When we reviewed the HP DreamColor Z27x a few years ago, its color accuracy, grayscale performance, and robust feature set earned it our Editors’ Choice award. Its smaller sibling, the DreamColor Z24x G2 Display ($ 489), is also a stellar performer, and it too is equipped with lots of features including multiple video inputs, a four-port USB hub, and a fully adjustable stand. It doesn’t offer quite as many color presets and management options as the Z27x, but it does support hardware calibration with an optional calibration kit. That said, its $ 489 price puts it at the high end of the price scale for a midsize mainstream monitor, but photographers or designers who value color accuracy above all else should give this screen a look.
The DreamColor Z24x looks just like the DreamColor Z27x, only smaller. It uses a plain-looking matte black cabinet with 0.8 inch bezels and a matching ergonomic stand that provides tilt, swivel, height, and pivot adjustments. On the right hand bezel are five backlit function buttons for accessing and selecting picture settings, and a power switch. Around back, facing downward, are a DisplayPort input, an HDMI input, a DVI input, an audio output, and three USB 3.0 ports (one upstream, two downstream). Two additional downstream ports are mounted on the left side of the cabinet, making it easy to connect peripherals like thumb drives, keyboards, and mice. This is a nice selection of connectivity ports, but you get a few more video options with our Editors’ Choice, the ViewSonic VP2468, including two HDMI inputs, two DisplayPort inputs, and a DisplayPort output that can be used to daisy-chain multiple monitors.
As with the DreamColor Z27X, the Z24x uses an Advanced High-Performance In-Plane Switching panel (AH-IPS), dubbed Gen 2 IPS by HP. The 24-inch panel has a non-reflective coating, a 60Hz refresh rate, a peak brightness of 300 cd/m2, a 6-millisecond (gray-to-gray) pixel response, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, and a 16:10 aspect ratio. It has a maximum resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 (WUXGA), which is not uncommon for a 24-inch monitor, but you’ll get more tightly packed pixels and a sharper picture with a 2,560 by 1,440 (WQHD) panel such as the one used by the Dell 24 Gaming Monitor S2417DG.
The Z24x offers a good selection of picture settings including six Color Space presets that you can calibrate as needed. They include AdobeRGB, BT.709, Native, sRGB, User Defined, and Adjust sRGB, which uses the panel’s native RGB and gamma settings, but lets you choose a color temperature (Warm, Neutral, Cool, Custom). You can also adjust Sharpness, enable Dynamic Contrast, adjust the Aspect Ratio, and configure PIP (Picture In Picture) windows. However, you don’t get the advanced six-color settings that you get with the ViewSonic VP2468. You also don’t get the built-in calibration software that lets you recalibrate the color-space presets like you do with the Z27x. However, you can download the DreamColor Calibration Solution software from HP’s support site. You’ll also have to pick up a supported colorimeter such as the Klein K10-A, which we use to test HDTVs, or the X-Rite i1Display Pro. With the proper hardware and software you can adjust the monitor’s LUT (Lookup Table) for a perfectly calibrated display.
The Z24x Comes with a three-year parts, labor, and backlight warranty. Included in the box are USB, DVI and DisplayPort cables, a resource CD containing drivers and a user guide, and a factory calibration report.
Excellent Color and Grayscale Performance
Calibrated at the factory, the Z24x’s AH-IPS panel delivered very accurate colors out of the box. As illustrated on the chromaticity chart below, our red, green, and blue color measurements, which are represented by the colored dots, are very closely aligned with the ideal CIE coordinates for each color, which are represented by the boxes. Colors appeared rich and well defined in my test images and while viewing Stranger Things and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War on Netflix. Full screen color swatches from the DisplayMate Color Purity and Uniformity tests were also well-saturated and evenly backlit. Grayscale performance was outstanding. The Z24x was able to display every shade of gray from the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test and provided sharp highlight and shadow detail in my test images. The panel’s ability to display dark blacks helped punch up colors as well. Viewing angles were wide with no noticeable color shifting or loss of luminance.
Although the Z24x is designed for users who demand accurate colors, it can also handle light gaming duty. The panel’s 6 millisecond pixel response did an admirable job of displaying fast-moving images in our Crysis 3 (PC) and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Sony PlayStation 4) gaming tests. Granted, there was minor motion blur and screen tearing from time to time, but you’ll need a dedicated gaming monitor with a fast pixel response and anti-tearing technology to combat these artifacts. Both the Asus ROG Swift PG258Q and Dell 24 Gaming Monitor S2417DG offer these features and aced our gaming tests but neither can match the Z24x’s color accuracy. A 36.3 millisecond input lag, as measured with a Leo Bodnar Lag Tester, means you’ll likely experience some controller latency. The BenQ SW2700PT and Lenovo L27q remain our co-leaders with a low input lag of 9.5 milliseconds.
See How We Test Monitors
The Z24x consumed 21 watts of power in testing while set to the sRGB color preset (it does not offer an ECO power-saving mode). That’s higher than the Viewsonic VP2468 and the Dell U2417H, both of which consumed 14 watts, but still more energy efficient than the Dell S2417DG (24 watts) and the AOC G2460PF (30 watts).
Solid Performer, but Pricey
If you’re in need of a 24-inch monitor for color-critical work, put the HP DreamColor Z24x G2 Display on your short list. Its AH-IPS panel is calibrated at the factory and delivers very accurate colors, solid grayscale performance, and wide viewing angles. The four port high-speed USB hub and three digital video inputs provide numerous connectivity options, and you can keep the panel perfectly tuned with HP’s DreamColor Calibration software and a compatible colorimeter. If the Z24x’s $ 489 price is too steep, check out our Editors’ Choice for midrange mainstream monitors, the ViewSonic VP2468. It offers a few more video ports than the Z24x, is an excellent performer, and supports hardware calibration. It’s also about $ 220 less expensive.
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