Monoprice is among the more interesting companies you probably haven’t heard of. Started out of an apartment around a decade ago, the company initially sold everything at a single price, hence the name. That business model may have worked when the product line was mostly cables and connectors, but the company now offers a diverse array that includes monitors (more in a moment), home theatre screens, graphics tablets, headphones, apocket-size pico projector, an action cam, even electric guitars – and, yes, cables, connectors and accessories as well. It’s a lineup with no seeming rhyme or reason, other than quality products at bargain prices.
And that actually is the rhyme and reason behind Monoprice products. According to CEO Ajay Kumar, the company looks for categories where vastly overpriced products predominate. That gives Monoprice room to create and sell products at dramatically lower price points, while still maintaining strong profit margins.
“We are in the right place at the right time with our business model,” says Kumar, who joined the company in July 2011. “We offer the same cable or accessory as national retail brands, but for much less cost. However, we are not cutting corners as we employ high-quality manufacturing partners who work with our specs. Our markup is much lower and we pass those savings to our customers. Monoprice brings them a value proposition they can’t find anywhere else.”
And that leads us to the Monoprice 27″ IPS-G Pro LED Monitor WQHD 2560×1440 Product ID 10489, which is what you came here for. I’ve been rocking this 16:9 (widescreen) monitor for over a month now and it’s stunning. Let’s take a look at the stats and find out why.
Start with the size, 27″. You don’t have to join Grindr to know that size matters. A larger screen means that you can work easily with more windows at once. It makes copying files and editing text and spreadsheets easier and obviously makes working with pictures and video more convenient, if that’s your thing. And if you’re a gamer, a large screen is essential. Ditto if you are, for instance, a daytrader or a designer.
Hand in glove with size is resolution. “WQHD” may sound like a Minneapolis TV station, but it means 2560 x 1440 pixels. Some 27″ screens max out at regular Full HD, which is 1920 x 1080. The higher resolution of the Monoprice unit means that more detail is visible, if your PC’s graphics card supports it. If not, you’ll be limited to 1920 x 1080 (or less, if your PC is really old). A large screen with high resolution allows you to display more information. It makes it easier to do more with your PC.
Since we’re talking graphics cards, another nice feature of the Monoprice 10489 is that it supports four different types of interface: HDMI 1.4, DVI, VGA and DisplayPort 1.2. That means that the monitor is bound to work with your existing graphics card. The package includes VGA and DVI-D cables, but these are standard length (around 6′). Because of the size of the monitor, it’s much easier to use longer cables – you can plug in the cable before maneuvering the monitor into place on your desk. Monoprice has you covered with available 15′ HDMI, DVI-D, VGA and DisplayPort 1.2 cables. Choose the one you need.
The monitor uses LEDs for the backlighting, rather than cold cathode fluorescent tubes. The benefit: more even illumination. And it uses In Plane Switching (IPS) display technology, which means you get a wide viewing angle with no color shift even when the screen is viewed at an extreme angle. Viewing angle is stated as 178 degree in both the horizontal and vertical planes.
Covering that screen is a glossy glass laminate with an antiglare coating. The antiglare coating is not a matte finish; the screen is glossy, but the antiglare coating reduces the intensity of any glare from reflected light. As with any monitor, you’ll want to position it so that ambient light is not reflected directly back at you. I’ve found the screen easy to use.
The monitor comes with a removable stand and has a 100×100 VESA mounting size for use with desk or wall mounts. The stand (which is completely removable) has rotate and tilt adjustments. It doesn’t have height adjustment, a feature found on a small number of other monitors.
The bezel is black plastic and is relatively thick. The OSD controls (brightness, etc.) are easy to reach. The connectors are in the usual awkward place for monitors, along the bottom bezel.
Several other stats are key. One is dead pixels. The monitor has over 10 million subpixels (2560 x 1440 pixels x 3 colors per pixel). If any one of those subpixels is stuck in the on or off position, you get a dead pixel – a spot that is always dark, or always white, red, reddish, green, greenish, etc. Unfortunately, dead pixels are a potential fact of life on all monitors – but Monoprice tells me they offer a zero dead pixel guarantee for a year. It’s an unusually strong guarantee, since other manufacturers often will only guarantee that the dead pixel count won’t exceed 5 or 10. The unit I received had no dead pixels.
Also important are brightness and contrast. Monoprice advertises a brightness rating of 440 cd/m², which it says is more than 15% brighter than most comparable displays, and a maximum dynamic contrast ratio of 80,000:1.
The display is indeed bright, but this is the one area where I noted a difficulty with this product – the screen is a bit too bright, even with the brightness adjustment turned down to the lowest setting. As a result, black areas on screen are rendered slightly grayish. For most people and most applications, this won’t be a problem – and it’s a phenomenon that’s scarcely unique to the Monoprice unit – but graphic designers will want to carefully compare this screen with others to see what meets their needs.
The panel features 109 pixels per inch, which translates to a 0.2331mm pixel size. The unit also includes builtin stereo speakers, which can be fed via a stereo audio cable, as well as audio from the HDMI connection. As with most builtin monitor speakers, the sound was tinny and unimpressive, so I don’t recommend using them. Buy a pair of standalone computer speakers instead.
Another stat is response time, which the company says is 6 milliseconds (gray-to-gray response time). That’s a measurement of how long it takes the monitor to change the image when the PC tells it to, and is an issue for almost no one except gamers.
Bottom line: if you’re looking for a high-quality 27″ WQHD IPS LED monitor at a great price, pick up the Monoprice 10489.