The SW2700PT has been sitting on my desk for a few months so it was interesting to put it alongside the SW240, and then focus on using the SW240 as my main monitor.
The unboxing showed once again great care with packaging, this time in a more minimalistic way, showing a much needed awareness about the need to spare on packaging for environmental purposes. All essential accessories were included, with HDMI, Display Port and DVI cables available, as well as a USB cable for the own monitor USB hub/card reader. This time the shading hood is not included, so photographers who want it will need to buy it separately.
The monitor stand surprised me at first, as it looked a bit more fragile and less “engineered” than the SW2700PT stand. Echoing the packaging, it´s more minimalistic and setting it up is much simpler when compared with the bigger brother. At first glance I was afraid it would not have the same range of adjustments as the SW2700PT, but with this stand you can still adjust height, tilt and rotate it to vertical position.
Besides the shading hood, I quickly noticed that something else was missing, and thought I had forgotten it inside the box, making me re-open the box and see if I could find it: the hotkey puck. This was a nice add-on to the SW2700PT, which allowed me to intuitively change the color space or settings of the monitor, but this time BenQ decided not to include it, replacing it with a simple button interface on the monitor itself.
Regarding the monitor itself, and daring to once again repeat the word “minimalistic”, the monitor had much cleaner looking lines, with extremely slim bezels that will be just perfect when working with a dual-monitor setup.
As you can see, everything seems to have been simplified and fine-tuned in this monitor, making it lighter, simpler, virtually bezel-less, probably allowing to make it considerably less expensive, while still making sure it covers 100% of the sRGB and AdobeRGB color space, with good uniformity, which is the most important thing for a photographer´s needs. Having a lighter stand, a smaller footprint and lighter weight also make it a perfect companion to the On-The-Go accessory I´ll review later.
I have already explained in my previous SW2700PT review what are the main characteristics I look for in a monitor for photo editing, so you can refer to the review for a detailed explanation of each factor, but to sum them up here, they are:
- High quality IPS panel
- Good color reproduction and brightness when viewed at different angles
- Full reproduction of the needed color space, which means at least 100% sRGB or 100% AdobeRGB
- Good ergonomics, with height and tilt adjustment
- Large enough size to have enough screen space for the photo and photo-editing tools
- Adequate Pixel per inch ratio
- Good panel uniformity in terms of brightness and color reproduction
- Hardware LUT calibration possibility
- No Pulse Width Modulation
- Matte-Non-glossy monitor
So does the SW240 tick all of the boxes above? Fortunately it does, and I´ve been having a great time using it to edit my images. Even though I love to edit images on very large screens like the 27 inch SW2700PT, there is something subjectively pleasant about using the SW240, probably due to its bezel-less design, great color reproduction and detail.
Even though this is a 24inch monitor, it doesn´t have the usual 16:9/1920×1080 width/height ratio, going instead for a 16:10/1920×1200 ration, which I much prefer, allowing for a slightly larger height. Its Pixel-Per-Inch ratio is around 94 which, like I previously mentioned in the SW2700PT review, fits within my preferred PPI range, as I think it´s easier to adjust fine details at pixel size and prepare images for the web using monitors with lower PPIs.
Using it for large periods of time caused no eye straining at all, as fortunately BenQ shows great commitment towards eye care, so it uses no PWM at any brightness setting.
Just like its bigger brother, the SW240 also offers the possibility of doing hardware calibration, which is stored in the monitor hardware LUT, instead of being managed through software. This ensures more reliable and higher quality calibration, which will not be potentially affected by software conflicts, and the monitor will retain its native calibration, no matter if you use it with different computers.
One of the announced features of this monitor, just like it happened with the SW2700PT, is having the possibility of displaying 10bit color, ensuring a better reproduction of areas with low color variation, like it happens in skies, for example. You probably already came across images where the sky shows abrupt transitions between different hues of color, an unwanted phenomenon called “banding”. Monitors which are able to reproduce 10bit color can avoid this effect, by being able to reproduce a larger range of intermediate tones for a certain color range, eliminating banding. This is actually a great feature, but the problem is that it will only work in a full 10-bit environment, which means using a compatible OS and graphics card (like, for example, the Nvidia Quadro range) and, as soon as the image leaves that environment, the 10bit reproduction is gone.
Using the X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibrator directly connected to the dedicated USB port of the SW240 allowed me to calibrate the monitor through BenQ Palette Master Elements software, which is the only way to store the calibration in the monitor´s hardware LUT. Even though this software is not as comprehensive as the i1Profiler software, it has plenty of options to customize the calibration.
The BenQ comes pre-calibrated from the factory, with the nice touch of including a calibration report showing the monitor could cover the whole Adobe RGB color space with good color uniformity, meaning DeltaE <2 for all values .This shows BenQ cares about their monitor quality, but still I wanted to run my own calibration, which the SW240 passed with flying colors, with the magical DeltaE <2 being achieved for the sRGB and AdobeRGB color spaces.
Regarding the monitor interface, even though I missed the Hotkey Puck, it´s quite simple and intuitive to use the on-screen controls, with a very nice feature of a dedicated button which instantly switches between color spaces, so I can easily switch between AdobeRGB, sRGB and custom calibrations just with a single button.
Finally, there is one aspect I need to really emphasize, and this is probably the main reason why I´m liking BenQ products so much: their price/quality ratio. The era of ultra-expensive monitors from brands like Eizo, LaCie and NEC is gone, and nowadays you can fortunately get professional monitors like this one for great prices, and I can assure you that you can produce very high quality images with a screen like this one.
I really hope you have enjoyed this review, and feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments section or send me an email. BenQ provided me this monitor free of charge for review, but the opinion stated here is totally truthful to my experience with this product. I want my readers trust my opinion, and I owe you my honesty. A big part of the progression I made in my career as a photographer depended on getting reliable and good opinions from photographers I trusted in, including reliable gear reviews.
And now stay tuned for my experience with the On-The-Go accessory kit, which allowed me to take the SW240 to Iceland! Coming soon!