In a long series of newly designed LCD monitors, HP recently unveiled their latest addition – the w2408 24″ BrightView LCD display. The budget-friendly w2408 is geared toward the consumer market, however it is equally suitable for many non-extensive commercial applications. The w2408 has impressive technical specs, a 4-port USB 2.0 hub and costs a very reasonable $600 USD. Read our review and commentary on the w2408 to find out if you should be using it at home or work. Also, watch our video introduction of the w2408 for more info.
Features and Design
The very first thing that one notices about the HP w2408 is the impressive screen size. When placed on a desk, it commands most of one’s attention, dwarfing other screens, computers, etc. Even though it has a modest footprint, the w2408 has a tendency to make one’s work environment feel slightly miniaturized.
The w2408’s glossy body and shiny BrightView screen are unmistakably unique. Completely dissimilar to the vast hordes of unexciting and banal LCD screens, the w2408 stands out in a crowd like a Victoria’s Secret model would stand out at an all-boys’ Junior High – sexy, thin and hard to divert one’s eyes from.
The 24″ screen itself is very spacious and provides 1920×1200 screen resolution. The w2408 uses a TN-series LCD panel, which is a little lower on the totem pole than the “VA” panels used in some of HP’s high-end professional monitors. Even with some modest limitations of the TN panel, the w2408 and on-screen images look beautiful. More on the TN panel later in the review.
The w2408’s 5ms response time is impressive; good for gaming, video production and enjoying DVD movies and high definition content. A comparison of competitive 24″ LCD screens shows that 5ms is currently the fastest available response time. Other LCDs share the 5ms rate and the rest slow down to 6ms, 8ms and even 16ms.
The w2408 has a 1000:1 contrast ratio for excellent pitch-blacks, bright whites and vibrant colors. For 24″ LCDs on the market as of this writing, 1000:1 contrast is the top spec. (The 23″ $899 Apple Cinema Display has a 700:1 contrast ratio and 16ms response time.)
Display brightness on the HP w2408 is 400 cd/m2, up nearly 34% from earlier HP models.
The w2408 can connect to nearly any computer source with its DVI and VGA inputs. HP includes both DVI and VGA cables with the w2408.
Image Courtesy of HP
USB 2.0 Hub
The w2408 also has a 4-port USB 2.0 hub built into it. The USB 2.0 input is located under the left-hand side of the bezel. In the same location are two outbound USB 2.0 ports. The other two USB 2.0 ports are conveniently located about 3-inches up from the lower left corner of the screen, just on the back side of the bezel, so the potentially unsightly ports are out of sight.
Base and Rotation
The w2408 clearly has a large LCD screen. Due to this fact, the base has to be large enough to keep the screen from toppling over if ever bumped. The base itself has a nice rounded shape, but the overall footprint (max width by max depth) is roughly 12″ by 12″, or one square foot. For smaller desks, this can look and feel like a lot of space. Luckily, the w2408 can be wall mounted – whether directly on a wall, or on an articulating mount. Such a setup would eliminate the w2408’s footprint altogether.
One of the cool things about the w2408’s base is the ease at which it can be rotated on a desk or table. The very bottom of the base has a half-dollar sized rotator. If you ever need to rotate the monitor a little to show a colleague something on the screen, the base rotates with almost no effort at all. The base also articulates up and down to fit your height preferences.
Adding to the cool-factor is the fact that the 24″ LCD screen can pivot 90 degrees to become a vertically-oriented LCD screen. This is awesome for photographers photoshopping vertical images, for spreadsheets, long documents, lengthy websites, etc. With the included software for the w2408, Windows users will be able to rotate the screen and have the image orientation automatically adjust, similar to the auto-rotation of the new iPod touch and iPhone.
The w2408 has two rear-facing 2W speakers, giving a total of 4watts of audio power. While no LCD has truly enjoyable built-in speakers, the w2408 doesn’t sound too bad. It’s fine for watching videos on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc., or even for blowing time on YouTube. Don’t expect to rock out to your CDs or MP3 library. Find yourself a quality external speaker set for shakin’ your booty.
Ambient Light Sensor
The techies at HP have given the w2408 a special little feature that may appeal to some, will be overlooked by others and will blow the socks off the rest. It’s an ambient light sensor built into the front bezel of the screen. Up toward the top left of the bezel, there’s a tiny little dot that looks like a built-in mic or camera. It’s a light sensor. When your work environment darkens – late at night, for example – the w2408 will automatically adjust the its brightness level to be easier on your tired eyes. When the ambient light in the room returns to normal levels, the brightness will also return to normal. One can easily demonstrate this feature by holding a finger over the sensor. In about 2 seconds, the w2408 gradiently drops the brightness by 10-15%. Lifting one’s finger off the sensor shows how the w2408 gradually brightens up again.
The Ambient Light Sensor may be disabled for times you’ll be in Photoshop or any other application where display consistency is absolutely critical.
