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HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display

Review - HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display

by , 9:30 AM EDT, June 17th, 2008

Color critical work places high demands on displays, and not many LCD models are up to the task. HP is taking on that market in a very serious way with its new DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display, and its low-ball price makes the display affordable for the pro-sumer market, too.

The DreamColor LP2480zx is a 24-inch 30-bit LCD-technology display that's both Macintosh and Windows compatible. It sports DisplayPort 1.1, HDMI 1.3, DVI-I, analog, component, S-video, and composite inputs, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, tilt and swivel, height adjustment, pivot rotation, a built-in 4-port USB hub, and front-facing controls. The killer features, however, are that it can display over a billion colors -- which means it can fully display most color spaces -- and it used RGB LED backlighting for amazingly accurate colors.

HP's DreamColor LP2480zx

Most LCD monitors use white CCF or LED light to illuminate the display. HP's move to use RGB LED offers a substantially higher level of precision over whites and ultimately all colors displayed. It also means that the display is capable of showing accurate color regardless of how bright or dim it is set, and shows deeper blacks with far more shadow detail than most other displays.

It ships with presets for several industry standard color spaces including sRGB, Adobe RGB, Rec. 601, Rec. 709, and DCI-P3, and users can create their own custom color space, too. Switching color spaces is easy thanks to the front-mount controls and on-screen menus.

The push button controls are backlit, and fade out when you are done changing settings. Pressing any button brings all of them to life, and then your second button press performs it's assigned task. It's a nice touch that saves users from having to know exactly where each button sits when working in low-light conditions.

Apple 23-inch Cinema Display (left) and DreamColor LP2480zx (right)

HP estimates that the DreamColor LP2480zx will hold its calibration for about 1,000 hours, which means it should remain color accurate for substantially longer between calibrations than most other displays.

That color accuracy didn't happen by accident. HP teamed with Dream Works Animation to design an LCD display that was fully capable of replacing the studio's CRT monitors for color critical work. The DreamColor LP2480zx was the result.

With a list of features like that, you would expect the DreamColor LP2480zx to hold up in real world conditions, and it most certainly does. The image quality made my trusty Apple 23-inch Cinema Display seem pale and washed out in comparison -- and I regularly calibrate my display.

The refresh rate was fast enough to keep any images or video from flickering, and I was able to test that under the most critical of conditions: with real-time rendered fight scene footage from Dream Works Animation's Kung Fu Panda. The characters looked at least as good as they did in the theater, the shadowy areas did not turn muddy, and there were no visible artifacts.

Images looked better than I expect, and digital photos looked just as I expected when printed to properly calibrated printer.

HP's display (right) offers better whites than Apple's display (left).

The DreamColor LP2480zx holds up well in the film and video market, and is equally suited for graphic design, photography, and game design as well. Not every display can hold its own across multiple design markets, but this one does surprisingly well.

The downside to the DreamColor LP2480zx is that even though it supports 30-bit color, there aren't many video cards for Windows capable of supporting that color depth, and I couldn't find any for the Mac. By extension, there probably aren't too many applications yet that can take advantage of 30-bit color, either

Despite that limitation, I found that the display was still capable of accurately rendering images and colors. Also, the DreamColor LP2480zx is currently available in only one size.

The Bottom Line
The DreamColor LP2480zx is a powerful display that's ready to take on monitors that cost substantially more. Its sub US$3,500 price tag comes in well below $20,000 and higher price point that similar displays command. It offers stellar color accuracy in multiple color spaces, and thanks to its RGB LED backlighting offers great accuracy when setting white point. This is the only monitor I've found in the sub $4,000 range that makes me want to replace my Apple Cinema Display.

Product: HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display

Company: HP

List Price: $3,299

5 out of 5 stars

Pros: Crazy-accurate color, versatile, presets for multiple color spaces.
Cons: Few video cards capable of taking full advantage of the display's features.

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