- Review Date: 05/30/2013
- Bottom line: The HP Envy 27 27-inch monitor is not only aesthetically pleasing, it delivers rich colors and premium audio quality courtesy of Dr. Dre's Beats Audio technology. It's also more expensive than most 27-inch monitors.
- Pros: Solid color quality. Wide viewing angles. Stylish. Powerful audio output.
- Cons: Pricey. No USB connectivity. Tilt-only stand.
Let's face it: Most desktop monitor speakers are so underpowered and tinny sounding that they are virtually unlistenable at high volumes. If you like your music loud but don't have a good set of external speakers handy, the HP Envy 27 27-inch IPS LED Backlit Monitor has you covered. This beautifully crafted monitor uses Beats Audio technology and a carefully positioned built-in speaker bar to deliver loud, full-bodied audio. It's also equipped with a bright IPS panel that does a good job of displaying accurate colors, and it features both HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. It's relatively expensive for a monitor that lacks features such as USB connectivity and height adjustability, but if you're a music or movie aficionado, the Envy 27 is worth the extra cash.
Design and Features
The Envy 27 is a gorgeous-looking monitor. It uses a bezel-less design similar to that of its less expensive sibling, the HP Pavilion 27xi, that makes the 1,920-by-1,080 panel appear larger than its 27 inches. The glossy coating gives colors lots of pop but can be reflective when viewing a dark background. The matte black cabinet is only 1.4 inches thick and it is supported by a stand consisting of a silver metal base that is a little over 20 inches wide and 4.25 inches deep and a silver hinge attachment on the right. The hinge allows you to tilt the screen forward and backward but does not support height, swivel, or rotation adjustments.
Positioned along the bottom edge of the cabinet is a panel containing four 3-watt speakers (6 watts per channel). The bar is tilted slightly upward for maximum projection and the speakers are nice and loud. However, once you press the small red button on the bottom edge of the bar, the Beats Audio technology kicks in. The difference is amazing; high and mid tones are much more pronounced and there's more bass response than I expected. The audio quality rivals that of some 2.1 channel speaker systems and saves a good deal of desktop real estate as well.
In addition to the Beats Audio button there are five touch sensitive function buttons and an ambient light sensor positioned along the lower edge of the speaker bar. The OSD (on-screen display) menus are easy to navigate and include brightness, contrast, gamma, color temperature, sharpness, and dynamic contrast ratio settings. Management controls include audio settings, a sleep timer, and an ambient light sensor setting that adjusts screen brightness according to your current lighting conditions.
At the rear of the cabinet facing outward are VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort inputs. There's also an audio input, a subwoofer jack, and an SPDIF port. A headphone jack is conveniently mounted on the right side of the cabinet for easy access. The Envy 27 comes with all necessary cables with the exception of an SPDIF cable. HP covers the monitor with a one year parts and labor warranty.
The Envy 27's IPS panel performed admirably, delivering rich colors and inky blacks. Red and blue color reproduction was very accurate but greens were slightly oversaturated, as shown on the CIE 1931 chromaticity chart below (the closer each dot is to its corresponding box, the better the color accuracy). The green saturation level had no effect on overall color quality and did not result in tinting or cause a green cast.
The panel did a good job of displaying most of the swatches from the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test but struggled at the dark end; the two darkest shades of gray appeared black. Light grayscale performance was much better, though. Viewing angles were wide; there was no color shifting or loss of luminance when viewed from top, bottom, and side angles.
The 27-inch screen and Beats Audio combine to deliver an outstanding high definition movie experience. The movie 2012 on Blu-ray looked great; image detail was sharp and the picture was crystal clear. The enhanced audio was loud and distortion-free.
The Envy 27 used 30-watts of power during testing, which is exactly what the AOC i2757fh used. While not what you would consider a power hog it can't match the energy efficiency of the Dell S2740L (21 watts) and the HP 27xi (22 watts).
The HP Envy 27 27-inch IPS LED Backlit Monitor may cost a bit more than most 27-inch IPS monitors but it offers something that the others don't; a Beats Audio-powered speaker system that does away with the need for desktop speakers. The panel delivers a bright, highly detailed picture and the Envy 27's sleek lines are aesthetically pleasing. However, a few USB ports and a more flexible stand would be welcome. If powerful audio output is not a priority you can save around $170 with our Editors' Choice for mainstream big-screen monitors, the AOC i2757fh.
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.