Packaging, Physical Layout And Accessories
The XR3501 comes in BenQ's usual hefty carton that opens like a normal box. This makes removing panel a lift-out proposition rather than the slide-out procedure required by suitcase boxes. The panel itself is already assembled with the stand and upright and its curvature is well-protected by rigid Styrofoam.
The accessories include an external power brick and cables for HDMI, DisplayPort and analog audio. There was no CD-ROM in the box with a manual nor is a printed one in evidence. We were also unable to find one on BenQ's website. Hopefully that oversight will have been rectified by the time you read this.
Once you get past the impressive size of the XR3501 you'll notice BenQ's usual solid build quality. The base is a single cast metal piece with dark chrome plating. The upright is plastic but equally solid and attaches firmly to the panel. There is only a tilt adjustment but that movement is very firm and feels secure.
The anti-glare layer allows for excellent image clarity while cutting down reflections effectively. With a screen this big and a curve so prominent, you might think it would pick up light easily, but it doesn't. The bezel is very thin at the sides and top so if you wish to line up two or three XR3501s, the separation line will be very narrow. While this is an expensive proposition, the 2000R curvature means that three monitors will create a true wrap-around experience.
The curve on the XR3501 can be easily seen from any angle, but the top really shows you how much bend there is. It's enough that you'll see it in on-screen windows or any object with a horizontal edge. It takes a little getting-used to but during gameplay, it really enhances the sense of immersion.
Thinness is not something you'll get with any curved screen but the XR3501 is no thicker than it needs to be. By omitting an internal power supply the chassis remains smoothly tapered in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions. If you're looking for USB ports, there are none on either side. Speakers are also absent, though you get a headphone jack along with a mic input and a line-out connection on the bottom panel.
This photo shows the input cover in place; it only leaves a small slit for cables to exit. The rest of the chassis is free of vents and decals. Only a BenQ logo adorns the otherwise featureless back panel. The upright is plastic but it's plated with the same dark chrome as the base creating a high-end appearance and feel. You can also see a red-trimmed hole for cable management. If you want to wall-mount the XR3501, BenQ sells a kit that adds a 100mm VESA mount.
The input panel faces down and is very recessed towards the panel's front face. This makes cable insertion somewhat difficult. If your DisplayPort cable has a fat connector, you'll have a hard time getting it plugged in. From the left we have power, two HDMI ports, two DisplayPorts (one mini), analog line in and line out and a headphone jack. It's important to note that the HDMI inputs will support 2560x1080 resolution but only at 60Hz. If you want to run at 144Hz, you'll have to use DisplayPort.