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BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K Monitor Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Reviewed Jan 04, 2023 at 12:15 pm
Latest change: Retest Apr 24, 2023 at 03:29 pm
BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K Picture
6.9
Mixed Usage
7.3
Office
8.0
Gaming
6.5
Media Consumption
7.0
Media Creation
3.0
HDR

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is the flagship model in BenQ's ZOWIE lineup of gaming monitors, sitting above the BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K. It uses a TN panel designed to deliver the best gaming experience possible, and it's one of the only monitors on the market that offers a customizable overdrive setting, meaning you can fine-tune the gaming experience to your preferences. It comes with a unique S-Switch wired remote that makes it a breeze to navigate the settings menu, as well as side panels to keep you focused on the game.

Our Verdict

6.9 Mixed Usage

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is an okay monitor overall for mixed usage, but it's designed and intended for gaming. It's decent for office use or watching videos during the day, thanks to its good peak brightness and good reflection handling. It delivers a great gaming experience with an incredible response time, customizable overdrive settings, and a fast refresh rate. It's also decent for media creation, with excellent accuracy before calibration and near-perfect coverage of the sRGB color space.

Pros
  • Fantastic ergonomics make it easy to place in an ideal viewing position.
  • Incredible motion handling with very little motion blur.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio results in raised blacks in dark rooms.
  • Image degrades rapidly when viewed at an angle.
  • Low pixel density.
7.3 Office

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is a decent monitor for office use. It has good peak brightness in SDR and good reflection handling, so it can easily overcome glare in a bright office. It also has fantastic ergonomics, so you can easily place it in an ideal viewing position. On the other hand, it has a relatively low pixel density, so text clarity is just decent, the image isn't very sharp, and the image rapidly degrades when viewed at an angle, so anyone looking at your screen beside you will see a worse image.

Pros
  • Fantastic ergonomics make it easy to place in an ideal viewing position.
  • Good peak brightness in SDR.
Cons
  • Image degrades rapidly when viewed at an angle.
  • Low pixel density.
8.0 Gaming

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is designed for gamers, so it's no surprise that it delivers a great gaming experience. It has an incredibly fast refresh rate and an incredibly fast response time, resulting in a crystal-clear gaming experience with very little motion blur behind fast-moving objects. It also offers customizable overdrive settings, meaning you can get the best motion handling possible at any refresh rate. It has superb low input lag and supports FreeSync variable refresh rate technology to reduce screen tearing.

Pros
  • Incredible motion handling with very little motion blur.
  • Superb low input lag.
  • Versatile backlight strobing feature.
  • Customizable overdrive settings.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio results in raised blacks in dark rooms.
  • Image degrades rapidly when viewed at an angle.
  • Low pixel density.
6.5 Media Consumption

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is just alright for watching videos. It has good peak brightness and good reflection handling, so it's best-suited for watching during the day and has excellent accuracy before calibration. It's not a good choice for watching in a dark room due to its low contrast ratio and just alright black uniformity, and it's a bad choice for watching with other people due to its poor viewing angle.

Pros
  • Excellent accuracy before calibration.
  • Good peak brightness in SDR.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio results in raised blacks in dark rooms.
  • Image degrades rapidly when viewed at an angle.
  • Low pixel density.
7.0 Media Creation

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is decent for media creation. It has fantastic ergonomics, so you can easily place it in an ideal viewing position or turn it to show something to your clients or colleagues. It also has excellent accuracy before calibration and nearly perfect coverage of the sRGB color space, so you don't have to worry about the extra expense of having it calibrated. Unfortunately, it has a low contrast ratio, so it's not well-suited for a dark room, and the image degrades rapidly when viewed from an angle.

Pros
  • Fantastic ergonomics make it easy to place in an ideal viewing position.
  • Excellent accuracy before calibration.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio results in raised blacks in dark rooms.
  • Image degrades rapidly when viewed at an angle.
  • Low pixel density.
3.0 HDR

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K doesn't support HDR.

  • 6.9 Mixed Usage
  • 7.3 Office
  • 8.0 Gaming
  • 6.5 Media Consumption
  • 7.0 Media Creation
  • 3.0 HDR
  1. Updated Apr 24, 2023: Fixed an incorrect link for the 'Premium' table in Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate.
  2. Updated Jan 04, 2023: Review published.
  3. Updated Dec 22, 2022: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 24.5-inch BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K, which is part of BenQ's XL-K series of gaming monitors, some of which are listed below. These results are only valid for this specific model, though.

