HP’s ZR24w: oh sRGB, let’s never fight again

A couple of years ago, I set out to find a 24″ display with a non-TN panel, great image quality, and a reasonable price tag. My search initially led me to Dell’s UltraSharp 2408WFP, but I had a poor experience with the first revision of that display. In the end, I settled on HP’s LP2475w, which had a higher-end IPS panel and, in my opinion, noticeably better image quality.

The LP2475w coexisted with my old 20″ Viewsonic VX2025wm in a dual-monitor setup throughout last year. But when the time came to pack my bags and move to Canada, I decided to leave the aging, dimming 20-incher behind and purchase a second 24″ panel at my destination. The question, of course, was what to buy.

I had much more choice this time. I could have gotten another LP2475w, but at $659 CAD, that display seemed downright overpriced compared to newer IPS offerings. The Dell U2410 can be had for well under $500 on sale, for example, and NCIX sells HP’s own ZR24w for $466.68. If I had waited a little longer, I probably could have snagged that new Dell UltraSharp U2311H, too—a 23″, 1920×1080 display with an IPS panel and a sub-$300 price tag (in the States, at least; Dell charges $339 CAD for it here).

After perusing TFT Central’s excellent review, I finally chose to go with the ZR24w. One feature in particular compelled me: the sRGB color gamut. The LP2475w that served as my primary monitor for so long had a wide-gamut panel, meaning colors looked visibly oversaturated unless I was using the right color profile and running a color-managed application. Adding more pop to YouTube clips and vacation photos isn’t a crime, but the color inaccuracy became bothersome when I tackled real photo editing and design work. Often, I’d simply drag an image over to the 20″ Viewsonic to get a glimpse of the “right” colors.

With the ZR24w, I’m happy to say colors simply look right all the time. I did have to spend a couple of hours getting used to the lower saturation and slightly different color temperature, but after waiting and tinkering a little with the controls a little bit, I was overjoyed. Faces in my photos no longer looked flushed. Trees no longer had an unnatural electric green hue. Motherboards looked a little less like holiday-themed neon signs. What a change after all these months!

You can see on the right how the LP2475w gives TR’s blue background pattern a purple tinge. 

The ZR24w is a great display independent of the color gamut issue, too. Viewing angles are excellent, input lag and ghosting are actually less than on the LP2475w, HP included both DisplayPort and DVI inputs, and the panel can rotate into portrait mode. Considering the price and the fact that this thing still has an IPS panel, that’s no too shabby. Now, as TFT Central’s review points out, the ZR24w doesn’t quite match the LP2475w’s brightness and black depth. I find the difference rather subtle and easy to ignore, though. Besides, slightly higher contrast isn’t much use if the colors look off.

I should point out that I’m talking about my second ZR24w. The first one had a speck of dust spanning a few pixels inside the actual panel—what HP refers to as contamination—plus a few stuck sub-pixels. Clearly a lemon. Happily, NCIX gave me no grief and allowed me to exchange it for a new one. The replacement has no flaws that I can see, and it looks to have more uniform backlighting and less backlight bleeding than the first one. I can’t really complain, even if the replacement took a little while to arrive.

I can draw two conclusions from this little adventure. First, the HP ZR24w is a really nice display for the price—and a clear recommendation for our next system guide. Second, wide gamuts really aren’t a non-issue like I initially thought.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with wide gamut displays themselves. Having the ability to display more, brighter colors really shouldn’t be a bad thing, especially since the sRGB color space is somewhat limited. The problem stems from software support. Windows 7 is incapable of color managing all displayed output, so even if you spend a fortune on an expensive calibrator and create a perfect ICC profile, your Windows desktop, browser, icons, and videos are still going to look uncalibrated. (Yes, Firefox does have a hidden color management switch, but it doesn’t support some color profiles—and it seems to induce a performance hit. I’ve switched to Chrome, anyway.)

Until Microsoft implements full support for wide-gamut displays, I’m afraid I’ll have to stick with sRGB offerings. If the ZR24w is any indication, that course of action shouldn’t involve much of a sacrifice.

