A great professional-level monitor for jobs that demand high colour accuracy
- Flexible stand
- Excellent viewing angles
- SD card slot
- No speakers
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 more professional model, such as the 27in BenQ SW2700PT.
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The first clue that this monitor is 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.
BenQ SW2700PT review: Build quality, connectivity and calibration
A second stand-out feature of this screen is its USB-powered wired remote. 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 away 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.
A standard VESA mount at the rear means that you can also connect this SW2700PT to a stand of your choice, if you’d rather mount it to a wall 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 you can plug in a pair of headphones, delivering sound from your PC using HDMI or DisplayPort. BenQ has included a two-port USB 3 hub and an SD card slot, which is a real boon for photographers who don’t have an integrated card reader on their PC.
You’ll want to hook this display up to your computer via USB, as the BenQ 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.
This is a bit less fiddly than traditional colour calibration methods, which typically demand that you start by manually adjusting the display’s brightness and individual RGB controls.
BenQ SW2700PT review: Image quality
Out of the box, we measured the display 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 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 1272:1. 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 more consumer-focused monitors, which had also been given the calibration treatment, the SW2700PT produced a far more natural picture, with greater subtlety, and finer colour gradation. Certainly, for image or video editing, the SW2700PT’s image quality is a real advantage.
Display uniformity is excellent as well, with no backlight bleed. Measuring with our colour calibrator, we found that the ‘worst’ parts of the image were just 6cd/m² dimmer than the central part of the image. That’s an impressive showing.
Even for standard Windows use, the SW2700PT is a fine choice. With a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, there’s plenty of resolution for the Windows desktop, and combined with 27in of screen space, it’s easy to have lots of windows open at once while their content remains legible. Text looks sharp and clear, and window edges are clearly defined.
BenQ SW2700PT review: Verdict
For a 2,560 x 1,440 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 the main competition, it’s actually good value.
If you’re not such a serious editor, then the Samsung C34F791 is a good alternative. It has a higher resolution (3,440×1,440), a larger, ultrawide 34 panel and excellent colour accuracy, albeit a shade off what the SW2700PT delivers. However, the price gap between the two has widened recently, with the BenQ dropping to become around £100 cheaper, making it a great deal.