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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  • cheinonen - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    I had three 27" displays here at the time, and the HP was in the bottom for AG coating (one specifically had more) and I never found it distracting, nor did my wife when she tried it out for a few days. I think some people are more sensitive to the AG coating than others, but I'm just not that sensitive to it. Now the coating they use for passive 3D, that is almost always a deal breaker for me, much more than AG coating.
  • lid - Sunday, April 1, 2012 - link

    I agree. I also purchased a ZR2740 and almost returned it because of the insane sparkle effect from the antiglare coating. I thought my monitor was defective until I read up about it, and the consensus seems to be that all 27" monitors, except for the Apple Cinema Display which does not have an antiglare coating, exhibit this effect. I noticed a similar effect on a Dell U2711, but not quite as bad. My ZR2740 died (assumed power supply failure) and I received a replacement with the same effect, so it's not defective. After a few months I have almost become accustomed to the ZR2740 antiglare but it still bothers me for the first few seconds when I start using it. I've been using antiglare screens on MacBook Pros for years and never noticed this effect on them. I hope manufacturers start to make 27" displays with a less aggressive antiglare coating.
  • mschira - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    They are in a similar price range, so what is new?
    Also I just got a HP ZR 30w with 2560x1600 pixels for about 1000 AUD.
    So where is the barging with a 27" for 700?
  • p05esto - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    This might seem like a dumb question.... but how much heat does the fisplay give off? I work in a pretty small office (10-x10') on a second floor and it gets pretty hot in here. My current 26" monitor use CFL backlight and after a while you can really feel the heat from the front and top of the monitor (makes my face warm actually). Do the LED backlights totally eliminate the heat from the monitor?

    I'm on a quest to remove and upgrade all heat emiting items from my office such as moving the PC to another room and fishing wires through the wall, LCD tv, LED light bulbs, etc.... the monitor is next.

    If anyone could chime in on the real world difference of heat from a CFL to LED backlit monitor that would be great. Thanks.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    Just look at power consumption (watts). The efficient part is light output. For the same lumens, the difference in watts is the difference in heat.
  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    One strategy for heat reduction is to minimize ambient light, making sure there is no light falling onto the panel, so you can reduce the overall brightness level of the monitor.
  • seapeople - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    Sometimes I wonder if all the people who go on reviews of 27"+ IPS displays and moan and groan about how much it costs also go to Corvette or Porsche websites and complain about the costs there, and how they can't "justify they cost" so they're instead going to buy a Camry.

    Newsflash, if $300 is a huge sum of money to you, then don't bother reading top end monitor reviews and getting angry when you can't afford it...
  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I remember how much the Mac Portable cost, because it had an active matrix LCD. It was only monochrome and was tiny — but the screen was a huge advance, for huge money.
  • Solidstate89 - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    Is there any chance of an Anandtech review of that new 27" Samsung PLS monitor with the beautiful matte?

    I've only seen one review so far on HardwareCanucks, but they never go into as much detail as the monitor reviews here on Anandtech.
  • cheinonen - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    Review samples seem to be hard to come by, but I'm trying to get one as soon as I can. I saw one at CES, and it looked quite nice.

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