Comments closed
    • JrezIN
    • 9 years ago

    A pretty interesting link for all this color management discussion:
    §[< http://littlecms2.blogspot.com/2010/05/web-color-management.html<]§

    • Flying Fox
    • 9 years ago

    Any other LP2475W and U2410 owners can chime in on the issue? The U2410 has been on my very short list to buy for a very long time, but the ZR24W seems to give me less trouble. I am not going to work with images and printing those images so the sRGB seems good enough? But the U2410 does have composite and component inputs…

      • continuum
      • 9 years ago

      The U2410 is pretty good in sRGB mode. I haven’t done any hardcore profiling to check it out, but it works pretty well. I would have no issues recommending it.

    • kilkennycat
    • 9 years ago

    Sorry, TRs current background hain’t blue, even allowing for luminance variations. Put it in a window side-by-side with the blue bar in a display of SMPTE color bars. Very obvious on my trusty Hitachi CRT monitor – btw, I would never dream of using any LCD for precision photo color-matching and touchup. I have no idea why Cyril thinks that the ZR24w is reasonably color-accurate. Has he compared the display with the same range of images on a correctly-calibrated CRT monitor at the same nominal color-temperature?

    • tomkaten
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve the exact same problem, Cyril. I was a bit worried, since I got my display used, from a friend.

    I had a Samsung 940 N (19″) and recently traded it for a 22″ Samsung 226CW Wide Color Gamut (97%) display.

    At first, I was a bit disappointed about the way it displayed the OS and my applications. Blue seemed purple, yellows were very cold, orange was way oversaturated and some greens were eye-popping.

    However, I’ve recently calibrated it using Windows 7’s included calibration tool and you can certainly make it look very similar to a sRGB monitor. It’s all in the RGB calibration. Sure, the electric green is still there, but the overall result is much better compared to the original (there are buttons to check the original and the calibrated versions, so it’s easy to compare).

    • d0g_p00p
    • 9 years ago

    Now this color thing is going to bother me. I have always though TR’s background was a slight purple color and not that hard blue color. Screwing around with the color mangement on Win7 does not seem to matter, yes I did read that in the blog.

    I guess it should not bother me as the colors look fine anyhow.

    • Aphasia
    • 9 years ago

    Then you have the issue of some cameras not being able to capture all purple nuances… i have a depp clear purple shirt that will show up as clear blue on Nikon cameras based on CCD’s. Canon and Nikon CMOS-based cameras shows it as the deep purple it is.

    Really confused me as hell in the beginning until i noticed that fault since I also have a blue shirt as was shown in the photo, but never had worn that one to those parties.

    As for good color profiling, usually there is a software that can be run that will put the color profile on overall for the whole os. At least it did with my spyder 2 pro.

    • Sniper
    • 9 years ago

    Purple-blue here.

    Color sample from background:
    RED: 65
    GREEN: 67
    BLUE: 105

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      Exactly. If your monitor makes THAT purple, then your monitor is broken – or at the very least, set incorrectly.

        • Sniper
        • 9 years ago

        I’m not so sure about that. There’s a good deal of gray in this spectrum, and it could be an optical illusion. Kind of like how colors look darker against a white background vs a black background.

        When I change the hue on my monitor to make the background more blue-ish than purple, every other color looks too off.

    • oldog
    • 9 years ago

    Hey guys,

    The background color is different on my sRGB monitor in IE8 vs. Firefox.

    What gives.

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      Not sure, IE8 and Opera display the same.

        • wibeasley
        • 9 years ago

        Yea, it looks the same in Chrome & IE8 on my ZR24w and 2005FPW.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Does Firefox do anything with color profiles? I noticed when I was on OS X that Safari would display different colors than other apps, and it was because I had poorly calibrated my display using ColorSync.

      FWIW Firefox and IE8 on my home computer display the colors identically, but I have a TN panel.

        • willardjuice
        • 9 years ago

        Yes in Windows Safari and firefox 3.x are “color aware” (meaning they understand color profiles and will convert those profiles to your default profile; they also can be enabled to read untagged images as sRGB; IE9 is also color aware).

        IE8 (and lower), Chrome (in Windows), and Opera are not color aware.

        So all Cyril had to do was ditch Chrome (which he is using in the photo).

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    I could live with many color inadequacies, but never that mouse or keyboardg{<.<}g

      • Rakhmaninov3
      • 9 years ago

      Buuuuuuuurn!

      • Kulith
      • 9 years ago

      That keyboard in particular is nightmarish…

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        The mouse might be usable though.

          • Veerappan
          • 9 years ago

          I’ve got one of the MX Revolutions, and I love it. Fits my hand great, and once I moved the receiver (it has a horrible range) with an extension cable the input lag was fine.

