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[Review] BenQ EW277HDR Monitor: Affordable HDR Delight

[Review] BenQ EW277HDR Monitor: Affordable HDR Delight

BenQ is an established player when it comes to imaging and display technologies with a diverse range of projectors and displays that incorporate some of the latest tech available. Their most recent offering, the BenQ EW277HDR monitor which has recently been released in Malaysia aims to offer an affordable entry point for users keen to enjoy HDR content and gaming without costing an arm and a leg.

As you’d likely surmise from its model number, the BenQ EW277HDR is a 27-inch Vertical Alignment (VA) panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio that has a 1,920 x 1080 pixel resolution and a wide 178-degree viewing angle. The panel itself offers a peak brightness of 400 nits, has a 4-millisecond gray-to-gray (GTG) pixel response, an impressive 3000:1 native contrast ratio and a 60Hz refresh rate.

BenQ EW277HDR Monitor angled shot

The biggest draw with the EW277HDR is that the panel itself supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) content and, according to BenQ, has been certified to offer 100% of the REC. 709 colour gamut and 93% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut.

Both standards are used to grade how close a panel is to fulfilling a graded colour spectrum with the former a standard for HDTV while the latter standard is for digital movie cinemas. It also has BenQ’s rather nifty Brightness Intelligence Plus(B.I+) tech that helps to adjust the brightness and colour temperature levels onscreen based on your current ambient brightness to minimise eye fatigue.

BenQ EW227HDR build and design

The monitor comes in a relatively light cardboard box with styrofoam cutouts to protect the delicate panel within. Assembling the EW277HDR is a relatively straightforward process and the bundled user manual is more for reassurance than for actual reference. The two-piece base neatly slots together into one complete T-shaped piece.

The base then slides into the panel itself and is secured by a single large screw. Also provided with the package is a HDMI cable for hooking it up to compatible kit along with the obligatory power cable to keep it juiced.

BenQ EW277HDR Monitor stand close-up

Externally, the BenQ EW277HDR strikes a clean, polished appearance with a matte black paintjob, exceptionally slim bezels and a brushed gunmetal gray finish on the vertical bottom strip that hosts most of the buttonry and is emblazoned with the BenQ logo. The T-shaped angular display base is surprisingly sturdy belying its appearance with no wobbling whatsoever.

Slim bezels

The BenQ EW277HDR has slim bezels to offer a clean, minimalist look


To ensure it remains relatively portable, most of the display is still primarily hewn from plastic which belies its seemingly metallic looking appearance. Most of the buttons that enable you to tweak monitor settings are clustered around the underside of the right corner of the display with the notable addition of a button that activates HDR and the Intelligent Brightness modes emplaced in the lower right of the panel.

BenQ EW277HDR Monitor side profile

The rear comes with a pair of HDMI 2.0 ports, a D-sub along with an audio line-in and a 3.5mm headphone jack for hooking up external speakers or headphones. Unfortunately, it lacks USB ports of any sort though that’s not a major quibble on its own. Also housed within the display are a pair of 2W stereo speakers for a modicum of audio capability.

BenQ EW277HDR Monitor ports

While the overall design of the EW277HDR is clean, elegant and sleek, it’s also unfortunately not particularly adjustable as the integrated stand is fused with the display.

Bar the very modest ability to adjust the vertical tilt by 20 degrees or so, the monitor is essentially one fixed piece. The stand has no ability to pivot or swivel nor are there any means to adjust its height. It also lacks holes for a VESA mount so you’ll need to get creative if you want to mount this on a wall or if you need to elevate this to proper eye level if you’re particularly tall.

Performance

The BenQ EW277HDR offers a bevy of viewing modes depending on what you’re watching onscreen that covers the usual scenarios including a Game mode, a Photo mode, sRGB, REC. 709, ECO and, of course, HDR mode.

Of note is that the panel, in keeping with many of BenQ’s other offerings also offers a  series of Low Blue Light modes that filter out aspects of the blue light spectrum to make it easier on the eyes when viewing the display for long durations of time. The panel has also been certified to be flicker free as well. Both in tandem should offer a very comfortable viewing experience.

BenQ EW277HDR Monitor HDR button

There’s quite a lot to tweak through the deeply nested menus though this isn’t strictly necessary as the default settings serve up excellent visuals straight out of the box. In terms of tactility, BenQ has opted for practicality and the main power button to turn the display on is larger and chunkier than the rest as well as lighting up a shade of orange so you can find it in the dark.

Of note is the front mounted HDR/B.I+ button that lets you toggle between HDR and B.I+ modes; the monitor itself will detect HDR content on its own though you can force it emulate a pseudo HDR effect on non-HDR content.

