Friday, March 16, 2012

Finally: Affordable, High-Resolution Monitors?

Update, 5/1/2012 I posted an update on the ZR2740W. Long story short: This is a completely unacceptable monitor; don't buy it.

How much screen real estate do you need?

Every programmer has a different style. Command-line gurus are making the most of their screen real estate by using tools like tmux to tile several terminals together.

Others, by necessity or choice, have multiple space-gobbling GUI applications open at once. This is my reality, and shuffling through six or seven overlapping windows has a huge potential for interfering with my fragile mental focus. Dealing with multiple too-large windows on a too-small screen is like trying to do one's taxes on a tiny airline seat tray… maddening!

Fortunately, monitors with resolutions greater than 1080p have finally started to come down from the $999 price point. A number of eBay resellers have started to offer bare-bones, 2560x1440 27" S-IPS Korean displays for shockingly low prices right around $400. Quite a few members of Overclockers.net have ordered these displays and have had generally good results.

Unfortunately, those displays are so bare-bones that they lack multiple inputs. None of the $400 displays offer DisplayPort compatibility, which means that Mac owners would need a pricy DisplayPort-to-dual-link-DVI adapter. Anecdotally, however, a minority of users have reported flaky results with MonoPrice's $69 adapter and even worse results with Apple's $99 adapter. Since the Korean eBay displays are essentially unreturnable, I wasn't willing to take the risk.

Luckily, salvation may be in sight. AnandTech reviewed the HP ZR2740w - a 27" S-IPS display that runs at 2560x1440. Long story short, this is their conclusion:

If all you really want is a good display for your PC and you don't need to hook up multiple devices, the ZR2740w is an excellent choice. For such users we recommend it with very few reservations and present HP with our Bronze Editors' Choice award.

Did I order one? You bet.

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