Before me sit two 1920-by-1080 displays. But aside from resolution, the two have more differences than similarities. No, a display is not just a display. Making a choice between these two requires a careful consideration of size, reflection, performance, and price.
The two displays, the BenQ
VW2430 and the HP
Pavilion 27xi, use the same number of pixels, but they are spread across differently-sized screens. The VW2430 measures 23 inches diagonally, while the Pavilion 27xi measures 27 inches. It’s common to see a display like the VW2430 with a 1920-by-1080 native resolution, but it’s uncommon to see the same resolution on a 27-inch display like the Pavilion 27xi—it’s usually higher. Because the resolution isn’t as dense, the Pavilion 27xi displays larger text and icons on screen at its native resolution, which could be advantageous to anyone who has trouble seeing small type, or if you plan to use the display from a distance. On the downside, the extra space between pixels can give icons and images a grainy appearance and make text look less smooth.
That said, the VW2430’s text wasn’t very clean. Between these two displays, legibility was a wash, despite the VW2430’s advantage in pixel pitch.
The other tradeoff made when choosing a lower pixel pitch monitor is a reduction of screen real estate, especially if you compare to a 27-inch display with a 2560 by 1440 native resolution like the Apple Thunderbolt Display. The Apple display has one-third more horizontal and vertical pixels, allowing you to see more of a high-resolution image, have easier access to open windows, and show more rows and columns on spreadsheets.
Both displays use LED backlights. They use less energy to operate than other displays, don’t need to warm up to a stable state like CCFL backlights, and they contain fewer environmentally hazardous materials. They require less space, too, making it possible to have thinner displays. The Pavilion 27xi is considerably thinner than the VW2430 but it uses an external power brick, while the VW2430 has an internal power supply.
Neither display offers much in terms of ergonomic adjustment. They can tilt forward and back a few degrees but they can’t move up or down, swivel, rotate, or pivot into portrait mode. If the display is not at the right height, you may need to use risers to get it to the optimal position.
The two differ in design philosophy, as well. The Pavilion 27xi has a sleek, brushed aluminum and black color scheme, while the VW2430 has a bulky, white plastic look and includes a little dish on the base that holds a little, two-pronged green stand that can hold your phone. The green stand moves around very easily in the dish, making me less than comfortable using it to hold my phone. The stand can be removed to use the dish for coins, paper clips, or other stuff.
Both displays are compatible with VESA mounts, and both offer HDMI, DVI, and VGA connections.
The Pavilion 27xi uses an IPS (In Plane Switching) LCD panel. This type of display is more expensive than the standard TFT display found in the VW2430. The main advantage of IPS is its extremely wide viewing angle, and indeed, the Pavilion 27xi looked great at even the most extreme angles, while the VW2430 began to show shifts in color and contrast at even minor angles. If you frequently collaborate with others around your screen, the VW2430’s narrow angle of view could make things problematic.
The VW2430’s screen has a matte finish, while the Pavilion 27xi is glossy. Glossy screens can give photos increased color depth, which is what we saw with a series of test photo files on the Pavilion 27xi, but glossy screens are susceptible to glare and annoying reflections. If you’re going with a glossy screen, make sure to take your work environment into account.
The main concern I had with the VW2430 is that, despite trying all sorts of settings, I could not get a neutral looking gray. The display was very pink, and if I changed the color temperature to the VW2430’s “bluish” setting, the screen looked purple; if I changed the setting to “reddish” the screen looked more yellow. The Pavilion 27xi, on the other hand, had a very neutral gray at its default settings. It’s been my experience that people get used to whatever monitor they have. People work away happily for years, blissfully unaware that they’re using a screen with a color tint. The differences really stand out when you see two monitors sitting side by side, and the Pavilion 27xi was definitely a more neutral looking display.
Despite its relatively low pixel density, the HP Pavilion 27xi is a very good display that offers excellent viewing angles and neutral grays right out of the box. The VW2430 can be found for under $300, but its overly warm color temperature made whites and grays appear pink, overall mediocre image quality, and narrow viewing angle make it difficult to recommend, even on its own and not compared to the HP display.