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HP Pavilion 27xi review: A simple design for simple needs

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The HP Pavilion 27xi is a sleek, affordable 27-inch monitor that easily meets simple monitor needs. That is, movie-watching, gaming, and general Web browsing as well as productivity. It's a no-frills monitor that includes the holy trinity of connections and satisfying picture customization options.

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7.6

HP Pavilion 27xi

The Good

The <b>HP Pavilion 27xi</b> features a beautiful, streamlined design, great performance, and useful screen customization options.

The Bad

The monitor feels plasticky, ergonomic options are limited, and the screen reflects sunlight something fierce.

The Bottom Line

As long as you have no advanced demands, the Pavilion 27xi will meet your basic needs with aplomb.

While the Pavilion 27xi delivers great performance for a $340 monitor, it's not the monitor to use if you have precision color-critical needs. There are a few more expensive 27-inchers better suited to those tasks. However, for those with simple needs, the 27xi doesn't disappoint.

The HP Pavilion 27xi is simple, sleek, and sexy

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Design and features
Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Apple's 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, the HP Pavilion 27xi is aesthetically striking at first glance. The 27-inch monitor features a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution and an incredibly glossy IPS-based (in-plane switching) screen. The monitor's chassis acts as its outer skeleton with the screen panel encased inside and as cool and sleek as the 27xi looks, upon touching it, there's no doubt that it's made primarily of plastic. The bezel measures 0.5 inch, while the width of the chassis checks in at 24.5 inches. At its thinnest the panel's depth measures 0.6 inch; an incredibly thin value given the screen size.

The monitor features a 20-degree back tilt, but no pivot or screen height adjustment. There's also no swivel, but the panel slides around so easily, that the lack of one isn't of any great concern. The foot stand is 7.8 inches wide and 7.6 inches deep, but the display does wobble quite a bit when knocked from the sides. The connections face back and include HDMI, DVI, and VGA. The monitor also feels incredibly light for its size, weighing 11.5 pounds.

Josh Miller/CNET

Anyone familiar with HP's OSD (onscreen display) design, won't find many surprises here. Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness are present. Also included are six presets: Enhance+, Movie, Gaming, Text, Photo, and Custom. Three color temperature options are included: Warm, Cool, and Standard (somewhere in between warm and cool). RGB color controls are also included, allowing for the fine-tuning of red, green, and blue.

The OSD array is located in the lower right corner and consists of five horizontally aligned buttons. Each button is represented by a white LED that turns off when not in use. The far left button activates the menu, followed to the right by the auto-adjust (usable only in VGA), Quick View/Minus, Source/Plus, and Enter buttons with the power button at the far right. Navigating the OSD takes some getting used to. I wouldn't call the interface clunky; it's just not as intuitive as it could be. The power button sits directly to the right, and when powered on a turquoise power light glows in the lower right bezel.

Josh Miller/CNET

Edge-to-edge or edge-to-bezel?
AT CES 2013, HP told me that an edge-to-edge display was one of the many features of the Pavilion 27xi, but apparently, edge-to-edge doesn't mean what I think it means. At least not as I define it. In my head edge-to-edge simply means no visible bezel. Or at least, the minimalist of bezels and the 27xi clearly features a bezel. It's a thin bezel to be sure, but there's no denying that its screen doesn't quite stretch to the chassis's edge.

Design and feature highlights
Connectivity: HDMI, DVI, VGA
Ergonomic options: 25-degree back tilt
Resolution: 1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Audio: n/a
VESA wall-mount support: No
Included video cables: DVI, VGA
Backlight: LED
Panel type: e-IPS
Screen film: Glossy
Number of presets: 5
Overdrive: No
Picture options: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness
Color controls: RGB and 3 color temperature options
Gamma control: No
Additional features: Enhance+

Performance

I tested the HP Pavilion 27xi through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC with the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 98 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.

DisplayMate: The Pavilion 27xi displayed light gray up to level 254. Level 255 is considered white, and every level between it and 1 is a variation of gray. The 27xi's performance here indicates that the display will likely not be prone to washing out light colors. As for dark gray, the 27xi displayed down to level 2 while still maintaining a very deep black, indicating that the display is capable of a very low black level.

Josh Miller/CNET

The monitor excelled in nearly all of our color-scaling tests, which evaluate how smoothly it displays different shades of various colors. The 27xi yielded very few color abnormalities in these tests.

Text: Black text on white looked clear, without any obvious color tint problems. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size.

Josh Miller/CNET

Movies: I tested the HP 27xi using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The Movie preset looks too grainy, especially when close to the screen, which, if you're using the 27xi as a monitor, you will likely be when watching movies. It does look better the farther away you are from the screen, and its colors are definitely more accurate and less saturated than the other presets. Curiously, although a bit softer, I found the Text preset best suited for movies at close range, especially since it allows you to alter the color.

Josh Miller/CNET

Games: When evaluating the look of games on a monitor, the two most important features to consider are vibrancy and color. If the monitor can display games with a bright and vibrant cleanness, this goes a long way. If colors also pop with fullness and depth, games will usually look great.

Dragon Age II and Crysis 2 on the HP 27xi in the Gaming preset had high vibrancy with colors that popped suitably. However, like the Movie preset, the dreaded sickly greenish tint reared its ugly head, but can be alleviated with the settings I recommend above.

Josh Miller/CNET

To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and stared at a number of colored blocks as they moved around the screen at various speeds.

Viewing angle
The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually from directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the monitor's panel type, picture quality at suboptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.

The 27xi uses an IPS panel and sports viewing angles much wider than what TN panels usually display, especially when viewed from the bottom. It's unclear exactly what type of IPS panel it uses, but I'll be sure to update the review when I find out.

Josh Miller/CNET

The merits of antiglare (AG) screen coating are much debated these days. Some viewers prefer the coating not be applied at all, while others favor only a limited amount. And others are completely indifferent. AG coating doesn't adversely affect a monitor's quality, and its benefits or lack thereof are strictly a question of preference.

That said, there is a heavy AG coating on the HP 27xi's screen, reducing potential reflections while keeping very little of the contrast "pop" that glossy screens enjoy. A fully glossy display can increase the perceived contrast of a monitor screen -- which some people prefer -- but can also make it difficult to see what's on the screen in direct sunlight.

Power consumption
The HP Pavilion 27xi achieved good power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 29.2 watts. The Asus VG278H drew a much higher 46.8 watts in the same test.

In our Sleep/Standby test, the 27xi drew 0.39 watt and the VG278H pulled a higher 0.48 watt. Based on our formula, the 27xi would incur nearly half the cost of the VG278H, with a per-year pull of $8.98 per year, compared with the VG278H's $14.47 per year.

Performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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

Contrast
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

HP 27xi
591:1

Juice box
HP 27xi Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 29.2
On (max luminance) 30.7
On (min luminance) 10.2
Sleep 0.39
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 25.8
Annual power consumption cost $8.98
Score Good

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Conclusion
At $340, the Pavilion 27xi is a great deal as long as your needs are simple. For tasks that require pinpoint color precision however, there are more appropriately advanced options available.

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7.6

HP Pavilion 27xi

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8Support 8