Poor design trumped by great screen, low price
With its IPS-Glass Panel Pro, Monoprice abstains from sensible design decisions in favor of a cheap but powerful monitor. For those low on funds and looking for a large, sharp monitor, the sacrifices made here in ergonomic design, sensible button arrangement, and smooth OSD navigation will likely be worth it. At $475, the IPS-Glass is the cheapest extreme definition monitor I’ve yet reviewed and the fact that it boasts accurate color, deep blacks, and high contrast makes its low price all the more impressive.
More than anything however, Monoprice’s perplexing design decisions with the IPS-Glass illustrate just how important a good design is and how easy it is to take for granted. After attempting to tilt the panel, navigate its OSD, or living through its power dongle accidentally disconnecting for the 18th time (fine, it happened to me less than ten times, but still...), it's easy to see where Monoprice cut a few corners.
The sting of those design decisions is felt even more deeply when you consider the Asus PB278Q. It costs only about $75 more, performs just as well or better, and is free of the IPS-Glass's design gaffes.
Still, performance is a monitor's most important attribute and in the case of the IPS-Glass, it delivers on that in satisfying fashion.
Design and features
The Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro has some of the most frustrating design issues I've ever encountered on a monitor. First off, getting the screen to tilt back requires much more effort than it should.
While on most other monitors, tilting the screen back is as simple as pushing back on the top bezel or pulling forward on the bottom one, this unfortunately cannot be accomplished on the IPS-Glass without holding the foot stand down with one hand and using your arm and core strength to tilt it back with the other. Or at the very least, using two hands to rotate the screen back, while pushing down on the foot stand for leverage.
Swiveling takes less effort to accomplish, but will depend on how easily the bottom of the foot stand adheres to the surface it's on.
The 27-inch panel is thick, measuring a full 2.2 inches including the rear ventilation system. The panel is also fixed too closely to the neck of the foot stand, making it frustratingly difficult to get unobstructed access to the connections, especially with no pivot or screen height options. Speaking of which, the IPS-Glass embeds DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, and HDMI. There's also an audio port that must be connected for the built-in speakers to function.
Monoprice chose to use an annoyingly bizarre dongle design for its power cord solution. The cord attaches to the monitor's power brick and then connects to a dongle plugged into the monitor. Unfortunately, if there's not enough slack in the cord, it will disconnect quite easily, especially when swiveling the screen.
And with nowhere to hide your cables -- the IPS-Glass has no cable-organizing feature -- well, I just hope you're a fan of permanent eyesores. You probably aren't, but you won't really have a choice here.The On Screen Display array is located on the bottom-right corner on the underside of the panel and though each of the seven buttons is separated by about a centimeter of space, I still found myself confused as to which button I was pressing.
Worse still is the button function design when attempting to navigate the OSD. Menu, Up, and Down functions make sense, but using the Volume buttons to alter attributes felt like an unnecessary and confusing complication.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Connectivity:||VGA, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, Audio port|
|Ergonomic options:||20-degree back tilt, 5-degree front tilt|
|VESA wall-mount support:||Yes|
|Included video cables:||DVI|
|Number of presets:||4|
|Picture options:||Brightness and Contrast|
|Color controls:||Color temperature and RGB|
We tested the Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro through its DVI input, connected to a Windows 7 system with the included dual-link DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 97 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
DisplayMate: The Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro 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 IPS-Glass Panel Pro's performance here indicates that the display will likely not be prone to washing out light colors and provided you're using the right preset. This proved true in real-world tests, but more on that later. As for dark gray, the IPS-Glass Panel Pro displayed down to level 2 while maintaining a convincingly deep black when using the Movie preset, accurately indicating that the display is fit for movie-watching.
The monitor excelled in nearly all of our color-scaling tests, which evaluate how smoothly it displays different shades of various colors with the Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro yielding very few color abnormalities. That is, as long as you're using the appropriate preset.Movies: I tested the Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro using the Blu-ray version of "The Three Musketeers. Watching movies on the Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro essentially requires that you use the movie preset. While the standard preset coats the screen in a sickly greenish hue, the movie preset delivers deep blacks, high contrast, and accurate colors. 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.
Under the games preset images look a bit too dark, and I much preferred going with the standard preset with the following settings:
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 Twisted Nematic (TN) panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.
The merits of antiglare (AG) screen coating are much debated these days. Some viewers prefer that the coating not be applied at all; 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 matter of preference.
Monoprice went with a moderately glossy screen that isn't as reflective as some extremely reflective monitors like the HP, you can still clearly see reflections in iit. As most glossy screens do, the Monoprice feels like it has a higher contrast than normal; however this difference is usually only negligible.
Service and support
The Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro comes with solid coverage, including a limited three-year repair warranty that covers parts and labor. There's also a one-year coverage called the dead-pixel warranty, but which actually covers all defects including those on the backlight.
Monoprice offers over-the-phone tech support Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT, and Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. There's also site-based Web chat support. I didn't see any options to download instructions or drivers, but they could simply be well hidden.
If you're looking for a cheap, extreme definition 27-inch monitor with performance befitting a native resolution of 2,560x1,440, you've found one. The Monoprice IPS-Glass Panel Pro delivers in performance and screen customization options and if your needs stop there, the IPS-Glass will certainly satisfy them. However, the Asus PB278Q features even more customization options, performance at least as good, a few things the IPS-Glass lacks, including an easily navigable OSD and both pivot and height adjustment. The Asus is about $75 more, but if you demand a smooth user experience in addition to great performance, its higher price will be worth the reduced headaches.