I love doing these comparisons. Moreover, I enjoy sitting two products next to each other that seemingly have no good reason to be compared. The mismatched bout between the burly Astro Gaming A40 Audio system and the humble SteelSeries V2 headset and mic is a good example. Sometimes an exorbitant price and laundry list of features tells a misguided tale. But even when it doesn’t, an off-kilter comparison can offer us a new way of looking at a product, what it has to offer and how we may take advantage of it. Today, entering the squared-circle, we have two robust displays: the HP ZR2740w 27-inch LED Backlit IPS panel monitor vs. the HP ZR30w S-IPS LCD TFT panel monitor. These monitors support some of the highest resolutions possible. The max resolution on the 27-incher is 2560 x 1440 (16:9 aspect ratio). While the 30-incher aims higher for a 2560 x 1600 resolution (16:10 aspect ratio). Any gambling gadget geek would place the smart money on the 30-inch IPS offering.

Design

The design of these windowed titans is literally identical. The disparity in size and weight is all the difference you will notice. Each looks very clean and dapper with the smoke black bezel. There is a distinguished chrome band running the length around the bezel as mentioned in the ZR2740w review. The chrome is also visibly brushed, which adds to the ostentatious appeal. The included stand features a modest footprint on each display with a open area at the base for storing pens, pencil post-its and the like. There is also a novel cable management system to help clean up your work area. Each unit features four buttons at the lower right-hand side of the bezel to toggle between your various input options, power on/off and brightness settings. Multiple viewing options compliment the design very nicely. Each display can be contorted to your taste–albeit to a limited degree. They can be raised or lowered, tilt front and back, swivel left and right and support both portrait or landscape positions.

Winner: Tie

Connectivity

Unless your work space is cramped and limiting,  you will have no problem accessing each units 4-USB ports (2 on the left side of bezel/2 on the back)On the down side. Collectively the USB ports work as a self-powered hub. You will have to sacrifice a USB port somewhere on your motherboard or computer case. But the trade off is worth it. Unfortunately, both displays omit some of the more handsome design features and specs found on other comparable displays. Neither supports HDMI or component video connections. There is no TV tuner on either so forget about connecting these puppies to a set top cable box. You also can’t do video-in from a laptop, since DVI and DisplayPort connectivity options are your only ways to get down.

Winner: Tie

Panel Type & Performance

Here’s where things heat up! The 27-inch ZR2740w display makes use of a strikingly vivid IPS LED-backlit panel type. While it’s contrast ratio of 1000:1 is the same as that found on the competing 30-inch. The 3-inch smaller ZR2740w  sports a few more nits in its brightness: 380 nits cd/m2 (max). The ZR30w only kicks out 350 nits. Doesn’t sound like much does it? Oh, but it’s so significant. The level of brightness supported by the backlit LED panel type is just stunning to behold. This is a pure brightness. Nothing is washed out or seemingly overexposed, which is sometimes the case with brightness levels. It really brings images to life in a way that is visibly lacking in the 30-inch ZR30w. Let’s be clear. HP’s latest 30-inch TFT entry is a solid performer and noticeably superior in visual performance to their previous 30-inch model – the LP3065p. Either of the two monitors we’re looking at today, will make you quite happy. The color recreation is vibrant and lush at 1.07 billion color (DisplayPort connection required). In addition, the depth to the blacks is like an abyss. We’re talking some of the deepest blacks I have seen! But the 27-incher beats them both with its LED-backlit display. I did notice something peculiar about the these two warring monitors. If you skip over to HP’s website and wade through the spec sheets for each monitor, you will notice the response time on the smaller 27-inch is nearly twice that of the 30-inch. When compiling my notes for this editorial, I immediately docked a point from the ZR2740w  upon reading that. But in truth there is zero noticeable difference in the speed. I played a number of high speed games,  watched several high-octane Hong Kong action movies (notorious for catching ghosting is slower response time monitors) in MP4, avi, DVD and Blu-Ray formats. I spotted zero ghosting or after effects on objects or individuals. So do not get discouraged by the 12ms response time featured on the ZR2740w’s spec sheet.

Winner: The LED-backlit panel is beyond charming. It adds so much to the deep blacks and brightness for a noticeable superior picture quality.

Price

After devouring all of the above, it becomes quite clear which is the smart direction to travel. That 30-inces of screen real estate is certainly attractive. Still, for most of us it won’t be worth that $1200 cost of entry. If you’re comfortable with three fewer inches in the mid-section, then that snug 27-inch form factor will greet you with a cost that is nearly cut in half. The HP zR2740w offers performance and visual quality that is recognizably a cut above the competing 30-inch for significantly less money.

Winner: HP ZR2740w 27-inch LED Backlit IPS Panel Monitor

Surprised? I was. After being blown clean away, by the HP ZR2740w’s picture quality, I just knew a larger screen size supporting a higher resolution would easily unseat the the stellar 27-incher. I was wrong. My faux pas is your cream filling. I am very happy to say, the LED-backlit 27-inch IPS monitor from HP is easily the better buy. For half the cost, users are treated to an obviously superior performer, while conceding three minor inches to the 30-inch. A no-brainer, no matter how you “view” it!



Shawn Sanders

 
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.