Most of our monitor coverage at Tom’s Hardware encompasses mainstream brands. But occasionally we venture off the beaten path and review products you won’t find at the big-box stores.
Monoprice began in 2002 by selling low-priced HDMI cables. At a time when companies like Monster were charging $100 for a six-foot cable, Monoprice would sell you one just as good for $9.95. A few years ago, it branched out into other peripheral products, and in 2013 started selling a line of monitors. Today, there are seven displays for sale, ranging from 24 to 30 inches with resolutions between 1080p and Ultra HD.
Recently we reviewed the 30-inch IPS LED model and found it useful, if a little dated technologically. The screen performs well compared to monitors from two and three years ago, and offers solid build quality. But since today’s review subject, the CrystalPro 4K, is priced much nearer to its competition, Monoprice will have to up the performance ante.
We know that only four companies actually manufacture LCD panels: Samsung, LG, AU Optronix and Innolux. And only the last one makes a 3840x2160 part in a 28-inch TN form. Innolux lists a 2013 and 2014 version of the same panel, so every 28-inch UHD monitor sold today is made from one of those.
This is the likely reason why Monoprice’s version isn’t significantly cheaper than the competition, though it does sell for less than most on a given day. It seems that the prices of these screens fluctuate like the stock market, so they take turns playing the role of best value choice. Still at $500, the CrystalPro is hard to beat at any time.
To refresh our memories, we’re talking about a 28-inch TN panel with 8-bit+FRC color depth, an sRGB gamut, five millisecond-rated response and 300 cd/m2 brightness. To this, Monoprice adds a slick aluminum bezel, four-source picture-by-picture, a fully adjustable stand and five video inputs.
Just from that description it seems pretty evident that Monoprice doesn't cut corners with the CrystalPro 4K. But how does it perform? As you’ll quickly see from our test results, it runs with the best in class and delivers the sharpest image to boot.
We realize that many users are waiting for an IPS solution at this price point. Truth be told, so are we. But the TN panel from Innolux has proven to be a good performer in other monitors, and the CrystalPro 4K appears to be no different. Let’s take a look.