You might recall seeing three of HP’s ZR30w 30-inch displays gracing the cover of our September “Dream Machine” issue. Considering our theme for that build was raw, wanton power, picking the ZR30w was an easy decision.
We haven’t been this wowed by a display since we laid eyes on NEC’s LCD3090 WQXi, which we reviewed in our March 2010 issue. But that 30-incher costs nearly twice as much as this one. Both monitors are based on S-IPS panels, as all the best LCD monitors are, and both deliver native resolution of 2560x1600 (a 16:10 aspect ratio). But the ZR30w’s real claim to fame is color resolution of 10 bits per color per pixel (HP defines this as 30 bits per pixel), which enables it to produce 1.07 billion displayable colors. That’s 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut and 99 percent of the Adobe RGB color gamut.
HP's ZR30w is a spectacular value in the 30-inch display category, even if it is missing HDMI and portrait mode.
The ZR30w’s video inputs are limited to a single dual-link DVI port and a single DisplayPort. There’s HDCP support on both of these, but we would have appreciated the inclusion of an HDMI port, too. It’s not that we want to send audio to the display—this one doesn’t have built-in speakers, and we imagine they’d sound terrible if it did—it’s just that having HDMI would be convenient. In fact, we wished this monitor was equipped with at least one more DVI or DisplayPort port, too, since we find ourselves using two computers at once (one for testing, one for writing) on a fairly regular basis. A four-port USB hub rounds out the connectivity features (two ports on the left-hand side of the bezel and two on the bottom, behind the panel).
There are four buttons on the lower right-hand size of the bezel, but they don’t serve the function you might expect; that is, they don’t call up an onscreen display for the purpose of making color adjustments. That’s because the ZR30w doesn’t have an onscreen display. The plus/minus buttons control brightness, while the power and source buttons do just what you’d expect.
The monitor moves with smooth precision on its stand, which has an open base that’s handy for trapping pens and other small objects, but it’s limited to height, tilt, and swivel; you can’t pivot it into portrait mode unless you buy an articulated arm or some other VESA mount. The power supply is integrated into the monitor, so you don’t need to worry about stashing a power brick under or on top of your desk.
One of the first things we noticed when we began evaluating the display using DisplayMate Multimedia with Test Photos Edition (www.displaymate.com) was absolutely no backlight leakage anywhere around the perimeter of the screen. The glass itself has a matte finish, so we didn’t encounter any issues with glare or distracting specular reflections. The ZR30w delivered excellent color uniformity in our DisplayMate tests. And the monitor was perfectly capable of delivering Just Cause 2 action without any signs of motion blur. The ZR30w’s $1,300 price tag doesn’t put it in impulse-buy territory, but it does render it a spectacular value.
HP ZR30w 30-inch LCD
Big Bad Mama
S-IPS panel; great performance with both games and professional applications.
No HDMI; no media card reader; doesn't pivot to portrait mode.