I use my smartphones and tablet to get a lot of professional work done: not just emails, but increasingly writing a lot of articles on my mobile devices. Though I love digital media player’s like Chromecast and Apple TV that allow me to stream my mobile’s screen to my TV, I find that’s usually only handy when I want to stream video content or games–trying to get work done on your mobile while using your TV that’s 8 feet away just doesn’t cut it.
That’s why I was excited to try Benq’s EW2740L monitor. It’s one of the growing number of displays that support the MHL standard, which allows you to plug in your mobile devices and project their displays onto the screen right in front of you. Could the EW2740L be the perfect external display for your mobile device productivity sessions? Read on to find out.
Design, Specs and Connectivity
Let’s get the specs out of the way first.
- Screen Size: 27”
- Aspect Ratio:16 : 9
- Resolution (max.): 1920 x 1080
- Pixel Pitch (mm): 0.311
- Brightness: 300 cd/㎡
- Native Contrast: 3000:1
- DCR (Dynamic Contrast Ratio): 20M:1
- Viewing Angle: 178°
- Response Time:12ms, 4ms (GtG)
- Display Colors: 16.7million
- Input Connector: 1 D-sub, 1 HDMI, 1 HDMI/MHL
- Speaker: two 2W built-in
The EW2740L’s design (and god, I wish display manufacturers would give their monitors sexier names) actually feels pretty solid for a “mid-level” display. It’s encased in a glossy black body and and features a thin bezel that really helps the display stand out and saves the 27-inch EW2740L from taking up more space on your desk than it needs to.
Along the bottom right hand side of the display are touch capacitive buttons that allow you to access the on-screen menus that control the various pre-configured modes of the display including my favorite, Low Blue Light Mode. For those of you wondering, a low blue light mode is increasingly important on displays as scientists now say that the effects of blue light coming from our display at night can wreak havoc on our health.
On the back of the EW2740L you’ll find its ports including your standard D-sub, a regular HDMI port, an HDMI/MHL port (more on that below), audio line in, and power. Below the ports are where you slip the EW2740L into its included stand. The stand itself was a bit wobbly for me at first but tightening of the restrainers cleared that up.
Benq EW2740L Monitor Review: Display
Of course the star of most monitors is the display. But while the EW2740L’s display is quite impressive it’s not the best feature of this monitor (more on that in a moment). But for now, let’s talk about it’s display. The EW2740L is a 27-incher with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a max resolution of 1920 x 1080–in other words, it’s full HD. Of course that HD resolution isn’t too impressive anymore in a world that increasingly finds 4k displays becoming the norm. But for regular web browsing, office work, and even gaming, the EW2740L suffices.
The display itself actually looks better than the specs suggest because Benq has spent years honing its excellent Cinema Mode, which automatically fine tunes video content for optimal image quality and color saturation. In regular use whites appear bright white and blacks are deep. Reds, greens and blues all looked very bright as well. And with a 2,478:1 contrast ratio detail in both video and web browsing stood out.
Benq EW2740L Monitor Review: Connecting Your Smartphone
Now we get to the star feature: the MHL connectivity. For those that don’t know MHL stands for Mobile High-Definition Link and is a standard developed by Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and others that allows smartphones and tablets to be connected to displays via a hybrid MHL/HDMI cable.
MHL connections offer benefits over the streaming connections like you find on the Chromecast and Apple TV because they generally produce no lag time and, as I mentioned in the intro, are more practical for the work environment.
The EW2740L includes the HDMI/MHL cable and you simply need to plug it into your compatible smartphone or tablet and its display will mirror on the EW2740L’s display instantly. The bummer here, as I found out, is that some smartphones need an adapter to work with MHL. That’s not Benq’s fault, but an issue with various smartphone vendors. Out of the box the EW2740L features MHL plug-and-play support for the HTC Butterfly, HTC One, HTC One X, Huawei Ascend P1, LG Optimus G, Sony Xperia P, Sony Xperia Z, and many others. But if you have a Samsung phone like me (I have the S5) you’ll need an optional MHL adapter to use the EW2740L with the Note and Galaxy lines.
Thankfully my friend let me borrow his HTC One for a few days so I could try MHL out. And the experience was awesome. I loved being able to work at my desk and plug my smartphone into a dedicated display. When used side-by-side with my laptop it felt like I had an entirely new and expansive workstation to get things done on. And as someone who is used to the lagging and stuttering found with display mirroring on the Apple TV and Chromecast I can attest how much more stable and fluid MHL is because of its hardwired connection.
Benq EW2740L Monitor Review: Verdict
There are lot of people out there who will never need an external display for their smartphones. But then there will be people like me who find it invaluable. For those people I highly recommend the Benq EW2740L display. At only around £180 (typical price) it’s an excellent external display for your mobile device (or a laptop, if you’re old school).