The 27-inch HP 2709m offers a larger screen than the 25.5-inch HP w2558hc, but that's about the only advantage the display has over the latter. The 2709m exhibited worse performance in games and movies and has fewer features, and a slightly lower 1,920x1,080 resolution compared with the w2558hc's 1,920x1,200. The w2558hc is more expensive at $480 on Amazon, but it can be found at other online retailers for about $100 less. HP sells the 2709m for $425 direct, but again, you can find it for less (around $350) through other retailers. If you're in the market for a large-screen display, and unless a 16:9 aspect ratio is important to you, we recommend the HP w2558hc over the 2709m, thanks to its abundance of features that the 2709m mostly lacks.
Design and features
The HP 2709m's black bezel and 27-inch screen are strikingly glossy and, not surprisingly, fingerprint magnets. The bezel measures 1.1 inches on all sides while the uniquely designed panel that sits behind it protrudes a quarter of an inch from the right, left, and top. The display's full width is 26 inches, slightly longer than the HP w2558hc's 24.5 and the Planar's PX2611w's 23.5 inches. The HP's panel is 3.5 inches deep from bezel to back and the bottom of the panel sits 1.5 inches above the desktop. The back of the monitor is smooth and curves toward the front.
The rectangular, metallic-silver footstand is smooth to the touch, measuring 7.75 inches by 8.25 inches. It wobbles quite a bit when knocked from the sides. Although the panel doesn't swivel independently of the stand, the stand rests on a small "button" on the bottom of the footstand, which protrudes slightly. This small button, which allows the whole display to rotate 360 degrees, is a useful, low-cost way of implementing swiveling. Connection options--HDMI, DVI, and VGA--are fairly easy to access. In the neck of the display is a useful hole to route the cords and keep them tidy.
The panel extends another inch from the bottom of the bezel and houses the onscreen display (OSD). The transparent power button on the far right glows turquoise when powered on and there are four OSD buttons aligned from left to right: Menu, Audio/Volume down, Source/Volume up, and OK/Auto. Unfortunately, the interface is not as intuitive as we'd like. The Source button also doubles as volume up, but to increase the volume you must press the audio button before you adjust the volume. The execution is clunky and we'd prefer a simpler method. The OSD buttons, while clearly labeled, are located on the bottom of the panel out of view. Yet, the buttons are tactile and they give a satisfying click when pushed.
The OSD menu includes controls for brightness, contrast, and color temperature--including sRGB--and you can adjust the custom color by changing the red, green, and blue values individually. There is a Quick View menu that includes four presets: Movie, Photo, Gaming, and Text, in addition to custom. The Quick View menu, however, lacks a shortcut, so you're forced to dig two levels deep within the OSD. Also included is a sharpness control that allows you to select from five different levels. Adjusting it below the third level caused Web sites to look rather blurry, but the fourth and fifth levels produced a crisp, clear look. We didn't notice a difference in quality when we adjusted sharpness during movies, but we recommend a setting of at least 3 for games. Also, there's a Video Overdrive option. By sending out bursts of voltage to the liquid crystals that increase the crystal's transitions speeds, Overdrive can effectively reduce the amount of noticeable ghosting effects. In our tests, turning it on made no difference in the amount of ghosting in movies or games, so we can't say that the feature actually does anything useful nor did we see a difference in power consumption.
Located in the upper-right-hand corner of the HP's bezel is a useful ambient light sensor. The light sensor increases or decreases the brightness of the display, which grows darker with little ambient light and lighter with more--useful in a room that gets lots of sunlight. (You can disable the sensor via the OSD.)
The HP 2009m includes built-in speakers on the bottom rear corners of the display. The speakers produce a low volume and muffled sound during dialogue scenes in movies, but had a decent volume when playing music. Also, the sound lacks bass and unfortunately there is no way to adjust this.
The HP 2709m's 16:9 aspect ratio supports a "Full HD" native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels. This continues the trend of many monitor vendors moving toward 16:9 from 16:10 to accommodate high-definition content--in particular 1080p movies--which can fit, full screen, onto a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen without distorting the image. The 27-inch 2709m's 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution is actually less than the smaller 16:10 25.5-inch HP w2558's,1,920x1,200. While we don't consider this a huge detriment to its quality, it may disappoint some users.