BenQ’s touts its HDRi technology as one of the distinguishing features of its EW3280U monitor. Here, we put it to the test.
After attending an impressive 45-minute demo in January, BenQ gave me the opportunity to demo its 32-inch BenQ EW3280U 4K HDR Entertainment Monitor with HDRi Technology. I played around with this incredible product for about three weeks.
An essential thing to note is that even though this monitor has gaming capabilities, it’s meant to provide a superior visual and sound experience for all types of digital entertainment. Retailing for $799.99, it’s a Mercedes Benz of monitors with more high-end features than anyone ever knew they needed. BenQ’s target user here is the casual gamer.
Contrast this with monitors that appeal to competitive and esports-driven gamers who prioritize speed over picture quality. Those monitors are also much smaller, ranging from about 24-27 inches. BenQ makes monitors specifically for competitive gaming under its Zowie brand.
The BenQ EW3280U Monitor’s HDRi Lighting Tech
A major aspect of this monitor is its HDRi lighting tech. On the BenQ EW3280U monitor, a reactive sensor constantly analyzes the light levels in the monitor’s surroundings. As the lighting changes, the monitor reacts to these changes instantaneously.
If it’s bright, the screen will compensate in a way that makes the picture more vibrant. If it’s dark, the picture will darken to prevent the viewer from experiencing eye strain. The monitor reflects these adjustments rapidly. Viewers won’t notice these changes unless there’s a major jump, such as someone turning a light on in a dark room. Overall, this helps ease a person into a dark, shadowy scene that follows an action-packed daytime scene.
Many games and shows already incorporate HDR technology, which is compatible with monitors, graphics cards and consoles that support it. As BenQ describes it, HDR “is an established family of standards that enables monitors to show brighter, more vivid images with increased color impact.” BenQ’s HDRi is an additional enhancement.
This proved to be a neat feature. I messed around with the Hue lighting settings in my living room to see how the monitor might react in different background lighting. As I changed the lighting from various shades of dark blue to bright pink to neon green, the monitor instantly reacted. Changes were subtle, making it easy for a person’s eyes to adjust to the surroundings.
There are several different HDRi sub-settings. A Cinema mode highlights colors and details for a top-quality viewing experience when watching movies. When a person switches to gaming, they can then set the monitor to the Game HDRi setting. This setting is less vibrant, instead emphasizing contrast so players can take better advantage of their in-game surroundings. The Display mode is for computer desktop use.
There were times when the HDRi feature wasn’t helpful, such as when I was on a video chat and wanted to change the settings so my face wouldn’t be so bright.
The Real Test: How Does The BenQ EW3280U Monitor Perform?
I played a number of different games on this monitor, including Destiny 2, Doom Eternal and Apex Legends. Destiny 2 and Doom Eternal both have HDR support, while Apex Legends does not.
Doom Eternal was visually stunning — so much, in fact, that I got motion sickness. Twice, I had to turn the game off. Most people aren’t prone to motion sickness from video games, so I don’t expect this to be a common issue. I adjusted some graphics settings and was fine from there on out.
Destiny 2 looked incredible on this display, almost as though I was playing a movie. The game ranges from visually stunning to excessively drab and the native HDR beautifully accommodated these changes.
The first time I played Apex Legends on the monitor, its sheer size impacted my gameplay. I suspect I noticed the differences because battle royale games require significant concentration. My home monitor is also 32 inches, but it has a smaller viewable area. After some trial and error, I found a new mouse sensitivity and a new FOV that made the experience more comfortable. Still, I couldn’t quite get the picture right.
It’s hard to use images to showcase the differences due to the fact that the display changes based on the lighting around the monitor but is also impacted by the light that illuminates the screen. However, to me, the Game setting seemed too dark.
Cinema felt too bright.
Display felt generic, but I ultimately settled on that mode. Raising the Contrast value also helped a bit.
Still, it never felt quite as precise as I would have liked.
Exploring Additional Monitor Features
One aspect of note is the monitor’s Eye Care technology with low blue light, anti-flicker and eye reminder options. As many late-night gamers know, it can be tough to go to sleep after a few rousing rounds of a favorite game. Though the blue light settings impacted the quality of the picture, it helped alleviate some of a game’s visual stimulation. Though I didn’t keep rigorous data on my sleep patterns, it seemed to help with the post-game wind-down.
BenQ’s EW3280U uses FreeSync technology. FreeSync and G-Sync are competing technologies designed to prevent screen tearing and stuttering. G-Sync uses patented technology within the monitor, while FreeSync uses the Adaptive Sync standard built into the DisplayPort standard. Most hardcore gamers prefer G-Sync to FreeSync, but there’s no visible difference. FreeSync will work on both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, while G-Sync works with Nvidia only. While FreeSync is a welcome feature, the monitor’s 60 Hz refresh rate means it’s difficult to notice the benefits.
The monitor has a built-in subwoofer. It has different settings for sound options including Cinema and Game modes. The former is meant for an overall denser sound, while the latter allows gamers to hear the subtleties in a game’s background ambiance, such as footsteps in Apex Legends.
The subwoofer’s sound quality is solid, though, as one might suspect, I preferred using an external speaker system. When playing something like a battle royale, which requires a high level of sound awareness, headphones are still the player’s best bet. But, as a built-in option, the monitor’s sound capabilities are far better than standard quality.
If there was one thing lacking, it was the fact that there’s no height adjustment option.
A Monitor Built For Casual Players With Taste
As someone who considers herself a hardcore gamer, I’m not sure this would be my first choice. It’s designed for someone who wants a single screen for films, games and digital tasks such as editing or graphic design. BenQ makes fantastic monitors for each of these specific cases, but they made this monitor to handle all of those things. As such, it’s an ideal monitor for a casual player who wants to kick back and enjoy an awesome viewing experience after a long day of work.
For this review, BenQ loaned its 32-inch EW3280U Entertainment Monitor to TheGamer for a period of four weeks.
About WHITNEY MEERS
Whitney Meers is a lifelong gamer and professional writer whose credits include Newsweek, Comedy Central, HuffPost, NBCUniversal, Samsung, The Discovery Channel and truTV. She regularly contributes to Frederator Digital’s YouTube gaming channel The Leaderboard, which recently surpassed a million subscribers. As a former Top Writer on Medium, she wrote several of the site’s most widely circulated satirical pieces throughout 2017 and 2018. Her personal essays have appeared on xoJane and Everyday Feminism. Additionally, she served as the consulting lead on Newsweek’s Fortnite Special Edition, securing interviews with numerous gaming personalities including Ninja, DrLupo, TimTheTatman and Pokimane. Whitney has a comedy background and has written and performed in various live shows including 8 Bits: A Sketch Show About Video Games at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. She was a house team member on the sketch comedy team Slap Fight at The People’s Improv Theater, also in NYC. A versatile content creator, Whitney also produces gaming videos, makes gaming-related fan art and writes genre-bending scripts for film and television. Her pilot script Recession Proof was nominated for the TVWriter.com People’s Pilot award in 2011 and was later optioned and produced by an independent production company. Occasionally, Whitney streams on Twitch, where you can watch her battle royale her way through code:leaf errors in Apex Legends. Twitter / Instagram: @whitneymeers YouTube: youtube.com/wmeers .
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