As a trim entertainment monitor geared to home use, HP’s Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot 27-Inch Display is bright, and it renders vibrant, accurate colors for both video and photos. Quantum-dot technology is said to produce vivid, true colors, and at least with this display (hereafter dubbed the Quantum Dot 27), our testing bears this out. Enabling HDR mode made sample HDR-enabled videos look all the richer. The chassis is wildly thin, and the display-input connectors include a USB Type-C port, but unlike some other monitors with this port that we’ve encountered, it doesn’t allow for the charging of laptops or other devices connected to it. Even so, this is a solid general-use panel for the price, and its profile will elicit oohs and ahs.
What’s a “Quantum Dot,” Anyway?
With an almost invisible bezel on two sides and the top, and a very thin profile at the bottom, the Quantum Dot 27 has a simple yet handsome design. This matte-black monitor is supported by a stand with a rectangular silver base, and the upper panel portion is just 6.5mm thick.
Including the stand, the Quantum Dot 27 measures 14.4 by 24.1 by 2.2 inches (HWD), and it weighs 7.6 pounds. It supports tilt adjustment, from 5 degrees downward to 25 degrees upward, but it lacks any height or swivel adjustment.
In a nutshell, the “dots” in quantum-dot LCD monitors such as the Quantum Dot 27 are nanoparticles that have properties that differ from larger particles at the level of quantum mechanics. They emit or alter light at different frequencies when exposed to electricity. This light-tweaking is said to produce more precise color across a wider range than the panels illuminated by white LEDs. (For more on quantum dot, see our OLED versus QLED explainer, which focuses on TVs but covers the same basic tech.)
The Quantum Dot 27 employs a 27-inch panel (measured diagonally), with a native resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels (QHD), in a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Its pixel density calculates to 108 pixels per inch (ppi), which matches that of its Editors’ Choice-winning rival, the Dell 27 USB-C Ultrathin Monitor (S2719DC). That panel is also a super-trim 27-incher supporting QHD resolution. This is a lower pixel density than on 27-inch 4K monitors such as the ViewSonic VP2785-4K (that one works out to 163ppi), but it should be more than enough to ensure image sharpness.
The Quantum Dot 27 uses the plane-to-line switching (PLS) technology developed by Samsung. Like in-plane switching (IPS) panels, PLS monitors generally have good color accuracy and brightness.
Ports: The Good and the Bad
The Quantum Dot 27’s port selection is about average for a general-purpose entertainment display. It consists of an HDMI 2.0 input, a DisplayPort 1.2 input, one USB Type-C port, and two USB 3.0 ports. The USB 3.0 ports are downstream—meaning that you can’t push display content over them to the monitor, but you can charge small devices from them (they each deliver up to 2.2 watts) or connect peripherals.
The USB-C port, on the other hand, supports DisplayPort over USB, meaning that you can push a display signal through it. Unlike the USB-C port on the Dell S2719DC—through which I could quickly charge my laptop or other devices—you can’t charge devices through the Quantum Dot 27’s USB-C port.
All the ports are in back and face outward, which isn’t as convenient as having them on the side, but the thin-to-the-extreme edges on this panel preclude that. In any case, it’s a much better arrangement than the downward-facing ports that you find on the back of many monitors. With the Quantum Dot 27, you need only turn the monitor around to plug in a cable or device, and the monitor is so lightweight that this is easy enough to do.
You access the Quantum Dot 27’s onscreen display (OSD) with a tiny four-way joystick controller. Pushing the controller to the left takes you to a list of preset picture modes: Low Blue Light, Night, Reading, Standard, Gaming, Cinema, Vivid, Warm, Cool, Native, and HP Enhance+ (the last being a noise-reduction feature).
You move through the list by pushing the joystick down or up, and choose a mode by pressing the joystick straight in, then pressing it right to exit. Pressing the joystick upward takes you to the main menu, from which you can change the brightness, the contrast, and the input source, as well as access various other settings. Pressing the joystick down opens an information page, with everything from the monitor’s resolution to its firmware version and serial number. Pushing the joystick to the left takes you to the most common setting most folks will seek out: the brightness menu.
The menu system is relatively intuitive and easy to operate. The joystick is far easier to use than trying to navigate an OSD through pressing a series of tiny buttons, the system common to too many displays. My one quibble is that sometimes the OSD won’t respond when I press the joystick in to set a picture mode, and I might have to jam it two or three times before my new setting will take.
