HP DreamColor Z27x G2 review: Picture perfect
A screen perfectly tuned to the DCI-P3 colour space, but make sure the lack of 4K won’t be a future problem
HP might not be the first company you think of when it comes to colour-accurate monitors, but don’t forget that it has been at the forefront of print technologies for decades: HP has a vested interest in making sure that what you see is what you get. Its high-end DreamColor range of monitors is nothing new, dating back to 2008; what makes the Z27 G2 so interesting is HP’s focus on the DCI-P3 gamut.
In particular, it promises 98% coverage of that colour space, which is the preferred choice for digital video production; this is no coincidence, as DCI stands for Digital Camera Initiatives, a joint venture formed by firms such as Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 18 years ago. Unusually, it’s the default setting for the monitor, whereas most colour-accurate screens will kick off in a more “professional” colour space such as Adobe RGB.
The Z27x G2 is nothing if not versatile, though, as the onscreen display makes it easy to switch between any of the precalibrated colour spaces. Press one of the five black square function buttons that sit on the right-hand side of the monitor and you’re offered a selection of options, including colour presets, inputs and luminance. Choose colour presets to cycle between DCI-P3, BT.709, BT.2020, sRGB and Adobe RGB, all of which have been precalibrated before shipping.
The screen is an exceptional performer, no matter which mode you choose. In the all-important DCI-P3 colour space, it covered 96% of the gamut with an average Delta E of 0.58 and a maximum of 1.16. This essentially means the Z27x G2 is perfect so far as the human eye is concerned.
It’s a similar story for Adobe RGB and sRGB. The Z27x G2 scored figures of 97.8% coverage and 0.43 Delta E in sRGB and 97% and 0.43 in Adobe RGB; there’s very little “spill over”, either, with the monitor’s volume result in each colour space being at most +2%. Lesser monitors might cover 90% of a colour space but return a 140% volume score, which means they will show colours outside of the preferred colour space and can’t be trusted.
There are many other useful inclusions. For example, HP provides two white points for the sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces: P65 for the 6,500K colour temperature preferred by photographers and P50 for 5,000K. And while we find Eizo’s onscreen display more straightforward, the DreamColor’s context-sensitive navigation keys and use of English rather than symbols mean it’s easy to use whether you want to dive deep into settings or quickly switch between sources.
If that source is a video camera and has an input of, say, 2,048 x 1,080, then you can instruct the monitor to use a pixel-for-pixel mode and avoid horrible scaling effects. There’s even a dedicated Digital Cinema Masking page within the OSD when using such an input. HP also provides a full set of marker overlays for the aspect ratios of 1.85:1 and 2.39:1, along with crosshair markers. In short, this screen is well tuned for the digital video industry.
Where it falls down is its lack of support for 4K, which may seem like a harsh criticism for a 27in professional monitor costing around £1,600 inc VAT – until you consider that so much source video is now created in 4K. With powerful systems like high-end workstations also becoming more affordable, many videographers may prefer to work directly in 4K too – if not now then within the next two or three years.
This is a monitor that should last for years too. The DreamColor comes with a five-year, on-site, next-business-day warranty, and there’s even a built-in XYZ calibrator that runs automatically; you don’t even need to install any software. You must, however, manually switch on the processor contained within the unit as the screen is shipped with this disabled to save energy. Once on, you can set your chosen calibration schedule or get it to recalibrate right there and then (which will take around ten minutes).
With an Ethernet port, USB-C connector and a four-port USB dock built into its rear, this screen makes an excellent docking station. It’s only a shame that the power delivery over USB-C is limited to 15W, which is enough to keep lightweight laptops ticking over but won’t charge them up. Note that pivot mode isn’t supported either, but with a 90° swivel and 25° tilt this is still a flexible stand.
If you work in the film industry, the HP DreamColor Z27x G2 is an excellent choice. Considering the image quality, the ease of use and its sheer flexibility, the only reason you’d regret buying this monitor is if you move to a 4K workflow two years down the line.
HP DreamColor Z27x G2 specifications
2,560 x 1,440
IPS, 8-bit+FRC panel
Screen refresh rate
10ms response time
2 x DisplayPort (HDCP 1.2), 2 x HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 1.2), USB-C (DisplayPort 1.2 and power delivery to 15W)
4-port USB hub, Gigabit Ethernet port
-45° to 45° swivel, -5° to 20° tilt, 150mm height adjustment
642 x 248 x 400-550mm (WDH)
5yr on-site next-business-day warranty