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27inch iMac screen vs 32inch BenQ BL3201PT

October 11, 2016


Taiwanese electronics firm BenQ kindly sent me this a couple of weeks ago — a 32inch ultra high definition monitor (their BL3201PT).

BenQ BL Series packaging

BenQ BL Series packaging

A bit of a coincidence as I know my 27inch iMac (2010), despite still being excellent, won’t last forever, and for portability I’d thought of a switch to a MacBook/monitor setup instead of replacing the iMac.

So for the past week I’ve been working dual-screen to test the differences. Here are some of the main ones.

iMac versus BenQ BL3201PT

The iMac’s glass gives a lot more glare than BenQ’s matt finish. I regularly increase/decrease the iMac’s brightness to compensate, and the benefit of working on BenQ’s anti-glare was almost immediate. That made me wonder if Apple’s newest screens differ from those of 2010, so I did a bit of digging and it was interesting to read the comments on this post about Apple causing excessive eye strain. New versions of the iMac and MacBook Pro are due out any month, so I’ll hold off on a purchase until then.

The iMac’s internal speakers give better sound. BenQ’s do the job but are a bit tinny in comparison. I’d probably buy externals if the BenQ was my main screen.

BenQ’s maximum resolution is 3840×2160, more than my iMac’s 2560×1440, but less than new Apple kit (5120×2880). I’ve mostly been working on the 1920×1080 setting to avoid constantly enlarging web pages, so BenQ’s maximum is more than enough if I’m doing particularly intricate work, or making the most of 4K videos.

The 32inch screen is bigger than Apple’s largest — a definite plus for graphic work or having two or three windows open at once.

BenQ’s height-adjustable stand is appreciated. At its maximum height you can rotate the screen to a portrait orientation, which is unnecessary for me, but programmers and developers might like it for reducing scroll when coding. The screen also swivels on the base by 45 degrees each way, whereas the iMac is fixed.

There’s no webcam on the BenQ, and I’ll often use the one on my iMac for Skype and FaceTime, but if I go for a MacBook it’d just be a matter of flipping that open instead.

BenQ BL3201PT wired remote

This little wired remote makes it simple to access the settings menu or switch from sRGB to “low blue light” with a single click — the latter is good for reducing eye strain when reading.

Overall the BL3201PT is an excellent monitor, with the biggest plus over the iMac being the anti-glare. Plenty more features and specs are listed on the BenQ website, with mostly positive reviews on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

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