Hazro HZ24W
Simon Baker, 15 December 2007 (updated 23 Dec, 2007)

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Quick Browse:

Introduction
Colour Accuracy and Quality
    Hazro Calibration Suite (HCS)
Viewing Angles
Panel Uniformity
Office and Windows Use
Responsiveness and Gaming
Movies and Video
Conclusion


Above: Hazro HZ24W Black edition
 

Hazro are a new player in the monitor market, and have already attracted a fair amount of attention due to their model specs and features. It is refreshing to see a brand take into consideration what users will look for from a new screen. Their range come in sizes of 23, 24, 26 and 30 inches, and all feature S-IPS panel technology (news story). This is something widely used for professional graphics displays owing to its good colour reproduction capabilities and wide viewing angles. It has also become the choice for many more casual users as well, with perception being this is one of the best panel technologies on the market. We won't get into the whole VA vs IPS arguement here, but S-IPS panels certainly have their pros.

Hazro have therefore made a smart move, introducing new models in large screen sizes (rapidly becoming the popular choice now), and including technology and features which they know their users will want. The screens offer a unique design and appearance, and aim to fill the void of 23 - 30" S-IPS based screens, which manufacturers are tending to ignore in favour of cheaper TN Film panels. Their website states:

"When it comes to CAD-CAM, 3D modelling, pre-press editing and photography, the rapid response times, luminance and colour saturation place the HZ range in a calibre of their own. The range is as versatile as it is functional. Meaning with the time you'll save not having to scroll through documents, and toggle between windows, you can spend the rest immersed in multimedia, gaming, DVDs and high definition television, experiencing breathtaking levels of realism and clarity. With RGB component (Y/Pb/Pr), interacting with high definition video and media input has never been easier."

Today, we have the 24" model to test, the HZ24W, ahead of it's official release. Let's take a look at the specs:

Size

24"WS

Colour Depth

16.7M (8-bit)

Resolution

1920 x 1200

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Response Time

5ms G2G

Panel Technology

S-IPS

Contrast Ratio

700:1

Interfaces

DVI, VGA and Component

Brightness

400 cd/m2

Colour

Black aluminium bezel and stand

Special Features

Tilt ergonomic adjustment, touch sensitve OSD buttons, aluminium construction, hardware aspect ratio control


Above: The HZ24W front and side views. Click for larger versions

Hazro have sent us the HZ24W in black. The screen features a complete brushed aluminium finish, with a black colour used for the entire bezel and stand. A more traditional 'silver' coloured version is also available. The sides and back of the screen are finished in a dark grey colour, and everything is very sleak and compact.


Above: OSD selection buttons are touch sensitive. Click for larger version

The OSD menu selection buttons sit just below the centre of the screen and are set back a little from the bezel. They are nicely tucked out of the way, and not obtrusive thanks to the black stand which sits behind them. It is not often that I unpack a screen that really has that 'wow' factor, but the HZ24W was a pleasant surprise. The finish, and even the feel, of the aluminium was impressive and certainly different to many other models we have tested.


Above: Back views of the screen, showing enclosed design and interface options. Click for larger versions

The screen itself is entirely flat at the back, apart from where the interface options sit in the lower corner. Interestingly, the connections are not located on the underside of the screen, since this would result in cables and connections being visible (the screen is a single enclosed block). There is no cable tie, but not really any need as you can easily hide the cables behind the stand. It might have been nice to see an intergrated USB hub here as well, something which is often handy to have built in.


Above: Side views showing min and max tilt from the stand. Click for larger versions

The stand itself offers only a tilt functionality, which while being smooth and easy to manouvre, is a little limited. It would have been nice to see a height adjustable stand here, since a screen this size could well benefit from some added user control.


Above: OSD options shown, including aspect ratio control on the right.  Click for larger versions

The OSD menu itself was operated using the touch sensitive buttons under the bottom of the screen. The menu is reasonably simple to use and features controls for colour temperature, RGB values and brightness/contrast as one would expect. Pleasingly there is also an option for aspect ratio control, offering options for 'full', 'user defined' and 'aspect'. This feature is listed in the manufacturers specs and is something which many buyers look for in a new screen. Nice to see Hazro acknowledge this feature and incorporate it into their displays. The OSD selection buttons gives quick access to this aspect ratio control (through the 'select' button), and also to interface options (VGA, component and DVI being available). Oddly, the only slight 'glitch' with the OSD was that when altering the values for brightness etc, the up and down arrows as shown on the buttons themselves appear to be the wrong way round. Not major at all, and at least they move you the right way through the main OSD selections.


