BenQ America FP591
At a Glance
The FP591 screen has a fairly thin (about 1-inch thick) matte-black bezel, but it is set into a considerably larger gray frame that holds several uncommon extra features. The bottom of the frame houses a set of powerful surround-sound speakers that accurately reproduced the nuances of our test tracks without distortion--even at high volume.
Another bonus feature is a four-in-one memory card reader mounted behind the top of the monitor. (It accepts CompactFlash, Secure Digital, SmartMedia, and MultiMedia cards.) This "Digital Photo Frame" lets the monitor display JPEG photos from memory cards. The feature doesn't require the installation of software and even works when the PC is turned off. The monitor's on-screen controls allow you to navigate through photos, rotate them, and run basic slide shows. Linking the FP591 to a PC via the included USB cable and installing drivers allows the card reader to function as a standard removable-media drive for reading or writing any type of data to or from memory cards. (Unfortunately, the terse, awkwardly translated instructions did a poor job of explaining how to enable these features, and we had to fish around the BenQ Web site to locate the necessary drivers.)
The FP591 also shines as a standard LCD monitor. It earned scores of Outstanding for both text and graphics quality at the time of our review--showing clean text on word documents and spreadsheets, for example, and color nuances in photographs. The panel boasts a 16-millisecond pixel refresh rate--better than the 25ms spec on most LCDs. Although this should, in theory, allow the FP591 to display motion more smoothly, most of the models we test that have a 25ms refresh rate do a good job on our motion tests, and we didn't notice a significant improvement over their performance with the FP591.
You pay more for these extra features than you would for a regular 15-inch monitor. But the price ($425 at the time of our review) is not exorbitant for such a full-featured product.
The FP591 is not for people seeking a basic 15-inch LCD. But--support glitches aside--it is a compelling product at a fair price for people who can put its multimedia muscle to good use.