting the monitor in this way with no creaking plastics to be heard and a generally very smooth operation. The lustrous shine of the monitor’s solid and shiny metal stand is actually best admired from the rear, if you are that way inclined, as shown below.

Other differences between the EW2430 and its predecessor that are evident at the back include much more extensive use of glossy plastics in place of matte plastics. It is almost as if BenQ had melted down the stand of the EW2420 and slapped it onto the back of the EW2430. Another difference is placement of the OSD (On Screen Display) navigation buttons, which have migrated from the right side of the monitor to the rear as shown below.

One feature that has made a welcome return is the inclusion of VESA mount holes to allow alternative mounting of the monitor. The monitor also features two tightly integrated 2W speakers in case you want some simple sound output from the monitor. As far as inputs are concerned they are just as generous as before but with slightly different placement. You get AC input for power, a headphone jack, audio in, audio out, two HDMI ports, DVI-D, D-Sub (VGA) and USB upstream. The two USB downstream ports that could be found on the rear of the previous model can be found alongside two others at the side of the monitor. As you can see in the image below the monitor is not super-thin but is not massively bulky either. This is partly due to the inclusion of VESA housing and internal power components. You can also see a matte light silver stripe running around the side of the monitor which protrudes out a little if viewed from the front as noted previously and also features on the stand. This is a subtle change from the darker grey stripe featured on its predecessor.

The OSD has also undergone some subtle changes. Although the button layout and general navigation remains largely the same the operation of the OSD is much smoother with superior responsiveness. BenQ have also added two customisable function buttons to the EW2430. Each button can be assigned specific frequently used functions such as brightness, contrast or Senseye preset adjustment. This is much more useful for PC users than adjusting the volume of the speakers (which most people won’t use) with one button and having a fixed function for the other. The AMA (Advanced Motion Acceleration) grey-to-grey response time acceleration BenQ included on the previous model has also made a welcome return but this time there is a third option in addition to the usual ‘Off’ and ‘High’ – ‘Premium’. We discuss this in more detail in subsequent sections of the review but would like to acknowledge its existence in the picture below

Calibration

The image produced ‘out of the box’ by the EW2430 was actually rather good but there was a noticeable green tint and brightness was too high. We initially used familiar photographs and wallpapers as well as the Lagom LCD tests to help tune the contrast and brightness settings further. The default brightness was too high even for comfortable use in game and movie testing. Really the brightness should be set according to ambient lighting conditions and personal preferences but for our ‘entertainment’ testing we settled for a slightly lower than default ‘68’. This is still on the high side and we did lower the brightness using our newly assigned OSD ‘function key’ to around ’50’ for extended use in dim light.

The default contrast setting of ‘50’ proved optimal and there was a very fine line between the image appearing rich and colourful and appearing washed out or bleached. Changing the gamma mode from the default ‘3’ to ‘2’ also enhanced the image slightly and according to measurements with a Spyder3Elite colorimeter (version 4.0.2) provided the desired ‘2.2’ gamma – the commonly accepted standard for Windows. This is something that could not be achieved on the EW2430’s predecessor using any of the OSD gamma modes.

We also used the colorimeter to help refine colour balance and to measure certain image quality attributes which are explored in subsequent sections of the review. Given that we are writing this from an ‘entertainment’ and ‘home user’ perspective it isn’t necessary or particularly useful to employ a colorimeter-based ICC profile. Firstly very few home users will have access to such equipment and given the price of this monitor and out-of-box performance it isn’t really an essential investment (although it is highly advised if you plan on carrying out colour-critical work). Moreover ICC profiles are misinterpreted or outright ignored by the majority of applications such as the games and movies that are tested herein. OSD-level tweaks are something that anybody can employ on this monitor improve the image and help make it pleasing to them regardless of application.

It should be noted that each individual unit will be slightly different so we don’t suggest taking these settings verbatim and expecting miracles – but they should provide a useful base. Some relatively small adjustments were made to the RGB (red, green and blue) levels using the OSD of the EW2430 to achieve a desirable 6500K white point at the centre of the screen –

  • Red: 100%
  • Green: 97%
  • Blue: 89%

As noted previously our review sample had a ‘noticeable’ but relatively subtle green tint. The colorimeter also revealed a slight excess of blue but this was less noticeable by eye – the default colour values for RGB (100, 100, 92 respectively) were actually quite similar to the adjusted values. For the sake of comparison the overall image appeared only marginally modified after undergoing a full hardware and software calibration (including ICC profiling) indicating good out-of-box performance for entertainment usage. Subjective assessment is much more important with monitors than other pieces of computer hardware and as usual this will be combined with objective testing in subsequent sections of the review.

