HDR Grayscale, EOTF and Color
To run HDR benchmarks, we add an HD Fury Integral to the signal chain to simulate HDR10 content from our Accupel DVG-5000 pattern generator. This enables us to measure the EX3501R’s grayscale in 5% increments, tracking of Electro-Optical Transfer Function (EOTF), an electronic value in content that specifies brightness displayed on the monitor, and color gamut capabilities within a Rec.2020 container.
Grayscale Tracking & EOTF
The EX3501R has no adjustments available in HDR mode.
The EX3501R’s HDR grayscale tracking is among the best we’ve seen from any display. This is excellent performance, especially considering this is not a professional monitor with a factory-certified calibration.
The errors at 60% and 65% are caused by incorrect luminance levels. What does that mean in real-world context? Almost nothing. You might see occasional detail clipping in the upper mid-tones, but we never experienced this during our hands-on tests.
The deepest blacks are a little too bright as well. Luminance rises too quickly until 30%, where it gets back on track. These are minor points in the grand scheme of things but worth reporting.
Color Gamuts Within Rec.2020
The EX3501R is essentially an sRGB monitor, so to simulate the extended primaries of DCI-P3 and Rec.2020, it alters their hues to push them closer to the gamut triangle’s edge. You’ll see a little deeper red, but the saturation level is the same.
While under-saturation is expected in the Rec.2020 and DCI charts, we were surprised to see it in the Rec.709 graph. Red is the biggest culprit and undercuts its targets across the board. DCI material will look okay here, but if an Ultra HD disc is mastered in Rec.709, it might be a tad less colorful.
The takeaway from our HDR tests is that while the EX3501R does some things well, it has room for improvement in others.
Ultra HD Blu-rays
The EX3501R is one of the few computer monitors that processes 24p film-based material correctly. Most screens use a cadence to adapt this content to a 60Hz refresh rate, but BenQ has thoughtfully included proper support for this common framerate.
Unfortunately, we discovered a flaw in its aspect ratio handling. Since the native shape is 21:9, or 2.33:1 in movie terms, a CinemaScope movie should fill the screen. But when we watched Creed the image still displayed black bars on top and bottom. Our player does not have a vertical stretch option, and the EX3501R doesn’t either. You can select Aspect in the OSD to remove the horizontal stretch, but then there are bars on all sides.
Aspect issues aside, the image looks fantastic. 3840x2160 resolution is happily accepted and cleanly down-converted. Color is exemplary, and contrast looks fantastic in both HDR and SDR modes. The difference is small but noticeable - most content has a little more pop in HDR. For example, The Martian, with its vivid orange landscapes was a real treat to watch. Detail is razor-sharp, and at desktop viewing distances you’ll never know you’re not watching native UHD.
We’d love it if BenQ included a vertical stretch mode, but otherwise, the EX3501R is a great movie machine.
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