HP calls the 24in DreamColor LP2480zx 'uniquely affordable'. At over $4000, most of us probably don't think that at all. However, professional users who make their living using colour-critical applications might well see the merit in that statement. That's because it's not a typical monitor at all: it's a high-end model that's capable of producing more colours than your eyes will probably ever see.
HP claims that its 30-bit panel can natively produce more than 1 billion colours, which is a heck of a lot more than what a typical desktop monitor can do with a 6-bit or 8-bit panel. Furthermore, the screen uses a tri-colour LED backlight, which is supposed to produce deeper colours than a fluorescent light; this is definitely noticeable. Another advantage of the LED light is that the monitor achieves its required brightness level as soon as it's switched on, without needing any warm-up time.
Straight out of the box, it was impossible to fault the screen's colours. All the colour ramps and gradients we threw at it using DisplayMate were handled impeccably. There wasn't any colour stepping, hues weren't off, and its colour intensity from one level to the next was perfect. There are different colour spaces that can be selected from the on-screen menu, which is controlled with easily accessible buttons. The modes include sRGB, Adobe RGB and SMPTE-C as well as others. From the menu, you can also separately change the level of the backlight and the black level. The on-screen menu's firmware can be updated.
As it stands, the black level on this monitor is pretty much the best we've seen. Dark photos, and even dark movies, were displayed with rich colours and immaculate attention to detail. The screen's uniformity was almost perfect, although there were slight dark patches noticeable at the bottom corners. (Nothing to be concerned about, however.)
At 24in with a 1920x1200 resolution and a dot-pitch of 0.270, the monitor's sharpness is very good. We only noticed slight fringing on some lettering, and only when we were a few inches away from the screen. It also up-scaled DVDs beautifully: smoke from cigarettes, for example, was clearly defined in dark scenes, background artefacting wasn't magnified and there was no jaggedness in any lines, and motion was smooth. Blu-ray movies played back smoothly, and they looked stunningly vivid!
We also didn't notice any ghosting during video playback, nor when scrolling or moving images around the screen, but the screen does have an Overdrive feature, which affects the response rate. It can be adjusted if you do ever notice any ghosting. This model should indeed suit game designers as well as video producers and photographers.
Physically, the screen rests on a base than can swivel, tilt, rise and rotate, as well as pivot. We found the screen's viewing angles to be wide from all sides, and using it in portrait mode didn't cause any viewing problems from the sides. The rear of the screen has a gang of ports: two DVI, one HDMI, one DisplayPort, as well as Component, S-Video and composite ports. You also get USB connectivity. The monitor supports Display Data Channel/Command Interface (DDC/CI), so that its brightness and colour can be controlled by a graphics card, and it also supports Extended Display Identification Data (EDID), to let the card know exactly what kind of screen is connected. Furthermore, it ships with calibration and pivot software.
A couple of other settings that come in handy in the screen's menu are the sleep timer and the control for the bezel's lights. This is handy for when you want to work or view video in the dark and you don't want to be disturbed by the power light.
Overall, the excellent performance and colour of this monitor were to be expected considering its price, and it's up there with similarly professional monitors we've seen (such as Eizo's ColorEdge CG301W). If you only want a monitor to surf the Web and edit the odd Flickr photo with, then look for a standard sub-$500 monitor; this one is purely for those of you who need excellent colour reproduction for professional video production and photography.