Introduction

Almost 15 years ago I set up my first multiple monitor system, using a 17” and a 15” CRT. At that time it was a very uncommon setup, but now it seems that many people use multiple displays to manage their workspace. No matter how many displays you hook up, there are always some things that benefit from having a single, large, high resolution desktop, such as the spreadsheets that I use for doing display reviews.

27” and 30” displays with 2560 horizontal pixels have been available for a few years now, though the pricing on them has been very high that whole time. Sometimes you can find a display on sale and pick it up for a reasonable price, but typically the cost of entry seems to be right around $1,000 and up. Because of this people are still likely to buy two, or even three, 1920x1200 displays for the same price and run a multi-monitor desktop.

We finally have our first real affordable 27”, high resolution display on the market now, and it comes courtesy of HP. The HP ZR2740w is a 27” IPS panel with 2560x1440 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio) and an LED backlighting system. With a street price that comes in at $700 or below, what has HP done to be able to bring a high resolution display to the masses at a price well below other vendors? Thankfully, they provided me with a unit so I could evaluate it and see.

Design, OSD, and Viewing Angles

Since my usual desktop monitor is a lowly 20” Dell widescreen, unpacking and throwing the HP on my desk in its place was quite a difference. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the HP still has a stand with tilt, swivel, pivot, and height adjustments. When 24” monitors that are value priced, or even $300, are leaving these out it is quite nice to see on a value priced 27” display. The front of the display has four buttons: Power, Brightness +/-, and Source.

Once you look for the inputs to hook the display up you get your first clue as to how HP shaved the price on this display. The only inputs available are a Dual-Link DVI and a DisplayPort. For people that want to use their monitor for gaming or watching movies, there is no HDMI port available. With no HDMI port, there are also no speakers in the HP either. I was a little bit surprised that they still have the standard USB 2.0 hub with four ports available, as that seems like another item that could be cut to save a bit on costs, but I was happy to have it available.

Once you go to adjust the brightness, you’ll notice something about the OSD on the HP in that there isn’t one. There is no menu system either. The only adjustment available to the end user is a single brightness control that has no on screen setting. There is also no LUT inside of the monitor to help for correcting the color, but that wasn’t much of a surprise either. With no OSD, there are no color presets, no dynamic contrast or enhanced response modes, nothing beyond what you have as a standard. There is also no way to control the aspect ratio so if you feed the HP with a signal other than 2560x1440 you will have it scaled automatically and there is no way to adjust that. Because of this lack of an OSD, having the necessary hardware and software to perform your own calibration might be a little more important with the HP. In a sense, it's a bit of a throwback to the early 30" LCDs, except now there's a DisplayPort connection in addition to the DL-DVI.

Despite the loss of all these features, the HP does have the specs that many of us are looking for: 2560x1440 resolution and an IPS panel that is listed at supporting 10-bits per pixel with A-FRC (8-bit native), and has a native gamma of 2.2. It only has a standard gamut LED lighting system, so it is listed as being able to do 99.9% for the sRGB color gamut but only 77.2% of the Adobe RGB gamut. For many users, that's actually not a problem and could even be seen as a plus. (High gamut displays running sRGB content can sometimes look oversaturated if your applications aren't color space aware.) So now that we have an idea of what HP had to do in order to hit this price point, did the performance suffer from these choices? Here's a quick overview of the specs and then we'll get into the evaluation portion of the review.

HP ZR2740w
Video Inputs DisplayPort, DualLink DVI
Panel Type IPS (8-bit native, 10-bit A-FRC)
Pixel Pitch 0.233mm
Colors 1.07 Billion
Brightness 380 nits
Contrast Ratio 1000:1
Response Time 14ms typical, 12ms GTG
Viewable Size 27"
Resolution 2560x1440
Viewing Angle 178 degrees H/V
Backlight LED edgelit
Power Consumption (operation) 95W typical, 120W maximum
Power Consumption (standby) < 2W
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height-Adjustable Yes
Tilt Yes
Pivot Yes
Swivel Yes
VESA Wall Mounting Yes, 100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 25.4" x 9.3" x 21.26"
Weight 23.1 lbs.
Additional Features 4 port USB 2.0 hub
Limited Warranty Three Years
Accessories DualLink DVI Cable, DisplayPort cable, power cable, USB cable
Price $729 MSRP;
Starting at $633 online

Despite the large panel, viewing angles are very nice on the HP as you can see. To see much of a brightness shift you had to be very far off angle, and I had no issues at all with normal use.

