I’ve had the opportunity to try out some pretty cool products by BenQ over the past few years, but I haven’t had much experience with one of the company’s better know products: computer monitors. That changed this year when the company sent me a pair of its new 4K Entertainment monitors to try out. Here’s what I thought of the BenQ EW3280U and EW2780U.
These monitors are part of the same series, so they share many features—including an eye-catching design—but there are also some differences between the two. I’ll cover the common elements first.
Premium, Minimalist Design
I find a lot of computer monitors are a bit boring in appearance. A lot of black plastic, maybe aluminum if they want to look a little more upscale. The BenQ entertainment monitors definitely stand out in a crowd. They feature minimal side and top bezels and a metallic brown finish. The matte, non-glare 4K panel is mounted nearly flush, so when not powered on these monitors look like a flat sheet of glass on a stand. That stand is also metallic brown. The overall effect is minimalist, premium, and not typical of a computer monitor.
I should mention that the stand does offer tilt but no height or swivel adjustment. It includes a pop-off back panel to hide cables.
4K Panel IPS Panel With HDRi
The Entertainment series monitors are equipped with 4K IPS panels with a wide color gamut, 1000:1 native contrast ratio, 178-degree viewing angle, and a maximum 400 cd/m2 brightness. They support HDR 10. They’re razor-sharp, bright, and colors pop. They have a 60Hz refresh rate and 5ms response time. Both offer a 24P cinematic frame rate viewing option.
They also feature BenQ’s proprietary HDRi technology. When activated, HDRi uses an integrated ambient light sensor to tweak the picture in real-time based on screen content and the room lighting. It adjusts factors like screen brightness, color saturation, and image contrast to optimize the picture. And it works very well.
The display also includes a range of Eye Care features designed to minimize eyestrain. This includes low blue light viewing options, flicker-free images, eye break reminders, and even an ePaper mode for reading.
Both monitors include a full range of modern connectivity options. They have a pair of HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort, and a powered USB-C port. That last one is really useful if you have a USB-C laptop, which can use the monitor for power (up to 60W).
A few years back, I reviewed BenQ’s treVolo S. This was a very cool little portable wireless speaker with a pair of fold-out electrostatic panel speakers. I mention this because BenQ equipped both these monitors with treVolo audio. They have their own DSP and support multiple sound modes, including Cinema, Game, and Rock/Party.
The Entertainment monitors do a good job of providing their own audio if you don’t have space for a sound system—but the 32-inch version is especially capable.
I’ve been using the 27-inch BenQ monitor as part of my setup for several months now. It’s the perfect size for a desktop. I’m getting to a certain age, so I only use the full 4K resolution for watching video. Otherwise, I keep it at closer to the 2560 x 1440 resolution of my iMac—text is just easier to read. It’s been connected to a MacBook Air (via Mini DisplayPort) and does a great job of downscaling to that lower resolution.
Overall, the monitor looks and sounds great.
This would be considered the flagship of BenQ’s Entertainment monitor line. The 32-inch 4K panel is large enough that the 4K resolution can be used in productivity applications without the text seeming too tiny. For several months, my wife—a research accountant—used this monitor for her pandemic work-from-home setup. It was a killer Excel solution, but frankly, that’s a waste of its capabilities…
The larger of the two monitors has a few extras. Its treVolo audio is bolstered by the addition of an integrated 5W subwoofer (hidden around back) for full 2.1 audio. That extra bass makes a big difference. There’s a handy volume dial mounted to the bottom edge of the display. And it comes with a remote control. It’s not fast enough for hardcore gaming but does offer AMD FreeSync support.
BenQ says the EW3280U gets the extras because, at 32-inches, it’s big enough that some users may actually look at it as a replacement for a TV. That’s another area where the unique design comes in handy. Visually, you could pass one of these off as a flat-screen television instead of a computer monitor.
“Entertainment Monitor” Is Well-Deserved Name
Both of these monitors make for a stylish desktop addition that offers 4K resolution along with all the features and connectivity options needed for typical computing and productivity applications. But where they really stand out is the extras that take them to the next level for consuming content: HDRi and treVolo audio.
The 32-inch BenQ EW3280U (MSRP $799.99, less on Amazon) is a stunning monitor, but at 32-inches it was a bit big for my desk and carries a premium price tag as well. The 27-inch BenQ EW2780U (MSRP $499.99) is more my speed. It offers the same high quality picture, the same attractive design and audio that’s almost as good—in a more compact size and a more affordable price point.
Disclosure: BenQ provided Entertainment monitors for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.