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BenQ DesignVue PD2706UA review: High-end accuracy at a low-end price

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 430
(inc VAT)

With stellar colour accuracy, 4K clarity and a cunning articulated arm, the PD2706UA is superb value

Pros

  • Superb colour accuracy
  • Clever Hotkey Puk
  • Versatile Ergo Arm stand

Cons

  • No VRR support
  • 60Hz maximum refresh rate
  • Speakers lack volume

With the new DesignVue PD2706UA, BenQ is offering professional-grade kit at consumer price levels. This monitor delivers the visual quality that even the most demanding professional user will probably be pleased with, but it will only set you back £430, which is peanuts for a 27in 4K monitor.

It would still be peanuts if it were a pretty humdrum 4K monitor with no fancy features, but the PD2706UA is far from a workaday affair because it comes with an excellent stand, more I/O ports than you are ever likely to need and a handy remote control that’s highly adaptable so you can set it up to do precisely what you want, when you want.

To cap it all, the IPS panel is very high quality, too, with broad colour gamut support and excellent colour accuracy. This may just be the best-value creative monitor that’s ever landed at Expert Reviews.

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BenQ DesignVue PD2706UA review: What do you get for your money?

The cabinet is a relatively compact and light affair weighing 6.2kg and measuring 614 x 365 x 60mm. The bezels continue the sleek and modern look, coming in at just 8mm at the top and sides and 20mm at the bottom. The plastic strip below the screen is painted silver, as is the top of the stand pillar, but other than that, it’s all black plastic.

I’ve no complaints about build quality, the whole assembly being solid and creak-free. As you would expect, there’s a 100mm x 100mm Vesa bracket beneath the quick-release mechanism of the stand. Also in the box are the usual cables and a circular control puk that plugs into the cabinet.

Rather than a conventional desktop stand, the PD2706UA comes with what BenQ calls an Ergo Arm. Once clamped to your desk (the C-Clamp can fix to anything narrower than 70mm), it proffers a tremendous amount of adjustability beyond the usual 90-degree pivot (clockwise only), 150mm elevation and tilt between -5 and +30-degrees.

Between the rotation of the stand pillar and the articulated arm, which connects the pillar to the monitor and is jointed at both ends, you can swivel the display by 275 degrees in either direction and back and forth perpendicularly by 220mm through an arc.

All the hinges and pivots are robust and solid but, at the same time, very easy to move, so you can easily swing the monitor forward to bring the screen nearer to you if you need to look at something more closely.

Other than taking up much less space on a desk than a conventional stand – the base of the C-clamp is only 110mm square – the back of the hollow pillar unclips along its entire height, letting you feed all your cables down it through a series of clips before replacing the cover and hiding everything from sight.

The PD2706UA, like all other monitors in BenQ’s DesignVue range, is Pantone and Pantone SkinTone validated and comes with a one-year free subscription to the Pantone Connect Premium services, although this offer seems to be open only to those residing in the USA.

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BenQ DesignVue PD2706UA review: What type of connections does it have?

At the back of the PD2706UA, you’ll find one upstream USB-B 3.2 Gen 1 and two downstream USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 data ports, a Type-C port that supports 90W PD charging, a microUSB port for the Hotkey Puk, HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 video inputs and the power jack.

On the left side is another USB-A port, a downstream Type-C data port and a 3.5mm audio jack. That’s a generous selection, and BenQ deserves praise for mounting some of the ports on the edge of the cabinet. This makes life so much easier when compared to everything being on the back of the display facing downwards.

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BenQ DesignVue PD2706UA review: How good is the image quality?

It should go without saying that the PD2706UA is very, very crisp. With a 3,840 x 2,160 matrix inside a 27in frame the resultant pixel density is 163dpi, so you need some serious magnification to discern any pixellation.

Maximum brightness in SDR mode was a more than acceptable 340cd/m², while from a small area (<10%) under HDR mode it peaked at 450cd/m², comfortably over the 400cd/m² level mandated by the Vesa HDR 400 certification. In the absence of a trick MiniLED backlight the contrast ratio was a solid but unexceptional 1,110:1 with a black luminance level of 0.3cd/m².

