Buyer's Guide: 3D Monitors (Part 3) - BenQ XL2420T, Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D, Asus VG278H

9/17/2012 9:32:31 PM

BenQ XL2420T

Description: BenQ XL2420T


Price: $416

Size: 24"

Response time: 2ms

Input: HDMI, DisplayPort

As soon as we leave behind the world of sub-£250 3D monitors, we instantly find ourselves bumping into this: the BenQ's XL2420T. And what a difference a few quid can make.

A full inch bigger than the monitors we've looked at thus far, this 24" screen is still a TN panel underneath, but there's one much bigger difference: it has active 3D technology in it, with support for NVidia's 3D Vision 2 system. Active systems have their flaws, but ultimately the 3D image is better, and if you're buying a 3D monitor at all, it's tough to argue against that being the primary concern.

Even as a 2D monitor, the BenQ XL2420T offers a fantastic image, with vivid colors and excellent contrast. It may be a TN panel, but it's undeniably a high-quality one. Even its viewing angles are relatively wide (though just horizontally, not vertically).

The stand can be adjusted through tilt, rotate, swivel and pivot - features that have been notably absent with the cheaper monitors in this guide. The 120Hz refresh rate, while designed for 3D, means its pictures are smooth and responsive even if you're just using Windows.

One thing that could count against it is that the 3D Vision kit isn't included with it, which means that if you actually want to use the 3D, you have to spend $112 on extra kit. If you already have the hardware, that won't be a problem, but $560 is dangerously close to $640, which seems far too expensive a price for a monitor. And how much do you want 3D anyway?

However, such reasoning only leads back to the sub-par worlds of passive 3D monitors. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra money to get this one. There are more expensive choices, but you'll struggle to see why they cost more.


Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D

Description: Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D


Price: $644.624

Size: 23"

Response time: 2ms

Input: HDMI, DisplayPort

Samsung's SyncMaster range of monitors are well respected and fairly desirable, so you could be forgiven for thinking that they might be on top of the heap with regards to 3D as well. However, you'd be incorrect. The SyncMaster S23A750D isn't awful, but a wealth of small problems combines to make the product less than desirable, especially given its cost.

For example, the lack of a DVI port is a mild annoyance (you only get HDMI and DisplayPort) and although it's easy to work around using one of the other video cables, it's an odd omission that suggests either poor design or corner-cutting manufacturing, neither of which is a particularly desirable trait. The circular foot stand certainly looks unique (though not necessarily in a good way), but its small footprint means the screen shakes all over the place after even the slightest nudge, and its placement means the buttons for the on-screen display are hard to reach and use.

The screen itself is a lot better, offering deep blacks and good colors on a 23" panel at a full HD resolution An ambient light sensor can adjust the brightness automatically, and the 'eco' mode switches it off during periods of inactivity. Perhaps the most fun feature is the tree in the OSD, which 'grows' the more you use the power-saving features.

But what of the 3D features? The monitor comes with Samsung's own active shutter glasses, which are fairly light and comfortable (so far as any active shutter glasses can be), but their proprietary 3D is prone to ghosting and not as impressive as other active shutter technologies (though better than other passive ones). Full resolution 3D requires you to use fairly high-end graphics cards, and specifically an AMD one. Although you can use a NVidia card with it, the lack of DisplayPort support from their cards means that you'll probably have to run at a 60Hz refresh rate instead of 120Hz, leading to a poor 3D image.

Ultimately, it's a better 2D monitor than 3D monitor. The pictures it produces are great, but its temperamental design and poor compatibility make it a bad choice.


Asus VG278H

Description: Asus VG278H


Price: $831.824

Size: 27"

Response time: 2ms


If you're a gamer who's serious about the latest gaming technology, you need look no further than this: the Asus VG278H.

With NVidia's 3D Vision 2, LightBoost technology, and a 120Hz TN+ panel with 2ms response times, this is a monitor designed to give all that gaming can offer. The native resolution is full HD (1920x1080), which means you should get a near perfect picture for high-def movies and TV, but its 27" dimensions are slightly too small to be taken seriously for home cinema setups. Make no mistake: this is for gaming first and foremost.

The stand is adjustable in a variety of ways, which helps mitigate its slightly narrow viewing angles (an attribute TN+ panels also have), because you can easily tilt and adjust until it's just right. Extras are weak in some areas but strong in others - it has no USB hub, and the speakers aren't much cop, not least because they're rear-facing. Gamers would doubtlessly prefer being blasted in the face.

A single pair of active shutter glasses is included, so be warned that you'll have to buy extra pairs if more than one person wants to use the 3D. One touch worth mentioning is that the 3D emitter on the top of the monitor is also adjustable, which means you can match the 3D reception to your position without having to move the entire screen.

Connectivity includes a single HDMI input, dual-link DVI and VGA inputs, as well as audio-in and headphone-out jacks. At this price, you might expect multiple HDMI ports, or component/composite inputs, but as previously noted, this isn't a screen that worries too much about being attractive to TV and movie viewers. Helpfully, it does come with all the necessary cables for the dual-DVI, VGA and audio inputs, so at least you know you're covered for PC use out of the box.

If you're concerned about the cost, we should point out that unless you're deeply into 3D gaming, it's hard to recommend spending this much on any monitor, let alone this particular one. It's impressive, but if the lack of certain features or its high price makes you hesitate, it's definitely not for you.

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