With some calibrating, the BenQ SW2700PT’s colour accuracy makes it a perfect fit for professional editing work
A great professional-level monitor for jobs that demand high colour accuracy
IF YOU’RE SERIOUSLY into photo or video editing, a traditional monitor probably won’t cut it, as it’s not capable of producing accurate enough colours. Instead, you need a professional model, such as the 27in BenQ SW2700PT that we have on review here.
The first clue that this monitor is something a little different is that it ships with a shading hood. This three-sided box sits on the top and sides of the display, reducing glare on the screen so that you get a clearer and more accurate picture. Assembling this hood is straightforward, with the separate pieces neatly clipping together and then sliding over the mounting brackets on the display’s sides.
A second standout feature of this screen is its USB-powered wired remote control. This circular device is used to navigate through the monitor’s onscreen menus, making choosing settings far easier than via the traditional buttons on the bottom of the display. Neatly, the remote drops into a cutout on the stand’s base, so you can store it when it’s not in use.
As the SW2700PT is a professional monitor, the stand is extremely flexible. It gives you height adjustment between 45mm and 85mm from your desk’s surface; it has a portrait mode; and there’s a high degree of tilt and swivel. In other words, getting this display configured so that you can see the screen clearly is not difficult. This is further helped by the IPS panel’s excellent viewing angles of 178 degrees vertical and horizontal.
The standard VESA mount at the rear means that you can also connect the SW2700PT to a stand of your choice, if you’d rather wall-mount it or if you have a more flexible desktop arm.
Around the back of the monitor are all the inputs, with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort on offer. The monitor has no speakers, but a 3.5mm audio output means that you can plug in a pair of headphones, delivering sound from your PC using HDMI or DisplayPort. BenQ has also included a two-port USB3 hub and an SD card slot with the display, which is a real boon for photographers.
TO BE PRECISE
You’ll want to hook this display up to your computer via USB, as the SW2700PT uses this to help it calibrate. With most consumer displays, colour calibration involves creating a software profile that sits on your PC. This software profile adjusts the output to match what the display actually shows, correcting for colour discrepancies.
With the SW2700PT, calibration updates the display’s colour Look Up Tables (LUT) on the display itself, saving the results in the special Calibration 1 or Calibration 2 profiles.
Calibration requires a compatible colourimeter (we used the X-Rite i1 Display Pro) and the supplied BenQ Palette Master Element software. This combination of hardware and software has two main advantages. First, hardware calibration should be more accurate. Second, using the USB connection, the software can adjust the display’s settings on the fly to create a more accurate image. With traditional colour calibration, it’s more fiddly as you first have to adjust the display’s brightness and individual RGB controls.
Out of the box, we measured the screen as able to display 95.4% of the sRGB colour gamut and 95.4% of the Adobe RGB gamut. The display was set to maximum brightness at 335cd/m2, which resulted in a low contrast ratio of 394:1. We measured delta-E, which shows how accurately colours are produced, at a decent 1.49. After calibrating the screen with BenQ’s software, we boosted sRGB and Adobe RGB colour gamut coverage to 100%. Calibrating for a brightness of 120cd/m2, we measured the display at a close 118.43cd/m2, with a low black level of 0.093cd/m2, giving a much better contrast ratio of 1,272:1. Given that the display uses an IPS panel, this contrast ratio is at the high end of what can be achieved. After calibration, delta-E dropped to a superb 0.81.
Subjectively, the SW2700PT produces an excellent picture. Compared side by side with a standard consumer model (calibrated using software), the SW2700PT produced a far more natural picture, with greater subtlety and finer colour gradation. Certainly, for image or video editing, the SW2700PT’s quality image is a real advantage.
Display uniformity is excellent, with no backlight bleed. Measuring using a colour calibrator, we found the ‘worst’ parts of the image were just 6cd/m2 dimmer than the central part of the image. That’s impressive.
Even for standard Windows use, the SW2700PT is a fine choice. With a resolution of 2,560x1,440, there’s plenty of resolution for the Windows desktop. Text looks sharp and clear, and window edges are clearly defined.
For a 2,560x1,440 display, the SW2700PT seems expensive, but you’re paying for its colour accuracy and hardware calibration. For dedicated photo or video editors, these are features well worth paying for. And comparing the SW2700PT to its main competition, it’s actually comparatively good value.
If you’re not such a serious editor, then the Samsung CF791 (Shopper 356) is a good choice and comes at a similar price. The CF791 has a higher resolution of 3,440x1,440 and excellent colour accuracy, although it’s a shade off what the SW2700PT delivers.