If you’ve been working from home recently, it doesn’t take long to realize the screen on your laptop is lacking. Hooking up to an external monitor is an easy way to boost productivity, giving you enough space to switch between apps, Google Suite docs, IMs, and browsers. We’ve been using the BenQ EW3280U and, it turns out, getting some more space is just the start of its benefits. — Sal Vaglica, contributor
What is the BenQ EW3280U:
The BenQ EW3280U is a 32-inch monitor that will handle all your daily computing tasks, most of your photo work, gaming, and all of your streaming video content. At 32 inches, there is plenty of room to have two apps running at nearly full size. Even better, we found we didn’t need our laptop hanging around off to the side as a supplemental screen.
There are plenty of acronyms slapped on the BenQ’s box. The UHD means 4K quality, which is certainly an uptick from most laptop screens. The HDRi is BenQ’s mix of both software and hardware, like the sensors mounted on the bottom edge of the screen, that track ambient light and adjust the screen’s brightness throughout the day. That’s going to relieve some serious eye strain. Then there’s the soundbar, which is an afterthought on most flatscreen TVs, never mind monitors, so the fact this one actually thumps is a nice upgrade.
Why we like it:
If you’re porting into a newer MacBook via the USBC connection, this monitor is simple to set up. One USBC cable connects the two and it will charge your laptop while the monitor is plugged into the wall outlet by pumping out 60 watts. The color rendering is crisp and bright, and more than capable of knocking out any generic computer work you’re doing. But at this price tag, it’s also a suitable monitor for entertainment too.
The screen’s 138 pixels per inch made our Google Stadia gaming enjoyable without needing to be in front of our flatscreen. And the same for any Netflix or YouTube videos we were binge watching. That’s part of the appeal here: if the BenQ sits in a larger office, where you might have a chill-out chair or sofa, or if it’s in an open room and you could use a TV to stream content, you could do a lot worse if you’re catching up on The Office.
The monitor comes with a remote so you could make changes to volume and color from across the room. The joystick mounted on the rear is easy to use and keeps the front looking very clean. But maybe the most useful control is the wheel that adjusts the volume. It’s one of the only bugs we found here: the current IOs won’t allow keyboard strokes to adjust volume, but the wheel makes it easy to dial in the right level for those audio-only Zoom calls or if you’re streaming a playlist while you work.
The HDRi built-in means that during a normal workday we never had to fuss with brightness settings, and it’s easy to override it if you want to boost brightness for gaming. Unlike a lot of monitors that go with a black or faux Apple-like space gray finish, the BenQ has a dark coppery bronze finish that looks great.
The stand tilts up and down, but that’s about it. We’d love to see it be able to move up and down.
[From: $799; benq.com]