Contrast

and

brightness

BenQ gives a pretty sane 250 cd/m2 figure for the brightness of the EW2430 and a 3000:1 static contrast ratio which is rather impressive but from previous experience with panels of this type quite realistic. A 20m:1 dynamic contrast ratio is also claimed but this is neither here nor there when actual real-world performance is concerned. We put BenQ’s claims and plenty of things BenQ didn’t claim to the test by assessing the monitor under our ‘test settings’ and various other settings. A comparison of luminance readings (in cd/m2) under various settings for ‘pure black’, ‘pure white’ and the resulting contrast ratios has been included in the table below. These readings were taken using a highly accurate Konica Minolta CS-200 ‘ChromaMeter’ in the central region of the screen. The lowest black luminance, highest white luminance and highest contrast ratio recorded under non-dynamic modes have been highlighted. Unless stated otherwise assume a contrast level of ‘100’ and default RGB values (100, 100, 92) for this table.

Monitor Profile White luminance (cd/m2) Black luminance (cd/m2) Contrast ratio (x:1)
‘Custom’, 100% brightness 239 0.06 3938
‘Custom’, 80% brightness 202 0.06 4040
‘Custom’, 60% brightness 166 0.04 4150
‘Custom’, 40% brightness 130 0.03 4333
‘Custom’, 20% brightness 92 0.02 4600
‘Custom’, 0% brightness 54 0.01 5400
Test settings, 68% brightness, 50% contrast (RGB adjusted) 181 0.04 4525
‘Movie‘ preset 231 0.06 3850
‘Game’ preset 231 0.06 3850
‘Photo’ preset 235 0.06 3917
‘sRGB’ preset 234 0.06 3900
‘Eco’ preset 116 0.03 3867
Full Dynamic Contrast (‘Game’ preset) 239 <0.01 >23,900

The contrast performance of the EW2430 during quantitative testing was outstanding. The peak contrast ratio of 5400:1 (recorded at ‘0’ brightness) far exceeded the 3000:1 specified by BenQ. The 54 cd/m2 peak luminance recorded here is too low for comfortable use in pretty much any lighting, though. What was even more pleasing is that the specified contrast ratio was easily exceeded under every setting tested – including all of the presets and our test settings. Even at full brightness an excellent black depth of 0.06 cd/m2 was recorded whilst the 240 cd/m2 luminance is more than enough for most situations. The EW2430 we tested therefore fell just shy of the 250 cd/m2 specified but that shouldn’t take anything away from an excellent performance. One other thing to note is that the white luminance range of 185 cd/m2 recorded during our testing provides the flexibility for a comfortable range of adjustments although isn’t outstanding.

As with any monitor LCD monitor the backlight is not entirely blocked by the LCD matrix – if this wasn’t the case then contrast ratios would be virtually infinite in all cases. Clearly the central region of the screen was very good at filtering out light when required. The other good news is that the excellent performance in the central section of the screen was not marred by excess backlight bleed-through elsewhere. Although there was very slight excess bleed-through visible when viewing a screen full of true black in a pitch dark room the EW2430 we tested was much better than the vast majority of other LCD monitors in this regard. When staring at the same black screen under moderately dim daylight conditions the black screen fill looked as black as the surrounding bezel throughout. Needless to say that under normal use, as we investigate shortly, blacks appears nice and deep. It should of course be noted that as with other testing featured herein there may be slight inter-unit variability and we can’t guarantee that every unit will provide a similarly low level of backlight bleed-through.

In previous reviews we have touched upon the fallacies of dynamic contrast, which adjusts the entire image based on the weight of light vs. dark on the screen. In reality there is an intricate mixture of light and dark areas on the screen and adjusting the entire backlight to somehow improve the contrast is really a flawed principle in most instances. Nonetheless this feature is there on the EW2430 for those who wish to use it – BenQ allows you to set the ‘intensity’ from 0-5 provided you are using the ‘Photo’, ‘Movie’ or ‘Game’ presets. The image under these presets is sub-optimal really with upset colour balance and excessive sharpness. But none of this is picked up by this rather simplistic test which showed that setting the dynamic contrast to ‘5’ (full) allowed the backlight to transition from full luminance (239 cd/m2) to practically off (<0.01 cd/m2) in under 3 seconds giving a dynamic contrast ratio of >23,900. Note that the 0.01 cd/m2 is the lowest value our light meter is able to record and the actual value, meaningless though it may be, is undoubtedly significantly higher. Given the excellent static contrast performance of the monitor there is really no need to even consider compromising the image by using the Dynamic Contrast feature.