          The configurability of the many buttons is nice, and the scroll wheel cruise feature is great (the clutch can be disengaged when you flick the wheel quickly).

          The keyboard would still drive me nuts… I’ve got 3-4 MS Natural Elites, and I’ll keep using them as long as I can get away with it.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 9 years ago

            That mouse has a terrible, and literally unusable design.
            Because of where the laser is placed, (side corner), normal left-right motion is translated into diagonally lower left to upper right movement.
            It’s very disturbing in use, because the cursor doesn’t move where you normally expect it to go.
            The mouse buttons also feel cheap and flimsy.

            I swapped mine for a g500.
            The G500 is probably logitech’s best mouse available right now, but it’s not wireless.
            If logitech would make a wireless g500, that would be perfection.

      • floodo1
      • 9 years ago

      apple aluminum keyboard is quite nice. tons of people that I know love it, myself included.

      don’t be a hater

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    My LG MVA monitor has sRGB. Pity it also has horrible burn-in problems 🙁

    • Fighterpilot
    • 9 years ago

    My display looks to be the same blue as the monitor on the left in the pic.
    Too bad the webpage is so narrow in the middle of the screen with those big blue side bars….can’t it be made to stretch the whole width like the forums?

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 9 years ago

      It’s not that, it’s just that NCIX is pretty much the only game in town if you live in Canada.

        • GTVic
        • 9 years ago

        anitec.ca is also good and has a similar price for this monitor. Looking today, it now has a far superior website for navigating and filtering your choices and I may give them a shot again.

        But NCIX is definitely the favourite these days, they have the price match and good shipping.

      • titan
      • 9 years ago

      You know, people usually ask if TR is sponsored by NewEgg.com. Usually with the tone being closer along the lines of in-their-pocket.

      The answer is: No. Well, no more so than any other advertiser.

      That doesn’t mean our infallible TR Overlords don’t have favorites.

      NewEgg.com is the first place I look for an item, and sometimes the only place I look. I’m not in-their-pocket. I just have had such fantastic experiences that I don’t want to try anyone else.

      • TO11MTM
      • 9 years ago

      NCIX Commonly supplies review components and from what my friends in the great white north say is one of their favorite shops, so I’m assmuing that mix leads them to be a default reccomendation.

      • Spune
      • 9 years ago

      Also NCIX is located in the Vancouver area where both Geoff and Cyril are located so they can run down and pick stuff up if they want. Always useful.

    • continuum
    • 9 years ago

    l[

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve actually been attempting to figure out what color Tech Report is actually suppose to be. Thanks for the clarification, looks like I have some color calibration to do 😛

    Though in all honesty, I have seen ISP panels perfectly calibrated and TR’s background still isn’t specifically one color.

      • Vasilyfav
      • 9 years ago

      It has nothing to do with calibration. I like my TR purple and beige thank you very much.

      It’s a color temperature setting, and it can be changed to fit personal preference.

        • continuum
        • 9 years ago

        My TR is purple-blue on my Dell 2405FPW’s at work, which are decidedly standard-sRGB gamut monitors. *shrugs*

          • StuG
          • 9 years ago

          Just checked with my friend who has hundreds of dollars into calibration software, as he does development where “true color matters”

          His screen looks purple-ish also, unsure what to think now 😛

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            My screen is between the two, and based on the blog photo, I think the left monitor’s colour is too cold (or high on colour temperature, or whatever you want to call it).

            • NarwhaleAu
            • 9 years ago

            I have a Samsung 244T and on this monitor it looks somewhere between the two also. Not purple, but definitely on the purplish end of blue.

            • Stargazer
            • 9 years ago

            Just a thought, but…

            Color settings on monitors can change what color the page is perceived as.
            However, if a monitor accurately portrays the page, shouldn’t a photo of that monitor show the background as being the same color as the background itself?

            That is, if on some monitor the page background shows up as purple, and the photo of Cyril’s monitor shows up as blue, wouldn’t that be a sign that Cyril’s monitor actually doesn’t accurately portray the background color? Whatever color the background seems to be, shouldn’t the same color also show up on an ideal photo of an accurate monitor?

            Of course, not all photos are ideal, and the ambient light when the photo was taken also plays a role, but… It seems like the difference in color should at least be fairly small.

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            I have no idea what you’re thinking.