Above: Interface options on the back of the screen (left), along with carry handle (right). Click for larger versions

The back of the screen offers interface options for DVI, VGA and RGB component (Y / PB / Pr). Certainly handy for connecting multiple sources including games consoles. The power connector is not the normal kettle lead type, and so you need an external power brick (provided of course) with this screen. The back also features a carry handle at the top of the stand, as shown in the above image.

As you would expect, the screen is Vista ready and features a power-save mode when not in use. The screen is VESA compliant (100mm x 100mm) and comes packaged with power and DVI cables. The aluminium finish is non-reflective and the materials all feel of a very high standard. Build quality is very good, and overall the screen looks impressive. The panel itself is a matt finish with anti-reflective coating being used (3H hard coating).

 

 


Colour Quality and Accuracy

The Hazro HZ24W utilises an 8-bit S-IPS panel, capable of producing a true 16.7 million colours. The screen uses only standard CCFL backlighting and so it's colour gamut covers 72% of the NTSC colour space. Some of the other models in Hazro's range offer wide colour gamuts.

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user. I restored my graphics card to default settings and set it to its standard profile. The HZ24W was tested at default factory settings out of the box using the LaCie Blue Eye Pro and their accompanying software suite.

Default settings of the screen were 68 brightness and 68 contrast. Colour temperature mode was set to 6500k (this resulted in RGB control being greyed out) and the 'image mode' was left on 'user'.


Hazro HZ24W - Default Settings

 

Default Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

277

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.40

Contrast Ratio

693:1


Out of the box, the Hazro HZ24W performed quite well, but not spectacularly. The screen did feel overly bright, as one would expect to see from most consumer screens on the market to be honest. The LaCie probe revealed that luminance was actually at 277 cd/m2, quite considerably higher than the desired 120 cd/m2 for LCD screens in normal lighting conditions. The brightness setting in the OSD was set at 68 here, but while the screen did appear bright, it was not too overbearing. Gamma was recorded at a value of 1.9, some way out from the desired 2.2 level, being the
default for computer monitors, and the standard for the Windows operating system and the Internet-standard sRGB colour space. Colour temperature was pretty accurate however, and being recorded at 6279k (3% out from the 6500k of 'daylight' we aspire to), was a good performance from the monitors preset 6500k mode. The CIE diagram on the left shows the CCFL backlighting used covers the sRGB colour space only, and this is in keeping with the 72% NTSC gamut we would expect to see.

Despite the overly bright initial settings, the colours did not appear to be too washed out or uneven. They felt well produced to the naked eye really, and were even and vivid. Testing with the colorimeter revealed the graph on the right hand side above, showing DeltaE (dE 94) values across 16 shades. As a reminder, the lower these bars down the Y-axis, the better, in terms of colour accuracy. For reference, LaCie describe the DeltaE readings as:

Overall the accuracy was a little way out, but at least the colours were reasonably even. With an average DeltaE of 4.1, the colour displayed was significantly different to that being requested. We would need to carry out calibration of the screen, preferably with a colorimeter, to produce the best results here. Since Hazro market this screen at the colour enthusiast, it is not unfair to assume most users should hopefully have access to a hardware calibraiton device. If so, the calibrated results should be far more pleasing.

With luminance recorded at 277 cd/m2, black depth was a reasonably average 0.4 cd/m2. This gave a useable static contrast ratio of 693:1, not far off the specified 700:1 and not too bad a performance for an S-IPS panel. Let's see how the screen fares after calibration:

 


Hazro Calibration Suite (HCS)

While it is not provided at present, plans are to package the Hazro Professional range of monitors with calibration software and hardware colorimeter devices. Around February 2008, the range should come with a software calibration package, under the name of the Hazro Calibration Suite (HCS). Later in the year, there will be a more enhanced version of the screens available with programmable LUT controller boards, and these will come packaged with a more advanced version of the sofware and a colorimeter device. This range is expected around Easter time, and will be a more feature rich and enhanced package.

At the moment, I've been provided with a full sample of the HCS package. It's quite hard to discuss this in too much detail, since it is unclear which features will make it into the basic package, and which will appear in the more advanced package. The software at the moment is provided by basICColor, and the full suite is very detailed and feature rich. This package requires a colorimeter device to be used, but it is compatible with a wide range of tools including the popular Spyder2 and Eye-One devices for instance. So the initial basic package offered by Hazro will require you to buy a hardware device of your own to work with this software suite, but the sotware itself is impressive.

You are asked to determine the settings for calibration first of all, and so we opted for the usual target colour temperature of D65 (6500k), a gamma of 2.2 and luminance of 120 cd/m2. We will be featuring a full in depth review of the basICColor software in the near future at TFTCentral, so we won't go into too much detail here.

