HP ZR2740w review: HP ZR2740w

HP ZR2740w

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin

Senior Managing Editor / Mobile

Eric Franklin leads the CNET Reviews editors in San Francisco as managing editor. A 20-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, at the movies, or at the edge of his couch with a game controller in his hands.

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HP ZR2740w 27-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor

HP ZR2740w

The Good

The <b>HP ZR2740w</b>'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.

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.

To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics test and stared at a number of colored blocks as they moved around the screen at predetermined speeds. Depending on the speed of the block movement--as well as the monitor--an afterimage of various sizes is left behind each block. By judging the size of the afterimage, I can attempt to predict how the monitor might handle fast-moving images in games.

Although the ZR2740w delivered tighter streaking than the U2711, it was still easily noticeable and much more than what I'm used to seeing with faster TN displays. During real-world games testing, however, my eyes saw no evidence of streaking.

Primary colors, as well as skin and hair looked accurate, with no signs of that green hue problem so many monitors are plagued with.

Recommended settings:
Due to the ZR2740w's lack of OSD options, I didn't use SpectraCal's CalPC for calibration. I simply tested the monitor as is, adjusting only the brightness of the display to my satisfaction.

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 colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed 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 not viewed from optimal angles.

Antiglare (AG) screen coating plays a part as well. Some viewers prefer the coating not be applied at all, while others favor only a limited amount. Still, others are completely indifferent; however, AG coating doesn't adversely affect quality and its merits, or lack thereof, are strictly a question of preference.

The HP ZR2740w uses a P-IPS panel, which provides it a wide viewing angle from all sides. The AG coating works fairly well here, keeping out most reflections; however, on a black screen viewed from an off angle, some blurry impressions of the environment are visible.

Power consumption:
Despite its LED backlight, the HP ZR2740w achieved poor power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 85.54 watts, compared with the Dell UltraSharp U2711's 93.72 watts in the same test.

In our Sleep/Standby test, the ZR2740w costs 1.2 watts, while the U2711 pulled a slightly lower 1.19 watts. Based on our formula, the ZR2740w would incur a per-year pull of $26.35 per year, compared with the U2711's $28.78 per year.

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

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP ZR2740w
Lacie 324i
Asus PA246Q

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Juice box
HP ZR2740w Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 25.54
On (max luminance) 97.54
On (min luminance) 28.7
Sleep 1.2
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 59.24
Annual power consumption cost $26.35
Score Poor

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
HP backs the ZR2740w with a three-year limited parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight--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.

It's difficult to be disappointed with a monitor that packs as many pixels into a screen as XD monitors do. That said, the lack of connection options and screen customizations aren't exactly increasing the ZR2740w's appeal. Price, on the other hand is a different story. While we'd all love to see the ZR2740w packed with features and sold at $700, that's just not a realistic expectation.

Simply put, the ZR2740w costs as low as $700 because of its missing features, and at that price, it's the most affordable XD monitor out there.

If you can't live with the limitations of brightness-only customizations, both the Samsung SyncMaster S27A850D and Dell UltraSharp U2711 offer similar performance, with many more options, albeit at higher prices.

HP ZR2740w 27-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor

HP ZR2740w

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 9Support 8