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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  • Roland00Address - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    These are monitors are usually being shipped from South Korea (if they are not shipped from South Korea then they were shipped from South Korea to a US ebay seller who then shipps it to you), they are not meant for the US so dealing with a warranty would be a pain in the ass since you would have to ship the monitor back to South Korea. It is unclear if a third party warranty such as square-trade would honor these monitors since these monitors were not meant for the US.

    All these monitors are Glossy. They use a LG S-IPS panel LM270WQ1, same one found in the Apple Cinema Display. Just because they use the same panel does not mean the rest of the monitor parts are of the same quality (PCB, Capacitors, etc)

    You need a spare monitor/pc power cord since they naturally come with the South Korean power cord. The transformer the panel uses though is both 110 and 220 so all you need is a US computer cord.

    There are several brands out there that use the same panel
    Achieva Shimian -QH270-Lite also known as QH270-IPSBS, No Glass, Speakers, No Scalar, only Dual Link DVI Input, Easy Access Vesa Mounting
    Achieva Shimian -QH270-IPSB, has tempered glass (tempered glass is unprefered since sometimes dust gets between the panel and the glass), no speakers, no scalar, only dual link dvi input

    Yamasaki Catleap Q270 There are five versions of this monitor. All these versions have a vesa mount but you must rip open the case to access it.
    4 of the versions without a scalar and only dvi-d. How these monitors differ is no glass no speakers, no glass with speakers, glass with no speakers, glass with speakers
    The 5 version has a scalar and has dvi-d, hdmi, vga, and speakers. A scalar will introduce more input lag.

    Crossover 27Q LED and 27Q LED-P. Once again no scalar only dvi d. The P version has a stand that can pivot.

    Finally there are the Motv M270LED Q7 and Pcbank 3VIEW PB2700, I do not know much of these two models and there are less user experience on these models at and hardforum.

    These monitors can have up to 5 dead pixels. If they have more than 5 dead pixels they are considered defective under South Korea consumer protection laws. That said the e-bay (re)seller will be shipping you a new item in a box, if these panels have more than 5 dead pixels you can send it back but return shipping is on you and that is about a hundred bucks. You can always pick a listing with a "pixel perfect guarantee" but that does not mean you are going to have no dead pixels, instead the e-bay seller prior to shipping you a new in box item is going to open the item count the number of dead pixels and if there is less than 5 he will send it out to you. If there is more than 5 pixels he is going to get a refund from his monitor seller.
    I want to repeat that this is not a scam but you are taking a very big risk.

    If the monitor dies, you will have no stateside US warranty. The internal components are most likely not of the same quality of the major US brands since in south korea these monitors retail for 250 to 300 US (prior to shipping.)

    If the monitor has dead pixels>5 you can get a refund but you will be the one who is paying return shipping.
  • piroroadkill - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I'm glad you added such detailed information - I still think it's probably worth the risk for almost half the cost of competing monitors from elsewhere.

    Most cheap monitors come with a 1 year warranty which is usually not much use anyway, unless you get something like a Dell with a 3 year on-site advanced-swap warranty (like my U2410, and I've used it once), then it's nothing to panic about, since you're unlikely to use the warranty in the first year anyway.
  • Tetracycloide - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    What does 'A scalar' mean in this context?
  • piroroadkill - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    A scalar would take an input and resize the video stream.

    I'm guessing without it will only do 1:1 based on the DVI input.
  • Tetracycloide - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Scalers are needed to support any non-digital, non-native resolution input. So if you want VGA or HDMI for instance, a scaler is necessary. (It's necessary for HDMI because HDMI needs to be able to accept 720p and 1080p streams as a minimum.) Because scalers handle other items, you also get an OSD (on screen display) for changing monitor settings. I don't know that I've ever seen anything 1920x1200 or lower resolution without a scaler, but for a while no one had a 2560x1600 scaler available so all the early 30" LCDs did without.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    As Piroroadkill and JarredWalton explained a scalar allows the monitor to show an input that was lower or higher to be rescaled to the screen. Many people run their monitors at some non native resolution (often to make the text bigger for they don't know how to increase DPI) because of this it is very common to see 1920x1080 monitors run at some nasty resolution such as 1024x768 or 1366x768 so that text would appear bigger. A scalar will take that 1366x768 and then stretch that input to the monitor real resolution.

    All digital monitors with vga inputs will have a built in scalar. Furthermore every monitor that has a resolution greater than 1080p that has hdmi has a scalar in it, since only hdmi 1.4 (and the monitor states its supports fast hdmi since many 1.4 devices don't implement the entire standard) can't display resolutions greater than 1920x1200. Because of this almost every monitor on the market has some form of scalar built in. Scalars kinda idiot proof computers and cause less resturns.

    Scalars do have some bad sides though because it is not a feature you can turn off. Scalars introduce more video processing into the monitor thus driving up costs as well as increasing the amount of input lag the monitor has. You get more lag even if you are driving the monitor at is native resolution. Newer scalars that are recent though are usually much better than scalars from 5 years ago.

    Most nvidia and ati cards do support gpu scalaring in their drivers (if you enable this feature), what this does is the operating system see the monitor as the desired resolution, but the video card will then resize the display and send the resized display to the monitor. Thus most hard core pc gamers that complain about input lag don't care if a high end ips don't have a scalar. If you want to plug your x-box or ps3 into your monitor you need a scalar though.

    One big deal about not having a monitor with a scalar is some video cards and some bios won't allow you to see the bios prior to windows boot since the bios is broadcast at a lower resolution. This isn't a problem when you are loaded into windows since you can use gpu scaling or use 1:1 scalaing, but it can be a PITA if you don't have a second monitor which has a built in scalar.
  • cheinonen - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    There is very little chance this panel would be reviewed for a few reasons:

    - There is no company to provide a sample for review, as there is no US Distributor
    - I'm not in the market for a 27" panel right now, so I'm not going to buy one for myself
    - Even if it performed well, with no service and support in the USA, there is no way I could feel comfortable about recommending it to a reader. It would be too much of a crap shoot to say it's worth it.

    If someone wants to take that risk and try it out then they are free to, but until it's something that is sold in the US with a company behind it, it's not something I would be writing a review of.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    This is an okay monitor if you must have LED backlighting, don't care about connectivity or OSD. Because for 30€ more, I can buy the Dell U2711 which is superior in everything, but energy consumption (because of CCFL backlight).
    I'm glad I could catch a Samsung S27A850D at 540€. Has everything I need. :-)
  • Death666Angel - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    "With no HDMI port, there are also no speakers in the HP either." That explanation is wrong. DP can transmit audio singals as well and some displays offer extra 3.5mm connectors for audio to their monitors. :-)

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