HP ZR30w review

The HP ZR30w, a massive 30-inch IPS monitor with an equally massive price tag, offers good grayscale performance and wide viewing angles.
Photo of HP ZR30w

Geared toward professional users who require lots of screen real estate and accurate performance, the HP ZR30w is a gargantuan 30-inch desktop monitor that uses S-IPS (Super In-Plane Switching) panel technology to deliver very accurate grayscale reproduction and wide viewing angles. It also offers a four-port USB hub and an ergonomic stand, but its color accuracy is less than ideal, which looms large since you can’t adjust color settings on this monitor. Additionally, it only has two video inputs, which is unusual for such a large display. Although the ZR30w is reasonably priced for a big-screen monitor there are similarly priced 30-inch monitors out there that offer more features and better performance.

Design and Features
The ZR30w is huge. The business black cabinet measures 17.9-by-27.3-by-3.4 inches (HWD) and weighs 20.9 pounds, and that’s without the black rectangular stand, which adds another 7.5 inches to the depth and almost eight pounds to the weight. The stand offers tilt, swivel, and height adjustability but lacks a pivot adjustment like the one found on the NEC MultiSync PA301W.

A wide band of brushed aluminum trim adorns the outer edge of the cabinet, and a small HP logo is affixed to the screen’s upper bezel. The bottom bezel contains four buttons, including the power switch, but their use is limited. The only setting you can adjust on the ZR30w is brightness; there are no settings for color temperature, contrast, or sharpness, and you can’t adjust color saturation or hue. The 30-bit S-IPS panel has a maximum resolution of 2,560-by-1,600 pixels and a 16:10 aspect ratio, and it sports a matte anti-glare coating that effectively eliminates reflection.

On the left side of the cabinet, facing outward, are two downstream USB ports. Two additional downstream ports and an upstream port are located at the rear of the cabinet. Unfortunately, these ports use USB 2.0 technology rather than the newer and faster USB 3.0 technology used on the Dell UltraSharp U3014. Also disappointing is the video input selection; all you get is a single DisplayPort and a single dual link DVI connection. There are no HDMI, component, or VGA inputs. This monitor doesn’t come with built-in speakers either, but you can pick up an optional speaker bar (part #NQ576AA) for around $40 or so and connect it to an audio output at the rear of the cabinet.

HP covers the ZR30w with a three-year parts, labor, and backlight warranty that includes on-site service. The monitor comes with a DVI dual link cable as well as DisplayPort and USB cables.

Performance
When it comes to grayscale performance, the ZR30w rocks. It clearly and cleanly displayed each swatch of the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test and delivered outstanding highlight and shadow detail in my test photos and while watching the movie 2012 on Blu-ray. Video played smoothly while watching movies but there was minor ghosting while playing Far Cry 2, which is not surprising given the panel’s 12-millisecond (black-to-white) pixel response.

Viewing angle performance was superb. Color fidelity remained intact and the screen remained bright from every angle. Likewise, small text was crisp and legible down to 5.3 points (the smallest font available on the DisplayMate Scaled Fonts test).

The ZR30w didn’t fare as well on my color accuracy test, which is performed with a colorimeter and DisplayMate and SpectraCal diagnostic software. The boxes on the chart below represent the ideal coordinates for each color as determined by the CIE (International Committee On Illumination) and the dots represent the panel’s actual color coordinates.

As you can see, green and blue colors are fairly close to their zones but not ideal, while red is way oversaturated. As mentioned above, the ZR30w’s lack of color adjustments means you are stuck with these color attributes. Other high-end monitor such as the NEC PA301w and LG ColorPrime 27EA83-D provide extensive picture adjustments that allow you to calibrate the monitor to your exact specifications.

The ZR30w has a 7-millisecond (black-white) pixel response and does a good job of displaying smooth video, but demanding gamers may want to look elsewhere as it does produce some motion blur and isn’t really equipped for gaming.

The ZR30w is a power hog. It used 163 watts of power during testing, which is significantly more than both the Dell 3014 (60 watts) and the NEC PA301W (98 watts). Unfortunately this monitor lacks an Eco mode feature.

The HP ZR30w offers very accurate grayscale performance and excellent viewing angles, but it comes up short in other areas. Its oversaturated reds are hard to overlook, especially since you can’t go in and make the necessary adjustments to tone them down, and its input options are severely limited. Moreover, I’d expect a $1,259 monitor to utilize the latest USB technology. The ZR30w’s shortcomings make it hard to recommend over the Dell UltraSharp U3014, which delivers much more accurate colors and gives you a slew of picture settings as well as USB 3.0 connectivity and a variety of video ports.

Specifications
Native Resolution 2560 x 1600
Supported Video Formats 1080p
PC Interfaces Dual-mode (DVI-I)
Video Inputs DVI
Diagonal Screen Size 30 inches
Widescreen Yes
Aspect Ratio 16

Verdict
The HP ZR30w is a massive 30-inch IPS monitor with an equally massive price tag. It offers good grayscale performance and wide viewing angles but its lack of picture settings and limited video inputs hold it back.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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