I connected up the LaCie Blue Eye Pro device and paired this with the HCS software. There is the usual calibration process which is fully automated and requires no adjustment of the OSD options. In the full package there is also the handy deltaE results / review feature, which can be useful for determining the success of your calibration. I ran through the calibration process to see how well the screen is adjusted from the default values shown above. The calibration itself takes around 2 minutes to complete, and is easy to use. At the end you are presented with a brief summary of what your target settings were, and how successful the calibration was.

In this instance you can see luminance was nicely corrected to 121 cd/m2, and black depth was now recorded at 0.41 cd/m2, giving a contrast ratio of 294:1. The ICC profile was saved and the software now presented you a further option to 'validate' the results. This process takes about 30 seconds and produces the following in depth analysis:

This is a handy feature to have, and hopefully will be included in even the basic package in February. If you couple this software with a decent hardware device (something like the Eye-One Display 2 for instance), then it should be capable of some good results. The above shows some detailed results from the validation process, with the graph on the right being perhaps the most easy to follow for our regular readers. This is the usual dE94 graph we see in LaCie's reporting software, and shows some good results from the calibration. dE was now reported as an average 0.57, with maximum being only 1.26. LaCie would classify this as excellent colour fidelity overall. I then tested the results (without changing any settings) with LaCie's software and produced the following results:

As you can see, the colour accuracy has improved since the default settings of the screen, but the analysis from LaCie's software differs slightly from that of the HCS software. dE average is listed here as 1.6, with a maximum of 4.6. The readings for colour temperature, gamma and luminance remain consistent, but it is unclear which colour accuracy readings could be considered more reliable. LaCie's software is well established and highly regarded, so I wanted to see if further correction was possible from their calibration process.

 


Hazro HZ24W - Calibrated Settings

 

Calibrated Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

122

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.38

Contrast Ratio

321:1

I restored the screen and graphics card back to default settings again. During the calibration process the OSD settings were changed to 44 brightness, with contrast being left at 68. I selected the 'user' colour mode to allow me access to the RGB channel alterations, and during the calibration process these were altered to 46, 47 and 42 respectively. It should be noted that this adjustment only forms part of our calibration process, and the majority of the changes occur at a LUT level, as an automatic process altered by our colorimeter.

Gamma was now corrected perfectly to 2.2, and colour temperature was improved to 6517k (now being less than 0.5% out). Luminance was also corrected to a more comfortable 122 cd/m2, leaving us with a 0.38 cd/m2 black depth and modest 321:1 contrast ratio. DeltaE was also improved considerably, with dE on average being now only 1.1. Colour fidelity is near enough excellent according to LaCie's classification, and with dE max only being 2.6, I was quite pleased with the final result. The screen now felt more comfortable to use for long periods of time (thanks to the reduced luminance), and colours felt vivid, even and deep. Testing the screen with colour gradients showed no obvious banding, but some slight gradation.

Above shows average DeltaE values for four of the 24" monitors we have tested in recent months. As you can see, at default settings, the Hazro HZ24W is a little behind the other models in terms of colour accuracy. However, once calibrated, all the screens are quite comparable, and all offer good colour reproduction capabilities.

 


Viewing Angles



Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger images

Viewing angles from S-IPS panel technology are widely considered to be the best in the LCD market. The Hazro HZ24W didn't disappoint in this area, offering excellent fields of view in all directions. Vertically, the panel showed none of the very obvious contrast shift, or blackening from below, that you see from TN Film based models. Horizontally, the angles were wide, but you could detect a slight characteristic purple tinge as you reached angles of about 45 away from the perpendicular. In pratice, the viewing angles of this screen were comfortable for a wide range of uses, and also were free from the off-centre contrast shift anomaly which you can see from VA based matrices.

 


Panel Uniformity

In our usual testing process I viewed an all black screen in a darkened room, which allowed me to test the uniformity of the panel and to examine whether any backlight bleed was evident. There was no detectable leakage from the backlighting, and the uniformity remained very consistent across the whole screen. A good result here.

 


Office and Windows Use

I'm personally very used to the 24" screen size on offer here, and find it to be very well suited to office use. The 1920 x 1200 resolution is ideal for side by side split-screen working, and the pixel pitch of 0.270mm is comfortable to use. It means text is not quite as small as on a 20" model, but smaller than that of a 22" model. About the right middle ground in my opinion. With the wide viewing angles on offer from the S-IPS panel technology, there was no distracting contrast shift which you can easily spot, especially at this screen size, on TN Film based models. This can be annoying when using office applications as you'll notice a difference in contrast and colour across the display as you look away from the centre of the screen. There is none of that here thankfully.

