BenQ is the first vendor we've seen to jam a 1920x1080-resolution panel into a 21.5in widescreen monitor frame, and the results are definitely pleasing. Compared to a regular 22in LCD monitor with a native resolution of 1680x1050, you get an extra 309,600 pixels on the screen and the ability to view high-definition content in all its glory without having to find space for a larger monitor.
The extra horizontal resolution also makes it easier to line up two program windows side by side, which can help boost your productivity. But the higher native resolution of the screen means that icons and text will be smaller and harder to view. Users with poor eyesight will be better served by a bigger HD screen rather than this one, unless space is a major issue. Due to their size, 24in or 27in HD monitors aren't ideal for most rooms and offices, so a 22in monitor (or 21.5in, in this case) is the sweet spot.
That's not to say the E2200HD is perfect for all situations. It has a lot of physical features that are indicative of its relatively low price point. For example, it has a basic stand that can't pivot, lift or swivel. It will only tilt. Its bezel is made out of shiny plastic and reflections from lights will be noticeable on the frame of the monitor. This can make viewing uncomfortable. The screen itself is not glossy, so it won't directly suffer from reflections, and it has a viewing angle of around 170 degrees.
It performed well in our colour and contrast tests, and it's capable of displaying the tiniest details in Blu-ray movies (it supports HDCP) and HD free-to-air TV programs. The one area in which the monitor wasn't impressive was in displaying fast motion. It has a 5ms response time, but trails were visible in scrolling text and window moving tests. Movies were handled quite well, though, as motion was not a problem when viewing HD movies and even DVDs.
The monitor's colours were accurate during our tests with DisplayMate, although we did notice some slight discolouration in mid-level grey tones. These looked a little too yellow. We enjoyed the monitor's reproduction of primary colours, and found it to be quite vibrant overall. Its brightness was adequate for a well-lit office environment, but we did have to turn up the brightness to 90 per cent. Viewing from the sides wasn't a problem, but you'll still get best results from directly in front.
In DisplayMate's brightness and contrast tests, the monitor passed, but not while it was at its default settings. We had to adjust the contrast and brightness levels slightly in order to view all light-grey blocks on a white background and all dark-grey blocks on a black background. Its black level was deep, and it didn't look at all pale in a lit environment, but while watching movies in a darkened room we did notice some backlight bleeding at the top and bottom of the screen. This was a little distracting, especially during dark movie scenes.
The monitor has side-mounted buttons that offer quick access to the menu system, as well as one-touch manipulation of the screen's viewing mode. There are five viewing modes to choose from (normal, photo, movie, sRGB and Dynamic), which adjust the monitor's luminance. We used 'normal' for our tests, as the other modes made images look too saturated. The menu system also allows for the sharpness to be changed, as well as the colour temperature setting (bluish, reddish, normal and user).
Connections underneath the rear lip of the monitor include DVI, HDMI and D-Sub, but there is no easy way to switch between these connections if you have devices connected to each port. The monitor didn't automatically detect our computer when we switched from using the HDMI port on a laptop to a DVI port on a PC with a Gigabyte GeForce 260 graphics adapter. We had to switch to the DVI port by using the on-screen menu.
Overall, we're pleased with this monitor's performance and think that HD resolution in a 21.5in frame is a great idea. Consider this monitor if you want a larger resolution for the home or office but don't want a huge monitor to dwarf you as you sit at your desk. Maybe give it a miss if you're a gamer, though, as you might notice too much blurring.