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Those 27-inch IPS displays from Korea are for real

We order one on eBay and gaze upon it in wonder

If you frequent our forums or other PC enthusiast-focused corners of the web, you may have heard the whispers about the new breed of monitors being sold in Korea under various brand names for astonishingly low prices. They sound almost too good to be true: expansive 27" displays at the formidable resolution of 2560x1440 selling for peanuts, between $300 and $400, well under half the price of a similar display from the likes of Dell.

Not only that, but they're purportedly based on LCD panels that use IPS technology, the standard for high-end displays. IPS panels typically offer much better color reproduction and much wider viewing angles than the cheap TN panels that have dominated the low end of the monitor market—and nearly the entire laptop market—for several dark, sad years. (One day, we will look back on the TN's panel dominance and, heh, be unable to make out the image.)

Although I already have some very nice 30" displays here in Damage Labs for testing and productivity, I should have known from the outset that I was destined to rendezvous with one of these 27" monitors. After all, I evidently can't stop talking about the benefits of big displays, high-megapixel gaming, and IPS panel technology; our podcast is littered with me blathering on about those things. Fittingly, then, friends and acquaintances kept asking me about the Korean monitors, until finally one morning, I received yet another IM asking my opinion of an eBay listing and couldn't stop myself. I ordered the sucker straight up, without even consulting the forum threads for advice on which brand to get.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into at the time, and really, I still don't know entirely. There are forum threads packed with information about these monitors, but they don't tend to cite sources for any of that info. I'm sure there's good documentation in Korean, but I don't read the language, so it's hard to say.

That leaves us with all sorts of interesting hearsay about these displays. They say the panels themselves are manufactured by LG, a major name in the business. They say the same panels are used in Apple's Thunderbolt-enabled Cinema Display. They say if you order one from the right seller, he will arrive at your house, riding a unicorn made of bacon, in order to deliver it. When you hook it up and turn it on, the monitor will shoot rainbows directly into your rods and cones, triggering a fit of ecstasy unprecedented in human history.

At least some of that info is probably correct. For instance, I can confirm the bit about the rainbows personally. Other details may not be accurate.

What matters most is the basic proposition, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it's very real: these are truly excellent panels at a ridiculously, embarrassingly low price. I'd say every self-respecting PC enthusiast should get one, except there are some real risks you'll want to consider before scouring the eBay listings and pressing the "Buy it now" button.