Planar IX2850 28-Inch Ultra HD Monitor Review: Affordable 4K

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.

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  • JWoody
    T&N+Film? Yuk, ill pass... been using an IPS variant since 2005 and ill never go back. "Ultra-HD" or not. Ill take accuarcy and viewing angle over speed anyday, as long as its fast enough....
  • yumri
    I welcome the advance in technology just i am waiting for an IPS 4k monitor myself is all
  • ralanahm
    the more then one input makes for interesting possiblities on an older work setup where you can get all work screens on one screen
  • redgarl
    After going 4k, you are not coming back. A pair of 970 GTX are enough for good performances.

    Also, you don't need AA at 4k.
  • jasonelmore
    The next gen games are not running well on 4K. Assassin's Creed: unity gets 24 FPS with SLI GTX 980's. FC4 gets around 28 FPS.

    We still have a long way to go. Probably 2 more generations of graphics cards, before it becomes affordable and with good performance. SLI needs to not be a requirement.
  • jasonelmore
    and that's with AA off completely.
  • aberkae
    Please review the 4k monoprice monitor just fell to $517 60hz tn display.
  • cypeq
    4k isn't by any means affordable deal.
  • makaveli316
    You can't play any game that is coming right now on a 4k monitor. Sure, if you don't mind playing with 30-40 fps.... Sorry, but i'm not spending that money for 4k monitor, just to say "hey look, i have a 4k monitor". I want performance as well and that isn't coming any time soon. It costs 500$, but you're forced to go SLI and i see people are struggling even on 1080p with SLI. So in the end, you spend like 1000$ and you still can't max out a game and have decent fps.
  • bob hays
    379261 said:
    You can't play any game that is coming right now on a 4k monitor. Sure, if you don't mind playing with 30-40 fps.... Sorry, but i'm not spending that money for 4k monitor, just to say "hey look, i have a 4k monitor". I want performance as well and that isn't coming any time soon. It costs 500$, but you're forced to go SLI and i see people are struggling even on 1080p with SLI. So in the end, you spend like 1000$ and you still can't max out a game and have decent fps.


    Unless its an older generation or very cheap setup, no one struggles at 1080p with SLI.
  • soldier45
    28 inches just too small after using a 30 inch 2560 x 1600 display since 2009. Next upgrade is a Phillips 40" 4K monitor which is coming in December for $800. My 2 x 980 classifieds won't have a problem running it either. Do your research before spouting off at the mouth about things you clearly know nothing about some of you.
  • belzoth
    In the title it says "Affordable 4k." Maybe the monitor is affordable, but 4k gaming is not affordable because the expense involve in building a PC that plays AAA games at a high quality on 4k is by no means affordable yet.
  • Steveymoo
    I see a one or two people complaining about this being a TN 4k panel. There are 4k IPS panels out there, but obviously you will be paying a steep premium. So, just realize that this is targeted at enthusiasts on a stringent budget. Can't live without 4k IPS? Get your wallet out, and cough up $1500+
  • cknobman
    Since I dont make a habit of using my computer monitor at off angles this monitor will fit the bill quite nicely. Finally something affordable I'm willing to purchase.
  • kiniku
    Pass. Too soon. I'd also have to buy more video hardware for it. Stupid. I'm not going to pay to be an early adopter so to finance cheaper models for those that smartly wait. My 27" LG Quad HD IPS is amazing.
  • Doug Lord
    Nvidea and AMD are rumored to have new cards ready for us soon that will output 50% more then 980 GTX. They will be brutally pricey because they are 550 and will need massive cooling on 28nm. But when 20nm hits they will shrink them, drop the price and max out the clock speeds. By next Xmas we should be able to get good 4k gaming at 60 fps from sli setups. But yeah 980 sli for sub 30 fps and no AA. No thanks.
  • Doug Lord
    Also you can't do real 4k without at least 8 GB of RAM. And with real 4k textures your gonna need BANDWIDTH. Stacked ram could be HUGE for 4k.
  • steve4king
    4k isn't all about gaming. 1080p is not enough for me when it comes to text. In regards to gaming however, 1080p is great. 2160p is a sweet spot for resolution allowing you to run 2160p at the desktop and 1080p for games without any pixel sharing/splitting. I'm still waiting for someone to make a 2160p@60hz that can also do 1080p@120hz with adaptive refresh. ..I'm getting so very impatient haha.
  • crowland104
    "Affordable"
  • Zeroplanetz
    When a good non TN panel of 4k with a high refresh rate hits at 1080p price points then I'll look into 4k. Until then my 1080p with dsr on works perfectly well. This dsr stuff gives my current monitors new life. :).