If you’ve ever shopped for a 30-inch monitor, you know that you’ll have to drop at least a grand for a full WQXGA (Wide Quad Extended Graphics Array) model with a native resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels. That is, until the CTL 3001 Ultra came along. This very affordable 30-inch monitor uses IPS panel technology and is loaded with neat features, including a USB 3.0 hub, five video inputs, and a decent set of speakers. There is a catch—the 3001 Ultra can’t match the performance of its more expensive competitors. Its color accuracy is way off and it stumbles when displaying the lightest shades of gray, both of which are flaws that are unacceptable to most graphics professionals. At $650 it’s still a pretty good deal for home users, although it does tend to run a bit too hot.
Design and Features
With its big, glossy black bezels and glossy black rectangular stand the CTL 3001 Ultra isn’t going to win any design awards, but it’s not unattractive either. At around 3 inches in depth the cabinet is thicker than most because it uses CCFL backlights rather than LED backlighting, which uses less space. A silver CTL logo is embossed on the lower bezel along with a set of big, bold labels for the seven buttons located under the bezel on the right side. The 10-bit panel has a native resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 and a 16:10 aspect ratio. Its matte anti-glare coating is thankfully reflection-free.
The stand has a tilt and swivel hinge but it has trouble supporting the cabinet, which wobbles when touched. You don’t get the sturdiness and overall solid build quality with this monitor that you do with the Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p, nor do you get height and pivot adjustments, but it does offer VESA compliant holes for wall mounting with an optional bracket. One other thing; the 3001 Ultra runs hot. In fact it’s so hot that you can actually feel the heat emanating from the cabinet while sitting directly in front on the screen.
There’s no shortage of I/O connections on the 3001 Ultra. At the rear of the cabinet facing left are four downstream USB 3.0 ports and one upstream port for connecting to your PC. Downward facing ports include DisplayPort, VGA, DVI (dual link), and dual HDMI video inputs. Audio connections include one analog input and one output as well as an optical digital audio output. The 8-watt down-firing speakers are relatively loud and can be cranked up without distorting, but a smattering of bass would be welcome.
Picture settings are limited to brightness, contrast, and dynamic contrast ratio. There aren’t any advanced color settings like you get with the Lenovo LT3053p and Dell UltraSharp U3014 but you can select one of three color temperature levels (warm, cool, normal) or create your own by changing red, green, and blue intensity levels.
The 3001 Ultra ships with a DisplayPort cable, an audio cable, a USB upstream cable, and a printed owner’s manual. The monitor comes with a three-year warranty covering parts, labor, and backlighting.
Performance was a mixed bag. The 3001 Ultra’s IPS panel did a good job of displaying shades of dark gray from the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test but had a little trouble at the high end of the scale where the lightest two shades of grays were whitewashed. This resulted in a slight loss of highlight detail in my test photographs.
We use a colorimeter and Spectracal’s CalMan 5 diagnostic software to measure color accuracy, which in the case of the 3001 Ultra, was skewed. As seen in the CIE chart below, red and green (represented by their corresponding dots) were well outside of their ideal zone (represented by their corresponding boxes). As a result, both colors are oversaturated and heavy. This may not be very noticeable while gaming or surfing the web but if you work with photos and require accurate and consistent color quality you’ll have to pay a good deal more for a high-end panel.
On the plus side, the panel displayed small text from the DisplayMate Scaled Fonts test neatly and cleanly and provided wide viewing angles with no color shift or loss of luminance. Gamers looking for a big-screen experience will find the six-millisecond (gray-to-gray) pixel response delivers a relatively smooth gaming experience with minimal ghosting or blurring.
CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlighting is notorious for consuming lots of power, and the 3001 Ultra is guilty as charged. It averaged 154 watts of power during testing, which is comparable to the HP ZR30w (163 watts), another CCFL-backlit monitor. The LED-backlit Dell UltraSharp U3014 used 60 watts and the Lenovo LT3053p (also LED-backlit) used 71 watts.
The CTL 3001 Ultra is certainly affordable, but it doesn’t deliver the color and grayscale accuracy that most graphics professionals require and it radiates more heat than it should. Moreover, it doesn’t offer the fit and finish of its more expensive competitors. That said, if you’re looking for a big-screen monitor for the home and don’t want to part with the premium dollars that the pro-grade monitors command, the 3001 Ultra and its generous selection of I/O ports is worth checking out. If color and grayscale accuracy is your top priority, consider the Lenovo LT3053p, our Editors’ Choice for big-screen professional grade monitors. Just be prepared to spend twice as much as you would for the CTL 3001 Ultra.
|Native Resolution||2560 x 1600|
|Supported Video Formats||1080p|
|PC Interfaces||Analog VGA, Dual-mode (DVI-I), HDMI|
|Video Inputs||DVI, HDMI|
|Diagonal Screen Size||30 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc