When plasma televisions died out a couple of years ago, we lamented the loss of a truly high-contrast panel technology that delivered amazing picture quality from good-old hi-def with Rec.709 color and standard dynamic range. LCDs have tried various methods to improve upon their poor inherent dynamic range qualities but have always been limited by their light-valve method of controlling pixel brightness. That always-on backlight is a significant hurdle to overcome.
Zone backlights are nothing new, having appeared in the consumer TV market more than five years back, but until now, we’ve never seen a desktop computer monitor with one. Today, HDR is not only here, it’s in demand. Anyone shopping for an Ultra HD display should be ignoring products without it. And they should be looking at color capability as well. Without DCI-P3 or better, the viewer simply won’t be seeing everything Ultra HD can offer.
To create content with extended capabilities, professionals will need reference monitors that deliver precise color accuracy to multiple standards and the necessary chops for Ultra HD and HDR. Dell’s UP2718Q checks all the boxes on the list. With its 384-zone backlight and 1000nit peak output, it has the contrast chops to properly do HDR justice. Our tests revealed its ability to top 17,000:1 in the sequential contrast test. While not quite in OLED’s league, it crushes any LCD desktop monitor from our experience.
To this, it adds every color option required by the modern post-production editing bay. Not only does it support sRGB and Rec.709, it doubles down with full DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB gamut volume. A tool like this will find a home in many high-end systems. The $1500 price may cause a bit of sticker-shock for some shoppers, but when compared to the cost of high-end mastering screens—some of which go well into five figures for a similarly-sized panel—the UP2718Q is a pretty good deal.
We only missed a couple of things here. It’s great to see auto-calibration software included with any monitor, but considering its extended color features, we think three or four memories would be more useful rather than just two. Users also place a high priority on out-of-box accuracy and we thought the UP2718Q came up slightly short there. We’d deem it acceptable, but there is room for improvement.
HDR performance is the main attraction, and in that regard, it performs almost flawlessly. Aside from a few minor halo artifacts, we enjoyed the insane amount of additional contrast provided by the zone-dimming backlight and HDR10 support. Integrators will appreciate the wide variety of inputs, all of which support HDCP 2.2, and multi-computer KVM capability. The UP2718Q is also the first monitor we’ve seen with DisplayPort 1.4.
Surprisingly, even to us, we consider the UP2718Q a good value. While $1500 may seem excessive for a 27” monitor, it can do things no other screen can do at this price point. Most high-end mastering displays cost far more, as much as 10 times more in fact. For that reason, we’re giving it our Tom’s Hardware Editor Recommended Award.
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