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Review: BenQ’s 4K/UHD monitor

By Brady Betzel

If you have been dabbling in higher-than 1920×1080 resolution multimedia production, you have likely been investigating a color-accurate and affordable 4K/UHD monitoring solution.

If you’ve Googled the Dolby PRM-4220 professional reference monitor you probably had a heart attack when you saw the near $40K price tag. This monitor is obviously not for the prosumer, or even the work-at-home professional. You may have found yourself in the forum-reading rabbit-hole where Flanders Scientific, Inc. (FSI) comes up a lot — unfortunately, if you aren’t able to shell out between $2K and $8K then you have been left in the dark.

PV3200pt_regular_front2While Dolby, FSI and others, like Sony, have amazing reference monitor solutions they come with that price tag that is hot and fast stop for anyone on a work-at-home budget. This is where the BenQ PV3200PT 32-inch LED backlit LCD IPS monitor comes in.
BenQ has been around for a while. You may remember them being in stores like Best Buy or Circuit City (if you are that old). When I worked at Best Buy, BenQ was the option next to Sony, but I remember thinking, “I’ve never heard if BenQ!” Now, after playing around with the PV3200PT monitor, I know the name BenQ, and I won’t forget it.

Digging In
The 32-inch PV3200PT monitor is a professional multimedia monitor. Not only is it a gigantic and gorgeous 32-inch 10-bit display, it has some great technology running it — including 100% Rec. 709 color accuracy. If you don’t deal with the tech spec-nerdom behind color science, Rec. 709 is the international technical standard for high-definition color given by the Radiocommunication Sector (you’ve probably heard it referred to as CCIR if you’ve heard it at all).

Simply, it’s the standard that color is broadcast across television in a high-definition environment, and if you produce video or other multimedia across televisions you want as close to 100% accuracy in your Rec. 709 color as possible. That way you can be confident that what you are creating on your monitor is technically what most people will see when it is broadcast… whew, that is long and boring but essential to me saying that the PV3200PT monitor is 100% Rec. 709 accurate.

But it is not Rec. 2020 accurate, which is the newer standard applied to ultra-high definition television — think 4K UHD (2160p) and the imminent 8K UHD (4320p). So while you are accurate color-wise in HD space, you can’t necessarily rely on it for the wider range of color values that is offered in UHD, Rec. 2020. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to be aware of. And, once you see the price you probably won’t care anyway. As I write this review, it is being sold on BenQ’s website for $1,299. This is a really, really great price for the punch this monitor packs.

As a video editor, I love large, color-accurate monitors. Who doesn’t? I want my whites properly exposed (if possible) and my blacks detailed and dark; it’s a lot to ask for but it’s what I want and what I need when color correcting footage. While using the BenQ PV3200PT, I was not disappointed with its output.

Rotation
I am also testing an HP z1G3 all-in-one workstation at the moment, so I opened the BenQ box and plugged the PV3200PT right into the HP z1G3 mini-displayport and was off and running. I noticed immediately how many ways I could physically move the display around to match the environment I was in, including 90 degrees for some sweet Adobe Photoshop vertical work, visit www.postperspective.com to read all the articles at once, or even use it to display your Media Pool when using Blackmagic’ DaVinci Resolve 12.5 (and, yes, it does work with the vertical display!!) Using the PV3200PT vertically in Resolve was really mind opening and could become a really great way to use such big screen real estate.

To get the PV3200PT to rotate the image vertically I tried using the BenQ provided software, Display Pilot, but eventually realized that I had to use Nvidia’s Control Panel. That did get me into using the Display Pilot to break up the BenQ’s (and the other monitor for that matter) into quadrants to display multiple windows at once easily and efficiently.

I put Adobe Premiere on my left screen and set up the BenQ PV3200PT to have it split three ways: a large left column with Adobe Media Encoder and two right rows with Internet browsers. I really liked that feature, especially because I love to watch tutorials, and this type of set-up allows me to watch and create at the same time. It’s an awesome feature.

When using the PV3200PT I didn’t notice any lag time or smearing, which you can sometimes see on lower-priced monitors. I also noticed that they shipped the monitor with Brightness set to 100% and Color Mode set to Standard, so if you want your eyes to not bug out of your head after 10 hours of work and you want that Rec. 709 color, you need to enable that yourself. Luckily, the menu on the monitor is easy to navigate, which isn’t always the case with monitors so I wanted to make sure to point that out. It isn’t a touch screen monitor, so don’t be a dummy like me and poke at your monitor wondering why the menus aren’t working.

I hand picked a few tech specs below for the BenQ PV3200PT monitor that I felt are important but you can see the entire list here under Specs:
– Resolution: 3840×2160 (UHD – NOT true 4K)
– Native Contrast: 1000:1
– Panel Type: IPS
– Response Time : 5ms
– Display Colors: 1.07 B
– Color Gamut: 100% Rec. 709
– Color Bit 10bits
– Input connectors: HDMI 1.4, Display Port 1.2, mini Display Port 1.2
– Weight: 27 to 33 pounds depending on the mounting option installed

BenQ Vertical ResolveSumming Up
In the end I really loved this monitor, not only for its price but for the technology inside of it. From the beautiful 32-inch IPS real estate to the SD card reader and two USB 3.0 ports built in. I learned that I love the vertical feature and may have to incorporate that into my daily color correction and editing style.

One thing I didn’t mention earlier is the external OSD Controller included that allows you to quickly select between Rec. 709, EBU and SMPTE-C color spaces. Also included is the BenQ proprietary Palette Master Element Calibration Software that allows for custom calibration with devices like the Spyder by @Datacolor.

I would recommend taking a look at this beautiful display if you are in the market for a UHD, 100% Rec. 709 color accurate, adjustable display for around $1,299, if you are lucky enough to get in on that price.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

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