Moving swiftly onwards to another important area of testing – luminance uniformity. All of the luminance values considered so far are based on readings from a small central area of the screen. LCD monitors such as this tend to show variability beyond this section and it is therefore prudent to consider the uniformity of luminance across the screen. A particularly good way of showing this is by considering the luminance of ‘pure white’ – variation detected here is generally.

The values considered above are taken from a small section in the centre of the screen – as with most aspects of LCD technology there is variability that exists beyond that. It is prudent to also consider the luminance uniformity across the screen – which is best exemplified by considering variations in ‘pure white’. Any variation in luminance detected here is generally a little more exaggerated than what you would notice in a ‘mixed’ image but is an important consideration nonetheless.

Absolute luminance values are given (cd/m2) in the table below, alongside the % difference in luminance from centre. Readings were taken under our test settings using a Spyder3Elite colorimeter at 9 equidistance ‘pure white’ quadrants – running across the screen from top left to bottom right.

The luminance uniformity of the EW2430 reviewed here was exceptional. The maximum deviation from the central ‘quadrant 5’ luminance (167.6 cd/m2) was found at quadrant 7 towards the bottom left of the screen (156.3 cd/m2); a 7% deviation. At the left central region (quadrant 4) of the screen a slightly lower deviation of 6% was recorded. Other regions different by a mere 4% or less from centre and with a deviation of under 1% (0.5 cd/m2) being particularly impressive at the bottom right of the screen. The single figures recorded all-round just go to show that the use of WLED backlighting doesn’t necessarily mean uniformity will be poor.

The uniformity of the monitor is represented visually in the graphic below. This combines recorded values with a little artistic license by way of prediction. It should be noted that neither this graphic nor the accompanying figures in the table represent variations in colour or gamma across the screen and only focus on white-point luminance. Colour-related variation is analysed in the subsequent section of the review.

The EW2430 continued its strong performance in our subjective testing. In the first game title we tested, Operation Flashpoint: Red River, building interiors and shaded areas appeared appropriately lit with no unexpected loss of detail. Explosions during at night in the game were brilliantly bright whilst tracers roared overhead like comets on some sort of intergalactic steroids. The white glow from artificial lights was also impressively bright and contrasted well with the dark surroundings. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 told a similar tale with good detail in dark areas and no visible dithering. The dark gunmetal greys on this game, for example, may appear to crawl on ‘weaker’ monitors due to temporal dithering – this was not observed on the BenQ EW2430. Our third and final game title, Dirt 3, is of a different genre but provided a similarly enticing visual feast. The dark and shaded areas were once again displayed very well with no noticeable loss of detail – even subtle details such as rock cracks that are not displayed by some monitors could be picked out. The contrast between the dark of night and artificial light sources such as car headlights and lighting around the track was absolutely excellent on this game and really heightened the atmosphere.

We also did some quick movie testing to see how the contrast performance was reflected in the Blu-ray of The Girl Who Played with Fire. This film combines dark and gritty scenes with brighter ones so is a good test across the range. At the low-end there was once again good detail retention with even subtle details being picked up. At the high-end bright lights and wild roaring fires were appropriately bright in comparison to their surroundings. The contrast performance of the EW2430 was obviously very pleasing in our subjective testing but particularly pleasing was that gamma shift problems related to the ‘crushing’ of dark greys and other colours into a mess of black didn’t present themselves. This is one area that VA panels are often criticised for but this didn’t cause any issues in games or movies.

The final test for this section involved further scrutiny using the Lagom LCD tests. These are designed to illustrate any weaknesses in a monitor’s performance, including those that aren’t picked up under normal circumstances:

  • The EW2430 gave a strong performance on the contrast gradients. The first two blue bars were a little difficult to distinguish but otherwise the brightness steps were very clear.
  • Black level test performance was very good with all but the first two blocks clearly visible against the background. There was a slight gamma shift if the head was moved, as you would expect from a panel of this type, but it was minor enough to stay under the radar during real-world testing. The blocks were also free from any visible dithering.
  • The white saturation test results were excellent. All checkerboard patterns were clearly visible – even the troublesome and often invisible final one.
  • The greyscale gradient was very smooth. There was some very minor banding at the low end that was barely visible and no perceptible dithering was present.

