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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  • paohyean - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Nice monitor..
    I own a U2311H and I like the included USB Hub..
    I just attach my webcam, Bluetooth key and wireless keyboard/mouse receiver onto it..
    Reduces a lot of the cable clutter..
  • EnzoFX - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    The first/early HP 30" displays did the same thing with handling the input, I don't think it scaled though. Anyways, it made for great low input lag. I remember it being one of the lowest if not the lowest for IPS displays, and probably still is, since now you have pretty advanced features and scaling stuff. I love the idea of this. I suppose I could simply rely on something else when I really need input flexibility. I only dislike the bezel HP uses =P.
  • EnzoFX - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    *since you have more advanced features/input handling/scaling stuff these days... I meant to say.
  • darkswordsman17 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Comes with caveats though (eBay sellers, they ship from Asia, so returns/exchanges are gonna be a pain), but seems most people are having pretty good experiences.
  • Zoomer - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Also a lower binned panel (A-) vs A++.
  • ypsylon - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Running it for some time now. Bought it for equivalent of 830 USD but that is the problem with products coming from USA to Europe. Oh joys... ;p

    Best LCD I ever owned. The only problem I can't find with it is too high lumination - 380cd. Far too much for IPS matrix. 250 cd should be more than enough. Despite that I still love it. Lack of OSD - not an issue after calibration. Running it at lowest lumination. 99.9% imaginable task can be done at this settings. But when you crank up brightness (if you doing CAD or 3D modeling) then it hurts eyes, still it is better than 30" model from the same family which uses CCFL not LED. I was split between Dell 27" and this little beast. Went with HP for 3 main reasons: LED not CCFL, smaller power drain, pivot. For those who whining that matrix is too slow for gaming blah, blah, blah. Have you ever played with monitor equipped with matrix different than TN? 10-12ms on IPS with 1000:1 is perfect matrix. Never, not once noticed any problem with that setup. Games, movies, job. It deals perfectly with anything I can think of. Response time is important with TN. While marketing slogans on TN shout : Response time: FTL or Contrast ratio: 958000000:1. That stuff is only for idiots. Like I said. HP ZR2740w is excellent, not perfect, but still supremely fine product. I'm not a person who will whine about it being 16:9 and not 16:10. A non-issue for me, and I never was interested in 120Hz model.
  • JohnBooty - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    "The only problem I can't find with it is too high lumination - 380cd. Far too much for IPS matrix. 250 cd should be more than enough."

    Do LED backlights get dimmer over time, like CCFL backlights?

    With CCFLs, you definitely want to buy one with more illumination than you'll ever need, since the maximum brightness will fade considerably over time - the 300cd CCFL monitor you buy today might only be able to produce 200cd after a few years of heavy use.

    But I'm unclear as to whether this is an issue with LED backlighting.
  • Tetracycloide - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    LEDs definitely fade over time. They're supposed to last longer than CCFLs though but I'm not sure what that means in terms of illumination. Assuming they fade at the same rate relative to their lifespan it means LEDs will fade but fade more slowly but that's a pretty big assumption. Your guess is probably as good as mine but I can say for certain that LEDs do fade.
  • Swirlser - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    My apple 30s are 6 or 7 years old now, so those res's have been around quite a bit more than a few years.

    Pretty cheap looking and performing monitors, but I guess they are priced as such. So an adequate option for those not pushed on finer details.

    (wish apple didn't stop making the 30s, hate to think that a decade on when I need new monitors I'll possibly be downsizing!)
  • Tchamber - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I have this unit's little brother, the ZR24, and I love it. Viewing angles are great from this line. I do like that mine has an OSD, though. I think it's funny that the OP said it's too much money for a 16:9 monitor, when it has much more resolution than 99.9% of monitors out there :) people always say 1920x1080 is too little, now 1440 is too little too...

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