By David Cohn
At last summer’s SIGGRAPH conference, HP introduced new 22-, 23- and 24-in. professional monitors, rebranding them as the Z-series to match the company’s workstations. In September, at a product launch event in New York, HP completed the expansion of its Z-series display lineup with the announcement of new 27- and 30-in. displays. We recently received three of these new monitors so that we could do our own side-by-side, hands-on reviews of the HP Z24i, Z27i and Z30i displays.
All three monitors feature the latest generation of in-plane switching (IPS) displays. HP calls this new technology IPS Gen 2, whereas most other manufacturers call it AH-IPS (advanced high-performance IPS). Regardless of what you call it, the new technology translates into better power efficiency — HP claims up to 37% power savings compared to its first-generation IPS displays — while delivering excellent color accuracy and wide viewing angles of 178 ° in both horizontal and vertical directions.
Each monitor arrived neatly packed, with its panel and stand wrapped separately in recyclable bags. In addition to the power cord, HP also includes three cables: DVI, DisplayPort and USB. It took just a few minutes to assemble each display by placing the panel face down on a flat surface, sliding the stand’s mounting plate under the upper lip of the recess in the back of the panel, and snapping the mounting plate into place.
Once assembled, the Z24i, Z27i and Z30i look nearly identical, the only visible variation being their size:
- Including its stand, the 24-in. (diagonal) Z24i weighs 15.35 lbs. The panel itself measures 22.02×14.37×2.54 in. It has a height adjustment range of 15.94 to 20.67 in., and needs a space just 9.37 in. deep.
- The 27-in. Z27i weighs 16.74 lbs. Its panel measures 25.24×14.93×2.58 in., adjusts from 16.55 to 21.28 in., and is 9.55 in. deep, including the stand.
- The 30-in. Z30i weighs 21.96 lbs., has a panel measuring 27.18×17.71x 2.61 in., adjusts from 18.94 to 23.66 in., and is 10.49 in. deep.
The stand included with each monitor provides a stable support, but standard 100mm Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) mounting holes on the rear of each panel enables them to be wall-mounted or attached to other supports, with or without the HP Quick Release 2 mounting bracket, if desired. Each stand enables 90 ° of swivel, while tilt ranges from -5 ° to +30 ° for the Z24i, to -5 ° to +20 ° for the Z27i and Z30i. When raised to their maximum height, each panel easily pivots from landscape to portrait mode, with cables neatly routed through a hole in the center of the lower portion of the stand.
The HP Z-series At a Glance
HP Z24i 24-in. IPS Display
HP Z27i 27-in. IPS Display
HP Z30i 30-in. IPS Display
Each display features a panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio surrounded by a 1-in. black bezel. Four buttons along the lower-right edge of the bezel let you manually select the desired video input, or let the monitor automatically detect the active port. You can also access the on-screen display (OSD), which lets you adjust brightness, contrast, color balance and other image settings, change the position and orientation of the OSD menu itself, set a sleep timer, and so on. A fifth button in the lower-right corner turns the monitor on and off.
While the resolutions and dot pitch vary depending on the panel size, all three HP Z-series IPS displays feature a contrast ratio of 1000:1. They also offer 8-millisecond response time to reduce image smearing, and can display up to 16.7 million colors, for excellent coverage of sRGB color spaces — 99% in the case of the Z24i and 100% for the Z27i and Z30i. The Z30i also covers 100% of the Adobe RGB color space.
The HP Z24i has a native resolution of 1920×1200, with a 0.269mm pixel pitch and a brightness ratio of 300 cd/m2. A downward-facing panel on the lower rear of the display provides a master power switch and AC power connector, three display inputs (DisplayPort, DVI-D and VGA), an upstream USB 2.0 connector for the panel’s USB hub, and two USB 2.0 ports. Two additional USB 2.0 ports are located on the left side of the panel.
The panel on the HP Z27i has a native resolution of 2560×1440 with a 0.233mm pixel pitch and a brightness radio of 350 cd/m2. A similar downward-facing panel on the rear of its display provides the same power switch and AC connector, but includes a total of four display inputs (DisplayPort, VGA, DVI-D and HDMI), an audio out port (for connecting headphones or an optional speaker bar), an upstream USB 3.0 port and two USB 3.0 ports. Two additional USB 3.0 ports are located on the left side of the panel.
The Z30i has a native resolution of 2560×1600 with a 0.252mm pixel pitch and a brightness ratio of 350 cd/m2. It features the same assortment of ports and connections as the Z27i.
All three monitors also have a concealed More Information card that pulls out from behind the USB connectors on the left side of the panel. The card contains the model, serial and product numbers.
HP also provides a DVD containing drivers, documentation in a multitude of languages, and a copy of the HP Display Assistant software, which provides yet another way to adjust the monitor’s brightness, contrast, white balance, color balance and other image settings. It can also save custom color presets and rotate the image if you pivot from landscape to portrait mode.
Crisp, Clear Images
We used DisplayMate from DisplayMate Technologies to help evaluate the visual quality of each monitor. DisplayMate uses a series of test patterns — both to help users fine-tune the image, and to uncover any picture quality problems or video artifacts that might otherwise go unrecognized. All three HP Z-series monitors displayed excellent color and grayscale, and showed absolutely no pixel defects. We were able to read text down to 6.8 points, even at different intensity levels, and the fast response time resulted in no image smearing when viewing full-motion video.
All of the new HP Z-series displays are ENERGY STAR-qualified, EPEAT Gold-registered and backed by a three-year limited warranty, with four- and five-year coverage (including next-business-day exchange) also available. The HP Z24i has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of just $339 ($30 less than the ZR2440w that it replaces). The HP Z27i sells for $769 ($55 more than its predecessor). And the HP Z30i has an MSRP of $1,329 ($171 less than the Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p that we reviewed in the October 2013 issue).
If you are on a tight budget, the Z24i is a perfect balance of price and functionality. But if you can afford to spend more and have the space to accommodate a 27- or 30-in. monitor, either the HP Z27i or Z30i will provide you with a gorgeous display. When it comes to CAD and graphics applications, nothing beats working at high resolution on a big screen. Regardless of which one you choose, all three are excellent additions to HP’s Z-series lineup.
David Cohn is the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies. He also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA, and has been benchmarking PCs, graphics cards and monitors since 1984. He’s a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering and the author of more than a dozen books. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.dscohn.com.