The BenQ EW2430 provided an excellent contrast performance, exceeding specifications and performing admirably in both quantitative and qualitative assessment. To help the EW2430 flourish when it comes to its contrast performance BenQ uses a modified version of the matte surface used on its TN-panel monitors. The haze value, which is a way of expressing the level of transparency of a matte screen surface, has been reduced from 25% to 13%. This not only enhances the contrast but also significantly reduces the ‘graininess’ associated with images where light colours dominate. On the flipside reflection of ambient light is increased slightly which may be a problem under intense lighting scenarios. This is in effect some way between a ‘normal’ matte screen surface on a similar monitor and a glossy one – hence it is often referred to as ‘semi glossy’.

Colour

reproduction

The EW2430’s colour gamut (red triangle) was compared to the sRGB reference (green triangle) using our test settings and the reporting functionality of the Spyder3Elite.

As is usual for a monitor with a white LED backlight the colour gamut of the EW2430 is quite closely aligned to the standard sRGB colour space. This is particularly true for reds and blues although green coverage is a little patchy – not quite covering all of the sRGB space but extending beyond this for some shades. Looking beyond this, as colour reproduction in practice is about a lot more than the reported colour gamut, the EW2430 was put through its paces in our usual testing arsenal.

Performance was impressive right from the start with a pleasing performance in the first game title tested; Red River. The reds of certain in-game objects and markers as well as the menu system appeared impressively rich. More subtle reds and oranges were also handled nicely with the warm and vivid glow of fires and frequent orange glare effects adding some vibrant lustre. The greens and reds of tracers roaring through the sky also created a nice layer of vibrancy and immersion whilst the rich and varied greens of the in-game vegetation added to the natural aesthetic. Dusty browns and greys also feature heavily in the game and the monitor had no trouble displaying these appropriately. Performance on Bad Company 2 was also pleasing with fairly rich, varied and vibrant greens. These could have been just a little more ‘lush’ and deep in some areas but you can’t have everything (and that’s a bit pedantic really).

Dirt 3 was an excellent showcase of the range and vibrancy of colours that the EW2430 could pump out. The environment appeared highly natural, as you would hope, showing an excellent range of greens in addition to a nice variety of golden and reddish browns. The luscious grassy greens of Finland’s flora and Kenya’s sun-kissed red earth were particularly attractive sights. The cars and certain track elements, meanwhile, flaunted a good level of vividness with electric blues, bright purples and impressively deep reds adding to the chromatic bonanza.

As usual we also tested two film titles for this section, each with a slightly different visual focus when it comes to colour reproduction. First up was the Girl Who Played with Fire Blu-ray. This is filmed in ‘real world’ locations so there is a demand for good ‘natural’ colour reproduction. This was handled very well as nothing looked out of place or ‘washed out’ either. There was a good variety and appropriate saturation of skin tones whilst environments were also varied and natural. The second film is based on a much more flamboyant computer-generated environment. Colours appeared vibrant but varied with an excellent range of shades – a combination of bright and brilliant and more muted pastels. The richness of many of the colours was no doubt enhanced by the excellent contrast of the screen and when combined with deep blacks and bright whites the effect was very pleasing. As usual this movie provided a useful insight into colour consistency across the screen – skin tones and other individual colours appeared the same throughout the scene. On a monitor with particularly poor colour consistency (such as one with the common Twisted Nematic panel) you can notice a visible change in an individual colour across the screen and you lose a lot of subtle variation because of this.

The BenQ EW2430 provided an excellent performance across the board in our ‘real world application’ assessment of colour performance. The ‘semi glossy’ coating undoubtedly helped bring out the best of the monitor in this regard and it really does make a difference – both in theory and in practice.

Viewing

angles

The performance of the EW2430 wasn’t really held back on a practical level by any viewing angle limitations or colour shifts – which are greatly reduced on a panel of this type compared to the more common TN panel. Using the Lagom viewing angle tests it is possible to scrutinise this even more closely in a slightly more restrictive and artificial environment. Performance in these tests may not necessarily reflect what you will see in a more complex game or film environment but are certainly a useful indicator for colour-critical applications. With that said performance was certainly favourable in these tests compared to any TN panel monitor of this size but was not quite up to IPS (In-Plane Switching) standards as you might expect:

  • The purple block appeared predominantly purple with a slight pink tint around the edges (on the left side in particular).
  • The red block appeared a rich red in the centre with a very minor pink tint towards the bottom and sides. This became more dominant if the head position was moved.
  • The green block was impressively solid throughout and was displayed much closer to true green the usual polluted yellow-green that most LCD monitors will display.
  • The Lagom ‘text test’ confirmed that the EW2430’s gamma curve is only dependent on viewing angle to a relatively minor degree. The text appeared mainly a blended grey with a slight pink hue towards the bottom and left edge. There was no alternating green and red flashing when viewing from directly in front at a normal viewing distance as there would be for a TN-based monitor.

