HP ZR2740w review: HP ZR2740w

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MSRP: $899.00

The Good The HP ZR2740w's pixel-packing 2,560x1,440 resolution makes high-end PC games look incredible. The monitor also includes the full gamut of ergo options and plenty of USB ports. At $700, it's the cheapest way to get an extreme-definition (XD) monitor onto your desktop.

The Bad With no included OSD, picture customizations are limited to brightness. Also, a single DVI and one DisplayPort are all the connections you get.

The Bottom Line The HP ZR2740w sacrifices customization to deliver a powerful monitor at a reasonable price.

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7.9 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

With no customization options (aside from brightness), the HP ZR2740w requires you to accept it as is. However, is its price-to-performance ratio high enough to make its lack of options worth dealing with?

Design and features
Based on its thick, sturdy body, the astute among you might be able to quickly determine the panel type of the HP ZR2740w. Unsurprisingly, the monitor houses an in-plane switching (IPS) panel that demands copious amounts of silicon real estate to contain its IPS-based power. The ZR2740w has a substantial, 1.3-inch-deep initial chassis that slopes inward toward the rear and extends back an additional inch to include the connection options and ventilation system. This brings the monitor's full depth to 2.3 inches. That's a far cry more girth than the sub-inch-thick profiles we're used to seeing on twisted nematic (TN) monitors.

Not the slimmest of monitors, but with an IPS panel, we weren't expecting it to be. Be sure to tell it how great it looks in this light.

The giant foot stand underneath the panel measures 13.2 inches wide and 9.2 inches deep and provides more than enough stability, even when pounded by my highly capable fists. The panel measures 25.4 inches in width, with a right and left bezel measuring 0.8 inch. It includes 4 inches of screen height adjustment with a panel-to-desktop distance of 1.8 inches when lowered and 5.8 inches when at its full height. Overall, the monitor body feels solid and strong with no immediate signs of shoddy craftsmanship.

The 27-inch HP sports an extreme definition (XD) resolution of 2,560x1,440, packing as many as 136,000 pixels into each inch. That's 40,000 more pixels per inch compared with a 24-inch screen running at 1,920x1,200 pixels. What those extra pixels translate into is high graphical integrity and screen quality which I'll delve into in the performance section.

Unfortunately, the monitor is limited to just two video inputs: a single DVI and one DisplayPort. No duplicates and no HDMI. Also, port placement follows typical, antiquated monitor design; they are tucked underneath, making them particularly infuriating difficult to access. To the left of the DisplayPort sits a single USB upstream port and two USB downstream ports. On the left edge of the panel are two additional USB downstream ports, aligned vertically.

Yes, it's lacking in connection options. You get one DisplayPort and a single DVI port. Sure there's a USB upstream port and four downstream (two pictured), but who doesn't put those in its monitors these days? Actually, that's not all that common...OK, fine, it's pretty useful.

Here are those two extra USB ports, bringing up the rear.

The ZR2740w grants the full gamut of ergonomic options, consisting of a 90-degree pivot, 35-degree back tilt, 4-inch screen height adjustment, and 45-degree left and right swivel. Unfortunately, as it did with its 30-inch ZR30w, HP forgoes providing an onscreen display (OSD) interface and instead features only brightness adjustment buttons and a quick way to switch from DVI to DisplayPort and back.

Design and feature highlights
Connectivity: DVI, DisplayPort
Ergonomic options: 35-degree back tilt, 45-degree left and right swivel, 4-inch screen height adjustment, 90-degree pivot
Resolution: 2,560x1,440 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:09
Audio: n/a
VESA wall mount support: Yes
Included video cables: DisplayPort, Dual-link DVI
Backlight: LED
Panel Type: IPS
Screen film: Matte
Number of presets: n/a
Overdrive: No
Picture options: Brightness
Color controls: n/a
Gamma control: n/a
Additional features: Carrying handle

I tested the HP ZR2740w through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included dual-link DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 96 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.

The ZR2740w displayed light gray up to level 253. A value of 255 is considered white and every level in between it and 1 is a variation of gray. The monitor could not distinguish between 255 (white) and 254, matching the white-level saturation performance of the Dell UltraSharp U2711, which also topped out at 253. The ZR2730w's performance here indicates the display will likely not be prone to washing out light colors. As for dark gray, the ZR2730w displayed down to level 4 while still maintaining a very deep black, pointing to the display's ability to retain dark detail during dark scenes in movies.

The ZR2740w excelled in our color scaling tests, which evaluate the monitor's ability to smoothly display different shades of various colors. The ZR2740w displayed these color scales in a smooth and linear fashion, exhibiting performance at least on par with the U2711.

In our Dark Screen test, light had difficulty bleeding through the ZR2740w's screen, showing only a faint glow along the bottom edge. The monitor does show evidence of static ghosting, however, which is evident when big changes in contrast are present while showing large chunky graphics, like bar graphs.

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

I tested the HP ZR3740w using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The monitor provided a great movie-watching experience, displaying rich, accurate colors with a black level that showed no signs of diminished dark detail. HD movie trailers also displayed with a satisfying contrast, matching the quality of the Dell UltraSharp U2711.

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 towards benefiting its visual impact. If colors can also pop with fullness and depth, games can usually look great. Streaking is a different concern that honestly isn't very pervasive with most modern monitors, but if you are concerned about streaking, be sure to check out the last paragraph in this section.

I looked at both Torchlight and Dragon Age 2 (DAII) on the ZR2740w. "Simply stunning" is an overused phrase, but one that aptly describes my experience during testing. At 2,560x1,440 pixels, each game displayed vibrant, accurate color and a noticeably diametric contrast ratio that really gives images that extra visual impact. This was especially true with DAII. In fact, anyone doubting the graphical quality of DAII (you know who you are) obviously has yet to experience it packed with 3.3 million pixels attempting to (and in this case succeeding) melt your face. There's simply no comparison to playing games at home on my 1,920x1,200-pixel, 24-inch monitor that depressingly lacks any type of face-melting ability.

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