For viewing colour critical work, or just for viewing photos, the wide viewing angles also offer some excellent performance here. No major contrast of colour shifts are seen, and the image appears uniform throughout. There are no preset modes on this screen for 'text' or 'internet' for example, but after calibrating the screen (as above) to 120 cd/m2 luminance, the screen was perfectly comfortable for prolonged office use.

The screen offers both VGA and DVI connections. While the VGA was quite good (after using the auto adjust function), it was a little blurry as compared with the digital interface. I'd certainly recommend using DVI wherever possible for the best quality image here.

 


Responsiveness and Gaming

The Hazro HZ24W was tested using the chase test in PixPerAn, a good bit of software for trying to quantify differences in real terms responsiveness between monitors. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared. The images below show the best case example on the left hand side, and the worst case example on the right hand side. This should only be used as a rough guide to comparative responsiveness but is handy as a way of keeping a constant test of each screen.



As you can see from the above images, the Hazro HZ24W performed quite admirably in these tests. The LG.Philips S-IPS panel used offers a reported 5ms G2G response time. In practice, the screen was quite comparable to the Dell 2407WFP-HC I had tested recently (a 6ms G2G S-PVA panel from Samsung). It was a little better than the Viewsonic VX2435WM which features an 8ms G2G S-MVA panel from CMO. All in all, compared with the other 24" models above, the HZ24W performed well.

If we look at the above images, we can now compare the HZ24W to the very popular NEC 20WGX2. This comparison is inevitable, since the NEC 20WGX2 really brought S-IPS into the gaming market when it was released, and is still widely regarded as one of the most responsive panels available today. The NEC is also S-IPS based (a custom made AS-IPS panel from LG.Philips was used here), and users have long been looking for a 24" equivalent. Does the Hazro HZ24W fill this gap?....almost. The screen is responsive, but not quite as fast as the 20WGX2 screen was. The best case image shows a slight white halo behind the moving car, while the worst case shows a slight third 'ghost' where the NEC does not. All in all, the Hazro HZ24W performed well in this analysis, and shows that S-IPS can offer some excellent responsiveness in practice. This is all made possible by the application of RTC / overdrive technologies, boosting grey to grey transitions considerably since the days of ISO 16ms S-IPS panels.

One other thing to bear in mind is that you will need a pretty powerful graphics card to run this screen at its full 1920 x 1200 resolution in modern games, especially if you want details and eye candy turned up high. The screen does feature hardware level aspect ratio control which is nice to see, and good to see Hazro have even listed this feature in their specification on the website. This is a positive up-front approach which consumers should be glad to see. This aspect ratio control offers options for 'user defined', 'aspect' and 'full', allowing you to play 4:3 and 5:4 aspect sources (games, external devices etc.) without the screen always stretching the image horizontally.

As usual I tested the screen in clone mode with a CRT to determine the level of input lag. This is something which can put off some gamers and is a delay between graphics card and monitor output. By hooking up a CRT you can show that  the LCD lags behind somewhat, which can affect users in some situations where they rely on the screen image being as fast as their inputs (e.g. fast FPS shooting games). Often, input lag is very low and probably wouldn't represent too much of a problem in real terms.

 

The above graph shows the average input lag across several screens tested at TFT Central (top four), and also average input lag as recorded from other sources (bottom four) on some popular and well established 24" models. As you can see, the input lag of the HZ24W is on average, 32.7ms behind the CRT and quite comparable to the Dell 2407WFP-HC and Viewsonic VX2435WM we have tested in the past. The TN Film based Samsung SM245B offers the lowest input lag of the 24" models compared above, and so if this is something which bothers you, perhaps that is a more appropriate model to look at. However, in practice, it is very hard to notice any real adverse affects of input lag, but some gaming enthusiasts can find it a problem.

 


Movies and Video

When determining whether a display is well suited for movies, you need to consider a few things:

 


Conclusion

It is certainly very nice to finally see another S-IPS panel released in the 24" market, something which consumers have been crying out for since the NEC 20WGX2 brought the technology back into the spotlight. The design of the HZ24W is very impressive, and the build quality and materials are all very good. It might have been nice to see a couple more ergonomic adjustments here, and perhaps a USB hub, but these are not important to every user of course. Performance wise, the HZ24W offered good colour reproduction after calibration, but default settings were a little off. Black depth was only average, but this is a draw back of using S-IPS panel technology really. On the flip side, the technology does offer very good responsiveness, very wide viewing angles and impressive all round performance. If you're looking for S-IPS in a large screen size, this model could prove a very good choice.
 

Pros

Cons

Good colour accuracy after calibration and S-IPS panel technology

Average black depth from S-IPS panel

Wide viewing angles, and free from off-centre contrast shifts of VA panels

Limited ergonomic adjustments from the stand

Good responsiveness

Default colour accuracy only average

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