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Printers, lend me your eyes—and take a look at the BenQ PG2401PT (MSRP $999), a 24-inch printing-certified computer monitor that's tailor-made for soft proofing.
The PG2401PT is one of the industry's newest options in this price range if you're looking for an affordable display with Fogra color certification (if you don't know what that means, you probably don't need this monitor.)
For $999, the PG2401PT is a very valuable tool for printing professionals. While it isn't the largest graphics/printing monitor on the market, the quality of the IPS panel is stellar, and has a multitude of useful features and display modes.
The PG2401PT wields a 24-inch IPS panel, which has natural strengths and weaknesses due to its design. For instance, this monitor doesn't have the best contrast, but it covers the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces with a very high degree of accuracy—by far the most important task for a printing monitor.
Accurate colors (even at wider/more saturated color spaces) mean the PG2401PT is also a great choice for graphic designers, photo editors, and anyone else in need of premium color performance. This BenQ wields a 10-bit panel, which helps preserve details even in very complex photographs.
One task the PG2401PT isn't great at is rendering computer games without latency. Its IPS panel may ace our color tests, but it isn't suitable for fast-paced games that require a very quick response time. You could certainly partner it with slower-paced titles, but it won't do if minimal latency is what you're after.
Most of the time, professional displays like the PG2401PT are all function, and no form. Nothing fancy, sleek, or stylish—all business. This BenQ, with its matte black plastic and shading hood, almost fits the bill, but a closer look reveals some fun details.
First of all, the stand's flat, angular arms protrude from a circular base, describing a "W" shape. It's not mind-blowing, but it's still more interesting than the average rectangular pedestal.
The neck of the display features a playful blue cable organizer that clamps your connections in place. There's also a matching blue headphone hook, a la the company's gaming displays.
These pops of color give the PG2401PT a little more pizazz than the average graphics display, though some might argue it makes it look more toy than tool. Any way you slice it, though, this BenQ has personality.
As for function? The PG2401PT adjusts easily atop its flexible stand, and hosts a multitude of video connections. On the underside of the panel, you'll find DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D, VGA, USB B, an "On/Off" switch, and AC in for the power cable. Two USB 2.0 slots and an SD card slot live along the left side—the shading hood has a small cutout for them, so they're always accessible.
I'll explain the what and why of the shading hood in the next section. For now, just know that it's one of the extra accessories in the box, alongside a quick-start guide, driver disc, calibration report, power cord, VGA cable, DVI-D cable, DisplayPort cable, USB cable, and stand components.
Finally, professionals will be glad to know that there's plenty of stand flexibility here. The panel can raise/lower by about six inches, rotate to portrait, swivel upon its base by 45°, and tilt backward by 5° and forward by 20°.
The PG2401PT's singular purpose is to serve as a soft proofing tool for professional (or consumer) printers. To that end, this display has a number of features worth highlighting.
In the printing industry, "soft proofing" refers to checking the quality and color of a printed item without actually printing it. The print variety—called hard proofing—costs time and money to both the client and the printer. By having soft proof-capable displays—via the Fogra color management system—distant parties can proof a final product without actually printing it.
One of the PG2401PT's most notable features is its shading hood. In order to truly reflect the appearance/color quality of a printed photo, a printer's monitor needs to be very dim. The shading hood provides a barrier to ambient lighting, and also helps heighten the contrast and visibility of the image to the observer.
Within the software menu, users will find an easy way to adjust the contrast and brightness of this display. Touch-sensitive buttons activate a contextual menu on screen, making it easy to pick from color modes—like sRGB or Adobe RGB—and lower the backlight levels to the necessary brightness.
This 24-inch display also comes equipped with a built-in hardware calibrator, allowing knowledgeable users to adjust the color LUT (look-up table) in conjunction with the output of the source device. While each PG2401PT comes factory calibrated with a report, some tasks may require a separate illuminant than the D65 standard. The display has pre-sets for this, but can also be calibrated by the user to exact specifications.
For its price, the PG2401PT is impressive. Generally, an Adobe RGB capable, IPS-paneled monitor with a stock shading hood and built-in calibration software will run you a lot more than $999.
What's the catch? Well, while this monitor is highly flexible and customizable, it isn't made of the fanciest or most durable materials.
Matte, black plastic runs its course over the entirety of the display, and the blue headphone hook and cable organizer make the PG2401PT look a little elementary. Casual users generally won't need this kind of color efficacy, either.
If you're the prince of prints, however, you'll be ticked pink by the PG2401PT—it's a stellar tool for professional printers, and these (digital) colors don't run.
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