The w2408 has an on-screen menu item that allows you to keep track of how many hours the LCD screen has been used. This is primarily a tech-support feature, but it’s interesting to track usage stats every once in a while.
The HP w2408 produces some pretty vibrant colors
Setup and Use
Setting up the w2408 is easy, but you’ll need a space with some elbow room. When opening the w2408’s box, you’ll notice that the LCD screen is already attached to the base and simply needs to be removed from the box and the foam braces. Heft the w2408 onto a desk or table (careful – it’s a bit heavy) and connect the power cord into the bottom of the bezel. Connect the included DVI or VGA cable, depending on the type of video adapter your computer uses. Connect the video cable to your computer and press the power button on the w2408. That’s the quick and simple way to set it up.
For those that want to use the speakers built into the w2408, connect the green audio cable to the input jack under the LCD screen (next to the DVI port) and run the cable to your computer’s audio-out/headphones jack. The volume can be controlled directly on the w2408 using the two center control buttons on the bottom right of the bezel. Volume can also be controlled on the LCD screen in the setup menu, however this is more complex and requires more effort.
You may or may not already know this, but the DVI and VGA inputs built into the w2408 allow you to connect two different computers to the same monitor. To switch between the two systems, just tap the little “Select” button on the front of the screen. This switches between DVI input and VGA input and gives you two working systems with the footprint of one screen.
As for customizing the w2408 to fit your viewing pleasure, peruse the on-screen menu for brightness, contrast, color levels, etc. There are plenty of options, so feel free to mess around with it. If you think you’ve gone too far, you can always select “Factory Reset” and put everything back the way it was when the w2408 first came out of the box
DVDs & More
Once you get the w2408 set up, there are a few really fun ways to test it out. Pop in a DVD movie (better yet a High Def DVD) and see how beautiful the picture is. When in 1:1 screen mode (not enlarged or expanded to full screen), the DVD picture is going to look fabulous. Colors are rich, beautiful and vibrant. Night scenes are appropriately black, like a void in deep space. If you’re using a high-quality source for video, you’ll probably notice the distinct absence of pixilation, ghosting or other unwanted anomalies. The w2408 handles still images and video with class.
Photoshop, iPhoto, Picasa, etc.
Viewing and editing photos on the w2408 is a very pleasing experience. With the BrightView glossy screen, the w2408 can have a profound effect on how you view colors and how you feel about your own (or others’) photography. Images look intense and deep, almost life-like. You may find that you end up spending more time browsing and enjoying your photo collection than before.
TN LCD Panel & Viewing Angles
As mentioned earlier in this review, the HP w2408 monitor uses a consumer-level TN LCD panel. The TN panel is not as high-end as some other professional HP (and pro- competitive) LCD panels, but it is certainly high quality and very nice in its own right. The TN panel carries one notable limitation; the source of the only functional weakness we discovered with the w2408.
When using the w2408 in the most common and ergonomically correct style (the monitor straight in front of you and slightly lower than a horizontal plane) the images, colors and tones look amazing. Changing viewing angles – far left or right – has a diminishing effect on saturation and contrast.
Lowering one’s point of view to the lower edge of the screen (as if you were sitting on the floor in front of your desk, looking up at the w2408) reveals that the top half’s colors, brightness and tone darken. Increasing the angle increases the effect. This can be seen on countless LCD screens, however it seems to be most prominent and exaggerated on glossy LCD screens like that of the w2408. (If you work with your desk surface at eye level, there might be more issues to discuss than a darkening LCD screen.)
The TN panel and slightly limited viewing angles may be an instant turn-off to professional users, most of whom would never use a glossy screen to begin with. Others may be able to deal with the anomaly, especially if their viewing angle is relatively constant and conventional.
We’ve found that most users and industry experts have been very pleased with the w2408, while one or two have made rather harsh critiques. As with any technology, the most important opinion is your own. Find a w2408 in a retail store and spend some time with it. There’s a good chance you’ll make the purchase.
The w2408 is a gorgeous LCD screen that has impressive specs, an attractive design and very pleasing performance for most users. Despite the anomalies visible at unusual viewing angles, the w2408 gave us crisp, lifelike colors, deep rich blacks and nice clean motion.
For most common uses, the w2408 is a very nice choice. Professional users may want to look at one of HP’s pro-line LCD screens however. Even HP makes this clear in their product documentation.
The $600 USD price is on the lower side of average – perfect for the budget conscious techie who wants a great display. Even better, a dual w2408 setup will cost only $300 USD more than a single 23″ Apple LCD.
• Very fair price
• BrightView screen for rich colors
• Ambient Light Sensor
• 5ms response time
• 1000:1 contrast ratio
• 1920×1200 screen res
• So-so speakers
• Viewing angles can affect on-screen colors
• Footprint gobbles up desk space