BenQ BL Series packaging

BenQ BL Series packaging

A bit of a coincidence as I know my 27inch iMac (2010), despite still being excellent, won’t last forever, and for portability I’d thought of a switch to a MacBook/monitor setup. So for the past week I’ve worked dual-screen to test the differences.

iMac versus BenQ BL3201PT

The iMac’s glass gives a lot more glare than BenQ’s matt finish. When the light in the room changes, I change the brightness to compensate, keeping it as low as possible without giving much reflection, but the benefit of BenQ’s anti-glare is obvious. That made me wonder if Apple’s newest screens differ from those of a few years back, so it was interesting to read the comments on this post about Apple causing excessive eye strain. New versions of the iMac and MacBook Pro are due any month. I’ll hold off until they’re out.

The iMac’s internal speakers give better sound. BenQ’s do the job but are a bit tinny in comparison. I’d probably buy externals if the BenQ was my only screen.

BenQ’s maximum resolution is 3840×2160. For the most part I have my mac at 1920×1080 to avoid constantly enlarging web pages, so BenQ’s maximum is more than enough for particularly intricate work, or making the most of 4K videos. 1920×1080 isn’t one of the seven resolution options on the BenQ, but it has 2560×1440 which doesn’t make things too small and isn’t far off.

For screen size, I’ve found 27inches to be more than enough for design work, but I’d quickly get used to 32, especially when two or three windows are open at once.

BenQ’s height-adjustable stand is appreciated. At its maximum height you can rotate the screen to a portrait orientation — unnecessary for me, but programmers and developers might like it for reducing scroll when coding.

There’s no webcam on the BenQ, and I’ll often use one for Skype and FaceTime, but if I go for a MacBook it’d just mean flipping that open instead.

BenQ BL3201PT wired remote

This little wired remote makes it easy to change settings and colour modes, like switching from sRGB to “low blue light” with a click — the low blue uses less power and is much easier on the eyes when reading. You can preset buttons one, two, and three with your own configurations, too.

The BL3201PT is an excellent monitor, with the biggest plus over the iMac being the anti-glare. Full features and specs on the BenQ website, and more reviews on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

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October 11, 2016

Comments

Hi David, is there any way that BenQ could kindly send me one also? Web designer in need of a second screen. Long shot but I’ll be good for return tasks – design work website logo etc. (this is not spam – this is pangs of desperation lol).

I was considering doing the same MacBook setup and went to apple.com to get prices… none to be found! – Maybe this is a location thing as I’m in Ireland but did I miss a memo?

Thanks for reviewing this one, looks amazing and probably a whole lot cheaper than an apple display.

Do you usually alter screen brightness much, and if so is that to reduce eye strain or compensate for color?

No worries, Garreth. On the UK Apple site you need to hit the “buy” button before seeing prices, but I’m not sure if they sell displays.

I’ll change screen brightness so it’s easier on the eyes, keeping it fairly low. But too low and the reflection from the glass gets too distracting.

Hmm… This might make me switch from my staple Dell UltraSharp displays. Was debating on going 4k when I refresh my system in a few months.

4K’s too small for most of the work I do (tiny, tiny text), but it seems like the way to go for video (or for gamers if the graphics card’s up to it).

This BenQ is technically ultra HD (3840×2160), slightly less than true 4K monitors (4096×2160), but I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

What system do you run off, Jon?

Thanks for the review. Good timing, I am looking at displays now. I have a 2009 27″ iMac that is not doing well with Adobe CC 15 and from what I have read it is the oldest model iMac that will run Mac OS Sierra. This makes me think the next Mac OS will make it obsolete.

I also have a 2015 15″ MBP and was thinking of switching to just that and using an external monitor with it for magazine layout that requires more screen area.

Has anyone ever used a laptop dock like a Henge dock along with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse? So basically only using the laptop as the computer with it closed and out of the way. I mainly work remotely with the MBP but I wouldn’t mind selling my iMac and then setting up a desktop scenario like this.

Thanks

I’ve heard others mention the Henge, Mike, but you can’t use the MBP’s webcam when it’s hooked up, so for video calls you’ll need a monitor with one built-in, or an external. And if you have a normal stand you can use the MacBook’s screen as well as a separate monitor (I have a Griffin Elevator which is a decent stand).

Good point, I used to never use a cam but recently have been doing more webinars. I like that Griffin stand, and now that I think about it having the MBP screen as a secondary area for things like finder windows, ftp windows, etc. would be good.

My iMac will get $365 on gazelle, plan to clean it out and do this. Thanks for all the info.

I know it’s a bit late, but I recommend Dell’s Ultra Sharp panels. I got one a while back and have never bought anything since. They’re rock solid for years and I’m on my third one. My brother’s 24″ one kicked the bucket last year but it was going on 10 years old if not older.

I like the fact they have Premiere Color feature which displays all of sRGB color space and almost all of Adobe RGB.

I’m debating on switching to a 34″ curved when I refresh my machine next year but I will lose Premiere Color unless they release a new model with it by then.

Hi,

I am thinking about getting both an iMac 5K and a 4K UHD monitor.

I am leaning towards BenQ but don’t know if I should do the 32″ version or 27″. My fear is that the 32″ version will make the iMac look small and it will be a jarring transition using them side-by-side.

Yours are the only pics I could find of the two side-by-side. Do you have any more pictures you could provide of these two next to each other with close-ups/alternate angles?

Interesting, David. I’m thinking of swapping my iMac for the MacBook/monitor combo when it comes to the crunch. Mostly for portability and to stop the hassle of syncing between two Macs.

In terms of sound quality, there’s an awesome little (paid) app called Boom which really improves the internal sound coming from Mac OS. It’s one of the first apps I install on any machine.

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