            • Stargazer
            • 9 years ago

            If a page is defined as having color X, then a monitor accurately displaying this page will show the page as having color X.
            If a photo of a monitor that is accurately showing color X accurately displays the monitor, then the photo will also have color X.

            If you put a photo having the color X in a page with a background that is also defined as having color X, then shouldn’t any monitor (regardless of how accurate its color reproduction is) show both the photo and the background as having some color Y (with Y(X) being defined by whatever inaccuracies this monitor might have)?

            If the second monitor instead shows the photo as having color Y, and the background as having color Z, wouldn’t that be a sign that either the photo or the original monitor fails to accurately portray their input colors (or that ambient light messes things up)?

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Might be me, but you suck at explaining it. 😉

            • MadManOriginal
            • 9 years ago

            I think what he’s trying to say is that each step adds a layer of color inaccuracy. You’ve got a picture of a display being shown on your display, that’s 3 steps of potential inaccuracy so judging whether such an image looks ‘right’ is really tough.

            Having said that, on my LP2475W which was calibrated but using non-color aware IE8, TR looks between the two as well but closer to the one monitor on the left. The one on the right is very purply-looking.

            • Stargazer
            • 9 years ago

            What I’m trying to say is this:

            If, on your monitor, the TR background is not the same color as the TR background in the photo of Cyril’s monitor, then the background in the photo of Cyril’s monitor is not the same color as the “real” TR background.

            This discrepancy has to come from somewhere. Possible sources include Cyril’s system, Cyril’s monitor, Cyril’s camera, and lighting conditions when the photo was taken. I’m not sure if there are other possible sources. I was wondering about color management, but wouldn’t this apply to both the photo and the background?

            If there are no local (on your end) sources of such discrepancies, then the photo of Cyril’s monitor does not show the “real” TR background color.

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          I call it, “blurple”! 😛

            • Machupo
            • 9 years ago

            didn’t know TR had that much soul.

          • kvndoom
          • 9 years ago

          Dang… until I saw that picture I never knew my blue was a little off. Damn you Cyril! Now my OCD is gonna make me think about that s–t whenever I read TechReport!

          (not a reply fail… I have a 2405FPW also)

        • jackaroon
        • 9 years ago

        I like it too. It’s like the Utz Gourmet Medley

      • RickyTick
      • 9 years ago

      This seems to be the code from TR’s CSS style sheet.
      background: url(img/bg_purple5.png) repeat-y #393B62;

    • A_Pickle
    • 9 years ago

    I can read the text on my screen and colors display. I’m happy.

      • Firestarter
      • 9 years ago

      Good luck with your display that allows you to see the difference between reds, greens and blues. I bet your grass is pretty green!

    • wibeasley
    • 9 years ago

    Kurotetsu, I’m still grateful to you for recommending the ZR24W.
    §[< http://www.techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=71499#p1014175<]§

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    Wait—the TR blue /[

      • Vasilyfav
      • 9 years ago

      TR’s background is purple.

      Cyril just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        TR’s background is blue. Go ahead and check.

        I took a screenshot and checked colour content in Photoshop just to rule out my monitor, and sure enough, there is no surplus red content in it whatsoever. If there were, then a purple-tinged displayed colour would be justified – but no, it’s simply blue.

          • Trymor
          • 9 years ago

          I have a feeling he was being sarcastic.

          Try

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Several responses pointed to a purplish impression, that’s mainly why I decided to make sure.

          • FuturePastNow
          • 9 years ago

          So why is the background named bg_purple5.png ?

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Because they’re colourblind? I don’t know.

      • potatochobit
      • 9 years ago

      it’s TR’s fault for using goofy colors that monitors cannot display!

      I love my colormunki, don’t seem to have any problems with windows7
      my firefox seems to display proper colors

      aero seems to be affected just fine by the display profile software also?
      never payed attention the icons in windows7 but they do look like the correct colors.

      I have an old 245bw which was middle-end a few years ago, maybe I will upgrade to IPS next year

        • Bauxite
        • 9 years ago

        I have a 405nm laser which will drive people nuts trying to determine if its blue or violet or “purple”.

        After they make a “decision” and stick with it, I screw with them some more by shining it on plain paper which shifts the wavelength up a bit 😉

        Human color vision is a really freakin’ complicated thing which even the highest end devices don’t get close to.

    • Firestarter
    • 9 years ago

    Good choice on the headphones, too! 😉

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