Regardless of category or application, users shopping for a new monitor are always looking for the best possible value. High prices have been a significant obstacle to those wanting to add Ultra HD to their desktop systems. But the attraction of greater pixel density and an image free of jaggies is strong. So how does one justify spending as much or more money on the display as the rest of the system?
When Ultra HD first hit the market, there were no value choices. $3000 was the price of admission for the first few months. As always however, when more displays became available, prices dropped even on first-generation models.
The real breakthrough came when Asus introduced the PB287Q. It was the first 28-inch TN panel to feature Ultra HD resolution and the first to cost less than $1000, a good bit less in fact. Today, there are similar screens from every major and minor brand name that are priced, at this writing, at around $500.
Monoprice has always been a company that sells for less than the competition and their Ultra HD displays are no exception. About a year ago, we reviewed several 28-inch TN UHD monitors including the Monoprice CrystalPro 4K. It was a standout product earning our Editor Recommended Award. Today we’re looking at a slightly cheaper alternative to that excellent screen: the UHD Matte.
Since Innolux first came out with a 28-inch TN/UHD part in 2013 it has only added one more part to the inventory, and it's pretty much the same panel with only minor firmware updates. That being said, each display manufacturer's version is different with regards to features and color accuracy. We've also seen a large range of brightness values.
The bottom line is that all monitors based on Innolux's part are not created equal. The CrystalPro we reviewed last year offers decent color accuracy, reasonably good contrast and excellent build quality. The new UHD Matte sells for $50 less and sports similar performance, better viewing angles courtesy of a new anti-glare layer and a bit more plastic is used in its construction.
Behind the front layer lies the very same tech found in every other 28-inch Ultra HD panel—a white LED backlight and a twisted-nematic pixel structure, which offers quick response at the expense of poor off-axis image quality. The UHD Matte adds an anti-glare layer that's one of the better examples we've seen. It renders a very sharp artifact-free image while blocking all but the brightest reflections.
So in weighing the $50 price difference between the CrystalPro and the UHD Matte, it comes down to the stand and the front screen layer. Will we also see a performance difference in the newer model? Let's take a look.