Excellent 4K At An Excellent Price
Given the performance of the last two 28-inch 4K monitors we reviewed, we drew the conclusion that buying a desktop Ultra HD display for only $650 meant accepting some compromises compared to the more expensive premium products. Planar's IX2850 calls that observation into question.
It’s pretty evident from reader feedback that TN is not a favored technology. And in all fairness, a lot of twisted-nematic screens are poor in quality. But it is possible to engineer a display that rivals IPS in all areas – contrast, light output, color saturation and accuracy. The only real difference is seen in off-axis viewing.
Of course, that disadvantage is offset by a category that TN still has a commanding lead in: panel speed. When attributes like resolution and refresh rate are equal, TN demonstrates lower input lag and faster screen draw times than IPS nearly every time. And even the newest panels like this one come in at a far better price point.
There are some exciting options out there for gamers right now. New 120 and 144Hz panels with G-Sync are starting to appear, and if you don’t want or need frame rate-matching, the choices more numerous. But most of those panels are limited to 1920x1080. Of course, there are the QHD monitors from Overlord and Asus, but some enthusiasts are waiting to go straight to 4K.
These 28-inch screens won’t give you G-Sync or 144Hz. However, they are faster and cheaper than any other Ultra HD monitor right now. It boils down to what kind of games you play. For ultimate response and high frame rates, you might be better off sticking with FHD or QHD.
If you’re just after more pixel density, Planar's latest becomes a compelling choice. It posts terrific contrast numbers and great color accuracy, whether you calibrate or not. And even though it doesn’t employ a no-air-gap front layer, image clarity is as good or better than any of the 4K displays we’ve tested.
In addition to excellent performance, the IX2850 sets itself apart with its really cool FlexFour feature. The ability to display four sources at once usually requires an outboard processor. Considering that this screen’s street price is about the same as Asus’ and Dell’s, the IX2850 is an unbeatable value if you need that particular function.
In past reviews, we’ve commented about Windows’ poor font scaling and how that affects the usability of 4K monitors of all sizes. Many users employ dpi scaling successfully, so we’ll leave that issue as a matter of personal preference. I will say that I used the IX2850 without enabling scaling, though I was forced to don a pair of prescription reading glasses. Younger eyes (mine are 48 years old) will have an easier time, and they’ll enjoy a ton of desktop real estate in the process.
This is our third review of a 28-inch 4K screen based on the TN panel from Innolux. Planar is doing more than its competition with its implementation. We’ll be looking at more of these monitors from Phillips, Samsung and AOC in future reviews. For its excellent performance, unique FlexFour feature and unbeatable value, we’re giving it the Tom’s Hardware Smart Buy Award.