Thin is in. From Ultrabooks to phones to all-in-one PCs, the thinner the better. If manufacturers make it thin and sexy looking, customers will flock straight to these svelte products, right? Of course, if all products are sleek and gorgeous, actual performance starts to matter.
HP’s Pavilion 27xi monitor is definitely taking cue from its thin PC counterparts. The 27-inch IPS display measures just 0.6 inches thick at its thinnest point, but does being this thin come with any repercussions?
We were attracted to the bezel-less 27xi from the start. It’s definitely easy on the eyes and will look good sitting on your desk, but let’s see if thin actually is in with this monitor.
HP’s latest Pavilion 27xi monitor would look great on any executive’s desk. It’s thin, elegant, and – albeit extremely glossy – takes up surprisingly little tabletop space for a 27-inch display. Should said executive have a window behind her desk, however, the glare on the glossy surface would be nearly blinding. Display makers really need to give up on the glossy panels.
Once you get past the glossy surface, there’s a lot to like under the hood. The design esthetic mirrors the thinness of the monitor. The bezel surrounding the sides and top is narrow and unobtrusive. The lower bezel extends further down, housing the touch-sensitive controls, which remain unlit and unobtrusive until you brush a finger past them. The rear of the system is pleasingly functional. HP makes no attempt to hide connectors in cable-contorting and thumb-smashing ways. Making connections with the 27xi is about as easy as it gets.
The monitor rests on an attractive, brushed metal stand. All interfaces are easily accessible in the rear of the display, avoiding the need for awkwardly bent cables. As for its ports, the HP Pavilion 27xi has one VGA port, one DVI connector, and one HDMI 1.4.
The stand itself tilts but does not rotate, and it lacks any height adjustment. Given the lack of a VESA monitor mount, you can’t just add a different stand, either. So, you’re stuck with the HP-supplied stand.
The thinness of the Pavilion 27xi doesn’t come free; the monitor uses an external power brick, and the sleek panel lacks space for a built-in power supply. Thus, the problem: the cable connecting the power brick to the monitor isn’t long enough to reach the floor on most desks. So, you either need to park an unsightly power brick on your desk, or dangle it in mid-air, stressing the connectors.
Features and Specs
At roughly 15.5 pounds, the 27xi is also pretty light for a 27-incher. However, resolution is an uninspired 1920 x 1080 pixels. Yes, HDTVs have taken over the world, but more pixel density on a desktop display would be welcome. The 27xi’s panel uses IPS technology, which offers excellent viewing angles and reasonably good color fidelity. HP rates both horizontal and vertical viewing angles at 178 degrees. We saw no significant color or contrast when viewing from 45 degrees on the horizontal, but we did see slight shifts on the vertical.
The rated response time is 7ms, which is impressive for an IPS display. Smearing or motion artifacting due to slow response times was decidedly absent in HD video content or during gameplay, so that 7ms response time seems realistic.
HP rates the overall contrast at 1000:1 (non-dynamic), but we found that number to be a little optimistic. When we measured the contrast ratio, it was actually around 640:1.
The 27xi offers a full suite of picture controls. You can change color settings, including setting specific color temperatures, adjust aspect ratio (but only when you’re not at maximum display resolution), change gamma settings, and more. You can enable controls by brushing your finger over the blank area of the lower bezel adjacent to the power button. When you do this, touch-sensitive controls light up. As with similar controls on other displays, the sensitivity is a little wonky, and you may accidentally select the wrong control.
Quick set adjustments for photo, games, and video are available, but these tend to be overly coarse. We prefer to minimize sharpness adjustment and leave dynamic contrast off, but your tastes may differ.
Once calibrated, photo and video content looked good. Video playback quality was excellent, as the display easily kept up with the frame rate. There was almost no visible smearing or other artifacts during HD video playback. The display calibrated most accurately when the gamma was set to “high” in the on-screen display, but it was still a little below the D6500 color temperature preset.
At its brightest setting, the 27xi is just shy of 250 nits, which is enough to be too bright in most home offices but will be appreciated it in brightly-lit commercial spaces. At 50 percent brightness, overall contrast ratio measured at actual 580:1 – so blacks aren’t deep blacks. You may lose some detail with dark video content, but most video will look fine.
At 76 percent of Adobe RGB (97 percent of SRGB), the color gamut is adequate. The 27xi will be fine for casual photographers, but serious hobbyists or professional photographers may want to look elsewhere. The monitor has a slight hotspot towards the upper center, but it’s only noticeable when viewing very dark content. Overall, brightness uniformity was pretty good.
There seemed to be little muddiness or lack of detail in brighter images and video, and colors looked fairly accurate. A minor blue push seemed evident (but only if you were looking closely).
Most users will find the Pavilion 27xi to be easy on the eyes, accurate for most uses, and impressively responsive for an IPS panel. If you’re worried that IPS panels might be too slow for higher frame rate video or gaming, the 27xi’s performance should put your fears to rest.
HP’s Pavilion 27xi is an affordable 27-inch, full HD display. It looks good sitting on your desk, and image quality on the panel itself will please all but the most demanding users. With no height adjustment on the stand and the lack of VESA mounting capability, the ergonomics are lacking a bit. But, at right around $300 (it has a list price of $340, but we’ve seen it marked down by HP to $300 for at least a month now), it’s also affordable. That’s a modest price for a good-looking IPS display, even if you do need to set it on a book to get the right height.
- Very good image quality
- Accurate color rendition
- Sharp looking chassis
- Limited stand adjustment
- No VESA mounts on back; can’t be mounted on an ergonomic stand
- No DisplayPort