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BenQ EX3501R review

Posted on 10-Jan-2019 17:33 | Filed under: Reviews

BenQ EX3501R review

I have been using the BenQ EX3501R for a couple of months now. I am using it on a desktop system where I previously had a smaller, flat panel. By contrast, when using my Microsoft Surface I have a three monitors setup (the Surface itself and two external ones). If for nothing else, just the comfort and productivity the curved monitor brings, compared to a multiple monitor setup would be a winning proposition. But this monitor is so much more.


With a 35" 3440 x 1440 pixels (21:9 aspect ratio) resolution with 16.7 million colours (100% sRGB gamut), the BenQ EX3501R provides you with enough desktop space to comfortably have side-by-side Windows applications that in effect works as if you had two smaller monitors working together. With a 1800R curvature, the BenQ EX3501R can also be used from a 1.8m distance in case you decide to use it as an display panel for your entertainment centre.


The BenQ EX3501R has a good mix of connectivity options with two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.4 and USB-C connectivity. On top of that it also acts as a USB 3.0 Hub for any device connected to the USB-C port.


I have tested the BenQ EX3501R with a Windows 10 PC (using a NVIDIA 1050 Titanium card) via HDMI, with a Freeview SmartVu streaming dongle via HDMI and a Huawei Mate 20 Android smartphone Pro via USB-C.


Performance under those three (very) different sources was exceptional and seamless and while it worked out-of-the-box with Windows 10, I wanted to use its OEM drivers. Those are distributed on a CDROM, and no amount of search resulted on an online version for download. At the end I plugged an old external optical drive just to retrieve the drivers. I tested it with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro because these phones have a desktop mode that works wirelessly (desktop mirror) or USB-C. Except for Netflix (which won't stream content when output is set to non-DRM USB-C) this was a great experience - pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and in effect you can use your smartphone as a desktop computer. The USB-C input also works with Chrome OS out of the box.


In terms of features, the BenQ EX3501R is packed. It provides support for HDR, which is best enjoyed with dedicated video player devices but also works with Windows 10 under certain conditions (your video card must support HDR and the player must support it as well). Fortunately both the NVIDIA 1050 and VLC Player gave me the HDR output for testing. Unfortunately Windows 10 HDR support still seems a bit of a hit-and-miss affair - specifically it seems when I turn HDR on for Windows it conflicts with TrueType fonts and they become jagged. This is something I blame on either Windows or the video driver, because screenshots can capture this effect - evidence to me this is not a monitor artifact.


With a 100 Hz refresh rate and a 4 ms response time, the BenQ EX3501R is very comfortable for long periods of use - be it gaming or work. When it comes to work, the ease to position multiple app windows around the desktop, allowing you to work on a couple of applications without having to switch between Windows using key combinations is a winner combination.


The BenQ EX3501R provides a headphone jack only, so if you want better options I would recommend a Bluetooth headset is the way to go - unless you want a more theatrical experience in which case I would suggest a good set of external PC speakers would be appropriate.


Another feature is the Brightness Intelligence Plus. When enabled, a sensor detects ambient light levels and colour around you and automatically adjusts the monitor's brightness and colour temperature. You can change the sensitivity but I found that out of the box this feature saves me a lot of fiddling with the monitor, trying to adjust brightness on my own.


You can also change the amount of blue light the BenQ EX3501R emits, on a scale of 0 to 20. This feature also makes it more comfortable for longer work/play hours.


At 10kg the BenQ EX3501R feels light and despite its size, the design makes it easy to fit the monitor on your desk - in my case I am using it with a desktop in the corner of my home office and it still leaves plenty of room around the small desk I am using.


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