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HP DreamColor LP2480zx review: HP DreamColor LP2480zx

HP DreamColor LP2480zx

Eric Franklin Former Editorial Director
Eric Franklin led the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.
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Eric Franklin
7 min read

It's difficult to justify buying an electronic device that costs $2,500 or more. The HP DreamColor LP2480zx costs $2,500 if you buy it directly from HP, but you can find it for $2,900-to-$3,000 from other online retailers. At those prices, only graphics professionals should consider this monitor, and it won't disappoint them.


HP DreamColor LP2480zx

The Good

The HP DreamColor LP2480zx has impeccable color reproduction and includes direct black level control.

The Bad

The HP DreamColor LP2480zx forgoes direct color and contrast controls and can't compare, featurewise, to its competitors. Its price is a pill that's hard to swallow.

The Bottom Line

The HP DreamColor LP2480zx is a performance monster that costs too much for the features it offers.

The DreamColor LP2480zx's color reproduction and black levels are easily in the same league as that of the NEC MultiSync PA271W, and it even surpasses the NEC in color saturation and screen uniformity. Unfortunately, where the LP2480zx falters is its lack of calibration options when compared with the PA271W. Thanks to its vast array of intricately detailed calibration options and lower price, the NEC MultiSync PA271W is the clear value winner from the two. However, if price is no object and performance is paramount, the LP2480zx's performance is second to none of the monitors we've reviewed.

Design and features
The 24-inch HP DreamColor LP2480zx has a thick 2.25-inch deep, dark gray panel that extends back an additional 1.4 inches to house its connection options and ventilation system, bringing the monitor's full depth to 3.65 inches. To help prevent the substantial-looking monitor from overheating, the panel has multiple vent holes on its sides, top, and bottom in addition to a vent system in the back. In total, the panel measures 22.2-inches wide.

The monitor's rectangular footstand is 12 inches wide by 8.1 inches deep . Embedded in the top portion of the stand is a circular section that extends the depth of the monitor to 10 inches from its original 8.1 inches.

The monitor's ergonomic options include a 35-degree back tilt, a 45-degree left and right swivel, a 90-degree pivot, and a 4-inch screen height adjustment. At its shortest, the screen is 1.7 inches from the desktop; it's 5.7 inches from the desktop at its tallest. The stand has an embedded hole in its neck that acts as a cable router.

Smacking the monitor from the sides, as we are known to do when we misbehave, is like hitting a brick wall. The 25.72-pound monitor hardly budges even when it is hit with a particularly strong blow.

The monitor's connection options include two DVI ports, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, a Component connection, an S-Video port, a Composite video connection, and a USB upstream port. All of the display connections are located under the monitor's back panel; on the right side are four USB downstream ports aligned vertically.

The monitor's onscreen display button array is on the lower right-hand corner of the bezel. It consists of five buttons, aligned vertically. Navigating the OSD took some getting used to; its "Enter" button was not always responsive and, frustratingly, needed to be pushed up to three times before it would register the action.

The onscreen display lets you adjust the brightness, color temperature, and black level of the screen; however, it doesn't have adjustment options for contrast or individual color. Unfortunately for HP, considering the graphic design market at which the LP2480zx is clearly targeted, the NEC MultiSync PA271W's vast array of OSD options was much more impressive.

The LP2480zx's OSD presets include Full, AdobeRGB, Rec.6.01 (a video-encoding standard), sRGB, Rec.709 (a high-definition standard), SCI-P3 Emulation, and User-7. Each preset adjusts the colors and brightness to be appropriate to the task. Also, the OSD includes several customization options and a Picture in Picture (PIP) option.

Design highlights:
Connectivity: DVI(2), HDMI, DisplayPort, Composite, Component, S-Video
Ergonomic options: 35 degree back tilt, 45 degrees swivel, 90 degree pivot, four-inch screen height adjustment range
Resolution: 1,920x1,200 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:10
Audio: None
VESA support: Yes

Feature highlights:
Included video cables? DVI(2), HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI to VGA
Backlight: LED
Panel Type: IPS
Screen film: Matte
Pixel-response rate: 6ms
Number of presets: 7
Overdrive: Yes
Picture options: Brightness and Black Level
Color controls: Direct color temperature control
Gamma control: No
Additional features: Black Level control

We tested the HP DreamColor LP2480zx through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 98 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests--the same score as both the Dell UltraSharp U2711 and NEC Multisync PA271W. Throughout our DisplayMate tests, the LP2480zx delivered nearly flawless color reproduction. In our Black Level test, the LP2480zx crushed only very dark grays and was able to display down to a level-two gray--which is two levels above true black. This indicates an optimal black level for the display. We were particularly impressed with the display's capability to present nearly 100 percent uniform backlighting and the lowest amount of backlight bleed through we've yet seen.

We saw no color problems with black text on a white background and fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size.

We tested the HP DreamColor LP2480zx using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." In the movie, we saw accurate color, with a very slight green push when viewing in the Rec.709 preset. I want to reiterate how slight the green push is. It's hardly noticeable under normal circumstances and was only visible sitting next to the Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP playing the same scene. When we switched to the Full preset, the green push was no longer noticeable. You could easily see dark image detail, such as braids in the hair of the Na'vi during a nighttime scene, on the LP2480zx.

Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft, it remains the best tool for us to use when judging color quality and vibrancy in games. The LP2480zx delivered a picture with a high level of color saturation in the default Full Preset. This gave the colors a vibrancy we've seen only on the likes of larger IPS monitors such as the Dell UltraSharp U2711 and NEC PA271W.

The LP2480zx delivered high-resolution photos with brilliant, deep, and accurate colors.

Viewing angle
The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors as the manufacturer intended them to be viewed. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when they are not viewed from optimal angles. On the other hand, IPS panels usually show only minimal color shifts with angle changes. The HP DreamColor LP2480zx has an IPS panel, and when it's viewed from the sides, we perceived the screen darkening about 15 inches off from center, which means it has more than twice as wide a viewing angle as a typical TN panel.

Recommended settings and use
For general use, viewing photos, and when playing games, we found the LP2480zx's Full preset to be the optimal picture setting. For watching movies, its Rec.709 preset was best, as long as the color temperature was adjusted to about 7,500k-8,000k.

As with most IPS-based monitors, HP gears its DreamColor LP2480zx mostly toward professional use, where accurate color reproduction is required; however, the monitor is also great for watching movies, playing games, viewing photos, and for general use.

Juice box
HP DreamColor LP2480zx Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 62.63
On (max luminance) 62.63
On (min luminance) 33.8
Sleep 1.97
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 54.13
Annual power consumption cost $20.05
Score Poor

Power consumption
The HP DreamColor LP2480zx gets a poor power consumption rating because of its Default/On energy use of 62.63 watts, compared with the NEC MultiSync PA271W's 87.79 watt use in the same test. In our Sleep/Standby test, the LP2480zx pulls 1.97 watts and the PA271W pulled a lower 1.17 watts. Based on our formula, the HP DreamColor LP2480zx would cost $20.05 a year to operate, compared with the PA271W's $27 a year.

Brightness (in cd/m2)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP DreamColor LP2480zx
HP LP3065
Dell SP2309W

DisplayMate performance test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
HP backs the DreamColor LP2480zx with a three-year, limited, parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight, which is the same great deal other vendors, such as Dell, provide. HP includes free shipping labels and in-home service, as well as support through its 24-7 toll-free number. Just be aware that the free service ends after one year and HP will charge you after that. HP's Web site offers Web chat and e-mail support that, according to the company, it replies to within an hour.


HP DreamColor LP2480zx

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 5Performance 10Support 8Setup 0