Planar 27" QHD Monitor Review: Clarity Like We've Never Seen

Packaging, Physical Layout, And Accessories

Product 360

The first impression we got when we pulled the PXL2790MW from its box was, “boy this thing looks like an iMac!” Its slim profile, smooth face, and minimalist appearance invite comparisons to Apple’s all-in-one machine. This is a monitor that looks equally good on or off. Its front surface is almost featureless except for a textured band across the bottom. And there isn’t a single sharp corner or angle. Smooth, rounded edges and a gentle taper across the back are well-executed.

Planar bills this as a bezel-free design. Of course, there actually is a bezel; it’s just flush with the front layer. Turned on, there is a 26 mm black frame around the image. And it’s a true black, not the dark gray plastic you'd typically find. The best way to imagine it is to look at a black iPad. The frame actually enhances perceived contrast and brightness, especially in a dark room. When the lights are off, the image seems to float in front of you.

Across the bottom is a textured band that is not quite black. It has a molded Planar logo and five touch-sensitive controls on the right side. Starting on the left is the OSD button, followed by up and down arrows that double as volume and brightness hotkeys. Then we have the select key that also cycles through the inputs. Finally, there is a round power button that is actually molded in to make it easy to locate. The power LED glows a bright blue when the monitor is on and orange when it's in standby mode.

The side profile is not super-thin, but rather gently tapered to de-emphasizes the internal power supply's bulge somewhat. Sadly missing are USB ports, which appear on a vast majority of displays today. With the proliferation of mobile devices in our lives, you can never have too many USB ports.

Many style-oriented displays forgo the VESA mount in favor of an integrated base and upright, but Planar doesn't go that route. Remove the four screws and you can use your own bracket or wall-mounted solution. This is a smart decision on Planar's part too, because the only adjustment available from the included base is tilt. Fortunately, the monitor’s height is just about perfect, so you're probably only going to need to tilt it up a bit if your desk is of average height.

Inputs include DisplayPort 1.1, VGA, DVI, and HDMI. There is also an audio input and headphone output. We never really thought about the placement of headphone jacks until we reviewed NEC's EA294MWi, which is the only display we’ve seen with that connector on the side. It just doesn't make sense to put audio I/O out of reach on a down-facing panel around back.

Bundled accessories include DVI, DisplayPort, and stereo audio cables, along with an IEC power cord for the built-in supply. A printed manual rounds out the package.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • Llorelie
    no award?
  • stoogie
    16.2ms SMTT reviewed catleap or crossovers from greensum/korea LG S-IPS have been out for well over 2 years now at a $300 or less starting price. Get with the times toms.
  • Bondfc11
    I agree with stoogie - also Toms needs to get an Overlord tempest and take a look at a real gaming 1440 panel that can do up to 120hz refresh rates. This screen isn't that special and the housing has been around in other variants for a year now as well.
  • tpi2007
    445 cd/m2 of luminance as maximum and 174.7655 cd/m2 as minimum ? Why do monitor manufacturers insist on delivering brighter and brighter monitors ? People don't use them like they are on display in a very well lit showroom, if you want to use one of these at home with just an indirect light source on the wall for some gaming at night, you're out of luck, this doesn't even reach the industry standard of 120 cd/m2 as adequate regular brightness, let alone the 50 cd/m2 that Tom's and many others consider an acceptable minimum to have in a darker room.

  • s3anister
    12033250 said:
    no award?

    What do you seriously think that another 27" 2560x1440 60Hz monitor that is already in class with a dozen other models identical to it, deserves an award?
  • vaughn2k
    How about a "First in Class" Award? There should be something... ;)
  • DarkSable
    Looks exactly like the "new" QHD Iiyama. Doesn't perform well. Costs a lot. What's the advantage, again?

    As for those overlord monitors, I wasn't impressed by them, mostly because I had it sitting next to a lightboost 2 120hz TN panel. Yes, the overclocked IPS panel has better colour (though that's largely negated by using it on minimal brightness in a dark room, like we've already been talking about), and it's certainly pretty and gives a lot of screen real estate... but it can't compare to a real 120Hz monitor, especially not one with a strobing backlight.
  • WyomingKnott
    "With the new PXL2790MW, we quickly discovered there was no need for scaling in any program. The image is so clear that even the smallest text is fully legible." Technically admirable, but not enough for people like me with middle-aged eyes. The more pixels per inch, the happier my eyes are, but they still want decent-sized fonts.

    Now this sort of monitor clarity plus an OS that supports decent enlarged fonts would be really nice. Apps that scale well over a range of sizes would be even nicer. A 1000 pixel wide frame may be good for some people no matter how small it is; others of us would like at least a certain number of inches. Support all of us.

    (Yes, I know that this isn't the monitor's fault. It's a poor convention in many parts of the software industry.)
  • warezme
    I have never had a major problem with text clarity with pretty much any LCD since the first thing I make sure to do is set the panel or monitor to native resolution hardware scaling and turn off all windows text or font smoothing and windows set to the same monitor native resolution. I haven't seen one of these 2560 screens in person but I have experienced the default font issue that happens when you try and let windows smooth or scale. I don't like monitors with radiused corners because that makes the bezels even thicker then they need to be. I also don't like the way most monitor manufacturer try to hide the input plugs by making them inset and pointing down. It is a pain to try to plug or unplug anything when you can't see the plug without laying the monitor on its side. Also it makes no use to label the inputs if they are inset dark on dark. Make the text white.
  • -Fran-
    This deserves a "meh" award at most.

    QHD is not ready for gaming prime time yet, sorry folks.