Response

times

A small but useful tool to help illustrate the differences in responsiveness between monitors is PixPerAn (Pixel Performance Analyser). In the image below a high camera shutter speed is used with the ‘tempo’ of PixPerAn set to the highest possible value, 16. BenQ’s AMA (Advanced Motion Acceleration) which we touched upon earlier is disabled in this instance. This should be considered the ‘worst case scenario’ as far as PixPerAn testing goes.

In the above image you can see four fairly distinct sets of trailing (quadruple trailing) with a gradual fade in intensity between each one. This is fairly typical of a VA panel without grey to grey acceleration enabled.

With AMA set to ‘High’, as shown above, the results are a little peculiar. The trailing actually seems slightly more pronounced than with the pixel overdrive setting disabled. The secondary trail seems even bolder than the original image whilst the tertiary trail is more distinctive and inky looking this time around. This could be due to slight artifact generation from the AMA.

The picture above shows the results with the enigmatic ‘Premium’ AMA mode enabled, which is the default setting on the EW2430. Nowhere in BenQ’s literature is the exact nature of this mode unveiled. In this instance the trailing appears similar to in the first instance, where AMA was disabled. The trails are not as bold as the second picture where AMA was set to ‘High’. It seems that during these particular transitions and at this high tempo the overdrive is unable to alleviate the trailing – these really are very specific and rapid transitions that are being tested.

To further explore the different AMA implementations it was necessary reduce the PixPerAn tempo. At a setting of ‘4’ differences between the different modes became readily apparent as shown in the three pictures below; AMA ‘Off’, AMA ‘High’ and AMA ‘Premium’, respectively.

With AMA disabled there appears to be a very bold secondary trail and a relatively faint tertiary trail. By bumping up AMA to ‘High’ these distinct trails disappear but are instead blended into a smeary mess. It appears that settings AMA to ‘High’ introduces some unwanted artifacts and effectively transforms grey to grey transitions into the kind of high contrast transitions that VA panels are notoriously poor at handling. Setting AMA to ‘Premium’ appears to significantly reduce the intensity of the secondary trail whilst eliminating the tertiary trail. A smeared effect is not observed under this setting, either.

Really it is best not to get too hung up on the differences highlighted so far by the PixPerAn testing. In a more realistic scenario, such as a game, the monitor is faced with a much wider array of transitions between different colours and shades moving against one another at various speeds. During our subjective game testing the differences between the three AMA modes that were highlighted above became much more palpable. Visible trailing (ghosting) was distractingly bad in almost all cases with AMA disabled. Setting AMA to ‘High’ on the EW2430 alleviated this somewhat but left smeary trails that were cut out in most instances by the ‘Premium’ setting. As mentioned previously there are certain transitions which no amount of grey to grey processing can really improve on a VA panel monitor – the high-contrast transitions between distinctly different shades, such as white against a dark background.

Dirt 3 proved to be a good test of the BenQ’s responsiveness over a broad range of transitions by combining vibrant colours with varying lighting conditions. Although trailing was pretty much omnipresent on this title we didn’t find it distracting or detrimental to the experience. At night where you have artificial lights and lit up road signs whizzing past against the surrounding darkness the smeary high-contrast transitions are dominant. Although noticeable this wasn’t sufficiently distracting to allow the EW2430 to take the blame for any poor driving performances.

The second game title tested, Red River, produced some interesting results. Surprisingly little ghosting was exhibited at night with understandable exceptions involving moving past the good old artificial lights. During the day dark objects such as tree trunks, certain fence posts and rusty metals cast a short but noticeable red ‘smear’ against lighter backgrounds such as the sky. We have attempted to capture this effect in the short video below. Provided you have a faster monitor for high contrast transitions than the EW2430 (which should apply to pretty much any non-VA panel monitor) you should be able to observe the smearing affect at the edges of the rusty metal as it appears to bleed into the sky.

The glowing effect highlighted above was also evident, to a much lesser extent, when quickly looking around with the mouse. Under such circumstances textures appeared slightly misaligned momentarily which could prove a little distracting depending on your sensitivity to such things. For the most part the trailing on Red River is far less distracting, despite being very much present if you look for it.

