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There’s no doubt that widescreen has become the preferred aspect ratio for TVs, driven primarily by the introduction of anamorphic DVD movies a few years back. With the subsequent introduction of widescreen TV broadcasts, it’s unlikely that anyone will be buying a 4:3 TV set again. However, the move to widescreen on the desktop is still lagging behind somewhat. That’s not to say that a widescreen aspect ratio is unusual in a computer environment – after all, I’m seeing more notebooks with widescreen displays than not these days. But the transition from standard 4:3 aspect ratio (yes I know that 1,280 x 1,024 isn’t actually 4:3) on desktop monitors has been a slow process.
Despite the relatively conservative uptake of widescreen desktop screens, we have seen an increase in widescreen support in games, with Valve’s Source engine being the best example. If you’re running a Source based game like Half-Life 2, Counter Strike: Source or Day of Defeat: Source, you’re treated to a multitude of resolution settings employing 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratios.
Now, I have looked at a few widescreen desktop displays in the past, including some very impressive 23in models with 1,900 x 1,200 native resolution, but even though these screens were fantastic for Windows work, hardcore gamers would probably have been put off by the relatively high response times. It’s also worth remembering that it’s only recently that we’ve seen graphics cards that could drive a modern 3D game at a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution.
Enter the BenQ FP202W – a screen that tries to address both the above issues and provide high-quality, widescreen gaming for the masses. BenQ claims that the FP202W is the first 20in widescreen monitor with a response time of 8ms and I’m not going to argue with that having failed to find a similar screen on sale. With a native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050, you’re actually getting slightly less desktop real estate than you would on a standard 20in display, which would run 1,600 x 1,200. But even so I find playing a game in a widescreen resolution a more immersive experience, while I even prefer running my Windows desktop widescreen. Using a widescreen aspect ratio allows you to have two documents side by side, which is very useful in my line of work.
The FP202W looks good in a minimalist kind of way. Both the stand and bezel are finished in the same matt, black plastic, which makes the image on the screen stand out that bit more. The bezel is reasonably slim at 2cm, but not the slimmest I’ve seen. There’s a small BenQ badge in the bottom left corner of the bezel, while a single power LED populates the bottom right. All the monitor controls are on the right hand side of the screen chassis, giving the front of the monitor a clean and sleek look.