Adding a big HP ZR24w monitor to my Mac

HP ZR24wI recently decided to expand my PDF books library, so reading PDF books on my Mac became usual. And since most of these books have small fonts, the bigger the monitor the better.

This was the reason to finally upgrade my monitor, (an old Sony 18″, 1280×1024) to a larger and wider one.

After some thoroughly conducted research, I ordered the new HP ZR24w, a nice 24″ 1920×1200, IPS panel monitor.

Installation

After unpacking and attaching the pedestal base to the monitor, I simply disconnected the DVI-D plug from the old monitor, connected to the new one and voilá, the monitor lighted and the image showed up.

Initially the image was distorted, since the Mac resolution did not match the resolution of the new big monitor, and required a trip to System Preferences, Displays, to select the 1920×1200 resolution.

Sharpness

Next, I noticed that fonts were not as clear as I knew them on the previous monitor. Browsing through the monitor OSD (On Screen Display) menus I noticed a wrong default setting, related to Sharpness. I disabled it and the font edges looked ok again.

Calibration

This is a sensitive issue, and since I do not have a colorimeter, all I could do is to set the monitor to the default settings, the 6500K – sRGB colour profile, and run the Mac OS X calibration procedure, for fine tuning.

The default brightness looked way too bright, so I reduced it (arbitrarily) to 33. Please note that the brightness value is not %, but a shifted value, with 0 not representing the full darkness, but a quite acceptable value when working in low light environments.

The default contrast value is 80. I’m not used with this high contrast, but since I do not know how this may affect calibration, for the moment I left it unchanged.

Other settings

There are two more settings: Video OverDrive (intended to increase the transition speed for applications like gaming) and Dynamic Contrast Ratio, (that varies the backlit to improve dynamic contrast); both are currently set to Off.

Specs

Panel size: 24″
Resolution: 1920×1200
Response time: 5 ms (g2g)
Overdrive:
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Brightness: 400 cd/m²
Color support: sRGB, 16.7 million colors
Color gamut: 72 % of NTSC
Signal processing: 8 bit for each color
Viewing angles (H/V): 178°/178° (contrast 10:1)
Dotpitch: 0.270 mm
Pixel density: 94 ppi
Panel type: IPS
Wall mounting:
Dimensions(HxWxD): 42.5cm x 44.5cm x 23.5cm (with stand)

Pros:

  • I know that this might be subjective, but the image quality seems gorgeous; I think it is not far behind the (very expensive) Apple LED Cinema Displays
  • the panel is an 8-bit IPS, compared to usual 6-bit TN panels used in regular products; viewing angles and panel uniformity are great; colour accuracy and contrast seem good
  • the screen is NOT glossy!
  • the digital inputs include both DVI-D and DisplayPort
  • there is a USB hub with 4 ports, 2 of them on the left side
  • the price is also great, I paid only €310 + VAT, probably about one third of the Apple Display
  • the extended vertical resolution (1200 vs the usual 1080) offers more space for opening PDF pages; Letter/A4 pages can be read at full size, even with two pages at once

Cons:

  • when connected to a 1080p source, the monitor stretches the image from 1080 to 1200 lines instead of adding two black bands up and down; since there is no setting to disable this, your video source must be 1200, otherwise the image will be slightly distorted
  • there is no HDMI port; however I don’t plan to use it as a TV, so I hope this will not be a problem (given the above aspect ratio problem, I would not use the monitor as a TV anyway)
  • does not support extended gamut; however this feature is specific to professional application, so it should not be a real limitation
  • as with other HP products, the accompanying software is Windows only; fortunately the Mac OS X recognised the monitor without any problems
  • the average power usage seem to be around 80W, with a maximum of 95W, good but not as good as the new LED panels; in reduced power state, the power consumption is about 2W
  • according to some reviews, the blacks might not be as deep as with other more expensive panels; probably it is true, but for the moment I have no means to measure this.

Reviews

For its class, the ZR24w has good review as TestFreaks, especially the TFT Central one. Also the Amazon user ratings seem favourable.

First experience is positive, the colours are great, the text is readable, integration with the Mac was flawless (even without any drivers and utilities), and the price was attractive.

Oct 10 Update – The Speaker Bar

HP LCD SpeakerSince I like integrated solutions, I also decided to add the HP LCD Speaker Bar, one of the accessories available for my new monitor.

The black HP speaker bar fits perfectly on the botom edge the monitor, and has about the same width as the pedestal. Due to the increased depth of this monitor (it has an IPS panel), the speaker bar discreetly remains a bit behind of the monitor front, but this is not a problem (probably on the contrary, since the microphone is located inside the camera placed on the top of the monitor)

Power is provided through a USB cable, that plugs into one of the two bottom oriented monitor existing USB ports (two more USB ports are available on the left side).

