There is no question in our minds that HDR is here. Many Ultra HD televisions include support for HDR10 and a few are now offering the Dolby Vision too. But in the land of computer monitors, progress has been slower. But we suspect a flood of introductions is about to come from CES in January 2018. And you can expect to see a mix of high-end displays with multi-zone backlights like the Dell UP2718Q balanced with value-oriented products like the BenQ EW277HDR.
There is a huge price difference between the two screens, and the Dell clearly does a better job with HDR. But is it five times better? That’s a question users will have to answer for themselves, and with their wallets.
Aside from value, the EW277HDR offers features that almost take it into the professional realm. Though there is no factory calibration, the preset modes track a perfect D65 grayscale, BT.1886 gamma, and excellent color in both DCI-P3 and sRGB gamuts. Tweakers will enjoy the full set of calibration controls that include color temp presets, RGB sliders, hue & saturation levels, and six gamma options. But we suspect most users will do as we did and simply enjoy the monitor’s superb out of-box-accuracy. Set Standard or HDR mode for extended P3 color, or use the sRGB and Rec.709 modes for standard computer and video content.
HDR operation requires a bit more compromise. The FHD resolution will likely be a deal-breaker for some. Ultra HD content is, after all, 3840x2160 pixels natively. At least the multiple means decent down-res quality. And though the VA panel offers 3000:1 contrast, there is no more dynamic range to be had in HDR mode. The EW277HDR simply ups the backlight level to 385cd/m2 and implements the proper EOTF for HDR10 content. While it looks better than SDR, and adds an increased perception of depth, it won’t compete with high-end displays and their multi-zone backlights.
We also urge potential buyers to check their source components. Our Philips UHD Blu-ray player would not communicate properly with the EW277HDR, which meant we were left with HDR emulation only when watching movies. It provided a small improvement in quality, and it was easy to toggle on and off with the handy button on the panel’s front.
The main draw here is the low price. After getting over the sticker shock of Dell’s UP2718Q ($1500 at the moment), the sub-$300 price of the BenQ is a lot more palatable. Even if you are skeptical of its HDR ability, it’s still an excellent VA monitor for standard content with its 3000:1 native contrast and DCI-P3 color option. Since the EW277HDR does many things well, and HDR is still an evolving standard, we think it's worthy of your consideration at this price.
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