BenQ RL2204H review
BenQ is looking to cash in on the lucrative gaming market with its latest 22in monitor, the RL2240H. It’s aimed specifically at real time strategy players, who need rapid response times and precise detail to stay on top of their opponents at all times. It’s a Full HD panel with an LED backlight, although its looks are sure to divide opinions.
Both the stand and screen bezel are made from glossy white plastic, which is something of an odd choice – almost every gaming mouse, keyboard and computer case we’ve seen has been black, so it’s unlikely to match your existing peripherals. The stand is rather basic, with no height or swivel adjustment, although you can tilt the panel. Inputs around the back include one HDMI, one VGA and one DVI, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you shouldn’t struggle to connect it to your PC.
Until we dove into the rather basic on-screen settings menus, we couldn’t see anything that felt geared specifically at gamers. The two features that tried to change our minds were the RTS mode and Smart Scaling option, but these both fell short of our expectations. Smart Scaling maintains aspect ratios for resolutions smaller than the native 1080p, which may make sense for anyone still playing the original StarCraft, which looks warped and fuzzy on a modern display. However, most people probably won’t ever use it, as newer games are all designed for widescreen resolutions.
We were even less convinced by the RTS mode, which is little more than an image preset. It’s designed to make it easier to pick out enemies against dark backgrounds, but realistically we didn’t think gaming was any easier than with the mode disabled.
The standard collection of image settings are present, including brightness, contrast, gamma, colour temperature, sharpness, hue and saturation, but many of these are greyed out until you choose the right preset. There’s no indication as to which preset unlocks which options, which can be irritating if you want to adjust something like colour saturation without having to start setting up the monitor's picture from scratch.
At its default settings, colour temperatures were much too low, giving everything a blue colour cast. Once we’d raised them things improved, but colours still looked washed out and lacking in vibrancy. The matt screen finish didn’t help matters, although it did help to keep light reflections to a minimum. Horizontal viewing angles were reasonable, but unsurprisingly there’s a shift in contrast when you try to view the screen at an off-centre angle.
The panel itself is a standard TN model, with a rapid 5ms response time. The LED backlight is reasonably uniform, although we could spot a few instances of bleed through in some of our darker test images, meaning colours sometimes weren't uniform across the panel. Also, no matter how far we adjusted the picture, we could still spot noticeable colour banding in our test pictures, which is rather disappointing.
Overall, we don’t think the real time strategy genre is different enough from other genres to warrant a gaming monitor – the RL2204H has features that few people will find useful and its image quality is average at best. Even at just over £100, which is reasonable for a 22in Full HD screen, the questionable white design and basic on-screen settings make this less than appealing. Even if you’re a hard-core StarCraft professional, we would still recommend looking elsewhere.
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