Review Price £176.68
Connectivity is where the BenQ EW2430 really sets itself apart from similarly-priced competition. For video there are two HDMI ports and a DVI connector. If your laptop doesn't offer a digital output, fear not, as good old VGA is also invited to the party. This is a superb selection of video connections, and means you can hook up your PS3 and Xbox 360 along with a PC and laptop or netbook without needing to purchase a separate HDMI switcher.
A USB port at the back provides the link to the integrated four-port hub that's easily accessible at the monitor's left side. Of course the HDMI ports carry audio, but BenQ also provides 3.5mm line in and out jacks, in addition to a dedicated headphone jack. BenQ has truly outdone itself here, and our only niggle is that it maintains the habit of not including a digital video cable in the box, though you do get ones for VGA, audio and USB.
A metal power button that's circled by an LED ring sits on the front. It glows green when active and orange when in standby. The rest of the controls are located around the monitor's rear, though they're easy to find with your fingers and icons on the front bezel let you know which button you're pressing. The buttons themselves are a tad too stiff but otherwise quite usable.
The OSD is BenQ's usual colourful affair, offering plenty of options for fine-tuning while remaining straightforward to navigate through. There's a handy list of presets, including Movie, Standard, Eco, sRGB, Photo and Game presets. None of them are configured ideally, with most setting the brightness way too high. Thankfully though, they're all adjustable to some extent, so they can be set up to be truly useful. It's interesting to note that none of them activate Dynamic Contrast by default, leaving you to activate it, with a choice of how intensive it is. To be honest we would leave it off, as it's not needed in this case and can lead to noticeable jumps in the level of brightness.
We're usually a little wary of inbuilt monitor speakers, but we've come across a few good examples over the years. Unfortunately, the EW2430 isn't one of these. Its subtly integrated 2W speakers lack volume and bass, and they're not maestros in terms of clarity or fine detail either. They're just about usable, but frankly belie the monitor's 'Room Theatre' entertainment centre ethos, as you will want to hook up external speakers or some good headphones to get decent quality in movies, games, and especially music.