In the Studio with the HP DreamColor Monitor

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To be frank, most monitors that traverse my desk aren’t exactly the most exciting in the world. If the panel is sharp and accurate, I am 95% satisfied, since all the other bells and whistles are almost unnecessary if you just need something to sit in front of you for editing photos and video. This thinking all changed when the HP DreamColor Z27x G2 Studio Display arrived. Not only does it boast outstanding specs, the overall feel is spectacular, and it has an integrated colorimeter to complete the package.

HP DreamColor Z27x G2 16:9 IPS Studio Display

Immediately after pulling the display out of the box and setting it on my desk, I could tell this was a professional-quality monitor. It is solid, weighty and, when you adjust the angle, it is simultaneously secure and easy to move. It also helps that when the monitor is turned on, it reminds you to wait 30 minutes to perform color-critical work, since the display should be allowed to warm up, which makes it feel like it was truly designed for professionals. Flipping through the OSD menu reveals plenty of other small functions that elevate the Z27x G2, including the ability to set the color of the button lights to red when below a certain luminance, program calibration times, and access numerous preset color modes that look great right off the bat.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, though, because I haven’t even gone over the basic specs. Resolution is respectable for a 27" display at 2560 x 1440, and it features 250 cd/m² brightness along with a 1500:1 static contrast ratio and 60 Hz refresh rate for crisp, clear images. Where it elevates things is with its color accuracy—it is a true 10-bit display with 100% coverage of sRGB and BT.709, 99% coverage of Adobe RGB, and 98% coverage of DCI-P3. Built into the display are various color spaces, including DCI P3 D65, BT.709, BT.2020, sRGB D65, SRGB D50, Adobe RGB D65, Adobe RGB D50, Native, and low blue light/night/reading. You can even adjust the luminance directly from the menu.

The real trick of this display is the integrated colorimeter. It pops out from the top of the screen and allows users to recalibrate quickly and easily, so that you always have finely tuned settings. You can choose to use it as needed or set it to a schedule, meaning it will always be ready to go. I ran through the calibration process, and it is quite smooth and easy to get started via the OSD. There are also other options for getting your display calibrated to your ideal settings, including support for other calibration tools and scripting. I didn’t dive too far into this, but know that a professional should have no problems bringing the Z27x G2 into their studio environment.

One thing that was easy to see was that the color on the unit looked great. I ran a few different calibrations with both internal and external colorimeters for the Adobe RGB setting and couldn’t see any changes between them, meaning that the display is very capable of displaying accurate colors and calibrating to them. I popped over to the P3 setting and had the same experience, so photo and video editors should be very happy with the quality of this unit. Another benefit for designers and editors is the ability to access on-screen markers that will help lay out titles and check designs.

Now to talk about the I/O, of which there are plenty of options. My go-to is the USB Type-C connection for all the obvious reasons. It’s one simple cord that will support DisplayPort along with the various data connections. There are still two full-size DisplayPort 1.2 inputs, two HDMI 2.0 inputs, four USB 3.0 ports, two “DreamColor” USB 2.0 ports for calibration tools, a KVM USB port for the built-in KVM function, an RJ45 for networking the display, and a 3.5mm audio output. Like I said, there are plenty of options here so that you can get this perfectly set up to work with your configuration, and even with multiple PCs. Finally, the last thing is simply the stand, which has ±45° of swivel and -5 to +20° of tilt for easily positioning it as needed.

2 “DreamColor” USB 2.0 ports
2 DisplayPort 1.2 inputs, 2 HDMI 2.0 inputs, 4 USB 3.0 ports, a KVM...
±45° of swivel and -5 to +20° of tilt

While this is a damn good display, there are a couple of wishes I have for a G3. First, I would like to see the resolution bumped up to 4K. The current resolution is plenty and arguably for a 27" screen 4K could be overkill, but for video editing, it would be nice to get a 1:1 readout on the screen, and it could potentially be used as an on-set monitor with a camera connected directly to it. Also, I’ve just gotten accustomed to higher resolutions on these types of screens lately, especially since my iMac hits 5K. Second, HDR support! The color specs are there, so give it a bit more brightness and contrast and then this is something I can almost use for HDR grading, or even something that provides a type of HDR preview if it can’t hit full HDR spec. These two features are going to be important for creatives in the future, so I wish that a monitor as good as this would’ve already had them, since it would’ve made it just that much closer to perfect.

Though not as critical as the first couple of wishes, I would like the USB Type-C power delivery to get a boost, since the 15W max can’t keep up with my MacBook Pro when running video-editing software. If you need some of these features today, I would say to take a good close look at the bigger Z31x, which has a larger DCI 4K screen with 60W power delivery. Still, I do want to make it clear that this is one of the best monitors available if you are working on color-critical applications. And after using it for a couple of weeks, I want one.

HP Z31x 31.1" 17:9 DreamColor Studio Cinema 4K IPS Display

What features make the DreamColor Z27x G2 something you would want in your editing setup? What would you like to see on future versions? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below!

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