Shining With Good Color
HP rates the monitor’s luminance—that is, its brightness per unit area—at 400 nits (a measure also known as “candelas per meter squared”). The panel actually did a touch better (418 nits) in my testing. I calculated the contrast ratio at 996:1, in line with its 1,000:1 rating.
HP claims that the Quantum Dot 27 covers 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color space, and it almost matched that figure in my testing, covering 89.2 percent. (The company gears this monitor primarily to video watching and creation, and it’s a good choice for a budding filmmaker to use in editing.) Above is a color fidelity or chromaticity chart for the Quantum Dot 27, which was generated with the monitor set to Vivid mode. The area within the triangle represents the DCI-P3 color spectrum, and my data points (the circles) are fairly evenly placed near the edge of the triangle, indicating that HP’s claim is right on.
Good Photo and Video Image Quality
In my anecdotal tests, I viewed a number of test video clips, both standard definition and HDR, with the Quantum Dot 27. I also used the panel to view and edit photos.
Video looked appealing, with bright and vivid colors, and solid rendering of detail and dynamic range. (HDR content, as you’d expect, looked even better, brighter and with good color and contrast.) Photos looked sharp and vibrant, as well.
Like many monitors, including the Dell S2719DC mentioned earlier, the Quantum Dot 27 lacks built-in speakers. Unlike the Dell, it doesn’t even have an audio-out jack for headphones or powered external speakers. To give your video sound, you’ll have to play audio through your input source’s speakers (or speakers connected to it), which is a solution that should work with computers but not necessarily other devices.
The main gaming-friendly feature that the Quantum Dot 27 includes is support for AMD’s FreeSync adaptive sync technology. When coupled with a computer equipped with a supported AMD Radeon graphics card, FreeSync can reduce image tearing in games. It adjusts the panel refresh rate on the fly to match the frame-rate output of the card. (FreeSync is common in many late-model panels and does not levy the premium that its Nvidia-paired equivalent, G-Sync, does.)
Beyond that, gaming-specific features are not on tap, as evidenced by the refresh rate. The Quantum Dot 27’s screen refresh rate is a mainstream-standard 60Hz. This monitor is fine for casual gaming, but serious competitors will want to get a true gaming display with a higher refresh rate, such as 120Hz or 144Hz.
HP provides a mere one-year warranty for the Quantum Dot 27. Most monitor manufacturers—for instance, Dell with the S2719DC—back their products with at least three-year warranties. HP offers extended warranties for a modest extra sum. (You can net three-year next-day exchange service for $ 35.99, or two years for $ 19.99 at the pricing that prevailed at this writing.) Given the Quantum Dot 27’s price, HP should back it with a standard warranty more in line with the competition. One year is not enough.
Oh, the Colors!
In evaluating the Quantum Dot 27, I had to consider the power of suggestion: Could the fact that quantum dot is touted as producing bright and true colors have influenced my perception of its image quality?
Most of the video clips I looked at are ones that I have used when testing many other monitors, and the photos are ones that I have taken and am very familiar with. So I had a pretty good idea how they can look when they are rendered well or poorly. With the Quantum Dot 27, image quality was consistently and solidly good to my eye. I compared SDR and HDR brightness by comparing the same scene in each mode, and the HDR shots clearly rendered brighter and with better detail. On the formal-testing front, my brightness and chromaticity tests speak for themselves. (I also generated a chromaticity chart for sRGB, not reproduced here, and the points for each color were again evenly spaced, attesting to the monitor’s color accuracy.) Based both on my observation and the formal testing, I would rate the image quality as good to very good.
All in all, the HP Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot 27-inch Display is a likeable choice as a household entertainment monitor, with good brightness and color. It has a DisplayPort connector, which the Editors’ Choice Dell S2719DC lacks, but the Dell monitor can quickly charge laptops and other devices connected to its USB-C port, which the Quantum Dot 27 cannot. The Quantum Dot 27, though, gets props for its joystick control, which makes for easier OSD menu navigation than the S2719DC’s button-based controls.
On another front, the Dell’s three-year warranty is superior to the single year offered by HP. And while neither monitor has built-in speakers, the Dell at least has an audio-out jack. Otherwise, the two monitors have very similar features and render bright, vivid images, especially with HDR video. Though the S2719DC holds on to its Editors’ Choice crown, the Quantum Dot 27 is also well worth considering at this screen size for its brightness, color fidelity, and HDR performance.