High-End Features at a Bargain Price

Review by Steve Baczewski

Eventually, expensive high-end technology drifts down to less-expensive versions of the same product. This occurs regularly with cameras, and now computer displays. A few years ago, a display like Acer’s BM320 would have fetched well over $2,000. As of this writing, you can get it for around $1,000.

The BM320 4K (3840×2160) 32″ display offers professional photographers a wide color gamut with precision color reproduction that comes calibrated from the factory. It covers 100% of Adobe’s RGB and sRGB color space. The clarity of the display is ideal for viewing and editing images, especially when zoomed in to inspect image detail and make adjustments. The BM320’s 10-bit color depth and IPS screen architecture results in uniform color and brightness at acute viewing angles, and it covers over a billion possible colors. It has a 60-Hz refresh rate and a 5-ms flicker-free response time. The non-glare screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio with lots of room to roam for editing images and organizing Photoshop’s numerous panels, which makes it ideal for those who don’t want to work with two monitors. After weeks of testing, I found the BM320 functioned very reliably; however, there are some design features that need mentioning before you consider ordering.

The slender display is reassuringly well packaged, solidly constructed, and easily assembled. To ensure the best viewing position, the large, sturdy base and neck support smooth adjustments of the screen’s height, tilt, swivel, and rotation from landscape to portrait orientation. This is a big screen, but once in place, it stays put without any drifting. Sadly, the display doesn’t come with a hood, and Acer doesn’t offer one as an option. Hoods block stray light and optimize viewing conditions for working on and evaluating an image. So if you want a hood, the price of the display just went up.

The display does offer comprehensive connectivity including: DisplayPort v1.2, Mini DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI v2.0, and five USB 3 connectors. Cables are included. It has a pair of built-in 2-Watt speakers, but the sound is anemic. The BM320’s bezel is amazingly thin and barely visible on three sides, which helps to promote a seamless visual experience. The bezel on the display’s bottom edge is more substantial, but it doesn’t include the usual OSD (onscreen display) control panel. Instead, Acer chose to have a clean look and placed the panel’s buttons out of sight on the display’s backside along the right side edge. (At first, this annoyed me, but I got used to it.) The OSD’s comprehensive menu is feature-packed and includes sliders to adjust color, contrast, and brightness, plus switching from Adobe RGB to sRGB. Settings can be saved.

I found Acer’s factory calibration settings a bit off. So, I used Datacolor’s Spyder5ELITE colorimeter to profile and calibrate the display to my own preferences of a gamma of 2.2, color temperature of 6500, contrast of 400, and brightness of 120 cd/m2. The results closely matched my target settings. Another plus was that the average Delta E was 1.5. I measured uniformity of color and luminance across the screen, and was pleased to find only a small amount of variance for such a large screen.

The BM320 has a maximum brightness limit of 350 cd/m2 and static contrast ratio of 1000:1, which might be a consideration for videographers. This screen is ideal for photographers who do a lot of image editing, demand color accuracy, and make prints. It would be even better with a hood. I printed and compared Bill Atkinson’s print test target to the screen and it was spot on, as were all succeeding prints.

While its cost might be low, Acer’s BM320 performance is high. Well worth considering if you’re in the market for a new display. ■