Monoprice CrystalPro 4K, Solid Inside And Out
The advent of inexpensive Ultra HD monitors in the 28-inch size affords us a unique opportunity. It is rare to see so many different companies make displays based on the same panel. But in this case, Innolux is the only game in town, and therefore we can compare and contrast each manufacturer's take on the technology.
So far, we’ve seen 28-inch UHD/TN monitors from Asus, Dell, Planar, Philips, Samsung and now Monoprice. They are similar, though not identical, in performance. And there are definite differences in feature sets.
Asus and Dell deliver the basics – decent color and contrast, and simple features. Our only beef with the Dell is that it doesn’t support 60Hz operation, even over DisplayPort. Planar breaks from the pack with an excellent multi-source implementation that eliminates the need for a matrix box when you want to display up to four signals at once. Philips also sticks to the basics, but falls a little short in light output and speed with its fairly high input lag. Samsung also delivers an excellent product with best-in-class brightness and good accuracy.
Monoprice is at the low-end of the pricing scale. It performs among the best in this group of six TN-based screens, though. The company doesn't deliver the highest light output, but it has enough, and its color and grayscale accuracy approach professional levels. From a video-geek standpoint, the only flaw (and it’s a minor one) is less-than-perfect gamma. A firmware tweak could take care of that easily, we think.
Like the Planar, Monoprice's CrystalPro supports simultaneous handling of up to four digital sources. With that and its high pixel density, we see it being very useful in security systems where personnel have to monitor multiple cameras. And the PiP function makes it easy to watch the game while attending to more mundane business tasks.
We’re betting that the most attractive test result from this review will be the low input lag and fast panel response. Decent 4K performance is becoming more affordable as high-speed graphics boards come down in price. What better way to finish out that system than with a value-priced Ultra HD monitor like the CrystalPro? As of this writing, it’s selling for $500, although we’ve seen the competition fluctuate around that number. Given the performance advantages and solid build quality, however, we think this Monoprice is a great choice. For those reasons, we’re giving the CrystalPro 4K a Tom’s Hardware Editor Recommended award.