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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  • Death666Angel - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    And another thing: "High gamut displays running sRGB content can sometimes look oversaturated if your applications aren't color space aware." Most WCG monitors offer sRGB modes. My old HP w2408h does, the Dell U2711 does, most NEC and Eizos do....
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    But with no OSD or scaler, obviously there's no color mode select.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Yes, but the statement in the review makes it sound as if that is a problem with all WCG monitors. Of course it doesn't apply to this model, because it doesn't even have WCG to begin with. But saying this is a plus because WCG monitors are oversaturated when most offer perfectly fine sRGB modes in their standard-OSD sounds to me like someone is looking for ways to promote this mediocre monitor. :-)
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I reviewed quite a few wide color gamut monitors back in the day that lacked an sRGB mode. Laptops with wide color gamut often have this issue as well (Dell Studio XPS 16 RGB LED for example). But before you try to imply that we are saying all WCG have problems, let's just look at the article text:

    "For many users, [77% gamut is] 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.)"

    *Could* be seen as a plus, *sometimes* look oversaturated. In other words, it depends on the specific monitor and settings available, as well as the intended use.
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    A better way to state it is:

    Like most displays on the market, it only has a standard gamut white LED backlight, so it is listed as being able to display 99.9% of the sRGB color space and 77.2% of the Adobe RGB space. The sRGB space is the smallest gamut standard for display purposes, although it is the dominant space for general computing at this time. The Adobe RGB space is larger, but few games offer Adobe RGB content and it is generally limited to specific professional and prosumer usage, such as high-quality printing, photography, and art. General-purpose monitors that offer coverage beyond sRGB should have an effective sRGB emulation mode to avoid oversaturated colors when viewing sRGB content, such as most of the web. Some monitors, such as the Dell U2410, offer accurate sRGB emulation modes.
  • bryanlarsen - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Awesome, these monitors pivot, which is rare for monitors this large. Two of them set up in portrait mode would make an awesome crazy dual screen setup!
  • kasakka - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Since you'll be relying on color profiles for accurate colors, I'm guessing by the time you open any app that doesn't support them (mainly games) you will have tinted colors. I don't know how bad it is with factory settigns, but my Dell 3008WFP is pretty awful if you don't use a custom calibration setting set with the OSD.
  • hechacker1 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    It depends on the game, but most games that use fullscreen will reset your LUT and mess up the color calibration.

    It's unfortunate, since the games don't have to do that, but they all seem to do it.

    However, there are software work-arounds. My spyder 3 comes with a utility that loads the icc profile every minute just for that reason.

    Or you can use DisplaycalGUI to load the profile on demand. Most games will only clear the LUT when they launch, so you can just reload the profile after.
  • PPalmgren - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    You know, a lot of people are still skeptical of input lag and I can say for certain that it is a factor having bought an S-PVA panel around 2006/7. While you show all the theoretical factors to these skeptics, I have an idea for a somewhat objective real-world performance test that you could show people, and also manage to have a little fun in the meantime.

    Ever play those clicky games where you have to click things rapidly? Play them 10 times, alternating, on a very high input lag monitor then on a low input lag monitor. Avarage the scores, and you might be surprised. I'd actually be willing to do this and am curious now that I thought of it. My desk has a 24' TN panel for games and a 24' S-PVA panel beside it. The lag on the PVA panel was the determining factor for me buying my TN panel. As someone with a past as a competitive gamer, I wonder if my scores will show any validity?
  • Southernsharky - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    300 is about as much as I will pay for a monitor.

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