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Gateway XHD3000 Monitor (30-inch) review: Gateway XHD3000 Monitor (30-inch)

The Good A truckload of connections and extras; impressive performance in sharpness and color tests; sharp picture quality with DVD and Blu-ray playback.

The Bad Built-in sound gets distorted at high volumes; its look is somewhat clunky with the speaker bar attached; a tad expensive.

The Bottom Line Although it costs more than competing 30-inch LCDs, the Gateway XHD3000 goes a long way toward justifying its high price with a long list of features and outstanding performance.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Support 7

A 30-inch LCD from any of the handful of vendors that sell such a monitor--Apple, Dell, HP, Gateway, and Samsung--will set you back some. The Gateway XHD3000 is one of the more expensive models in this class of LCD, with a list price $1,699. It can be found online for $100 or $200 less than list, but the Samsung SyncMaster 305T, by comparison, carries a list price of $1,329 and can be found for as low as $1,200 at the time of this writing. The Gateway XHD3000 earns its high price, however, by serving up a huge list of features, including DVI, HDMI, component-, and composite-video connections, as well as built-in speakers and an optical audio jack. The Gateway XHD3000 also impressed us with its incredible viewing angle, smooth and sharp DVD and Blu-ray playback, and a deep color palette. The Samsung SyncMaster 305T proved itself to be an excellent performer as well, which means you should spend extra for the Gateway XHD3000 only if you need the additional video and audio features.

The Gateway XHD3000 is basically a 30-inch version of the "fairly sleek looking" 24-inch Gateway FHD2400 that we reviewed a few weeks back--with some key differences. This time the one-inch thick bezel is not a glossy black but a dark gray with a matte finish. The bezel is offset by a silver metal overlay that runs along the bottom with Gateway's logo on it. The screen rotates 30 degrees to the left and right, but there is no option to adjust the height. The screen tilts back 30 degrees as well, but it does not pivot as the FHD2400 does.

The speaker bar--optional on the 24-inch model--is included with the display this time and easily attaches to the bottom of the bezel. With this you are able to listen to audio from your PC--or whatever HD device you have hooked up--solely through your display. The footprint of the stand is 9 inches deep and 14.8 inches wide at the front of the display. The stand feels sturdy, and the display never feels wobbly, even after giving your desk a good bump. Adding style points to the XHD3000 are the power and onscreen display (OSD) menu buttons lit by a cool, blue LED on the bottom-right side. Overall, like its little brother, this is a fairly sleek-looking monitor that looks just a bit clunky with the speaker bar attached.

The screen has a normal matte finish, forgoing the glossy finish of its smaller brother. We sometimes prefer the glossy screen when watching movies or playing games, but in the case of the XHD3000, we found that the images were always smooth and sharp with none of the distracting glare or reflections generated by a glossy screen coating.

The OSD includes brightness controls, some audio controls, and the ability to choose which video input you wish to use. There are no contrast or color controls within the OSD. This is due to a technical limitation where the scalar processor within the display cannot process video when the resolution is set to 2,560x1,600. So instead of using the scalar processor, the image bypasses it and goes directly to the panel. The only control that the panel allows is backlight control which allows you to change the brightness.

Once you install the EZTunes software, however, you can change the contrast and color options--the software accesses your graphics card's controls for those options. The EZTunes software does not include support for any preset video modes though. Ironically, one of the things that brought music to our ears was the lack of the menu chime that annoyed us every time we made a selection in the OSD on the FHD2400. Also, the OSD is displayed for more than enough time to make sure you are satisfied with whatever brightness or audio changes you've made before it disappears.

Manufacturer's specs:
Resolution: 2,650x1,600
Pixel-response rate: 6ms
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Connectivity: DVI, VGA, HDMI, Composite, Component, S-Video, USB, Optical audio
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI (dual link), VGA, Remote control, IR Blaster

The Gateway XHD3000 has some of the most extensive connection options we've yet seen is a display of any size. These options include the usual suspects, DVI and VGA, plus basic S-Video and composite-video connections. In addition, you get component and HDMI for your HD needs. All of the video ports include corresponding audio ports as well. There's even an optical audio out option, which the FHD2400 lacked. The only thing missing here that we could think of is a DisplayPort and a second DVI port, both of which can be found on the Dell 2408WFP. Inclusion of these would have gone toward better justifying the high $1,699 price. Also included are a total of six USB upstream ports--four included in a built-in hub on the back of the panel and two on the left side--and one downstream port, as well as a headphone port. The display also comes with an IR blaster for use with its own remote control. The remote can be programmed to work with a number of DVD players, satellites, and Media Center PCs. When watching a DVD through your desktop's video player, however, you'll only be able to control the volume remotely.

Thanks to its very high 2,560x1,600 native resolution, you're able to watch 1080p video without the image being stretched. In order to run the display at its native 2,560x1,600 resolution, however, you need two things. The first is a dual-link video cable, which Gateway provides, and the other is a high-end video card such as the ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 or the Asus EN9800GX2. If for some reason you don't have a high-end video card or a dual-link cable, the resolution will be capped at 1,920x1,200.

Obviously, the display is not really wanting for features, and it easily trounces in the Samsung SyncMaster 305T in this department. The Samsung has only one DVI port, four USB ports, and nothing else as far as connection options go.

The Gateway XHD3000 performed extremely well on our DisplayMate-based labs tests, tying the Samsung SyncMaster 305T as the highest rated display we've yet to test with a composite score of 92. As the Samsung did before it, the Gateway XHD3000 aced our color and sharpness tests. Our color tracking test, which measures the amount of red, green, or blue visible in a display while it's showing the grayscale, could not stump the Gateway as it showed no signs of either color during the test. This indicates that the Gateway will not have any off-tints when showing different shades of gray.

The Gateway could not keep up with the company's claims of brightness and contrast in our tests. Gateway claims a brightness of 400cd/m2 (candelas per meters squared), but in our tests it was only able to muster up 348cd/m2. We expected more from such a high-end display--its score cannot compete with Gateway's own FHD2400's score of 412cd/m2. It also trailed slightly behind the Samsung SyncMaster 305T, which scored 355cd/m2 in brightness, though both were very close, so that relative brightness levels should not be a determining factor if you're deciding between these two 30-inch displays.

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