Pros: Great price, good picture quality, good design
Cons: Technology is a little behind the times; black levels aren't great.
My current employment has me responsible for digitizing a reserve of 35 000 files, with the earliest miscellany being from the late 1940s. On top of being a mind-numbing job, it requires some rather fancy computer equipment, topping out with a specially-designed and ridiculously overpriced $8000 scanner. On the lower end of all this equipment is but a mere entry-level LCD monitor, the BenQ T701.
A year ago I purchased a new personal computer, and with it opted for the BenQ FP731 LCD monitor. The T701 is simply its successor, released at about the time I purchased the FP731, and is now discontinued but still available in a few places at a great price. I cant seem to conclusively find out what has officially taken the T701s place (best guess is the FP71G), and I also have searched long and hard to find out whats different about the T701 from the FP731. I looked at spec sheets and have played around with the monitors and dont have much to say. As far as I can tell, the only difference is that the contrast ratio went down from 500:1 to 450:1, and the physical dimensions changed by about a tenth of a millimeter. For all intensive purposes, the T701 is identical to the FP731, and for that reason parts of this review are identical to that of my earlier review of the FP731, but with comparisons made.
Out of the Box
The T701 has a slim bezel that comes in either black or silver, removing the cheap-looking white version that existed in the days of the FP731. On the lower part of the bezel are six buttons, one of which is the i Key auto-calibration (vertical & horizontal position, size, etc). The other buttons control power and the basic menu functions like brightness, which youll probably want to tone down a bit.
Though I did not have to set up and install the monitor, I would say it is a safe assumption that it remains a case of simply plugging it in and having it work. Theres nothing to suggest otherwise. The auto-calibration feature eliminates the need to mess around with the settings to get the picture just right. The base is quite stable, and provides two hooks on the back to put the cables through, just to keep things a little cleaner looking. Again, the base only tilts, but on the T701 it doesnt require as much physical strength. It weighs in at a gross weight of 12 pounds, so its easy to move around, and can be hanged from a wall with a VESA attachment. It may not be the lightest monitor out there, but its hardly the sort of thing thatd cause your desk to buckle. The changes in the dimensions are impossible to detect with the naked eye, so it still takes up less desk space than a keyboard. Its always nice to have that extra desk space that comes with any LCD monitor.
Just like the FP731, the T701 kept its price and size down by not coming with speakers of any sort. The power supply is built-in to the back of the monitor, helping to minimize clutter around the plug-in, although adding to the weight and size of the monitor.
I have been quite impressed with the picture quality from the D-sub input, and am sticking with my thoughts that the picture quality between this and more expensive monitors is negligible to the everyday user. In my job I have to do some very precise image editing, and for that I use a slightly higher end monitor on a different computer, but the T701 works out just fine most of the time. The image is crisp and clear, with the only real problem coming when motion is involved like in a video or game. Even then, it doesnt do a bad job, with no ghosting. Only the hardcore gamer or somebody thats constantly into graphic intensive things would need something of higher quality, with something better than the 25ms response time. LCD technology is constantly improving, and so the technology in the T701 is a little dated at this time, with most new entry-level LCD monitors having a very slight advantage in overall picture quality.
The black levels remain the biggest fault, but I find with general use that I dont even notice it. The altered contrast levels didnt appear to make a detectable difference to my eyes. Colours arent a big issue with the work Ive had to do on the T701, as its primarily the clarity Im concerned with, so I havent encountered any problems with colour appearances as of yet. Given that the work I do tends to get repetitive, its great that this monitor doesnt cause eyestrain, as thats the last thing Id need. The natural resolution for the 17 screen is 1280 x 1024, but 800x600 works if you prefer. None of the other resolutions work too well though.
The price is the major selling point of the BenQ T701, and I would say this is a good opportunity to make the switch to an LCD monitor if youre still stuck with a clunky CRT. Of course, the problem is finding a place that still has the T701 up for sale, but those that do are charging between $200 and $300. You may not be getting state-of-the-art technology with your money, but this price puts it down in the range of CRT monitors and is a real bargain as far as Im concerned. If just word processing and surfing the internet, this thing is more than sufficient. However, the price of higher-end monitors has also come down, so if youll be playing games or watching videos, I would recommend going with something a little pricier and more advanced.
The 17" T701 does a good job as an entry-level LCD monitor. Its simple, inexpensive, and provides me with more than acceptable picture quality for most needs. Despite getting to be a little out-of-date, the price still makes it a good option if youre looking for a basic LCD monitor. If you want to free up some desk space and are looking for an LCD of good quality, keep an eye out for a T701 thats kicking around. If youre a gamer or are really into graphics though, youll definitely want to consider something of a little higher quality and price. In terms of a 17" entry-level LCD monitor, the T701 is a very attractive choice.