Those who follow my blog may have some idea of the trouble I’ve encountered trying to replace my aging (and dimming) 20.1″ Viewsonic VX2025wm with a good 24″ display. I purchased Dell’s UltraSharp 2408WFP in April, but I sent the monitor back almost immediately after running into a flurry of problems—high input lag, excessive sharpness, unnervingly uneven backlighting, and humming noises at certain brightness levels, to name a few.
Dell has since released a revision A01 of the 2408WFP. Fellow TR editor Geoff Gasior got a couple of them and hasn’t run into any of the issues I mentioned, so Dell may well have gotten its act together. However, the company now charges around €800 (~$1,000) for the monitor here, and promotions seem few and far between. Tired of waiting for the price to go back down to the neighborhood of €650, I eventually started eyeing HP’s new LP2475w (thanks Matt).
You don’t hear the LP2475w’s model number shouted throughout enthusiast forums, but that’s a shame. While this monitor costs only around $600 in the United States and less than €600 here, it includes an IPS display panel. LCD connoisseurs will know IPS panels generally offer better image quality and color reproduction than not only the TN panels common in cheap monitors, but also the PVA panels used in displays like the 2408WFP. Despite the premium panel, HP’s monitor has many of the same perks as the 2408WFP, including a plethora of display inputs, from DisplayPort and HDMI to composite and component. Being part of HP’s business monitor range, the LP2475w even has on-site warranty support. Neat.
With a €50-off coupon code I found on the web, I ended up snagging the LP2475w for just €534.84. Less than two days later, the display was sitting on my desk and I was madly tweaking color, contrast, and brightness settings. I’m not going to rant about how much time I spent adjusting those, because the LP2475w is far and away superior to the first-revision 2408WFP I used—no input lag, no excessive sharpness, only moderate backlight unevenness (that seems hard to avoid these days), and no humming. Even the OSD controls feel nicer to use. The color rendering is breathtaking, too, and the IPS panel isn’t victim to the same color-shifting issues as its PVA brethren. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Scroll down to the purple image on this page and move your head. If you have a PVA or TN display, you should see the color shift between purple and blue. The LP2475w renders a solid purple color no matter where I’m looking from.
As nice as it is, this display takes some getting used to. If you’ve never tried a wide-gamut monitor before, you’re in for a surprise: over-saturated colors galore. As I understand it, the display’s backlight allows it to render 102% of the NTSC color gamut, while older models (like my ViewSonic) can only render 72%. Since most images on the web are designed on regular-gamut monitors and don’t have embedded ICC profiles, they tend to look a bit too saturated on the LP2475w and its wide-gamut brothers and sisters, including the 2408WFP, 2407WFP-HC, and many others. Luckily, Firefox 3 supports color management, so you can get more accurate colors if you install HP’s ICC profile from the CD.
Also, while the backlight unevenness is a lot less shocking than on the first-rev 2408WFP I used, it’s more noticeable than on my old displays. The right and bottom edges of the panel are noticeably darker than the rest, although the difference is slight enough that I expect to stop noticing it after a while. Oh, and while this is an IPS display with 178° viewing angles, you’ll still want to look straight on for the best picture. Otherwise, some parts of the display may look somewhat dimmer. You’ll never get the strange “negative” effect as on TN panels no matter where you look from, though.
Before I stop rambling, I should probably say something about the LP2475w’s contrast and brightness. You can turn the brightness high enough to sear your retinas, but blacks remain very satisfyingly deep no matter what. That makes this display a joy to use in games and movies. I was a bit disoriented the first time I popped into a game of Left 4 Dead on this thing, because shadows were so much darker that I actually had to make a greater effort to see the zombies. Good thing Valve put in that auto-shotgun. As for racing games like TrackMania United Forever, you haven’t lived until you’ve played one on a huge, high-contrast monitor.
HP’s LP2475w isn’t perfect. Far from it. But when you take into account its low price, IPS panel, inputs, and, image quality, I believe it’s a fantastic deal. I won’t be sending this one back anytime soon.