Three 27" IPS LCDs: UltraSharp U2711, DS-277W, And MultiSync PA271W

Calibrated Performance: Brightness And Contrast Ratio

Calibrating a monitor is akin to benchmarking under controlled settings. It isn't particularly meaningful to compare the out-of-box performance of one monitor to another. If you want to know what a monitor is capable of, you need to normalize settings in the same way you benchmark two graphics cards.

All three of our 27" IPS-based monitors perform well in white luminance calibration, but we see a large difference in black production. The NEC PA271 excels, while Dell's U2711 produces more mediocre blacks. The most startling result is DoubleSight's DS-277W. It cannot produce deep blacks, resulting in a poorer contrast ratio. This doesn't imply that DoubleSight uses a low-quality panel. Quite the opposite, in fact. The DS-277W suffers in black production due to the monitor's hardware circuitry.

I used Paint to draw a black background on the DS-277W, but it looks grey when the brightness is turned up. And yet, the OSD menu still looks black. DoubleSight's hardware controller seems to affect chromaticity more than luminosity when you change the brightness setting. This ultimately affects black production, and in turn results in a poorer contrast ratio. So, while the panel is capable of 1000:1, it's not a contrast ratio that you actually see due to poor hardware.

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  • terr281
    What monitors to review next?... As many people said in the review of the 22" TN panels from your last review, the next review should include "enthusiast available" ~23" panels. (Instead of just big box "Buy from Best Buy" models.)

    The lowest price of the three 22" TN panel monitors you reviewed was $180. A quick Newegg search shows several similar panels from names such as Acer, Asus, etc. starting at $140. (And, in the gaming, as well as office environments, 2 or 3 monitors are now more common than one single large one.)
  • nevertell
    IPS vs VA in gaming.

    Although just a regular sum up of the available 22-24 VA panels would be great.
  • Anonymous
    Thank you for the excellent and thorough review. Perhaps next time, the new Apple 27" Thunderbolt display can be thrown into the mix. For a lot of video and photography pros like myself, the Apple display is considered to be the "standard" and I would love to see how it stacks up again the competition. Also maybe throw in a professional level Eizo display as well to show the difference between a ~$1000 display and a $3000 display.
  • Anonymous
    The new Apple Thunderbolt 27" display - would be nice to see if it's worth the money
  • Anonymous
    120hz monitors lead the way

    You should review a 2560x1600 120hz IPS monitor.

    Oh wait...
    2560x1600 isn't supported at 120hz over DVI-D (dual link)
    IPS monitors can't do 120hz with today's technology



  • agnickolov
    I'd recommend the same IPS review applied on affordable 24-26" monitors that most of us would actually potentially buy. It's nice to dream about 27"+ 2560x1440, but let's get back to reality with 24" 1920x1080 and 1920x1200 (if still available) IPS monitors please. (At least until higher resolutions enter mainstream price points.)
  • crisan_tiberiu
    I have a 22" Philips LED Backlight monitor and i am very happy with it . I dont see any Philips monitors in any of your reviews, why is that? :)
  • boletus
    Nice roundup, it had me measuring what a 26" wide monitor would look like on my desk. However, you need to fix the title block in the table for the NEC monitor on the "Black And White Uniformity" page (it says Samsung S22A350H).
  • soccerdocks
    On the "Black And White Uniformity, Viewing Angles" page the 3rd table states that it is for the Samsung S22A350H when it is actually for the NEC.
  • Anonymous
    Thank you for this comparison, very interesting reading!

    I am somewhat disappointed that 27" monitors nowadays don't use 2560*1600 panels.
    That resolution makes much more sense to me for a monitor that is not targetted at the average consumer.
    Personally I would love a 2560*1920 (or 2048) screen @ 120Hz, but if I understand correctly link speed becomes an issue here.

    Why is it that displays for mobile phones are increasing in pixel density, but desktop displays don't improve in this regard?

    For a next review I would really like to get a better understanding of (high-resolution) 120Hz monitors. What are the (dis)advantages of 120Hz for regular/2D usage, etc...
  • Jax69
    wait for Samsung's PLS and other iterations of the panel from different brands.
  • pirateboy
    please review Asus PA246Q and any other 24 inch 16:10 screens you can get your hands on...please don't review anymore 16:9 screens
  • bavman
    I wish i could afford one of these beautiful monitors =(
  • jacobdrj
    30" Dell IPS, Apple Cinima Display, IMac 27/30" display, TV's for use as TV monitors. 3d Monitors. Quad LCD monitors (RGB+Yellow)... Projectors, including lag time...

    CNet used to do stuff like this, so did PC Mag. They stopped. Bothers me. I have to rely totally on Amazon/Newegg/TigerDirect user reviews for screen info.
  • Soul_keeper
    "But then there are the folks who simply prefer a single workspace and ultra-high resolutions."
    ^^ me
  • lbwmoo
    I too would like a better explanation on the issue of pixel density. In 2002 you could order a laptop from dell with a 15" UXGA screen with 1600x1200 resolution. It was a gorgeous screen then, and doesn't look bad now. Standalone desktop monitors, however, with that resolution start at 20" minimum. You can get 1920x1080 at screen sizes starting around 21.5" and ranging to 27" that I've seen in stores. Are there benefits to packing the same resolution into the smaller package, such as smaller pixels leading to crisper image? Is there a "sweet spot" to this resolution that balances pixel size and density vs overall space?

    It seems that 1920x1080 is the new norm, which is annoying because I don't see why I should have to give up vertical resolution just to fit the standard of the current high definition videos. 16x9 vs. 16x10 is a debate right now for me. I would rather have 16x10 because more screen real estate is better, but it seems that the 16x10 front has stagnated. All the new goodies are going into 16x9, with the exception of the 30" 2560x1600 models.
  • pirateboy
    jacobdrj30" Dell IPS, Apple Cinima Display, IMac 27/30" display, TV's for use as TV monitors. 3d Monitors. Quad LCD monitors (RGB+Yellow)... Projectors, including lag time...CNet used to do stuff like this, so did PC Mag. They stopped. Bothers me. I have to rely totally on Amazon/Newegg/TigerDirect user reviews for screen info.

    here is an excellent screen review site
  • ram1009
    These hi res monitors are just another case of diminishing returns. You spend several times the dollars as you would on equivilent standard res monitors for a fractional improvement in performance. These are definitely not main stream items. The last time I looked Newegg only offered one monitor in this res range.
  • tmax
    Nice monitors but way too much money.
  • compton
    Thanks for your excellent review, Andrew. I'd like to see a 24" roundup of IPS/e-IPS. Dell has their new 2412 16:10 24" e-IPS paneled Ultrasharp out, but it's not high gamut like the 2410 and especially the 2408 (which is S-PVA, fantastic, and not for everyone). e-IPS is marching on to higher adoption, and it would be great to see how these e-IPS displays stack up.