The PD2706UA boasts gamut volumes of 123.6% sRGB, 87.5% DCI-P3 and 85.1% Adobe RGB, and while that’s good it’s nothing compared to how colour accurate it is within the preset colour profiles, generating Delta E variances of just 0.85 vs sRGB, 1.05 vs Display P3 and 1.16 vs DCI-P3. There’s a user-definable setting and a wide array of image adjustment options should you need to get an even lower Delta E figure.

The PD2706UA is loaded to the gunwales with creative features such as 11 different colour modes including sRGB, Display P3, DCI-P3, REC.709, CAD/CAM, ePaper, DICOM and Darkroom. You even get a mode to match the ICC colour profiles of Apple machines.

A feature I’ve not encountered before is DualView. Turn that on and the display enters a split-screen colour mode in which you can change which colour profile each side of the screen shows at the same time. So, for example, you could have the one half of the display set to show sRGB, the other Display P3, or one DCI-P3 and the other ePaper or CAD/CAM.

Consistency across the panel was good even without BenQ’s Uniformity control engaged, but with that turned on, it was as close to perfect as I’ve seen. All but two of the swatches fell within the recommended tolerance and the two that slipped within nominal tolerance did so by the very smallest of margins.

The peak refresh rate is the standard 60Hz, which is fine for a monitor that’s in no way designed for gaming, but motion handling is still relatively poor, with quite a lot of ghosting and smearing visible in the Blur Busters tests. And there’s no support for a variable refresh rate.

Games that don’t depend on high refresh rates, such as Returnal, look fine, but titles such as Valorant less so. But who buys a professional creative monitor to play eSports?

Like many BenQ monitors, the PD2706UA does a decent job with Windows HDR despite the absence of local area dimming. Putting Windows into HDR mode doesn’t disrupt the desktop colour scheme to any noticeable extent or make it over-bright, nor does it have a massive effect on the visual impact of HDR content.

There’s a Backlight Control toggle buried away in the Advanced section of the Colour menu that’s supposed to improve HDR content, but I can’t say it made a noticeable difference to image quality in my eyes.

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BenQ DesignVue PD2706UA review: Are there any other features I should know about?

The PD2706UA has a pair of 2.5W speakers that produce a clear sound but are not particularly loud, maxing out at 70.5dBA when measured against a pink noise source at a 1m distance. They don’t produce enough bass to do full justice to music or movie soundtracks, either. That’s understandable, as they aren’t intended for anything beyond the basic monitoring of sound outputs and conference calls; they do both jobs well enough with good clarity and no hint of distortion, even at maximum volume levels.

Using the PD2706UA is made much easier by the bundled Hotkey Puk. This is a 70mm diameter circular control with five buttons (four programmable) surrounding a programmable rotary dial, a press of which launches the main OSD menu. The puk is a handy tool that I used primarily to swap between KVM sources, colour profiles and to adjust the volume, but such is its versatility that you never really need to access the joystick and two buttons at the back of the cabinet.

The puk has one foible – if you select a video input that’s not connected, you can’t reopen the input selection menu to find one that is but must resort to the cabinet buttons to access any live video feeds.

Incidentally, the OSD is very well organised. Even a cursory skip through the menus is enough to familiarise yourself with the available functions. It’s a textbook example of simple but effective design.

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BenQ DesignVue PD2706UA review: Should I buy it?

For the asking price, the PD2706UA is a very impressive monitor and still would be even if BenQ shipped it with a conventional desktop stand and without the control puk. That the puk and the Ergo Arm are also thrown into the bargain is just the icing on a rather impressive cake.

The key feature, though, is the highly impressive colour accuracy across a range of colour profiles and the crystal-clear 4K resolution. To get significantly more features you need to cough up for something like the Mini-LED Philips 27B1U7903. HDR performance aside, I would question if the admittedly impressive Philips is worth the extra money, even at the new, lower price of £1,020.

The only weaknesses, and I use that word guardedly, the PD2706UA has are the rather quiet speakers and the humdrum motion handling. When it comes to the latter I didn’t honestly expect more from a monitor aimed at creative professionals with a basic 60Hz refresh rate. And the speakers are not bad per se, you’ll just need to invest in a decent pair of remote speakers if you want to play music through the PD2706UA at any volume.


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