Model Code Size Resolution Max Refresh Rate DyAc+
XL2566K 24.5" 1080p 360Hz Yes
XL2546K 24.5" 1080p 240Hz Yes
XL2540K 24.5" 1080p 240Hz No
XL2746K 27" 1080p 240Hz Yes

Our unit was manufactured in September 2022, and you can see the label here.

Compared To Other Monitors

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is a great gaming monitor with fantastic motion handling, making it an excellent choice for esports gamers. Unfortunately, its TN-type panel delivers lackluster overall picture quality, and it lacks many features found on most recent gaming monitors, like HDR support or local dimming. It's only recommended if you only care about motion performance.

Also see our recommendations for the best budget and cheap gaming monitors, the best 1080p monitors, and the best gaming monitors.

BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K and the BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K are extremely similar overall, but the newer XL2566K offers better motion handling and a customizable overdrive setting. When comparing the same settings across both displays, the XL2566K delivers a faster rise/fall time and significantly less overshoot, resulting in clearer motion with less ghosting or white trails behind fast-moving objects.

Dell Alienware AW2523HF

The Dell Alienware AW2523HF and the BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K deliver a very similar experience. The Dell has a much better viewing angle, delivering a more consistent visual experience when viewed at an angle. The Dell gets brighter in SDR to overcome more glare in a bright room. The BenQ has a more customizable gaming experience and more consistent motion handling than the Dell, especially at lower refresh rates.

Dell Alienware AW2521H

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is better than the BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K. The Dell has a much better viewing angle, delivering a more consistent visual experience when viewed at an angle. The Dell also supports HDR and gets brighter in SDR to overcome more glare in a bright room. The Dell also natively supports G-SYNC variable refresh rate technology, delivering a tear-free gaming experience with NVIDIA graphics cards.

ASUS ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN

The ASUS ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN is a much better monitor overall than the BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K, but the BenQ is still a good choice for gamers. The ASUS delivers much better picture quality, with a wider viewing angle, HDR support, and better gradient handling. On the other hand, the BenQ delivers better motion handling, with less overshoot and a faster response time, so it's a slightly better choice for esports gamers who prefer motion handling over picture quality.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved
No
Curve Radius
Not Curved

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K has a simple design with a definite gamer aesthetic. The bezels are roughly the same thickness on all four sides, which looks nice, but they're thicker and deeper than more premium models. There are two adjustable shields on either side of the monitor to keep you focused on your game. It has a few nice convenience features, including a built-in headphone hook to keep your desk organized when you're not gaming.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

The build quality is just okay. It's made entirely of plastic, and it feels a bit cheap. The plastic panels have little flex to them, which is good, and it doesn't seem likely to break. The bezels aren't properly attached to the screen, though, and on our unit, it's easy to lift them off the screen.

9.1
Design
Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
6.1" (15.5 cm)
Tilt Range
-20° to 5°
Rotate Portrait/Landscape
Yes, Clockwise
Swivel Range
-45° to 45°
Wall Mount
VESA 100x100

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K has fantastic ergonomics, so you can easily and quickly adjust it to an ideal viewing position. The height adjustment even has a ruler, so you can quickly adjust it to the perfect height depending on your needs. There's a hole in the stand for cable management.

Design
Stand
Base Width
10.2" (26.0 cm)
Base Depth
6.9" (17.5 cm)
Thickness (With Display)
5.9" (15.0 cm)
Weight (With Display)
14.2 lbs (6.5 kg)

The stand is simple, with a small, flat base, so you can easily place things in front of it or stash your keyboard when you're not gaming. The height adjustment is on an angle, so the total thickness varies depending on the height you set. The posted measurements are at the thickest position.

Design
Display
Size
25"
Housing Width
22.4" (57.0 cm)
Housing Height
13.2" (33.5 cm)
Thickness (Without Stand)
2.6" (6.5 cm)
Weight (Without Stand)
10.4 lbs (4.7 kg)
Borders Size (Bezels)
0.6" (1.5 cm)
Design
Controls

There's a joystick on the back of the monitor for navigating the monitor's on-screen display and two preset buttons on the back. There's also an external S-Switch controller that makes it even easier to navigate the menus and change settings on the fly.

Design
In The Box
Power Supply
Internal

  • Power cable
  • HDMI cable
  • DisplayPort cable
  • S-Switch
  • Monitor cover (shown here)
  • User documentation and guides

Picture Quality
6.2
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
1,131 : 1
Contrast With Local Dimming
N/A

Unfortunately, the contrast ratio is very low, so blacks look gray when viewed in a dark room. There's also no local dimming feature to improve the contrast between bright and dark areas of the screen.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

Unfortunately, this monitor doesn't have a local dimming feature. We still film this video on the monitor so you can compare the backlight performance to another monitor with local dimming.

