The Z27s costs $1338 while other 4K brands start around $600 and HD models are less than $300. Most of that extra money goes in using not only an IPS LCD panel, but a full white LED backlight so it achieves 100% sRGB and 10-bit colour. Many competitors use an edge or side-lit panel and have 8-bit colour.
Next, let’s get over the colour. Out of the box, it seems different until you realise that it is 100% sRGB (as close to natural) and most of the monitors you have used don’t even go there. I realised this after comparing the same image to a range of OLED, IPS, VA and other monitors. The Z27s is the reference and that is what the creative arts community needs – not some over/under/saturated and overcorrected version of reality.
Panel quality becomes even more obvious when tested with the NEC test pattern. HP’s lines were strong and straight and colours even across the entire screen. Lesser monitors had convergence around the edges and colour was not even. It is visually superior.
Out of the box – HP Z27s, 27”, 4K IPS, Backlit monitor (J3G07A4)
As it is a full backlit monitor, it is thicker at 60.9 mm than edge/side lit ones. Overall, with the adjustable stand, it is 625.6 x 242.4 x 535.9 mm and 7.8kg.
It comes with a DisplayPort Cable, Mini DisplayPort (as used on the MS Surface range) to HDMI and a USB 3.0 cable to provide uplink for the four USB 3.0 powered ports.
- 1 x HDMI 1.4
- 1 x HDMI 1.4 with MHL 2.0 (smartphone) support
- 1 x Display Port 1.2
- 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
- 4 x USB3.0 (powered by the monitor)
- Audio out (headphones) – it does not have speakers
If you spend twice what you can get a 4K display for, is it worth it?
If you are a consumer, then sorry – get the biggest, brightest, oversaturated display you can for the dollars you have.
If you are a professional user where colour accuracy, crisp images, and lack of convergence counts, then it’s a fair price for a true 3840 x 2160 @60Hz, 16:9 screen.
Brightness is up to 300 cd/m2, contrast is up to 1000:1 (static), with 6ms gtg response. The screen is oleophobic, matt and reduces glare – I used it in bright and dark rooms and reflection was imperceptible.
Being backlit means no light leakage, so blacks are very good and there is no “glow” which is characteristic of side/edge lit monitors.
As I said earlier it initially challenges your perceptions of colour if you have been using a lesser monitor, but once you realise that it is 100% accurate then you appreciate it. You can adjust it to 110% sRGB via an an easy to use on-screen menu system.
If you predominately use documents, you need to note that a 4K screen will have smaller text and you may like to either scale up the text or select a lower resolution. Either way, it is crystal clear. A 27” monitor is perfect for displaying two A4 pages without scaling and still have room for a sidebar like email or Skype.
Driving the screen
To get 4K you need a computer or device that supports that. Most modern video cards and the new Xbox One S will drive it. Most recent Macs will automatically detect it as 4K and it runs off the Thunderbolt port – it does not have a FaceTime camera.
If you have an older device, it will happily display anything from non-interlaced VGA (640x480) up to 4K. In tests with HD video cards, it remained true to its colour gamut and geometry and looked very good.
Unlike 4K TV, it does not have upscaling, HRD or Dolby Vision – it’s a reference monitor for professional use. Having said that, images from Xbox and playing a variety of video content from 480p to 4K all looked great.
Tilt and swivel
The large stand allows it to tilt from -5° to 20° vertical and swivel up to 45° off axis with a 120mm height range. It will use a standard 100mm VESA wall/dual monitor mount. I understand that HP has a Z27n (narrow bezel) version that you might use for dual monitors.
Being a commercial product the standard warranty is three years. Care Packs are available for on-site and warranty extensions.
A monitor for professional use in keeping with HP’s Z series philosophy. Everything works out of the box.
Pros: True 4K panel; 100+% sRGB; Mac or PC; 3-year warranty; 2 x side powered USB 3.0; 2 HDMI inc MHL support) and 2 DisplayPort – all HDCP. Natural 10-bit colour.
Cons: Basic boring office black chassis.