It's difficult to review the $1,660 HP ZR30w fairly, without also mentioning the $1,500 Dell UltraSharp U3011. I won't speak in specifics concerning the Dell's performance (we've tested but not yet reviewed it), but I will say that it offers many more connections and features than the HP ZR30w, at a lower price. The monitors use the same LG panel, but unlike Dell with the U3011, Hewlett-Packard decided not to include an onscreen display (OSD) with the ZR30w, severely limiting its performance potential, as the only adjustable option is brightness. Although the ZR30w has great baseline performance, it's difficult to recommend it when there are other, much more well-equipped 30-inch monitors on the market for a lower price.
Design and features
The HP ZR30w is a giant beast of a monitor. Not unexpected given its 30-inch screen size. The panel measure an ultrawide 27.2 inches and is 2 inches in depth initially and adds another inch for the power and connection options, bringing the panel's full depth to 3 inches. The footstand is the footstand to end all footstands, measuring a full 17 inches in width and 10.6 inches in depth. The monitor offers screen height adjustment, swivel, and a 35-degree back tilt. The bezel is 0.9 inch thick and the screen measures 5.2 inches from the desktop at its highest and 1.6 inches at its lowest. When at its lowest height, the monitor doesn't budge when knocked from the sides, and moves only slightly even at its highest height, thanks to its super footstand and 27.3-pound weight.
In the lower right-hand corner of the bezel is a button array, aligned horizontally. Options include brightness control and a source button and on the far right is the power button. Each button is about an inch wide, and each has a tactile feel and emits a soft "pop" when pressed.
The ZR30w's connections include DVI, DisplayPort, four USB downstream ports, and one upstream. Accessing these from the front was an exercise in mental anguish, as they are embedded fairly deeply in the monitor.
|Connectivity: DVI, DisplayPort, Component|
|Ergonomic options: 35 degree back tilt, 45 degrees swivel, 3.6-inch screen height adjustment range|
|Aspect ratio: 16:10|
|VESA wall mount support: Yes|
|Included video cables: DVI, DisplayPort|
|Panel Type: H-IPS|
|Screen film: Matte|
|Pixel-response rate: 7ms|
|Number of presets: n/a|
|Picture options: Brightness, Dynamic Contrast Ratio|
|Color controls: n/a|
|Gamma control: n/a|
|Additional features: Four USB downstream; one upstream|
We tested the HP ZR30w through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 95 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
The ZR30w excelled at most of our color-scales tests, tending to correctly display dark to light scales; however, we noticed a heavy green-tint problem in our color tracking test. This imperfection reared its ugly head somewhat when we watched movies. In our grayscale bars test, we were able to see dark gray down to level 2--two levels above black, which indicates good black-level performance. The ZR30w performed well in our uniformity and dark screen tests, showing only a minimum amount of backlight bleed-through. Unfortunately, we did see clear evidence of static streaking. Static streaking occurs when there are large changes in contrast and either the darker or lighter color "streaks" onto its counterpart, giving, for example, black bars on a white background.
The biggest problem with the ZR30w is that its performance cannot be adjusted beyond the luminance of the backlight, severely limiting its performance potential.
Text: In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size. Not much wrong a monitor can do at this high a resolution on such a large screen.
Movies: We tested the HP ZR30w using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." We saw deep blacks and mostly accurate color that looked great on the huge 30-inch screen. Faces looked natural with no egregious tint problems, but an option to tweak the green down a few points would have been welcome.
Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with StarCraft II, it is our new favorite tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. Yes, StarCraft II looks incredible running at 2,560x1,600 resolution and has definitely spoiled us, as after testing we found ourselves crawling back to our 24-inch monitors, which seem positively limited now (sigh). The colors and vibrancy on the ZR30w are second to none and everything looked detailed and popped from the screen.