HP ZR30w Versus DoubleSight DS-309W, 30-Inch Monitors, Tested

30 Inches And 2560x1600: Two Big-Screen Monitors

Very few of us can claim that we have enough desktop real estate. If you say you do, you haven't spent enough time tinkering around on just one more monitor.

Now that LCD panels are commodities (and not luxuries), enthusiasts enjoy filling their desktops with either multiple displays or a single large one. Twenty-seven-inch panels are great, especially with the high pixel density afforded by QHD (2560x1440). But we continue to lament the near-demise of 16:10 panels. That extra bit of height makes it so much easier to put two documents or two browser windows side by side. In fact, the jumbo monitors we're looking at today sport 33 percent more screen area than a 27-inch 16:9 panel (404 square inches versus 311).

If you’re willing to lay down $1100-1200, HP and DoubleSight both have massive 30-inch 16:10 monitors for your desktop. Sporting resolutions of 2560x1600, they offer pixel density nearly equivalent to a 27-inch QHD screen. Even at a viewing distance of less than three feet, you won’t see the dot structure unless you have very sharp eyes. And since everything becomes smaller, you get more room for multiple windows on your desktop. Plus, with a panel this big, one is probably all you’ll need. Making room for two or three certainly wouldn't be easy.

HP ZR30w

Just like its smaller brother that we reviewed in HP ZR2740w Versus Asus PB278Q: QHD 27" Monitors, Tested, HP's ZR30w comes in an enormous box that protects its contents from all but the most vicious handling. The panel and stand are fully encased in dense Styrofoam. DVI and DisplayPort cables are included, along with a standard power cord for the internal power supply. Also in the box is a CD with the user manual and drivers.

The base is a heavy metal frame covered in high-quality plastic. Its footprint is fairly small and only extends forward of the panel by two inches. At the rear, it takes up another eight inches and totals 17 inches in width. HP did a very good job designing a base that is extremely solid and stable without eating up too much of your desk. Ergonomic adjustments include height, tilt, and swivel. The panel does not rotate to portrait mode, though. If you want to use your own bracket, you can remove the factory hardware and use the panel’s 100 mm VESA mount.

The bezel is near-black in color and completely light-absorbing. Width is a uniform 24 mm on all sides. On the lower-right side of the bottom bezel lies the power button, a key to change input sources, and two controls for raising and lowering the brightness. There is no on-screen menu, and therefore no other adjustments available. The buttons have a nice high-end feel, and the entire panel seems solidly built. The screen itself has a very aggressive anti-glare coating. While it completely eliminates reflections, its texture is so deep that we see a subtle sparkle effect on the screen. This phenomenon is visible in smooth-toned images like those of sky or water. Expanses of solid color or subtly-shaded content seem to show it the most. We don’t consider that a deal-breaker by any stretch, but it might bother the super-picky user. At nearly 3.5 inches thick, this monitor won’t make a fashion statement, but the simple industrial styling is understated and should blend well into any office environment. Of course, its sheer size will stand out, and if you have one on your desk we expect that your co-workers will want one too.

Inputs are all-digital and face downwards. Only DVI and DisplayPort are included, so no VGA or HDMI ports are present. For peripherals, there is a USB-B upstream connector and four standard USB-A ports. Two are on the input panel and the other two are on the left side of the bezel. They are all USB 2.0-compatible. There is no provision for audio, either through analog jacks or via DisplayPort.

Like HP's ZR2740w, the ZR30w utilizes an H-IPS panel from LG. The big differences here are the CCFL backlight and the 16:10 aspect ratio, making the resolution 2560x1600 instead of 2560x1440. This is a serious amount of screen area. Because of the extra size, pixel density is slightly lower (100 pixels per inch instead of 108). At normal working distance, even those with sharp eyes won’t notice the difference. Once you’ve had a screen this large in front of you, it’s hard to go back.

DoubleSight DS-309W

The DS-309W is also packaged very securely in a double-corrugated box. Rather than the suitcase-style carton most monitors come in, DoubleSight lays the panel flat and surrounds it with soft rubbery foam that doesn’t crumble or break easily. Unfortunately, the bundled cables are a bit sparse, with only DVI, VGA, and a stereo audio cable to drive the internal speakers. The power supply is a large external brick. In fact, it’s one of the largest we’ve seen. But its rubber feet are a nice touch that won’t mar your desktop. Rounding out the accessory kit is a CD with drivers and a PDF user manual.

The most attractive part of the DS-309W is its base, which is a quarter-inch thick glass plate. It’s quite substantial, keeping the monitor balanced well on four large rubber feet. The rest of the attachment hardware is less impressive. There is no height or tilt adjustment; just swivel. Luckily, the screen sits just high enough to work on the typical desktop. If you want to use a custom bracket or swing-arm, there are two sets of threaded VESA-compatible fittings around back at 100 and 300 millimeters.

The bezel is made of a soft plastic that is prone to scratching. It’s finished in a gloss black and measures 23 mm at the top and sides, and 44 mm on the bottom. The controls are in the usual lower-right location, and are activated by downward-facing buttons. They feel cheap and require enough effort that the panel wobbles as you operate them. We also found them a bit confusing at first. The menu and source keys are easy to understand. However, there is no select key, only up/down arrows and plus/minus. It turns out that plus doubles as the select button. We also discovered the source inputs do not auto-sense. You have to choose them manually. Style-wise, this monitor reminds us a little of the value-based Auria EQ276W with its rounded corners and chassis free of angles or bevels. The screen itself has a superb anti-glare coating that cuts reflections completely, all without introducing any graininess to the image.

