Price When Reviewed: £568.84
Pros: Sleek as a monitor can get
Cons: Your work will look less sleek with these colour specs
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This monitor will look good on your desk - but will your work look as good on its display?
What should creatives expect from a 4K monitor in 2019? The market is full of UHD displays with a minimum of 3840 x 2160 pixels, but there are one or two so-called 'true' 4K DCI monitors such as the Eizo ColorEdge CG which come in at 4096 x 2160.
Artists and designers can get by just fine with a UHD display though, as long as the colour gamut is up to scratch and the monitor itself isn't a gaming one.
The last 4K monitor aimed at creatives that we reviewed on Digital Arts was the Lenovo Thinkvision P32U, a screen we crowned as the best for MacBook Pro users in our guide to the Best Monitor for Art and Design thanks to its Thunderbolt 3 port that allows you to connect up and charge your Apple laptop.
So how does the 4K option from the ever sleek and reliable HP compare? We got hands on with their Z27 recently, a 27" 4K UHD monitor which the company is pitching to the prosumer market at a cool £500/$630 less than the Thinkvision.
What we found was a monitor that's certainly no budget slouch – but make sure you don't confuse it with the HP DreamColor Z27x, a more recent 4K model that comes in at almost a £1000.
First Impressions of the HP Z27
First things first – this monitor looks good. Its metallic black is chic as you'd expect from an HP product, and its great design even extends to the rear. The back of the monitor is so good in fact with a nicely branded protrusion that you'll regret nobody can see.
A nice touch when you unbox the HP Z27 is that its screen comes covered with a quick paper setup guide. Not only does this mean less digging around in your box for instructions but also an extra layer of protection for your screen from dust and scratches whilst in transit. Your display will definitely be super-dooper fresh out of the box.
Setup with the provided stand is easy as it gets, and you get the expected array of leads and cables, too.
Input, Output and Ergonomics
This leads us to the monitors's port options: one DisplayPort; one mini DisplayPort; one HDMI 2.0, one audio out, one USB Type-C and downstream USB 3.0 x3.
No Thunderbolt options, though, so there's one selling point of difference between this and the Lenovo Thinkvision.
Like most if not all monitors on the market, the HP Z27 tilts between -5 to +23°, and swivels and pivot rotates up to 90°. In other words, it has a good ergonomic game.
HP Z27 colour testing
So the screen is a decent size at 27 inches, and comes with a great 3840 x 2160 resolution that's instantly nice on the eyes. But what about its colour gamut?
This is where things get interesting. For a 4K monitor the Z27 comes decently priced, and that's probably because it doesn't offer creatives the Adobe RGB output seen in most of our recommended monitors, coming in at 74% when one should expect something closer to 98%.
The HP site is seemingly hiding the screen's SRGB/RGB specs from both its site and PDF specs sheet, showing how useful it is to invest in a good monitor calibrator to find out the specs for your equipment; check out our guide to the Best Monitor Calibrators here.
We tested the Z27 with a DataColor SpyderXElite colorimeter for a 48 colour swatch examination. Besides from the RGB details we also found the monitor to have a Delta-E rating of 1.35, one of the highest D.E. ratings we've seen across our tests so far.
Remember, the lower the D.E. number the better; something like the iMac 27-inch 2017 has a score of 0.68, while one of our favourite monitors – the Eizo ColorEdge CG2730 – manages to be all the way down to 0.47. Ideally you want something as far away from a D.E. score of 1 as possible, although anything lower than 2 isn't too disastrous. But as we're used to seeing lower scores in current displays on the market, we can't help but mark this down as a sticking point.
That said, the HPZ7 matches the 2.2 gamma curve, so it isn't all doom and gloom with this monitor.
You can switch between display modes using the menu buttons, which come hidden beneath the front of the monitor.
There are viewing modes such as Low Blue Light and Night which are handy for nocturnal internet browsing, but we did get confused by the separate Image Control menu offering Dynamic Contrast and Black Stretch. Playing with these we found no discernible difference in display output, to be honest.
This was the same result when switching to the HDEnhance + mode, too.
Finally, you can switch between sRGB output – as standard – and a BT.709 display, which we found to be a first. This is the HTV standard also known as Rec. 709, and can be safely ignored for your art and designing. Just lump it in with the other modes fluffing up the specs for marketing purposes.
The Digital Arts verdict
The HP Z27 looks good, both in make and on-screen. This can't be forgotten when one looks under the hood, and to be honest we can't think of a more stylish monitor for this price at the moment.
That price point also makes this the 4K monitor to buy if on a budget, considering the average £1000/$1200 price tag for 4K. But for the same sort of price you could invest in a Dell UltraSharp UP2716D which comes with almost 100% Adobe RGB, unlike this monitor's 77% rating.
If money is no object, then stick with the 32" Lenovo Thinkvision which is bigger, has a higher Adobe RGB and comes with that handy Thunderbolt option we've already mentioned.
Nobody would regret buying this model for it looks good and adjusts well, and 4K is still the best you can buy without going all out on 5K. But that colour gamut is all make and break, and the fact HP is keeping it hush just shows this really isn't the best a prosumer can get in 2019.
Read next: Lenovo ThinkVision P32u monitor review
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