ZR30w Color Quality

We’ll start out with the color quality of the ZR30w. As per usual, we report two metrics: color gamut and color accuracy (Delta E). Color gamut refers to the range of colors the display is able to represent with respect to some color space. In this case, our reference is the AdobeRGB 1998 color space, which is larger than the sRGB color space. So our percentages are reported with respect to this number, and larger is better.

Color accuracy (Delta E) refers to the display’s ability to display the correct color requested by the GPU. The difference between the color represented by the display, and the color requested by the GPU is our Delta E, and lower is better here. In practice, a Delta E under 1.0 is perfect - the chromatic sensitivity of the human eye is not great enough to distinguish a difference. Moving up, a Delta E of 2.0 or less is generally considered fit for use in a professional imaging environment - it isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to gauge the difference. Finally, Delta E of 4.0 and above is considered visible with the human eye. Of course, the big consideration here is frame of reference; unless you have another monitor or some print samples (color checker card) to compare your display with, you probably won’t notice. That is, until you print or view media on another monitor. Then the difference will be very apparent.

As I mentioned in our earlier reviews, we’ve updated our display test bench. We’ve deprecated the Monaco Optix XR Pro colorimeter in favor of an Xrite i1D2 since there are no longer up-to-date drivers for modern platforms. We’ve also done testing and verification with a Spyder 3 colorimeter. We’re using the latest version of ColorEyes Display Pro - 1.52.0r32, for both color tracking and brightness testing.

We’re providing data from other display reviews taken with the Monaco Optix XR alongside new data taken with an Xrite i1D2. They’re comparable, but we made a shift in consistency of operator and instrumentation, so the comparison isn’t perfect. It’s close, though.

For these tests, we calibrate the display and try to obtain the best Delta E we can get at both 200 nits and 100 nits (print brightness). We target 6500K and a gamma of 2.2, but sometimes performance is better using the monitor’s native measured whitepoint and gamma. We also take uncalibrated measurements that show performance out of box using the manufacturer supplied color profile. For all of these, dynamic contrast is disabled. The ZR30w has no other controls save brightness, which we manually adjust to hit our 200 nit and 100 nit targets.

So, how does the ZR30w do? Let’s dive into the charts:


Out of box, the ZR30w looks a tad cool in temperature and is very vibrant. Perhaps even too vibrant, but then again maybe that's what 1 billion colors looks like. I’m a bit surprised that uncalibrated performance isn’t better than what I measured. I ran and re-ran this test expecting something to be wrong with my setup - it just doesn’t perform very well in this objective uncalibrated test. That isn’t to say it doesn’t look awesome - it does - but the ZR30w strongly benefits from calibration.

Moving to calibrated performance at 200 nits, the ZR30w really starts to deliver, with impressive Delta E of 1.01. Pay attention to the charts, there's not a single peak above 2.0, which is awesome. I couldn’t get the ZR30w all the way down to 100 nits - the lowest the display will go is right around 150 nits. Surprisingly, Delta E actually gets a bit worse, and moves up to 1.15 at the dimmest setting. Interestingly, the highest peak jumps up to 2.5 at this brightness. I’ll talk more about brightness in a second, but it’s pretty obvious that the ZR30w wants to be bright. You can just tell from the dynamic range you can get to in the menus, from 150 nits up to the maximum around 400, and it’s somewhere inbetween there that Delta E really really shines.  

Of course, the ZR30w delivers in color gamut. Note that in the volumetric 3D plot, the wireframe plot is the ZR30w, and the solid plot is AdobeRGB 1998 - that’s right, we’ve exceeded the AdobeRGB color space. The raw data is impressive, the display manages 111.36% of coverage, the highest we’ve tested. In this case, we’ve exceed the manufacturer claims of 99% AdobeRGB by a notable margin. I have no trouble believing that HP's claims about 1+ billion colors are totally accurate - you have to see it in person to believe it. There are just some colors I'm used to not seeing represented very well; reds and blues especially, and the photos that I have looked at are spectacular.

IPS panels are still very, very win. It’d be awesome to see a Delta E under 1.0, but I just couldn’t get that from the ZR30w I tested. The additional difference would of course be absolutely indistinguishable to the human eye, but it’d be an awesome bragging right. But you've already got more than a billion colors.
Too big for an OSD and More Impressions Analysis: Color Uniformity


View All Comments

  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    are they always s-ips? I love my lp2065, but I had to find one that was advertised specifically as s-ips since not all of them were D: Reply
  • Teemax - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    Excellent review! I appreciate the efforts in measuring the input lag!

    Looks like my Dell 3007WFP finally has a worthy replacement.
  • Mr Perfect - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    Yes, I'm glad to see it compared to a CRT rather then a "good enough" LCD with unknown input lag. Reply
  • Earballs - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    I guess I have to assume it's 60Hz? Reply
  • Earballs - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    redacted. Reply
  • melgross - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    I've given up on the idea of moving to 30" from 24". I use my monitors mostly for Photoshop, video editing, publishing, etc. I've found that even IPS displays of various types show a change in brightness and contrast in the sides from sitting at the distance required for this work. Because of the large size, you're always looking at the edges at an angle that will make the difference noticeable.

    I've been looking at the new 27" displays for that reason. Apple's new 27" iMac doesn't have as much of a problem because of the slightly smaller size, but with the LED backlighting, they only claim an sRGB gamut. It's pretty good, but not for what I need.

    Is the NEC on your to do list? I hope so. The Dell 2711 hasn't proven to be all that great.
  • omf - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the detailed review! It seems rare to get good, technical data in reviews these days...

    I'm surprised you haven't included tests for the Dell 3008 display, though. I've heard mixed things about it and would love to see some test results.

    Thanks again!
  • R4F43LZiN - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    I would like to see a full "how to calibrate your display" one of those days here on AT. I mean, there are a few of those on the internet, but none with the kind of detail and technical aspects that we've come to expect from a AT article. Reply
  • MauveCloud - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    "Considering other 30” displays include a plethora of input options"

    From my research of 2560x1600 monitors, only the Gateway XHD3000 (which I use now, though I had to get it repaired a couple of weeks ago - I did the research on possible replacements) and the Dell 3008WFP have component inputs, or are you referring to 30 inch televisions, with native resolution 1920x1080, rather than 2560x1600?.

    "The ZR30w has no OSD. If you recall, neither did its predecessor, the HP LP3065. At that time, HP claimed there were no ICs that could drive an OSD at native 2560x1600 resolution. Apparently this is still the case."

    My Gateway XHD3000 has an OSD at 2560x1600 (albeit not fullscreen), and so does the Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP.
  • phoible_123 - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    I've used this cable to connect a macbook pro to my 23" NEC monitor with Displayport:


    It actually transmits sound as well if the monitor has an integrated speaker.

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