Keith looks at the new BenQ 27" SW2700PT. This monitor is aimed at photographers like myself, who require a well specified monitor with a larger than normal gamut, but don't really need all the additional precision and certification you get with one like the 24" BenQ PG2401PT reviewed earlier this year.
Keith has been trying out the monitor on several of his Apple Mac systems, although it should be noted that the software is very similar on Windows PCs.
I'm going to be using one of the two calibration presets.
Having two options allows me to have a monitor set up for normal web use at 6500K and say 120 CD/m2, with a different setting matched more closely to my print viewing setup. This makes soft proofing easier, although you still need to take the usual precautions with regard to bright interface elements and other distractions that can throw things off.
There is a choice of monitor profile types - initial experiments suggested that the matrix setting worked well.
The software does not have checks for screen linearity and trend analysis (recording changes over time) but if you really wanted that you could always make use of functionality found in calibration software such as Spyder5 Elite
I get to try out many of these more advanced functions, and see how they work, when writing reviews, but if I'm honest, that's the end of it. Essentially I'm after a good monitor and a calibration system that gets the best from it.
One feature that initially struck me as a bit of a gimmick was the puck for accessing the on-screen display (OSD). I mean, how often do I really want to change my monitor setup?
It turns out that I've used it a bit more often than I thought I would (and not just for writing up this review).
Customising it allows me to have two calibrated modes easily to hand and leave a third set as 'sRGB' mode. This is by default, rather bright and with the smaller sRGB Gamut. It allows me to quickly see how much of the rest of the world may see my web pages (oh, and play Quake 3) ;-) B+W mode is not something I'd use, if I've already got my monitor well profiled.
Among the medium-high range and the top screens (NEC, EIZO), there is a gap that perhaps only DELL covers (closer to the lower area than top one) and BenQ seems interested in covering this gap, but perhaps the area slightly above DELL. With the emergence of BenQ, NEC and EIZO are placed in a more difficult situation; DELL expects it to be a tough competitor...
My one concern about being able to switch screen modes like this is that my system monitor profile does not change, so I need to go into display preferences and change profile to that of the mode I've selected. This is on the Mac - Windows might be different, but I doubt it.
This is a very nicely built, high quality monitor. It was simple to assemble and run via both my laptop and main desktop computers.
Picture quality is excellent with good linearity across the screen, and no defects that I could find.
The display hood works very well, giving a very solid black around the screen when working, whilst the screen itself exhibits a good low reflectance.
Compared to an older monitor such as my (still going strong) Apple cinema display, the display is bright and crisp (~109ppi), whilst the wider near-Adobe98 gamut (99%) is great for finer gradations of colour.
My work is as a photographer, sending great looking digital images to clients and producing my own fine-art prints.
Sure, it's nice using ultra precise monitors, such as many I've tested in the past, but my work 'just' needs 'really good', which the SW2700 reaches.
This monitor offers the big colour space I'm looking for, and the smoothness of the hardware LUT means I could detect no banding or posterisation in any of the images I've checked it with.
The diagram below (from BenQ) shows why internal calibration (via the LUT) can smooth the output from the screen. The unevenness at the left is corrected to some extent though profiling, but if you can tweak the actual hardware (as in the right), the profiling software needs to do far less work via a profile, and is likely to give superior results.
One slight downside of this is that (currently) you have to use custom software to make these adjustments, which means that if I still have my Apple Cinema display as a second monitor, I can use absolutely any profiling software I like for that display, but must use the BenQ software to get the best (setting the hardware LUT) from the SW2700.
All in all a monitor that's great in the areas where I need it, without lots of (for me) needless functionality I'd not really want to pay more for.