Home / Engineering Computing / Engineering Monitor Review: Two Great Images

Engineering Monitor Review: Two Great Images

David Cohn

The 27-in. BenQ BL2710 and 32-in. BenQ BL3200 offer feature-rich 2560×1440 resolution displays at an affordable price. Photo by David Cohn.

At Autodesk University in December, we first saw an impressive 27-in. display from BenQ, a company originally spun off from Acer in 2001. While the Taiwanese firm is not particularly well known in the engineering market, it has been selling LCD monitors, digital projectors, digital cameras and mobile computing devices for years. Its lack of visibility among CAD/CAM users will likely change, however, judging from the two monitors we recently received for review.

In addition to the 27-in. BenQ BL2710PT, the company also sent us its new BenQ BL3200PT, the world’s first 32-in. WQHD monitor aimed at CAD/CAM and 3D printing. It offers the same 2560×1440 resolution as the BL2710, but on a larger panel.

Both monitors are based on LCD panels manufactured by AU Optronics (AUO). While the BL2710 uses an in-plane switching (IPS) technology that AUO calls advanced hyper-viewing angle (AHVA), the BL3200 uses an advanced multi-domain vertical alignment (AMVA) panel. Both monitors offer wide viewing angles of 178° in both horizontal and vertical directions; their response times are as low as 4 milliseconds gray-to-gray (the time it takes to change a given pixel from gray to a different color and then back to gray). Faster response time reduces image smearing that can occur with moving images. The BL2710 has a .233mm pixel pitch, a brightness of 350 cd/m2, and a contrast ratio of 1000:1, whereas the BL3200 has a larger .276mm pixel pitch, a brightness of 300 cd/m2, and a contrast ratio of 3000:1.

Each monitor arrived neatly packed with its panel and stand wrapped separately. In addition to the power cord, BenQ also provides six cables: D-Sub (VGA), DVI-D, DisplayPort, HDMI and an audio cable to connect the computer’s audio port to the monitor’s built-in stereo speakers. It took just a few minutes to assemble each display by placing the panel face down on a flat surface, attaching the monitor stand to the monitor base and tightening the thumbscrew on the bottom of the base, and then aligning the stand arm with the monitor and locking it into place. Before attaching the monitor to its stand, we noted the standard 100mm VESA mounting holes that enable the panels to be wall-mounted or attached to other supports.

BenQ 27- and 32-inch Monitor Comparison
BenQ BL2710PT 27-in. IPS Display BenQ BL3200PT 32-in. IPS Display
Price $699 MSRP ($599 street price) $799 MSRP ($699 street price)
Size 27-in. (diagonal) 32-in. (diagonal)
Display Type IPS LED backlit IPS LED backlit
Screen dimensions
without stand (WxHxD)
25.12×15.00x 2.81 in. 29.12×17.12x 2.5 in.
Physical size with stand at highest setting (HxWxD) 21.62×25.12×10.00 in. 29.12×25.63×10.5 in.
Weight 17.7 lbs. 26.9 lbs.
Native Resolution 2560×1440 pixels @ 60 Hz 2560×1440 pixels @ 60 Hz
Horizontal frequency range 30 to 83 kHz 30 to 88 kHz
Vertical refresh rate 50 to 76 Hz 50 to 76 Hz
Aspect Ratio 16:9 16:9
Pixel Pitch 0.2331mm 0.276mm
Dot/Pixel Per Inch 108.79 dpi 91.79
Brightness 350 cd/m2 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio 1000:1 3000:1
Response time 4 ms (gray to gray) 4 ms (gray to gray)
Number of Colors 1.07 billion 1.07 billion
Color Gamut 100% sRGB, ~72% NTSC 100% sRGB, ~79% NTSC, 78% Adobe RGB
Power Conusmption 43 watts typical, >0.5 watts standby (43 watts max) 52 watts typical, >0.5 watts standby (97 maximum)
Video input ports VGA, DVI-D, DisplayPort, HDMI VGA, DVI-D, DisplayPort, HDMI
I/O Ports USB 3.0 in, two USB 3.0 out, two USB 2.0 out, audio line-in, headphone USB 3.0 in, two USB 3.0 out, two USB 2.0 out, one mini-USB out, audio line-in, headphone jack
Other Features tilt/swivel base, portrait/landscape pivot, built-in 3-watt stereo speakers, Kensington lock slot tilt/swivel base, portrait/landscape pivot,
built-in 5-watt stereo speakers, Kensington lock slot, OSD controller, SD card slot
Cables Included AC power cord, DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0, audio AC power cord, DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0, audio
Warranty Three years parts and labor Three years parts and labor

The 27-in. BL2710 weighs 17.7 lbs. (including the stand). The panel itself measures 25.12×15.0x 2.81 in.; it has a height adjustment range of 16.5 to 21.62 in., and needs a space 10 in. deep. The 32-in. BL3200 weighs 26.9 lbs., has a panel measuring 29.12×17.12x 2.5 in., a height adjustment range of 19.5 to 25.63 in., and is 10.5 in. deep.

The stand included with each monitor provides a stable support. It allows the displays to be swiveled 45° left and right, and to be tilted from -5° to +20°. The panels can also be pivoted 90° from landscape to portrait mode. Thanks to the supplied Display Pilot software, the image automatically switches between landscape and portrait orientation when you pivot the monitor. Cables can be neatly routed through a hole in the center of the lower portion of the stand.