7.7
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene
315 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
304 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
306 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
306 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
306 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
306 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
302 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
303 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
304 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
304 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
303 cd/m²
ABL
0.000
Minimum Brightness
55 cd/m²

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K has good peak brightness in SDR. It's bright enough to overcome glare, and there's very little variation in peak brightness with different scenes. The minimum brightness is a bit high, so it's not ideal for users looking to use it in a completely dark room.

These measurements are taken after calibration, in the 'Standard' Picture Mode, with the Brightness at max.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
VESA DisplayHDR Certification
No Certification
Real Scene
N/A
Peak 2% Window
N/A
Peak 10% Window
N/A
Peak 25% Window
N/A
Peak 50% Window
N/A
Peak 100% Window
N/A
Sustained 2% Window
N/A
Sustained 10% Window
N/A
Sustained 25% Window
N/A
Sustained 50% Window
N/A
Sustained 100% Window
N/A
ABL
N/A

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

6.4
Picture Quality
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
31°
Color Washout From Right
34°
Color Shift From Left
31°
Color Shift From Right
33°
Brightness Loss From Left
48°
Brightness Loss From Right
49°
Black Level Raise From Left
24°
Black Level Raise From Right
28°
Gamma Shift From Left
29°
Gamma Shift From Right
23°

Unfortunately, the horizontal viewing angle is just passable. Colors shift rapidly as you move off-center and appear noticeably washed out at a moderate angle, so it's not ideal for sharing your screen with someone sitting beside you.

5.1
Picture Quality
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
15°
Color Washout From Above
56°
Color Shift From Below
18°
Color Shift From Above
70°
Brightness Loss From Below
35°
Brightness Loss From Above
39°
Black Level Raise From Below
18°
Black Level Raise From Above
18°
Gamma Shift From Below
Gamma Shift From Above

Unfortunately, like all monitors with a TN panel, the vertical viewing angle is poor. Looking at it from above, the image fades and appears washed out, but looking at it from below, the image is completely inversed and looks bad.

6.9
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
6.226%
50% DSE
0.160%

The gray uniformity is just okay. The sides of the screen are a bit darker than the center, but there's just a bit of dirty screen effect. The top half of the screen is a bit darker than the bottom due to the poor vertical viewing angle.

6.5
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
1.669%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The black uniformity is alright. The screen is a bit cloudy throughout due to the low contrast ratio, and there's a bit of backlight bleed along the bottom edge. Sadly, there's no local dimming feature to improve this.

8.8
Picture Quality
Color Accuracy (Pre-Calibration)
Picture Mode
Standard
sRGB Gamut Area xy
95.7%
White Balance dE (Avg.)
1.56
Color Temperature (Avg.)
6,708 K
Gamma (Avg.)
2.17
Color dE (Avg.)
1.85
Contrast Setting
50
RGB Settings
100-100-100
Gamma Setting
Gamma 3
Brightness Setting
100
Measured Brightness
301 cd/m²
Brightness Locked
No

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K has excellent accuracy before calibration. The white balance is excellent, with no noticeable issues, and most colors are displayed properly. Pure blues are a bit off, but it's not noticeable. Colors aren't oversaturated, and it covers most of the sRGB gamut area without needing a dedicated sRGB mode. Gamma tracks the sRGB target curve nearly perfectly.

9.3
Picture Quality
Color Accuracy (Post-Calibration)
Picture Mode
Standard
sRGB Gamut Area xy
96.0%
White Balance dE (Avg.)
0.48
Color Temperature (Avg.)
6,479 K
Gamma (Avg.)
2.17
Color dE (Avg.)
1.16
Contrast Setting
50
RGB Settings
97-96-100
Gamma Setting
Gamma 3
Brightness Setting
15
Measured Brightness
101 cd/m²
ICC Profile
Download

The color accuracy and white balance are superb after calibration, but it doesn't make a noticeable difference on this monitor, as it was already excellent.

8.8
Picture Quality
SDR Color Gamut
sRGB Coverage xy
96.5%
sRGB Picture Mode
Standard
Adobe RGB Coverage xy
76.8%
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Standard

The SDR color gamut is excellent. It displays most of the sRGB color space used by most desktop and web content. Sadly, it can't display any of the wider range of colors supported by the Adobe RGB color space, so it's not suited for print or photo processing using this color space.

