BenQ BL3200PT: Bigger Is Better
Every few years, it seems like the typical screen size increases a couple of clicks. Rather than progressing slowly, the jump hits all at once. Not long ago, 19-inch displays were the norm, sporting 4:3 aspect ratios. With the advent of widescreen configurations, 22- and 24-inch 16:9 monitors took over as the market leaders. Now 27 inches is the go-to measurement for enthusiasts. But that extra area is accompanied by a problem. A resolution of 1920x1080 is just too coarse to render text and images smoothly without visible pixilation.
Remember that 92 ppi number we mentioned at the beginning of today's story? That seems to be a sweet spot. It works fine at 24 inches if your screen is FHD. You won’t discern individual pixels, but you’ll be quickly wishing for more screen real estate. Moving up to 2560x1440 at 27 inches increases density to 109 ppi. That’s great for gaming and photo work. However, text and small objects become difficult to see for many users.
Getting back to 92 ppi without giving up a large Windows desktop means a 32-inch diagonal size. BenQ is the first to acknowledge this with an actual product. In our opinion, the BL3200PT should be a trend-setter, and we hope it will be. Using the monitor is an absolute pleasure. It allows you to sit at a comfortable distance away and read text on-screen without straining (or relying on Windows' blurry scaling).
AMVA is a fairly new panel technology and it really impresses with a high native contrast ratio. Measurements of over 2000 to 1 are rare in the world of desktop computer monitors. Prior to this review, we praised any screen that could top 1000 to 1. The BL3200PT just raised our bar.
The only flaw we encountered was weak gamma performance. Extra contrast obviously presents a challenge to engineers using AMVA in their products. We were able to get to 2.3 on the lightest possible preset, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Plus, we discovered it has an effect on color saturations below 100 percent. The gamut measurements can certainly be made better, we think.
On the good side, light bleed and color shift issues plaguing past VA panels have been eliminated in the BL3200PT. We obtained some of our best results in the field tests, both for luminance and color uniformity. And our photos show that BenQ comes pretty close to IPS in off-axis image quality. After a quick and easy calibration, the grayscale results were close to pro-level, and most of the color saturation flaws were repaired.
Thanks to its fantastic contrast, image quality easily merits a rating of stunning. Not only does this monitor's sheer size inspire awe, but the depth and detail must be seen to be fully appreciated. LCD panels have a long way to go to match the contrast performance of plasma and OLED screens, but the BL3200PT takes a large step forward in the computer monitor category.
We’ll wrap up by mentioning this monitor’s terrific value. At a street price of around $800, it isn’t that much more expensive than rank-and-file 27-inch models. Its performance is equal to or better than all but the most expensive professional products, and the BL3200PT completely outclasses everything in the contrast department. Gamers even get slightly better response and lag than most 60 Hz IPS screens.
If you have the space and the budget, BenQ's BL3200PT is the only monitor of its kind available now. We certainly enjoyed using and testing this monitor, and we think it merits serious consideration if you're shopping for a big screen.
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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.
"Remember that 92 ppi number we mentioned at the beginning of today's story? That seems to be a sweet spot. It works fine at 24 inches if your screen is FHD. You won’t discern individual pixels, but you’ll be quickly wishing for more screen real estate. Moving up to 2560x1440 at 27 inches increases density to 109 ppi. That’s great for gaming and photo work. However, text and small objects become difficult to see for many users."Reply
I can't understand why I would need a monitor with lower pixel density? Why not just zoom the text a notch in your word processor or whatever software you are using? Of two otherwise similar monitors I would always choose the one with higher PPI, even if I used it only for word processing.
I rather have the 27" QNIX Evo II 1440p for $300 or the ROG Swift for $600.Reply
The days of 60Hz are almost over with..
I rather have the 27" QNIX Evo II 1440p for $300 or the ROG Swift for $600.Except that the Swift cost $800
The days of 60Hz are almost over with..
The Swift cost $800Reply
"The only complaint we’ve registered along the way involves font size. With a pixel density of 109 ppi, text in most Windows applications becomes pretty small."Reply
That's why I don't understand people saying 1080p is crap and has to go away. I've always find that even at 1080p, the fonts are really small, and icons and interfaces in general are very tiny. In my case, it's not even a case of not being able to read, it's just that everything looks so out of place and hideous, like, Windows wasn't meant for such resolutions.
I can't imagine 1440p. Must be ridiculous to look at. It's just aesthetically not nice.
Bring on the downvotes...
Why in God's green earth would you pay $1000 for a 1440p display at 60hz when you can get a 4K for way less than that now. Rather have UHD....Reply
I agree with npyrhone - there are ways to enlarge everything on your screen if the density is too low. Having said that - this is an interesting panel. However, I cannot wait for the days when not TNs, but also IPS and VA panels (in large formats) become standard at 120Hz. The hertz do make a noticeable difference in everything you do on the screen.Reply
I`ll wait to see what Active Sync monitors will be able to do , an IPS with Active sync over a TN with 144hz.Reply
I`ll wait to see what Active Sync monitors will be able to do , an IPS with Active sync over a TN with 144hz.What is Active Sync?
Why in God's green earth would you pay $1000 for a 1440p display at 60hz when you can get a 4K for way less than that now. Rather have UHD....It's not 1000$ though...