BenQ FP882 18.1-inch LCD Monitor
By Joel Shore
September 3, 2002
BenQ? Sure, it’s a strange name, but it’s attached
to a pretty good flat-panel monitor.
It turns out that BenQ is the new name for an old friend, Acer Communications, a company that has been around for eons.
Why LCD? First there were CRTs, monitors based on the television-like cathode ray tube.
We saw the light and that it was good. But CRTs take up a lot of space, they generate heat,
and consume a heap of electricity. LCDs, liquid crystal displays, have a perfectly flat screen,
take up much less desktop real estate, use far less electricity, and are a whole lot cooler
(that is they generate no heat and they look awesome). Until now, the holdback has been price.
Just a few years ago, an 18-inch LCD would have set you back about $5,000. Having a product of
this caliber available on the street for significantly less than $1,000 is an amazing bargain.
LCD panels are better for another reason, one that you may remember from your high-school geometry class.
A TV-like CRT uses an electron gun, located in the neck of the picture tube, to “paint” a beam of electrons
across the screen,
causing light-sensitive phosphors to fluoresce
(glow). But the distance to the corners of such a
screen is longer than to the center, necessitating angling the beam to reach the corners. Both
of these factors can
An LCD panel has no electron gun, and, therefore, no beams. Instead, there is a transistor at every
one of the BenQ’s 1,310,720 pixel locations (1280 x 1024).
They are simply turned on or off. Consequently, there are no geometry errors, resulting
in, at least theoretically,
a more accurate image.
The BenQ FP882 contains a built-in USB (universal serial bus) hub. You use an included USB cable to connect
the monitor to a USB port on your computer (this does not carry the monitor’s video signal, however). Then,
you can connect USB devices to the the two USB ports on the monitor. You could connect your mouse, keyboard,
business-card scanner, headset/microphone, or any other device.
Installation and set-up. There’s not much to do when it comes to setting up a monitor. First, you connect the
signal cable from the PC. If you using a regular analog signal (which most PCs do), you’ll connect the video cable
you’ve come to know and love. If you’ve stepped up to full digital video, you’ll be using a DVI (digital
video interface) cable. Second, plug in the power cord. The USB hub cable is optional and has nothing to do
with the operation of the monitor itself.
Making Adjustments. In addition to the purple power button, the FP882’s front panel sports five buttons.
These are labeled “iKey,” Enter, Exit, <, and >. You can use the Enter key to display the on-screen menus,
such as brightness, contrast, image size, image position, and then use the < and > keys to increase or
decrease the selected setting.
It gets more complicated, though. The iKey button is a short cut that takes you directly to settings for
vertical and horizontal positioning of the image, and the less commonly refresh rate and phase settings.
Likewise, pressing the < key brings you directly to the contrast setting, while tapping the > key takes
you to the brightness setting. This is a pretty confusing setup, one that users should rarely have a need
to access. And if you don’t remember those short cuts (like most of us), you can still press the Enter
button to cycle through the complete set of features.
The entire library of video settings is present. You can chose from three predefined color temperature
settings (9800°K, 6500°K, 5800°K) as well as a manual option where you can set the red/green/blue mix any way
you like. Choose “info” and the monitor displays all of it current settings.
The image was great. Whether I was looking at text or photos, everything appeared crisp and very readable.
Both brightness and contrast were good. High-resolution photos were vibrant and had that “snap.” Even in the
corners, the image was bright.
An important feature of any LCD panel is its viewing angle. Think about it: you never actually look at
a monitor exactly straight on. You lean right, you reach left. Some of us look down into a monitor, others
prefer look up. The further you can go side-to-side or up and down, and still get a clear, usable image,
the better. With the BenQ FP882, you can go up/down or left/right by up to 80 degrees. Not bad. For a
carload of additional money, you can find panels with a wider viewing angle, but it’s not really necessary.
One of the features I didn’t care for were the built-in speakers. They are certainly convenient,
but the sound is pretty thin.
I’ve been spoiled by my PC’s audio system, which consists of left and right desktop speakers and
a subwoofer that
sits on the floor beneath my desk. The only reason I can think of in favor of using built-in speakers is
in a business environment, where free-standing speakers might get heisted.
If you already have a speaker set-up that you like, stick with it.
So should you buy the BenQ FP882? As someone who has followed the market for many years, the fact that
18-inch LCDs are available for less than $1,000 blows my mind. This one looked good on my desk, performed
well, and the black enclosure even matched nicely with my Logitech Cordless Freedom Optical mouse and
keyboard (read the review).
I’m a big proponent of buying the largest display you can afford. If you have the bucks for the BenQ FP882, go for it.<