Reviewing and buying LCD monitors can be a minefield at the best of times. Look back a year or two and things appeared fairly straightforward. If you wanted to play games but had a limited budget then any TN Film based panel was your best bet, offering fast and responsive displays at often very attractive prices. However, these displays sacrificed colour fidelity by using 6-bit panels with "dithering" that produced only 16.2million colours compared to the 16.7million of genuine 8-bit panels, thus making them unsuitable for any colour intensive work, or for anyone with especially discerning tastes.
This made the S-PVA based screens like the legendary Samsung SyncMaster 215TW much sought after, especially since viewing angles on TN Film displays were also distinctly underwhelming. However, whereas then the divide between the good and the bad, the virtuous and the evil, was very clear, now things aren't so clear cut. With TN Film based screens becoming more common and of better quality, some manufacturers are even marketing recent models as premium consumer products, combining both decent colour production and the high responsiveness that's often attractive to gamers.
We've already seen this to mixed success with the likes of the LG Flatron L227WT-PF and BenQ has joined in this trend with its new X Series 1,680 x 1,050 22in LCD, the X2200W. Retailing for £299 inc. VAT when it launches BenQ is targeting gamers, with the screen initially coming bundled with a pair of Sennheiser PC 161s, the non-USB version of the excellent Sennheiser PC 166 USB Headset. So, though £300 may sound like an awful lot for a display of this type, the headphones are an added value benefit. Is it enough though?
What else will you get for the money? Well, unusually for a 22in LCD this model comes with both HDMI and DVI along with the ubiquitous D-SUB input. This means you can happily connect both a PC and a console, be it PS3 or Xbox 360 Elite, via digital connections and still have one input more to play with. Indeed, perhaps the ideal combination would be PC via DVI, PS3 via HDMI and an Xbox 360 via the D-SUB and though the lack of component inputs means the likes of the Wii are excluded, realistically two consoles and a PC in the bedroom is as about as many as you'd want.
Vitally, the included HDMI port also transmits audio, both to speakers via a 3.5mm audio output on the back and a headphone jack housed on the right outside edge of the display. This is, you'll probably agree, all very good, but though there's no shortage of audio outputs there's also no separate audio input. This poses a problem if one wants to use an Xbox 360 via D-SUB, since you'll still have to find alternative means for connecting the audio. It's a shame BenQ didn't think to add RCA audio inputs or a 3.5mm input as well, since this really would have made the X2200W an even more convenient gaming solution.