Audio input is through the usual 3.5mm connector, that I extended to the back of the Mac Mini, where I plugged it into the corresponding Audio Out port.

Please note that the speaker audio input is a line input, and the speaker bar is amplified, not a simple box with speakers. That matches the Mac audio output, that is also a line output (and also an optical output, in the same round plug).

On the right side of the speaker bar there is a potentiometer, used also for turning the speakers completely off (useful if the computer is in your room and you leave it on overnight).

The quality of the speakers is probably in line with most monitor speakers, i.e. it is enough for Skype calls and usual YouTube videos.

However, it does not match the quality of my other sound system connected to the Mac (a Cambridge SoundWorks 4.1 set, with a large subwoofer), that I power on only when I use the Mac for my musical experiments (together with my Roland MIDI keyboard and the Roland/Edirol Synthesiser).

All in all, the speaker bar, together with the Logitech camera I already have, make a nice and very convenient environment, especially for Skype calls.

Apr 2011 Update – MacBook Pro

The monitor now has two input sources, the Mac Mini via DVI, using the Apple mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter and a regular DVI cable, and my new MacBook Pro, via a mini DisplayPort to large DisplayPort adapter and the HP supplied large DVI cable. This adapter was a bit difficult to find, since neither Apple nor HP provide it and I had to resort to third parties.

Switching inputs is not as easy as it should be (one single button push to toggle inputs), one have to push the Source button, watch the OSD window, navigate with +/- and confirm the selection.

To simplify this, I decided to use the Mac OS X Screen Sharing feature to access the Mac Mini screen from the MacBook Pro desktop, so now I rarely need to physically switch the monitor input.

 

 

About Liviu Ionescu (ilg)
Hi! My name is Liviu Ionescu (ilg, ilegeul or eunete for colleagues and friends) and I’m a senior IT engineer. Or should I say a real programmer?

14 Responses to Adding a big HP ZR24w monitor to my Mac

  1. neilwalsh says:

    Thanks for posting your experience. I recently bought one these monitors for use with my mac and I can’t fault it.

    • Glad to hear this.

  2. emkayonline says:

    Thanks for your post. I’m thinking of purchasing this monitor for my Macbook.

    I wondered if you have tried swivelling it into portrait mode? Does the mac mini support this (and does the screen image that is displayed rotate automatically or do you have to change it in the display preferences)?

    Hope you can help,

    • I tried the monitor in Portrait mode on my MacBook Pro and it works properly (although, for me at least,16:10 screens in Portrait mode look a bit odd; probably for special applications, like processing newspaper pages, or something similar, this setup might be useful)

      You have to manually change the Rotation setting in the Preferences -> Display page, and you also have to rotate the OSD window in the monitor configuration.

      I checked the manual and I did not find any mention about automatic changing the rotation, I doubt the unit has an accelerometer or other position sensor.

      Regards,

      Liviu

  3. Brian says:

    I don’t understand how you are connecting the computers to the display. It sounds like you’re using two DVI inputs but the monitor only has one DVI input.

    Reason I ask is that I’m trying to share my zr24w between my windows desktop (DVI) and macbook pro (early 2011 15″). I have the macbook connected with a mini dp to regular dp and the picture flickers like crazy and blacks out. It’s unusable.

    • The MacBook Pro is connected to the DisplayPort input and the MacMini to the DVI input.

      Most of the time I am connected to the laptop and when I need to work on the Mini I use the Mac OS Screen Sharing. Only when I need to do something special, like Lightroom, I switch the monitor inputs.

      Liviu

      • Brian says:

        Thanks for the reply. What year/model is your mbp? I’ve read from a number of people that the mbp 2011’s don’t properly output on the mini displayport to displayport cable. Maybe you’ve got an earlier model?

  4. Brian says:

    Yup, on the phone with Apple, it’s a known issue that they are researching. Sooo.. I guess I just deal with having no external display. Which sucks. Pay $2,500 for a laptop and can’t hookup an external display? Wow.

    • This is strange, my MBP is “Model Identifier: MacBookPro8,2; Processor Name: Intel Core i7” and I have it since spring 2011. I hooked it to the monitor since day one and never had any problems.

      I’m located in Europe, I don’t know if this makes any difference.

      Liviu

  5. Brian says:

    That is strange. Sounds like the same model I have here. Is it connected via mini displayport to displayport on the ZR24w?

    • that’s correct.

  6. Brian says:

    I guess it’s possible it’s this third party monoprice.com cable. Or a bad monitor. I’m taking the mbp and my monitor to the apple store tomorrow so we’ll see what we can find out. Thanks for the reply.

  7. Pingback: The PC Weenies - The Great 24″ Monitor Hunt

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