HP DreamColor Z24x review
Every time you gape at an astonishing photo or marvel at the spectacle on screen in an IMAX movie theatre, you can be sure of one thing: those images were perfected with the aid of a colour-accurate monitor. But even if you’re not a professional, a colour-accurate monitor can transform your photos and videos for the better. And these days, this doesn’t mean spending megabucks – a point HP is hoping to prove with its DreamColor Z24x.
HP DreamColor Z24x review: specifications
The DreamColor Z24x’s specifications get things off to a good start. HP has employed a 24in, 1,920 x 1,200 AH-IPS panel, which, thanks to GB-R LED backlighting, is capable of covering a claimed 99% of the Adobe RGB colour space. Ten-bit colour is supported and there are also factory-calibrated presets for the sRGB, Adobe RGB and BT.709 (the standard for HD broadcasts) colour spaces. Hardware calibration is on the cards too, as long as you don’t mind forking out a further £180 or so for HP’s DreamColor Calibration Solution Kit, which is a rebadged version of our reference X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter.
The DreamColor Z24x has clearly been designed with professionals in mind. It’s no slim-line looker, but the build quality is excellent: the fully adjustable stand plants the monitor securely to the desk, swivels left and right, flips around into portrait mode and provides 120mm of smooth, wobble-free height adjustment.
Connectivity hits the mark, too. There are DVI, HDMI and Displayport 1.2 inputs, all of which are HDCP-enabled; there’s a DisplayPort output for daisy-chaining a second monitor; and videographers will be pleased to find that the HP properly supports 24p, 30p and 50p video signals (in addition to the usual 60p, of course) at both 720P and 1080P resolutions. The four–port USB 3 hub is a nice touch, too, with two ports at the rear and a further two on the left-hand edge.
Dab the power button and the HP continues to impress. The vertical row of physical buttons is backlit, and although it’s a minor thing, the ability to adjust the backlight brightness, time-out delay or turn off the backlighting completely is welcome. In fact, the on-screen display exhibits more than a little bit of common sense: the on-screen legend means you’re never in any doubt as to which button to press, and the clear, informative menus provide easy access to all key features.
HP DreamColor Z24x review: image quality
For most people, though, all that’s required is to select the required colour space and adjust the screen brightness to suit. With this done, the HP is ready for work. We tested both the sRGB and Adobe RGB modes, and were reasonably impressed by the results. In sRGB mode with the brightness set to 120cd/m2, the HP covered 99.4% of the colour gamut, racked up a decent contrast ratio of 855:1, and achieved an average Delta E of 0.73 and a maximum of 2.77. We measured the panel’s colour temperature at a near-perfect 6,483k.
In Adobe RGB mode, the HP covered 97.2% of the colour gamut, a touch short of its claims. We measured the contrast at 859:1, while the average and maximum Delta E figures came in at 0.88 and 2.54 respectively. The colour temperature of 6,599k wasn’t too far out of whack, either.
Subjectively, the HP serves up some good-looking, colour-accurate images, but there are weaknesses. The first minor issue we encountered, like many IPS panels, is that the HP suffers from IPS glow: black and dark tones glow with a faint white sheen when you view them away from head-on. Unless you can up your budget significantly to afford the likes of the Eizo ColorEdge CX240, however, this is something you’ll just have to put up with.
A more pressing concern is the quality of the LED backlighting. There’s no obvious bleed around the panel’s edges, but uniformity isn’t up to the standards of rivals such as the £550 Eizo ColorEdge CS240. Measured across 15 points on the panel, the HP’s backlight was between 10% and 12% dimmer across the top of the panel and right-hand edge than at the centre point. This is significantly worse than we’re used to seeing from other, admittedly pricier, professional monitors. For instance, the Eizo ColorEdge CS240 deviated by no more than 3% in the same tests.
HP DreamColor Z24x review: verdict
Were it not for the iffy backlighting on our review unit, we’d have been inclined to be very positive about the DreamColor Z24x. Our only closing thought is that other retail units might not exhibit the same level of backlight variation (bear in mind that all monitors vary to some degree due to variations in the individual LCD panels), so we’ve asked HP to provide a second unit for testing to see if this is the case.
That said, by far the biggest selling point for the DreamColor Z24x is its price. Factor in the optional £180 DreamColor Calibration Solution Kit and you’ve potentially got a reasonably colour-accurate, wide-gamut package for less than £600. That’s pretty impressive for the money, but it isn’t quite enough to seal the deal. Spending £150 more will net you an Eizo ColorEdge CS240 and a standard X-Rite i1Display Pro; the vastly superior backlighting and improved colour accuracy are well worth the extra cash.