2007 was the year monitors got big, flat, and dense. David Cohn goes gaga for HP’s entry in the bigger-is-better sweepstakes, from the June 2007 edition of Engineering Automation Report, acquired in 2010 by Jon Peddie Research.
By David Cohn
Engineering Automation Report, June 2007—First there was the Apple Cinema HD Display, the first mainstream 4-megapixel 30” LCD monitor. Then came the Dell 3007WFP. Now, HP enters the ultra high-resolution display arena with its LP3065, the company’s first 30- inch display. HP ups the ante, however, with a wider color gamut—rated at 92% of NTSC, whereas most LCD panels offer only 70-80% of the NTSC color gamut)—and multiple DVI inputs.
Like its competitors, the HP LP3065 features a native resolution of 2560×1600 and must be connected to a dual link-capable graphics card. And as I noted in my review of the Dell display, you simply can’t imagine how much screen real estate 2560×1600 represents until you’ve experienced it first hand. Once you work on one of these 30-inch displays, you’ll never want to go back to anything smaller.
Like its 24” sibling—the HP LP2465, which we reviewed last summer—the LP3065 LCD panel is initially separate from its pedestal base but locks onto the base in seconds. The quick release mechanism and VESA 100mm mounting holes make it easy to mount the panel on the wall or a third-party swing-arm mount. The panel and stand together weigh 30.64 pounds. The panel itself measures 27.2” x 17.9” x 3.3” with the base increasing the overall depth to 9.5”. The base lets you tilt the panel 30-degrees back and 5-degrees forward from vertical, swivel it ±45-degrees, and raise and lower the panel over a 5.1” range. When lowered all the way, the height adjustment locks with the bottom of the bezel 1.25” above my desk. To unlock the panel, I had to tilt it back slightly in order to reach the release button located in the front of the pedestal.
The active matrix TFT (thin film transistor) panel has a contrast ratio of 1000:1, a 0.25mm dot pitch, and a typical brightness of 300 nits (candelas per square meter, cd/m2). While that’s not quite as bright as either the Dell 3007WFP or HP LP2465, we really didn’t see much difference even when viewing all three panels side-by-side. Typical response time is rated at a very fast 12 milliseconds and just 6ms gray-to-gray. With horizontal and vertical viewing angles of 178 degrees, we were able to view the monitor from virtually anywhere in the room with no discernible reduction in brightness or clarity.
Usable around the globe
Although the monitor has only one native display mode, we were able to use resolutions as low as 800×600, but wonder why anyone would choose to use this monitor at anything less than its full 2560×1600 resolution. Like other LCD panels we’ve tested recently, the LP3065 has an integrated power supply, eliminating the need for a power brick, and accepts power in a range from 100 to 240 volts and 50/60 Hz, making it usable virtually anywhere in the world.
One of the most unique aspects of the LP3065 is its three DVI-D inputs. When I asked an HP representative why they included three connectors, they basically said, “Because we could.” Evidently, once they decided to include two DVI inputs, including a third cost next to nothing. I’m glad they did. I connected the monitor to three different computers in my office and then used the input button on the front panel to toggle between the three inputs. The monitor senses the loss of signal (if a computer gets turned off or goes into hibernation) and automatically switches to an active input. The other front panel buttons let you increase or reduce the brightness level and turn the monitor on and off. A LED indicates the current mode: amber for sleep, flashing green for non-supported video modes or when the upper or lower brightness limits have been reached, and steady-green when the monitor is displaying a supported mode. The monitor typically uses approximately 118 watts, dropping to 2 watts in sleep mode.
In addition to its three DVI-D inputs, there is a built-in USB hub with one upstream connection on the rear and four downstream ports along the left side just behind the bezel. HP provides a USB upstream cable and two 6-foot DVI-D video cables. Flexible rubber panels along either side of the pedestal base let you tuck cables out of the way. Accessory rails along the four edges on the back of the monitor accept optional mounted devices, such as speaker bars. The thin bezel on all four sides makes it possible to tile multiple displays on a wall for panoramic viewing of large data sets. At HP’s QuadFest roll-out of its new Quad Core-based system several months ago, the company utilized four LP3065s this way during one of its demos.
Other than the aforementioned buttons, there are no other controls. Notably missing is any sort of on-screen display. Instead, HP provides a CD containing drivers, documentation in 20 different languages, and the HP Display LiteSaver Software that lets you place the monitor into its low-power sleep mode at predefined times, shutting down or reducing power to most internal circuits, thus increasing the lifespan of the monitor and saving energy. Of course, you can always press the front panel power button, if you can remember. But the software proves useful, because even when the computer goes into hibernation, if the monitor isn’t shut down you can still see a faint glow from the monitor. The fluorescent backlight has a rated lamp half-life of 40,000 hours. All other settings, such as color, contrast, and gamma, must be done using the control panel of the graphics driver.
Testing the HP LP3065
To test the monitor, we connected it to a new HP xw8400 workstation equipped with a NVIDIA Quadro FX 3500 graphics accelerator, configuring the display for 2560×1600 pixels and 32-bit (16.7 million) colors. We used DisplayMate from DisplayMate Technologies to help evaluate the visual quality of the LP3065. DisplayMate uses a series of test patterns to help users fine-tune the image and picture quality of their displays and to help discover any picture quality or video artifacts that might otherwise go unrecognized. We have regularly used DisplayMate over the years both to test monitors and to help us adjust our own monitors for optimum performance.
We detected no pixel defects in our evaluation unit. Other tests showed excellent black levels, smooth grayscale, and excellent contrast, noticeably better than the Dell 3007WFP. With the HP LP3065’s superb response time, we saw no evidence of smearing when viewing rapidly moving images.
HP backs the monitor with a 3-year warranty that covers parts, labor, and on-site service as well as 24-hour 90-day toll-free technical support. The HP LP3065 has a suggested retail price of $1,999, but is currently available on the HP website for $1,499, matching Dell’s price for its 3007WFP. (Note that both monitors may be available for even less through various retailers.)
HP waited a while to get into the ultra high-resolution 30-inch monitor game, but the results are worth the wait. The HP LP3065 delivers wider color gamut and better overall image quality than the Dell 3007WFP, and offers three DVI ports. Of course, you could buy two 24-inch 1920×1200 displays for about the same cost as the LP3065, which would actually give you a bit more screen real estate. But for CAD and graphics applications, I prefer the single, large display, and find the advantages of the HP LP3065 well worth the additional cost.
At the time of this writing, David Cohn was a computer consultant and technical writer based in Bellingham, Washington; he has been benchmarking PCs since 1984. He?s an applications engineer with The PPI Group, the former Editor-in-Chief of Engineering Automation Report and CADCAMNet, the author of more than a dozen books, and a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering.