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Review: HP Z27i 27-inch IPS Display

HP's new, lightweight, full-powered 27-inch monitor fits into several workflows with its adjustable, detachable base and varied connectivity options.

For years I ascribed to the production philosophy that said a self-contained photo and video editing solution was the best option one could use for field acquisition and post-production work.

When I hit 40, though, I started relooking production assumptions. And I shaved the beard I’d grown at 35. Neither necessarily has anything to do with the other, and while I ultimately regrew the beard—or it grew again on me, whichever the case may be—the production assumptions went out the window in favor of a return to the modular approach.

My production days started in film, when we did truly modular and nonlinear, multi-station editing. As such, I’ve seen two portions of postproduction through a film-like lens: carrying around the film “canister” to the editing “suite” complete with a Moviola or flat-bed editing table and a semi-large screen.

Today’s equivalents, of course, have shrunk the “canister” from the sneaker-net 1 GB encyclopedia-sized luggable drives to a more pocket-sized spindle- or flash-memory-based hard drive.

On the other hand, the monitor itself has grown in size, and it’s hard to contemplate the idea of editing in a room that doesn’t have at least one 27-30” desktop monitor and another one or two 1080p-capable video monitors to reference what content will look like on the extremes of the consumer electronics (CE) market, from 720p to the newer 4K CE devices revealed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Over the course of two reviews, I’ll cover portable digital equivalents of the film “canister” and a workhorse desktop monitor. Next week’s film “canister” review will cover the G-Technology G-Dock EV, but today I’m going to focus on my portable production screen of choice for image and video editing: the 27-inch HP Z27i monitor.

A Portable Production Screen

HP announced this monitor at a trade event in New York in late 2013, alongside several new desktop and laptop workstations that use Thunderbolt 2 connectors. At the same time, the company also introduced a 30” big brother to the Z27i, the Z30i.

The difference between the two, besides three diagonal inches, is a bit more horizontal resolution: the Z27i has a 2560x1440 native resolution while the Z30i sports a native 2560x1600 resolution.

We opted to test the Z27i first because we had several field productions coming up, and we thought the Z27i gave a better comparison to our tried-and-true field production monitor, the 24-inch HP LP2475w. We were in for a pleasant surprise, however, as this new generation of monitor was not only faster and more responsive; it actually gave us all the benefits in a larger resolution at a lighter weight. That part alone felt good on a 40-plus-year-old back.

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