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HP Z27x Dreamcolor Professional Display Review

HP's new Z27x DreamColor supports all the important color gamuts and carries some distinctly unique features. This screen simply blows us away.

HP Z27x DreamColor Display, Accuracy And Flexibility

If you’ve made it this far, you can see that the Z27x is no ordinary computer monitor. In fact, it’s so much more that it may have just defined its own category. Before now, filmmakers either had to adapt to an inexpensive wide-gamut display or pony up five figures for a mastering monitor from Sony, Panasonic, or JVC. HP makes it much easier for VFX and post-production facilities to equip their artists with an accurate display capable of handling whatever content they need to work on.

In the world of broadcast and film production, there are many displays in use that you’d never find sold alongside monitors or HDTVs. I’m talking about mastering displays that can easily top $20,000 for a 24-inch FHD screen. CGI and post-production artists require absolute color accuracy, easy and quick calibration, and the ability to work in a variety of signal formats and aspect ratios.

Many professional-level monitors can do some of these things. But ultimately, products like ViewSonic's VP2772 or Asus' PA279Q leave out critical capabilities like DCI color support or an internal calibration engine. HP really bridges the gap by creating a monitor that has the functions and quality of a $20,000+ mastering display for only $1500.

This is the first product we’ve tested that even attempts to support the Rec.2020 color gamut, and only the second that covers DCI. Those gamuts are a must if you're going to properly color-correct a Hollywood feature film. There are plenty of screens to choose from if all you need is Adobe RGB. That’s more in the realm of photography and you don’t have to spend $1500 to get there.

The Z27x is also unique in its resolution support. It’s the first display we’ve seen that can accept a resolution greater than its native pixel count. With more and more content moving to 4K, studios need displays that can show them exactly what they’ve filmed and what the viewer will ultimately see. There are pro-level 4K displays available, but even something like Dell's UP3214Q will set you back $2500. And it won’t do everything this HP can do.

Of particular interest to us is the internal calibration engine. The ability to simply plug in a meter, answer a few questions on-screen, and walk away while the monitor calibrates itself is huge. Users working in color-critical environments can’t afford even the slightest mistake, which means re-calibration is a regular part of the workflow. Tweaking the OSD while working in an app like CalMAN achieves the result but can take a lot of time. Now you can walk away while the monitor does its thing.

At the beginning we told you that HP created the Z27x in response to requests from users at some of the top VFX houses. If you put this display on your desk, there's a good chance you'll be looking at the same monitor used by the talented artists at DreamWorks and Pixar. Color accuracy and easy calibration are very valuable features, whether you’re working on the latest Michael Bay feature or simply color-correcting product photos for a website.

The Z27x combines tremendous accuracy with a large and unique feature set that caters to professionals in all areas of computer-generated imagery. That it can achieve this for $1500 puts it in a class by itself. For that reason, we’re giving it the Tom’s Hardware Elite award.

Christian Eberle
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.