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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  • flowrush - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    "nothing even close" is wrong. There are plenty of other monitors exceeding its performance, particularly the 120hz refresh rate. I'll take an Acer GD235HZ ANY day over the zr20w. 30" is way too big for fps games I play anyhow. 'Gaming' monitors are all relative to what type of games you play. In super fast twitch fps games like Quake/Unreal/Tribes, you're going to easily notice the difference in smoothness and seeing whats going on around you during dynamic fights requiring constant 180+ degree turns. And you don't need a $2200 fw900 to get a great crt. My CPD-G520 is just as good as the fw900, except it doesn't hold the wide resolutions (un necessary for gaming, 4:3 or 8:5 is fine by many). and can be had on craigslist for less than $100. Reply
  • thunderjunk - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    The best part of the article is the Buy.com add at the top of the page. Selling this monitor for $888.99. I noticed it RIGHT after i read "... a street price that comes in at $700 or below..."

    I then immediately facepalmed.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Ha... unfortunately, we don't control the linked in ads or where the prices come from. Many places sell it for under $700, so boycott Best Buy. :-) Reply
  • Chapbass - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I know its popular to bash best buy, but thunderjunk clearly said buy.com, not best buy... Reply
  • Kjella - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Hehe I've had the same thing at our national version of pricewatch... I just searched for best prices for component X, then I get an ad out on the side offering the component for a much higher price. It's like "come to us, our prices are SO much higher". That's what you get with keyword advertising. Reply
  • ComputerGuy2006 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    id pay over 2k easily for a monitor that does 2560x1600 @120hz.

    If they can do higher resolutions on TV's or higher DPI on phones, why cant we get a legit monitor with a better res then 2560x1600 or a better refresh rate then 60hz?
    Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    That's 11Gbit/sec (24-bit color x 2560 x 1600 x 120), a lot of data to process... on a 1920x1080 TV it's only 6Gbit/sec.

    It looks like DVI does 1.65Gbit/sec per wire pair, with 3 pairs in a standard DVI cable (4.95Gbit/sec) and 6 pairs in a dual-link DVI (9.9Gbit/sec). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Visual_Interf...

    So, even a dual-link DVI cable couldn't support 2560x1600x120Hz. Looks like it's time for triple-link! :-)
    Reply
  • Juddog - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Displayport could handle it though. 17.28 Gbit/s for the newest standard. Reply
  • B3an - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    DVI???

    It's not 2005 anymore :)

    Theres Display Port 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 now. All my 2560x1600 monitors have both. And higher end AMD cards have had both as well for some time. The 6000 and 7000 series have DP 1.2 which should be able to handle 2560x1600 @ 120hz.
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    It should be able to handle 90 Hz at this resolution, though. And the panels should be able to handle it, too. Reply

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