Bad Company 2 also presented some interesting results. On foot trailing was similar to that experienced on Red River. Thankfully the generally more vibrant and lively colour choices in place of more drab and dark textures meant that instances of more extensive smeary trails were few and far between. We were quite pleased to see that with the ‘Premium’ AMA mode enabled you didn’t get the kind of extensive trailing and violently vibrating textures that manifested themselves on the EW2420 (AMA ‘High’) on this title. Some noteworthy instances of trailing that were observed on this title included a slight green glow could be observed whilst strafing past some trees, posts and other dark objects when they were set upon a lighter background. The whole scene did become a little messy when zooming around in the ATV (All-terrain vehicle) as well; the trailing was not generally of the oddly coloured smeared variety but it was noticeable through the considerable loss of sharpness throughout the scene.

To wrap up this section we had a quick look at the responsiveness of our movie titles. There were no real issues caused by the EW2430’s response times in either of the film titles we tested and the performance was in line with most other monitors we’ve tested – with the low frame rate at which the films are produced being the main limiting factor.

Conclusion

With the EW2430 BenQ has built upon the appeal of its predecessor, the EW2420. You get the same energy efficient LED-backlit VA panel at an equally attractive price point. Although nothing too radical has changed to make this some sort of revolutionary product the monitor does seem more tightly tuned in many respects and put in a pleasing performance in our testing. The aesthetics of the monitor have certainly been refreshed with some additional metallic elements giving the monitor a more premium look and feel that the price bracket would suggest. Metals feature prominently on the stand as well, helping to reinforce the foundations of this solidly constructed monitor. Although the monitor is limited to the usual simple ‘tilt’ adjustment afforded to ‘entertainment monitors’, BenQ include a plethora of inputs (and outputs) that spill over from the back of the monitor to the side – everything from HDMI, DVI, USB and audio inputs and outputs and some simple speakers are all there. The monitor is also quite accommodating should you wish to mount it in an alternative way – providing VESA mount screw holes.

In our performance testing the EW2430 came up trumps when it came to image quality. Contrast was fantastic with deep blacks, bright whites and good distinct colours – the contrast ratios recorded far exceeded the already impressive 3000:1 specified by BenQ. Colours were also lovely and vibrant with plenty of shade variety and BenQ’s choice of low haze-value screen surface helped the EW2430 achieve its potential in this respect. The handling of gamma was noticeably improved from its predecessor and the out-of-the-box image performance was very admirable and easily fine-tuned through the OSD.

Whilst the responsiveness of the monitor clearly flagged behind many other modern monitors (a characteristic of the VA panel types) BenQ managed to iron out some of the creases in this area by improving their ‘AMA’ pixel overdrive feature. The new ‘Premium’ mode offered relatively good performance, minimising a lot of troublesome trailing without introducing unsightly artifacts. Although the EW2430’s pixel response performance may not raise the eyebrows of hardcore gamers it still put in a competent performance in the game and movie titles we tested.

One thing many people who have done their research into BenQ’s previous VA-panel monitors will be wondering is how inter-unit variability will affect the EW2430. Really it is too early to say and this is certainly not something that can be explored in a sample size of one test subject – hopefully this is something that BenQ have been working on with their suppliers. If the average EW2430 even comes close to what was tested here then that’s two thumbs up for BenQ. What we can say with a great deal of certainty is that the EW2430 deserves some careful consideration; the price to performance ratio of this monitor is something that is pretty much unrivalled in the current marketplace.

Positives Negatives
Outstanding contrast with deep blacks, bright whites and good distinction of shades in between Luminance range could have been better, but is still flexible enough for the majority of users
LED backlight for increased energy efficiency, lower heat output and longer potential lifetime OSD navigation could be a little more intuitive although customisable function keys are a nice feature
Very good colour reproduction with pleasing vibrancy and shade variety – low haze surface reduces ‘dulling’ effect The low haze screen surface can increase reflection in some lighting conditions
Good viewing angles (no significant colour shift) Colour consistency not quite up to IPS standards with a slight gamma shift that could prove problematic for colour-critical work
Nice build quality with brushed metals enhancing aesthetic appeal and stand functioning Ergonomic adjustability limited to a simple ‘tilt’ of the monitor
Attractive price tag Responsiveness is not quite as good as ‘TN’ panels of a similar price – but it’s nice to see some slight improvements in BenQ’s AMA this time around