- Review Price: £363.00
The 17in TFT seems to be the display of choice for the majority of consumers right now, and it’s easy to see why. They’re lightweight, consume less power than a CRT, and usually fulfil the image quality requirements for the everyday user. In fact, you can almost gauge how popular they’ve become by taking a look at the current price of a CRT monitor. I mean, £70 for a new and decent 17in CRT is a pretty clear indication that the smaller format cathode ray tube is steadily being squeezed out of the display market.
Inevitably, manufacturers are concentrating on LCD technology and competition has become fierce – fierce enough for manufacturers to highlight any difference that their product may have over a competitor’s. In BenQ’s case, it’s a 12ms response time as featured in its 17in FP767-12 TFT display, designed to convince gamers and movies watchers to migrate from their trusty CRTs.
With many TFT displays typically featuring a response time of around 20 to 25ms, the FP767-12 is one of the first to utilise a 12ms panel. Now, although this bodes well for those fast moving games and action sequences in movies, in practice the average user is going to be hard pushed to truly tell the difference between this and a 25ms screen. Granted, when you’re talking 40ms then moving images will appear to smear and ultimately lose detail, but I found that the actions scenes in our test DVD as well as some serious dog fighting in Chrimson Skies only revealed slight benefits when physically compared to my 20ms LCD monitor.
All the same, those slight benefits mean a lot to an avid gamer who may be considering an LCD, but is reluctant to use a display that can’t match a CRT’s colour performance or its rapid beam switching that virtually eliminates smearing.
So on paper, a 12ms response time for an LCD looks quite appealing, but in order to address each of the three RGB pixel colours with liquid crystals that twist and untwist over a 12ms duration, the panel’s digital controllers have to operate in 6-bit mode rather than the more usual 8-bits. In other words, instead of 8-bits per colour (which translates into 16.7 million colours), 6-bits only serves up 262,144 colours.
Now, if you take into account the fact that the human eye can distinguish between several millions colours, you’re left with a display that responds well to moving pictures, but doesn’t perform as well when it comes to portraying colours. To get around this, however, BenQ has implemented some intricate dithering procedures to fill in those missing colours.
That said, in our tests using DisplayMate along with assessing colour in our test images, the FP767-12 appeared to fall foul of this method of colour reproduction. Four instance, there was a distinct greenish tinge to darker regions of skin tones, and an overall lack of colour depth made the test images look very flat and consequently unnatural. A closer look at the colour ramps also revealed a degree of compression in the low intensity ends of the scales, especially along the blue and red spectrums. As for the overall colour temperature, this was disappointingly bluishy-green in tone and trying to obtain a well-balanced picture using the independent RGB settings within the OSD proved to be as elusive as the proverbial needle in a haystack.
To make up for the colour tests, the FP767-12 faired well when it came to the greyscales. These were smoothly stepped and the colour tracking tests showed no evidence of colour shifts in the various greys from light to dark. However, there were signs of slight banding in the 256-intensity level screen.
Despite the stated 500:1 contrast ratio and 300cd/m2 brightness level, the screen was a little too dark for my liking, especially when editing images where detail in shadow areas was lost. Pixel tracking and phase were also observed to drift after several hours of use, manifesting themselves with that tell tale sign of jittering pixels. This isn’t that uncommon on TFT displays that use an analogue signal and in this case a quick press of the i-Key on the front brought everything back into line. Nonetheless, it’s a shame that BenQ does not offer a DVI port so that a clean, unmodified digital signal could be used.
As for viewing angles, the FP767-12 proved to be unexceptional with the panel’s illumination sharply dropping off in the vertical viewing plane. This was even noticeable during normal use when I raised my eye level by simply straightening my back in my chair. Things were a little better in the horizontal plane, but still nothing to write home about.
Aesthetically, the charcoal and silver chassis pleasantly frames the panel and those after a soft overall look will like the rounded edges. The bezel is thin enough to be unobtrusive and the stand has a relatively small footprint. Whether or not you like the silver-coloured lower part to the fascia is down to personal taste, but you do get a headphone jack and a pair of speakers integrated into this part which, for a change, produce a decent level of clarity. They’re not a substitute for a set of standalone surround sound speakers or a pair of headphones but they should be fine for a small room.
The silver part of the fascia also carries the buttons needed to operate and adjust the screen. There are six in total including the main power button that sits in the middle happily, although some might say distractively, glowing with a blue light. Menu navigation is an intuitive affair, thanks to the separated ‘exit’ and ‘enter’ buttons, and the left and right buttons that double up as contrast and brightness shortcuts. The only aspect that needed some improvement is the speed of the sub-menus, which seem a little sluggish to call up. Even so, all the usual adjustments are here, including picture position, clock and phase, an sRGB mode, and a five-step sharpness scale.
As mentioned earlier there’s only a D-SUB port around the back, and the base of the stand incorporates a couple of hooks for routing the power and signal cables. Disappointingly, the stand does not feature any height adjustment nor can it be swivelled or pivoted. As a result I found the display to sit a little too low on my desk. It can be tilted, though, right back past the horizontal.
At £363.07 and with a 12ms response time, the BenQ FP767-12 looked like it had a lot to offer, especially for the hardcore gamer where a smearing picture is quite simply unacceptable. However, many gamers will also want to get the most out of their games in terms of colour, and the idea if a 6-bit dithered display is probably going to put that market sector off.
The FP767-12’s 12ms response time is certainly impressive and those sensitive enough to notice the advantages will be interested, although they may ultimately be put off by its colour performance. Everyday users not concerned with very rapid response times, are probably better off paying less for a DVI-enabled 17in LCD.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6