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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  • xenol - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Was it wrong of me to think "doesn't break the bank" immediately meant <$500? Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    1. The built-in resolution scaling.

    How does it compare with the scaling available in (for instance) nVidia graphics-card when driving digital displays over a DVI connection. Does 1920x1080 sent to the monitor look the same whether the scaling is done by the monitor or the graphics-card?

    What about non-16:9 aspect-ratios; what happens if you send it a 1600x1200 signal? Is the aspect-ratio kept at 4:3 (so black bars down the sides) or does it stretch it to fill the whole screen? Can it handle 1280x1024, 1280x960, 1152x864, and also 640x480, and are they all displayed 4:3 or stretched to fill the 16:9 display?

    2. Monitor calibration

    Is the hardware/software for this available to hire, given it is quite expensive, is a one-off process for any monitor, and monitors tend to last for years?
    Reply
  • arjuna1 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    At a $700 price point?? a little early April's fool joke, huh? Reply
  • cheinonen - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Just to address a lot of the comments at once, pricing on anything is relative. If all you can afford for a monitor is $300, then no matter how good a $700 monitor is, its going to cost too much. However, when all the existing 2560x1440 IPS displays (I'm not counting things that aren't sold in the USA) list for $1,000 or over, and someone comes in at $700, that is breaking the bank, relatively speaking. Any IPS/VA panel of this size, with this resolution, is going to be expensive at this point, but having one come out at $700 is a good move in the right direction. Reply
  • bji - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Your post is accurate, except that I think you misunderstood the meaning of the phrase "breaking the bank". It means "costing too much", not "breaking a price barrier" which is what you seem to think it means. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    But cost is surely always related to performance, is it not? By your argument, paying $15 for a steak would be breaking the bank, because I can get a hamburger for $5. However, the OP and I would say that, because steaks normally cost $25, the price of this steak is pretty reasonable.
    Therefore I say, "breaking the bank" always has to be a relative statement, because otherwise you couldn't buy anything about 500$ without "breaking the bank", which makes the saying useless.
    Reply
  • Owls - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I have the HP ZR30W which I got last year and it's a phenomenal monitor. Well worth the $1k pricetag if you can swing it and I'm glad this one doesn't disappoint either. Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Does Delta E improve after software calibration, such as the nvidia color optimization wizard, or Calibrize? These tools are excellent, and I use them on every computer I use. I'm just curious if they lower Delta E. Reply
  • sellco2000 - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    I'm surprised no one mentioned the anti-glare on this monitor. I have a ZR2740 (and absolutely love it), but the anti-glare coating made text fuzzy for me. Maybe I was used to the non-IPS and larger pixel pitch of my prior monitors. I had to add an aftermarket anti-reflective sheet to it to make text sharp again. I feel like the choice of such an aggressive anti-glare was an almost deal-breaking flaw.

    As far as the review went, I thought it was spot on. The color profiles matched pretty well with what I was able to get with my "I one color display 2" device. I think the simplicity is a huge advantage with this monitor (no speakers, no OSD, etc).
    Reply
  • pmeinl - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    For me the aggressive anti-glare coating of all current IPS panels I have seen makes them unusable for text work (like programming).
    I just bought a Samsung S27A850D (2560x1440, 730€ in Germany) which has a subtle anti-glare coating that does not cause the sparkle effect.

    See http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1660116
    Reply

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