You get a complete set of inputs from the DS-309W, with one each of VGA, HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort. There is also an analog audio input and a headphone output. Both are one-eighth-inch jacks. The speakers will also pass an audio signal from the monitor’s HDMI input. Volume can be controlled both in the OSD, or using the plus and minus keys on the bezel. There are no USB ports included. All of the input jacks face downward in a recessed portion of the panel’s backside. This makes cables with large connectors, like DVI, a tight fit. It’s best to lay the screen down and make the necessary connections in advance, before placing the monitor on your desk.

This display also uses an H-IPS panel from LG Display. Like the HP, the backlight is CCFL and the aspect ratio is 16:10 with a native resolution of 2560x1600.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Street Price$1199.99$1017.99
Panel TypeH-IPSH-IPS
Screen Size30" (29.7" viewable)30"
Max Resolution2560x16002560x1600
Aspect Ratio16:1016:10
Response Time (GTG)7 ms7 ms
Brightness (cd/m^2)370370
SpeakersNoYes, 2
Refresh Rate60 Hz60 Hz
Dimensions w/baseWxHxD27.3 x 19.3-32.2 x 10.9 in694 x 489-589 x 276 mm27.5 x 21 x 7 in699 x 533 x 178 mm
Panel Thickness3.38 in / 86 mm3 in / 76 mm
WarrantyThree yearsThree years

From a specifications standpoint, these 30” panels are very similar, though the DoubleSight sells for around $180 less than the HP. 

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.

  • vmem
    "And for those who demand a density above 100 pixels per inch and a tall 16:10 aspect ratio, they represent the top of the heap...for now"

    Isn't the ASUS PQ321 already out along with a few other 4K monitors? granted price is a whole other story
  • Marcus52
    The lack of an OSD makes the ZR30w a much better gaming monitor, as the OSD causes higher lag. Personally I have no problem doing without one.

    You seriously can't see the pixels? I can see them on a 27" 2560x1440, which has smaller pixels. The .25mm range is adequate to me, but really I'd prefer something smaller than the .233mm on the 2560x1440.
  • x2ruff4u
    You guys should wait to get any IPS screen. 60HZ is all they come in & tbh 60HZ in terms of technology is old. I would wait to get a 120HZ IPS monitor because it REALLY makes a difference. Sure you can OC your monitor, but most only go up to 90HZ and that can put a toll on it and eventually fry it. Your best bet is to get a 120hz-240hz TV and if your worried about MS don't be. Compared a low MS to a higher HZ there is very little difference in tech terms (read up about it) This year or beginning of next year WE should be getting some nice monitors you can be proud you spent your money. Hell ASUS already has a 4K monitor and I bet money on 4K monitors by mid-end next year.
  • Onus
    Troll post(s) deleted.

    When considering something like this for games, don't forget the cost of the video card(s) needed to drive it. A HD7750 may be "sufferable" even up to 1920x1080, but I'm not sure even a HD7770 or GTX650Ti could play newer games on better than "low" settings on one of these.
  • kungpaoshizi
    How the heck did you get those numbers via the input pcb for input lag?

    I have a ZR30W myself, and I would NEVER trade it unless what I'm upgrading to has more than a 2560x1600 resolution.

    I've played on all sorts of monitors, and resolution trumps all other specs, unless you're dealing with 30fps or something...
    I really wish I would have spent 1200$ on it long ago. Battlefield 3 and other highly graphical games are comparable to nothing else in the world.
  • kungpaoshizi
    Oh btw, I run BF3 high/ultra settings with a GTX 570 oc'd, and it's peachy enough I don't tell my g/f I'm taking my other 570 out of the machine she's using to hook up SLI again...
    The 60hz is not "old tech", it's more than sufficient to run games smoothly if vertical sync is on (even still when it's off). 60 fps is fine, television (pre hd) was 28hz. Anything above 60fps you really don't notice too much.

    Oh, and for those looking for 4k tv's to use (I'm way ahead of ya) they only have 30hz refresh rates over the HDMI 1.2 port. We're going to have to wait for the tv's to add another port, wait for the upgrade to HDMI 2.0, or wait for some other solution.
  • hero1
    I can safely say that I will sit tight and wait for the 4K monitors to hit the market at a reasonable price and grab one as long as they come in at 60Hz or 120Hz and not 30Hz.
  • RedJaron
    It's a shame manufacturers treat 16:10 ratio as a rarity. A decent 1080p is often a little cheaper than a smaller 1680x1050 display and half as much as a slightly larger 1920x1200. Personally I can't stand a 16:9 for a computer. It's fine for TVs and watching media, but to work on I have to have that extra height.
  • kenyee
    Are the panels actually 30-bit panels or are they 20-bit w/ dithering?
  • hero1
    11058091 said:
    It's a shame manufacturers treat 16:10 ratio as a rarity. A decent 1080p is often a little cheaper than a smaller 1680x1050 display and half as much as a slightly larger 1920x1200. Personally I can't stand a 16:9 for a computer. It's fine for TVs and watching media, but to work on I have to have that extra height.

    We aren't going to see many 16:10 in the future. the 4K stuff is going to be 16:9 unless someone makes the move to stick with 16:10. However, the difference when it comes to 16:9 with a 2560x1440 and 16:10 2560x1600 is very minimal unless you really really need that extra height!