Nice Touches Abound

Both displays sport panels with a 16:9 aspect ratio surrounded by a thin black bezel. A power button located in the lower-right corner glows white when the screen is active, and amber in standby mode. Five adjacent touchpad buttons with LED indicators let you access controls using the on-screen display (OSD). The LEDs in these touch-sensitive buttons light up as your finger approaches, the first of many nice touches we noted. The first three buttons on the left can be customized to access specific controls.

Both BenQ monitors also feature a full range of input ports, including dual-link DVI, DisplayPort (with DP 1.2 supported on the BL3200), D-sub (VGA), and HDMI video inputs. Each also includes a USB input port and an audio line-in jack. On the BL2710, all of these connections are located on the bottom of the rear panel — along with an AC power connector, a master power switch, two USB 2.0 ports and a headphone jack. These ports can be difficult to reach when the panel is in its landscape orientation, however. There’s also a pair of USB 3.0 ports along the left side of the bezel, and the BL2710 includes a pair of built-in 3watt stereo speakers.

On the BL3200, the connections are a bit more spread out. The USB input port, a mini-USB port (for the OSD Controller), two USB 2.0 ports and an audio line-in jack, as well as the AC power connector and master power switch, are located on the bottom of the rear panel. But the four video inputs are located on the right side of this panel, where they are much more easily accessed. A panel on the lower-right edge of the bezel provides easy access to a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack and an SD card reader. Other than the difference in size and port locations, the BL3200’s vertical stand is silver aluminum whereas the BL2710’s is black, and the built-in stereo speakers in the 32-in. monitor are rated at 5watts.

Both BenQ monitors also feature an ambient light sensor built into the center of the bezel below the panel, enabling the display to automatically adjust its brightness as the surrounding lighting conditions change. There is also a human motion sensor (BenQ refers to this as an “eco sensor”) that can turn the screen off when it senses that no one has been in front of it for 40 seconds. The sensor automatically turns the display on again when it senses motion.

Display Pivot software

BenQ’s Display Pivot software features a picture mode that automatically changes color temperature, brightness, and contrast settings to best match the program you are using. It features a CAD/CAM setting.
Image courtesy of BenQ.

The BL3200 features an OSD controller, a small puck-shaped device that connects to the mini-USB port. Buttons on this controller duplicate and augment the bezel-mounted buttons. Although it’s a bit of a gadget, we did find it easier to access and navigate the OSD using the controller than using the buttons on the bezel. When not being used, the controller fits into a round indentation in the monitor stand.

Useful Software

The supplied Display Pivot software proved to be one of the most powerful and useful programs we’ve seen yet for adjusting a display. In addition to automatically detecting when the display is pivoted between landscape and portrait mode and matching the image to the new orientation, it also features a picture mode that, once configured, automatically changes color temperature, brightness, and contrast settings to best match the program you are using.

For example, when using CAD software, the monitor can switch to CAD/CAM mode. Other choices include:

  • sRGB (for matching colors to devices such as printers and digital cameras)
  • animation
  • presentation
  • movie
  • photo
  • reading (for ebooks and documents)
  • eco (to lower brightness and conserve power), and
  • M-book (to minimize differences between the monitor and a connected MacBook).

You can also use the Display Pilot software to control the ambient light sensor and eco sensor; set a pop-up message to display at pre-defined intervals to remind you to rest your eyes; set a timer to automatically power off the monitor in power-saving mode; span the Windows task bar across multiple monitors; and display the recommended resolution whenever a new input source is detected.

Impressive Performance

We used DisplayMate from DisplayMate Technologies (displaymate.com) to help evaluate the visual quality of each monitor. DisplayMate uses a series of test patterns, both to help users fine-tune the image and to uncover any picture quality problems or video artifacts that might otherwise go unrecognized.

Both BenQ monitors displayed excellent color and gray scale, and showed absolutely no pixel defects. We were able to read text down to 6.8 points, even at different intensity levels, and the fast response time resulted in no image smearing when viewing full-motion video.

We were also impressed with the performance of both of these displays — and with their price. The BL2710 has a suggested retail price of $699, but is currently available both from BenQ and numerous retailers for $599, much less than many other 27-in. IPS displays. The 32-in. BL3200 has a suggested retail price of $799, but it, too, has a street price $100 lower, largely unheard of for a display of this size. Both monitors are backed by a three-year warranty that covers parts and labor. At these prices, we expect these BenQ monitors to start turning up on the desks of many engineers.

Although 27-in. monitors have become an optimum size, and the BenQ BL2710 is a great monitor, remember that both the BL2710 and BL3200 offer identical 2560×1440 WQHD resolution. In other words, if you find that text looks too small on a 27-in. monitor, the big BenQ 32-in. display may be an ideal alternative.

More Info

About David Cohn

David Cohn has been using AutoCAD for more than 25 years and is the author of more than a dozen books on the subject. He’s the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies, a contributing editor to Digital Engineering, and also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA. Watch for his latest CADLearning eBooks on AutoCAD 2015 on the Apple iBookstore, at Amazon, and on the CADLearning website. You can contact him via email at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at www.dscohn.com.