9.2
Picture Quality
SDR Color Volume
sRGB In ICtCp
95.4%
sRGB Picture Mode
Standard
Adobe RGB In ICtCp
79.7%
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Standard

The color volume is fantastic. It displays bright colors well in both the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces. In both cases, it's limited by its incomplete color gamut and can't display dark colors well due to its low contrast ratio.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
N/A
DCI-P3 Coverage xy
N/A
DCI-P3 Picture Mode
No HDR
Rec. 2020 Coverage xy
N/A
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
No HDR

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 In ICtCp
N/A
DCI-P3 Picture Mode
No HDR
Rec. 2020 In ICtCp
N/A
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
No HDR

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

7.7
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Matte
Total Reflections
5.5%
Indirect Reflections
4.2%
Calculated Direct Reflections
1.3%

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K has good reflection handling. The matte anti-reflective coating significantly reduces the intensity of direct reflections, but this adds a slight haze to the screen.

7.0
Picture Quality
Text Clarity
Pixel Type
TN
Subpixel Layout
RGB

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K has just decent text clarity. The matte coating gives text a slightly hazy look, and due to the low pixel density, text isn't very sharp, even after optimizing the Windows ClearType settings for the display (top photo).

8.4
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
8 Bit

Gradients are displayed well, with just a bit of banding in darker shades. There's noticeable 8-bit banding since this monitor can't display 10-bit gradients.

Motion
9.3
Motion
Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
360 Hz
Max Refresh Rate
360 Hz
Max Refresh Rate Over DP
360 Hz
Max Refresh Rate Over HDMI
240 Hz
Max Refresh Rate Over DP @ 10-bit
N/A
Max Refresh Rate Over HDMI @ 10-Bit
N/A

The maximum refresh rate of this monitor is only supported over DisplayPort due to the bandwidth limitations of the HDMI port on this monitor.

Motion
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)
FreeSync
Compatible (Tested)
G-SYNC
Compatible (Tested)
VRR Maximum
360 Hz
VRR Minimum
< 20 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors
DisplayPort, HDMI
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes

Although not officially certified for either AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-SYNC variable refresh rates, it works well with both. G-SYNC Compatible only works over DisplayPort, but FreeSync works properly over both connectors.

9.3
Motion
Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate
Recommended Overdrive Setting
Customize (8)
Rise / Fall Time
2.8 ms
Total Response Time
5.2 ms
Overshoot Error
0.5%
Worst 3 Rise / Fall Time
5.9 ms
Worst 3 Total Response Time
10.6 ms
Worst 3 Overshoot Error
4.5%

Overdrive SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
PremiumChartTablePhoto
HighChartTablePhoto
Customize (8)ChartTablePhoto
OffChartTablePhoto

The response time at the max refresh rate is incredible, resulting in crystal clear motion with almost no noticeable blur behind fast-moving objects. Like most gaming monitors, you can adjust the level of overdrive to optimize the motion handling to your liking. There are a few preset settings, but unlike most monitors, you can choose a custom overdrive level. A custom setting of '8' delivers the best motion experience overall, with the fastest rise/fall time and no overshoot. Higher settings deliver a faster rise/fall time, but they show more distracting overshoot artifacts and inverse ghosting.

9.0
Motion
Response Time @ 120Hz
Recommended Overdrive Setting
Customize (8)
Rise / Fall Time
2.7 ms
Total Response Time
7.8 ms
Overshoot Error
2.6%
Worst 3 Rise / Fall Time
5.8 ms
Worst 3 Total Response Time
12.4 ms
Worst 3 Overshoot Error
9.7%

Overdrive SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
PremiumChartTablePhoto
HighChartTablePhoto
CustomizeChartTablePhoto
OffChartTablePhoto

The response time at 120Hz is remarkable, delivering clear motion that looks almost as good as it does at the max refresh rate. There's slightly more overshoot when using the same settings at the max refresh rate, but it's not noticeable.

8.3
Motion
Response Time @ 60Hz
Recommended Overdrive Setting
Customize (8)
Rise / Fall Time
2.7 ms
Total Response Time
12.2 ms
Overshoot Error
2.9%
Worst 3 Rise / Fall Time
5.8 ms
Worst 3 Total Response Time
19.7 ms
Worst 3 Overshoot Error
11.2%

Overdrive SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
PremiumChartTablePhoto
HighChartTablePhoto
CustomizeChartTablePhoto
OffChartTablePhoto

The response time at 60Hz is great overall. The rise/fall time is extremely quick, as most pixels transition close to their final state quickly, but the total response time is slow, resulting in more noticeable motion blur than at faster refresh rates. The customizable overdrive setting is very convenient here, as the same '8' setting used at higher refresh rates delivers a much faster rise/fall time than the preset overdrive modes.

