3D monitors are still a rarity in the world of PC gaming, even though as of October 2011 over 500,000 pairs of Nvidia’s 3D Vision glasses have been sold, and with each at least one 3D display. Though the likes of Viewsonic, Acer, ASUS and Dell have all taken their go at it – some more successfully than others – this third wave of high-end 3D gaming monitors is looking very well. We’ll have a full review of ASUS’ latest display soon after CES, but at the show BenQ revealed not one, but two 3D-ready displays.

To say that they are two different monitors is almost a lie. The two are identical in all ways but one: the XL2420TX and XL2420T share all of the same specs but one: the TX model has 3D Vision built directly into the display. Both have the same 2ms grey-to-grey response time, the same 120Hz refresh rate, the same 24″ displays, the same specs entirely except for built-in Vision. If you’re confused, I was too, until I looked at the price: the TX model, with Vision, will retail for $500, while the non-Vision model currently retails for $400.

Now that may seem like a big difference for a display, but having tested and used Nvidia’s 3D Vision glasses for possibly longer than anyone outside of the company, I can state as a fact that using 3D Vision with an external IR reader to work with the glasses is a hassle. It’s far more convenient to have it built directly into the monitor for two reasons: first, the IR transmitter is near eye-level (and can be adjusted to point higher or lower), and second, because it doesn’t take up an extra USB port and contribute to your current table clutter.

Of course, anyone who already owns a 3D Vision set with the external IR transmitter can save some money for themselves and buy the display without the built in emitter. The only loss is convenience, though the BenQ representative told me that their current customers in Europe, who have had both displays available, requested a display without 3D Vision built in. And that both models have sold well.

Convenience is a surprisingly important factor, one I always say is perhaps the most important piece to the product puzzle, because it gets right into the users feelings on said product. They create an emotional attachment because hey, it feels like the phone or computer monitor was made with them in mind. The same holds true with the XL2420T models, both of which come with two (yes, everything comes in pairs) unique features available solely for the purpose of convenience. First is a glasses holder attached to the back of the display, as you can see in the image above.

Second is a mouse-like controller that magnetically attaches to the base of the display, on either side, and can be pre-programmed with three different display settings. Three numbered buttons can automatically change the display settings. It may seem silly, especially since the buttons on both XL2420T models are all touch sensitive, similar to the Dell Alienware OptX display, but even with very fluid controls and an intuitive and simply menu system having the ability to automatically change the display settings is huge. Most gaming displays today have a dedicated button to scroll through presets, which are generally defaults made by the manufacturer (and usually prior to someone actively calibrating the display altogether), but even that’s not as convenient as you can get. The button to do so is still attached to the display wherever the buttons are located. With the XL2420T, those preset buttons can be literally wherever you want. They can be magnetically attached to the base on the left or right side, or above your keyboard, by the mouse, or wherever the hell the cable will reach.

Simply put, it’s ingenious. I know for myself that I always change the presets on my display. I have a preset for standard computing (ie typing up articles like this), watching video, playing games, and for editing pictures. Being able to swap between even three of these presets at anytime with a simple extendable control that can at anytime be docked is…it solves a longtime problem that most people didn’t even know existed.

I’ll need some more face time with the XL2420T and XL2420TX to know how good they actually are and the video quality reproduction, but there was one impressive note I made during my hands-on. For 3D gameplay, the image doesn’t move. That means that if you weave and bob your head, in any way, the image won’t move with you. This typically happens on 3D displays (and most people see something similar occur when watching 3D movies), and it’s annoying. I walked around with my 3D glasses on and didn’t see any change, even at weird and extreme angles. I’ll need to test it more in the field, but thus far I haven’t found anywhere that the image moves with the glasses.

The XL2420T is currently available now in the US, for purchase directly from BenQ and some retailers, for $399. The XL2420TX will be available shortly in the US for $499, and is available for pre-order now from BenQ directly.

James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.