Color Quality
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  • Snowshredder102 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    These monitors have been floating around the $700 price range for some time now. Not a fan of a 16:9 monitor for that price, this monitor also has terrible response time for anyone that plays any games. I don't see anything really special about this. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Please define "terrible", because in my experience less than a frame of lag is nothing. I have an older S-PVA (Dell 2408WFP) with about three frames of lag. My personal threshold is around 20ms before it starts getting bad, relative to an S-IPS 30" display. Based on Chris' measurements I would guess I could get away with ~35ms delay relative to a CRT.

    As for your comment in regards to price, you're smoking something:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Sub...

    $600 27" LCDs have been around for a long time, but they were all 1920x1080 or maybe 1920x1200. If you can provide links to any other 2560x1440 27" displays with IPS panels that cost less than $700, let's see them. I can't recall ever seeing anything like that for this price, outside of the HP ZR2740w.
    Reply
  • Snowshredder102 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I've heard people claim that an input lag above 10 starts getting bad. As for the price you're looking at FULL retail. I've seen these monitors for sale on a number of places. My U3011 has an MSRP of $1500, I bought it for $1150 on sale and during that time the u2711 was at $750. I've seen brand new HP 2560x1440 IPS monitors for $650. Sales come by decently often, you just have to put some effort in scoping out deals. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    A periodic sale is one thing, a normal price is another. The ZR2740w might go on periodic sales for under $550 given the current MSRP. It's good to see the base price well under $1000 for one of these displays for a change. Reply
  • esse09 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Hello Jarred,
    the U2711 retails for the same price as the ZR2740w.
    Based on your own reviews i'd say you should suggest picking the Dell monitor instead of this one as far as bang for the buck is concerned. What do you think?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    It depends what you're after, really. The U2711 currently goes for more like $830+ based on what I can find:

    http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx...

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0039648BO

    That's a full $200 more than what we can find the ZR2740w selling for, and it's not all sunshine and roses for the U2711. It has excellent colors, more connectivity options... and more input lag/processing lag. Tom's Hardware measured lag at 98ms (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ultrasharp-u27... but I measured it at just 16-18ms (http://www.anandtech.com/show/2922/4). I'm not sure which is "right", so I'll leave that to you.

    If you don't need the extra inputs or high color gamut, and you'd prefer to save $200, I'd take the HP. If you can get the Dell on sale for $630, however, I'd probably go that route.
    Reply
  • Mitch89 - Sunday, March 18, 2012 - link

    I'm a big fan of the U2711, I've used two of them on a video editing suite I built and they are gorgeous. They are AU$899 here in Australia, and despite the fact they cost more here than the US (despite our dollar being higher...) they are easily worth the money. Reply
  • Ramiliez - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Magical number for 60Hz panels is 16,7 ms

    Common monitor refresh rate is 60Hz that means every 16,7 ms image is refreshed therefore response time (crystal color change + input lag) below 16,7 ms is useless

    For 120Hz panels the magic number is 8,3 ms
    Reply
  • mathew7 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Please don't confuse refresh rate and input lag.
    Input lag means the time for a pixel on the wire to be shown on screen. If a monitor waits for a whole image before refreshing it's panel, then yes, you will have 16ms input lag. But this will be for the top-left pixel. The bottom-right will be less, as the panel refresh nowadays is much faster than accepted refresh rate.

    And 0 input+processing lag is desireable for any fast-paced action. It's not useless, it's ideal. And don't forget also the rendering time.

    PS: your comparison is like saying that if your car's top speed is 100mph, then there is not reason for you to drive more than 100 miles.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Input lag is only as bad as the person who uses the monitor notices.

    I have a U2410 24inch and don't notice a difference in gaming with it vs a 120hz monitor.
    Reply

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