Motion
Backlight Strobing (BFI)
Backlight Strobing (BFI)
Yes
Maximum Frequency
360 Hz
Minimum Frequency
120 Hz
Longest Pulse Width Brightness
282 cd/m²
Shortest Pulse Width Brightness
286 cd/m²
Pulse Width Control
Limited
Pulse Phase Control
No
Pulse Amplitude Control
No
VRR At The Same Time
No

Refresh RateBFI Setting 60HzMotion Blur Photo
60HzPremiumPhoto
HighPhoto
OffPhoto
120HzPremiumPhoto
HighPhoto
OffPhoto
360HzPremiumPhoto
HighPhoto
OffPhoto

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K has a versatile backlight strobing feature, which BenQ calls DyAC+, to improve the appearance of motion. It's available across a wide range of refresh rates, nearly the full range of the monitor itself. Sadly, although you can enable it as low as 60Hz, this doesn't work, as it still flickers at 120Hz.

10
Motion
Image Flicker
Flicker-Free
Yes
PWM Dimming Frequency
0 Hz

This monitor is completely flicker-free, helping to reduce eye strain.

Inputs
9.1
Inputs
Input Lag
Native Resolution @ Max Hz
2.1 ms
Native Resolution @ 120Hz
5.2 ms
Native Resolution @ 60Hz
13.6 ms
Backlight Strobing (BFI)
3.9 ms

Thanks to its fast refresh rate, there's very little input lag when gaming, ensuring a responsive gaming experience. The input lag is noticeably higher at 60Hz, even higher than most other monitors at 60Hz, but it's not too bad.

6.7
Inputs
Resolution And Size
Native Resolution
1920 x 1080
Aspect Ratio
16:9
Megapixels
2.1 MP
Pixel Density
91 PPI
Measured Screen Diagonal
24.5"
Screen Area
255 in²

Sadly, the low resolution of this screen results in a very low pixel density, so text and images aren't very sharp.

3.0
Inputs
PS5 Compatibility
4k @ 120Hz
No
4k @ 60Hz
No
1440p @ 120Hz
No
1440p @ 60Hz
No
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
1080p @ 60Hz
Yes
HDR
No
VRR
No

Unfortunately, although the BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K supports variable refresh rate, it doesn't work with the PS5.

3.3
Inputs
Xbox Series X|S Compatibility
4k @ 120Hz
No
4k @ 60Hz
No
1440p @ 120Hz
No
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
1080p @ 60Hz
Yes
HDR
No
VRR
No

Unfortunately, although this monitor supports variable refresh rate, it doesn't work with the Xbox Series S|X.

Inputs
Inputs Photos
Inputs
Video And Audio Ports
DisplayPort
1 (DP 1.4)
Mini DisplayPort
No
HDMI
2 (HDMI 2.0)
HDMI 2.1 Rated Speed
No HDMI 2.1
DVI
No
VGA
No
Daisy Chaining
No
3.5mm Audio Out
1
3.5mm Audio In
No
HDR10
No
3.5mm Microphone In
No
Inputs
USB
USB-A Ports
0
USB-A Rated Speed
No USB-A Ports
USB-B Upstream Port
No
USB-C Ports
0
USB-C Upstream
No USB-C Ports
USB-C Rated Speed
No USB-C Ports
USB-C Power Delivery
No USB-C Ports
USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode
No USB-C Ports
Thunderbolt
No

There's a mini-USB port on the back of the monitor, but it's only for the S-Switch remote.

Inputs
macOS Compatibility

This monitor works well with recent MacBooks. Windows return to their original position when waking from sleep, and it wakes up quickly. Unfortunately, it's limited to a 240Hz refresh rate with MacBooks, but this is a limitation of macOS, not the monitor.

Features
Features
Additional Features
Speakers
No
RGB Illumination
No
Multiple Input Display
No
KVM Switch
No

This is a pretty barebones monitor with no significant additional features. There are a few picture mode modifiers like Black eQualizer, which adjusts the gamma to make it easier to spot dark details, and a blue light filter. It also comes with the S-Switch remote, making it very easy to navigate the on-screen display or switch between preset modes.

Features
On-Screen Display (OSD)