The BenQ V920 is a budget 18.5in monitor with a thin 14mm-thick panel.

Aspirational technology is very much a moving target in the world of computing. For a long time, a 19in screen was seen as an extravagance, a vast expanse of pixels that towered over the 15in and 17in models then dominating the marketplace. Now, though, this size of screen is pretty much relegated to the budget end, with 22in and 23in models becoming the more obvious choices for those plunging into the market.

But is the typical buyer right to dismiss these smaller screen sizes? Only a few years ago they seemed extremely generous, so has software really become so sophisticated that you need to be looking to screen sizes in excess of 20 inches; or is a smaller flat-panel a good way of saving money by dispensing with extra pixels that you don't really need? BenQ's new V920 aims to make a case for the latter.

This isn't the first time in recent months that we've seen a small screen with an equally diminutive price tag. The NEC AccuSync AS191WM (April 2010) was a 19in model that can be bought for just £115.

This BenQ V920 comes in an even smaller size, measuring a mere 18.5 inches. But where the AccuSync was functional in its appearance, the BenQ V920 creates a very different impression. Indeed, at 14mm (at its thinnest point), it's one of the slimmest screens we've seen yet. And its frame is beautifully polished, finished off by a delicately shaped base that makes this screen quite a looker despite its price tag.

Actually, if we're being honest, the slender dimensions don't seem entirely beneficial, as the base of the BenQ V920 gave the feeling of being a bit too small for its own good - we worried that a sudden gust might have the screen crashing to the ground. It actually proved rather harder to knock over then we had expected, but we'd still feel slightly uneasy about having this screen anywhere where it could be easily knocked.

The BenQ V920's menu system is perfectly adequate. Its slightly confusing selection of buttons wasn't quite as intuitive as those of some flat-panels, although we didn't run into any serious problems altering the settings.

The BenQ V920 has a very decent array of options for adjusting the colour type, and the range of screen modes is versatile - even if we generally prefer such a feature to have a dedicated button rather than forcing the user to wade into the morass of menu options just to flip into Movie, Game or sRGB mode.

The BenQ V920 has Senseye, a feature that supposedly sifts through the various contrast and sharpness features and creates the best image for you. While the results produced here were very clean, we did sometimes feel that the non-Senseye image packed more colour. DVI and RGB connections are offered, but no HDMI.

The 18.5in BenQ V920 screen allows for a resolution of 1366x768 - in contrast, the NEC AccuSync AS191WM has 1440x900 resolution, while a good 23in typically hits full-HD 1920x1080.

Admittedly, the 1366x768 resolution is hardly expansive, and, having moved over to this from a 23in model, the AS191WM does feel a little cramped in comparison. But this is still enough workspace to live comfortably with, and we don't believe the smaller size would be an unacceptable compromise for general use.

The image does lack a tiny bit of extra detail due to its larger pixel size. Pixel pitch here is 0.3mm rather than a more typical 0.27-0.28mm in the case of larger models.

As is typical of twisted-nematic (TN) displays, viewing angles fall away very quickly if you aren't sitting directly in front of the screen.

But the BenQ V920 doesn't lack for colour. Indeed, referring to its increasingly ridiculous Dynamic Contrast Ratio feature, BenQ claims the BenQ V920's standard contrast ratio of 1,000:1 can be bolstered to a staggering 1,000,000:1. This is clearly rather over the top, but there's no doubt that the BenQ's palette is bold and potentially very punchy.

Films and games look very nice on the BenQ V920, although the serious film watcher or gamer will undoubtedly want more screen size. Those using the BenQ for more sober purposes will find it quite straightforward to use the colour options to tone down the brightness and glare of the V920, and we were able to strike a very comfortable compromise for office applications, for instance.

You can even invoke the Eco mode, and the BenQ prides itself on the fairly low level of power needed by this screen. Like the NEC, its LED technology allows it to cut power output compared with traditional CCFL screens, and its thirst of 16 watts even undercuts the 18 watt required of the NEC.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

BenQ V920: Specs

  • 18.5in flat-panel
  • 1366 x 768 native resolution
  • twisted nematic technology
  • 0.3mm pixel pitch
  • 5ms response rate
  • 1,000:1 contrast ratio (‘10,000,000’ with DCR)
  • 170/160 degree viewing angle
  • 250cd/m2 brightness
  • VGA, DVI connectors
  • 355 x 157 x 457mm
  • 2.4kg
  • 2-year warranty
  • 18.5in flat-panel
  • 1366 x 768 native resolution
  • twisted nematic technology
  • 0.3mm pixel pitch
  • 5ms response rate
  • 1,000:1 contrast ratio (‘10,000,000’ with DCR)
  • 170/160 degree viewing angle
  • 250cd/m2 brightness
  • VGA, DVI connectors
  • 355 x 157 x 457mm
  • 2.4kg
  • 2-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

From the lovely looks and the nice feature set to the colourful and relatively versatile image, the BenQ V920 is a strong screen for the money. If you want to cut the costs of buying a new flat-panel by opting for a smaller size, the BenQ V920 is a compelling deal.

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