When projected with mainstream SDR content from a host of Bluray movies and several non-competitive games, the EW277HDR on auto mode settings served up good colour accuracy and detail. Activating the HDR emulation mode makes for a noticeable difference as footage and gameplay appeared markedly better with lusher colours, deeper contrast between light and dark areas and subtly better overall details along with serviceable viewing angles.

Though it maxes out at 1080P resolution, the panel , when paired with native HDR content, knocked visuals out of the ballpark with exquisite colour rendition and scads of delightful detail levels onscreen though our pictures don’t do the EW277HDR’s capabilities proper justice.

The BenQ EW277HDR is capable of emulating a HDR effect on content to some degree though it falls short of being a true gaming monitor on account of its modest 60Hz refresh rate and the lack of NVIDIA G Sync or AMD FreeSync support.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s naturally dark levels were beautifully rendered in their full glory with gloriously deep blacks on a gaming PC and the short, sharp spurts of action dealing with the odd guard lurking about ran smoothly without frame drops.

The Last of Us and its post apocalyptic imagery was beautifully rendered onscreen via a PS4 Pro and looked even better with HDR mode on with deeper, richer shades and contrast. Even though the panel caps out at 1080/60p, the results are sufficient for casual gamers.

Gamers and movie bingers aside, the EW277HDR shows its chops especially if you’re a desk jockey who has to crunch through reams of paperwork as its Low Blue Light mode offers less eye fatigue when you’re staring it it. Some older panels throw off hues onscreen

In their equivalent of a Low Blue Light Mode  but the EW277HDR’s integrated LBL mode was a pleasantly uneventful affair. Content viewed onscreen didn’t look drastically different or oddly hued and the colour accuracy via the EW277HDR’s REC. 709 mode may make it a potential contender for those in trades seeking colour accuracy like desktop designers, photographers and the like.

Across the duration of a dozen hours split between daytime and past sundown, I worked on a series of Google documents and spreadsheets with several other open browser windows and the panel’s Multimedia mode made viewing it a very comfortable experience with little of the usual eye fatigue that kicks in after a couple of hours.

The EW277HDR’s Brightness Intelligence Plus tech was of note. Essentially the B.I+ tech relies on a sensor mounted on the front of the monitor that detects ambient light and adjusts brightness and colour temperature onscreen for optimum viewing. When tested in a dim room and in daylight settings, the display adjusted accordingly with cooler colours in daylight and slightly warmer hues in a dimmer lit room. While its effects are subtle, they appreciably enhance the viewing experience.

There are other preset modes as well that are optimised for specific usage scenarios including Web-surfing, Office and Reading but Multimedia mode worked just fine.

BenQ EW277HDR Price and Conclusion

The BenQ EW277HDR is an interesting proposition indeed. For its intended purpose as a general usage display for non-professional gaming, the odd Netflix and chill session and for otherwise mainstream paperwork crunching on spreadsheets and the like, the EW277HDR does not disappoint, with its plethora of modes and HDR support lending content extra visual zing.

However, this is tempered by the fact that there’s a dearth of true HDR content in the market though there’s a smattering of games that support HDR, a few shows on YouTube and, if you have deep pockets, on Netflix too. If you’re going to use this with a gaming PC, you’ll also need to ensure that it has a GPU that can support HDR as well if you’re looking to enjoy native HDR content. For an NVIDIA card, that means springing out for a Maxwell GPU and up while for AMD that means chunking out change for anything from a Radeon R9 300 series and up.



There’s a place for affordable, more compact sized panels for more modestly sized homes and budgets and the EW227HDR fits that niche nicely. If you’re on the hunt for an affordable and compact HDR display that doesn’t cost a bomb this comes recommended.

Specifications
Price RM1,079 inclusive of GST
Screen 27-inch VA panel, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Brightness: 300 cd/m²
Refresh rate 60Hz
Native Contrast Ratio 3000:1
Speakers 2 x 2w
Connectivity 2x HDMI, VGA, audio out, 3.5mm audio jack
Size/Weight 461 x 614 x 181‎‎ / 4.3kg (with stand)
*review unit courtesy of BenQ Malaysia

 

What we liked – Clean and slick design, slim bezels, accurate colours, easy to deploy, good viewing angles, HDR support
What we didn’t – Limited stand adjustability, lacks VESA support, middling speakers
We say BenQ’s 27-inch EW277HDR monitor is a sleekly designed, decent performer of a monitor that represents an affordable starting point for those looking to get in on the HDR bandwagon

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