BenQ SW320 Nerd Rating
Review of BenQ SW320
HDR is a highly sought-after feature in both TVs and monitors, especially for professionals who are looking to use tools with the mentioned capability. HDR or High Dynamic Range is a color technology that increases the blacks and whites of an image to produce lifelike visuals in pictures and videos. Experts and consumers have been talking about products with HDR compatibility for years, and up until recently, we have only begun to see a few LCD TVs with support for this technology. A few days ago, BenQ announced the BenQ SW320, the company’s top of the line monitor offering meant for users who rely on color accuracy and realism as a means of making a living. This product is poised to grab the title of “first HDR-ready monitor” since currently, there are no offerings or announcements from the company’s biggest competitors. The benefits of the technology are the next big step in image processing, so it is safe to say that the SW320 could revolutionize the prosumer display industry and eventually introduce HDR monitors to the masses.
BenQ SW320 Specifications
- Screen Size: 32 Inches
- Resolution:4K UHD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Panel Technology: In Plane Switching (IPS)
- Refresh Rate: 60hz
- Response Time: 5ms
- Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
- Brightness: 300 cd/m²
- Built-in Speakers: No
- Stand: Height – Yes (5.9 Inches)
- Stand: Tilt – Yes (-5°/+20°)
- Stand: Swivel – Yes (-45°/+45°)
- Stand: Pivot – Yes (90°)
- VESA Compatibility: Yes (100 x 100)
- Connectivity: DisplayPort 1.4 x 1, HDMI 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 3, USB 2.0 x 1, Card Reader x 1
- Dimensions with Stand(WxHxD): 29.42″ x 19.77″ x 8.8″
- Weight: 44lbs
Design and Features of BenQ SW320
From a physical standpoint, there isn’t much that we can say about the BenQ SW320. The design employs an industrial theme, with thick bezels and an overall matte black finish. By today’s standards, this model looks quite dated, aside from its stand that looks quite similar to the ones included with the BenQ Zowie XL monitors. The stand offers an extensive range of ergonomics, quick detach function to reveal VESA holes and a standard cable-tidy hole on the neck. The most interesting inclusion, however, is the quick-access puck similar to the S-Switch Arc found on the gaming versions. It’s actual functionality at this point is still obscure, but we assume that it also shares the hotkey characteristics of the S-Switch Arc, allowing users to hot-swap between screen modes and saved presets.
BenQ also includes their proprietary flaps or shades into this model, and this accessory’s function is to help the user focus on the task at hand by avoiding glare and distraction. This feature looks quite funny, and its actual usefulness seems to be subjective at the most. But of course, added accessories are always welcome, especially for expensive products. The SW320 offers an interesting connection port in the form of DisplayPort 1.4. This addition includes HDR10 extension as defined by CTA-861.3, supporting the advertised feature of this product. This model also comes with an HDMI port, USB 3.0 receptacles for accessories, a card reader, and a single 2.0 port for the remote puck. These ports are in a downward position so that cables can shoot through the cable tidy hole quickly.
Display and Features
The BenQ SW320 has a 32-inch IPS panel which features a 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD native resolution, 300cd/m2 of brightness, and 1000:1 contrast ratio. The screen is rated with a 60hz refresh rate, and 5ms GtG response times, making this model entirely unsuitable for dedicated gaming purposes. But the features that stand out in this offering clearly defines this product as a professional tool for photographers and content creators. The true 10-bit color depth panel and the 14-bit LUT enables stunning and accurate colors with less than two delta-error and 99% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space. This model also supports 87% of the DCI-P3 standard and 100% coverage of the standard sRGB color space. The BenQ Sw320’s color performance is certified by Technicolor, an agency responsible for strict color accuracy standards used in all the aspects of the Hollywood industry such as in movies and animation. Finally, these specs make the SW320 HDR compatible, a technology that enhances the darkness of blacks and the stark brightness of whites to produce images with a lifelike quality. The only questionable spec mentioned here is the brightness, considering most HDR TVs have brightness levels at over 1000cd/m2. How this feature plays out is yet to be seen, since BenQ is still quiet about the product and has not yet released demo models for reviewers to tinker with to get a more accurate picture of the actual performance results.
Another feature we like about this model is its compatibility with calibration hardware such as the Datacolor Spyder and X-Rite i1 DisplayPro gadgets. The monitor itself is factory and equipment calibrated out of the box, but the option to manually do it yourself is an outstanding feature useful for meticulous professionals who would explore every option to achieve color perfection. BenQ also guarantees an excellent uniformity performance made via a sophisticated manufacturing process which tunes each part of the panel to have equal levels of illumination. This model also carries a GamutDuo mode and advanced black and white modes to view edited content in grayscale. The GamutDuo works by showing split screens with different color standards, so in essence, you can see a conventional and advanced preview of your work. There are also three other preview modes to choose from, accessible from toggling the puck’s hotkeys.
From the specs alone, the BenQ SW320 is looking to revolutionize the photo/video editing monitor segment with its dazzling capabilities which highlight HDR technology, a highly sought feature found only on a selected range of TVs. Once this product ships, it will be the first HDR monitor served to the public, but as always, the pioneering products may come with flaws. The 300cd/m2 brightness of the screen is questionable since HDR requires higher levels of backlighting to achieve a desirable effect. This question can be answered once demo models are available or when the professionals get their creative hands on this gadget. But judging from the 10-bit color depth, 99% Adobe RGB coverage, and the certifications that are attached to this product, the SW320 will be an outstanding option for anyone requiring a sophisticated display product for their editing purposes.
Another big question is pricing. Admittedly, these high-tech features and the professional nature of the Benq SW320 will entail a high price tag. Unfortunately, there are no clear price points for the US market, but there are some reports that this model will be available for around £1500 in Europe. It’s quite expensive from a regular consumer’s standpoint, but in reality, that price isn’t too bad for a sophisticated monitor. If similarly priced globally, the Benq SW320 could be suitable for amateur or start-up studios as much as it fits in the elite workspaces of Hollywood.