We still believe HDR is an evolving process on the PC side. The standard is set, but technology is still working to catch up. After five HDR monitor reviews, it looks as though progress is being made. Obviously, a full-array backlit LCD is the best way to enjoy that extra dynamic range, short of an OLED panel. The Dell UP2718Q we looked at a few months ago posted fantastic numbers and will likely be our reference panel for some time to come. But at around $1400, it’s out of reach for many users.
VA panels deliver a more achievable price point. Costing the same as IPS monitors of the same size, they deliver anywhere from two- to five-times greater native sequential contrast. Only recently have they become more common in Ultra HD resolution. Obviously, our testing shows they can hit the same color targets as any other technology, with accurate performance right up to DCI-P3.
The BenQ EW line includes some interesting models, and we think the EW3270U is the best one yet. The EW277HDR is a fine display, but it gave us a few problems with specific Ultra HD sources, and it only has 1920x1080 resolution. This new screen meets more and better features, with 3840x2160 pixels, 10-bit native color depth, and HDR10. And, if you need sRGB or Rec.709, it does that too.
BenQ calls the EW series “video enjoyment” monitors, which to us means games and movies. While the idea of watching the latest Hollywood blockbusters on a 32” screen seems strange when much bigger TVs are available at similar price points, we know that many people enjoy streamed content and Blu-rays on their desktop systems. After all, who wouldn’t want to watch The Rock save San Francisco in San Andreas while editing a spreadsheet?
During our time with the BenQ EW3270U, we found it to be an excellent gaming monitor. Though it’s limited to 60Hz, that is something that plagues all Ultra HD screens at present. At least it includes HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4. Perhaps the next version of this screen will deliver 120Hz. The inclusion of FreeSync is quite welcome, and with a wide 24-60Hz range and LFC, frame tearing isn't an issue. Decent response and low input lag helped round out a fun gaming experience.
Watching movies was also a blast, despite a few grayscale anomalies in HDR mode. The lack of adjustment there was something we’d like to see corrected, so we can fix the blueish mid-tones. Honestly though, it didn’t reduce our enjoyment of Ultra HD Blu-ray content. Professionals might be dissuaded by this, but consumers shouldn’t be. Color and EOTF accuracy are right on the money, which help makes up for this flaw.
Since the BenQ EW3270U is priced competitively with other Ultra HD monitors that don’t offer DCI color or HDR, it’s an excellent value. For around $700, it hits its design goals looking good doing it. It’s a really nice all-around monitor that we can easily recommend for those seeking “video enjoyment.”
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