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.
Comments Off on Monoprice 27″ IPS-G Pro LED Monitor WQHD 2560×1440And 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.
Comments Off on Gateway DX4870-UB2B
The Gateway DX4870-UB2B ($499.99 list) is a basic tower desktop PC that checks all the boxes on what you need from a new desktop, particularly if you already have a LCD display that you’re carrying over. It’s speedy for its segment, has capacious storage, will let your family keep many documents open simultaneously, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Unlike the $300 bargain basement specials, the DX4870-UB2B$499.99 at Best Buy comes with a modern Intel Core i3 processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, and lots of drive space. It’s expandable, so it can grow with your family. It’s not ground breaking, but it’s a solid choice with a great bang for the buck, so it’s our latest Editors’ Choice for budget desktop PCs.
Design and Features
The DX4870-UB2B follows other Gateway desktops, looking almost identical to the last black tower Gateway DX4870-UB17$329.99 at Newegg.com ($500). Like that model, the DX4870-UB2B comes in a tower chassis with black panels all around, including the plastic front panel and metal side panels. The system’s tray-loading DVD burner is hidden, but two of the system’s USB 2.0 ports, SD card reader, and audio jacks are exposed on the top front of the chassis. In the back, the system has four more USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, more audio jacks, and two connectors for the included WiFi antennas. It would have been nice if the front USB ports were USB 3.0 to accommodate USB hard drives instead of the slower USB 2.0.
The inside of the system is certainly expandable, with plenty of space to move around for future upgrades. The system has space for two additional drives: one optical 5.25-inch bay and one 3.5-inch hard drive bay. Theoretically, you could shoehorn another three to four 2.5-inch notebook class drives in the same space, provided you have the correct brackets to hold the drives. The motherboard has four free SATA ports to service these drives. The system also has two DIMM slots free, along with a slot for a PCIe 3.0 x16 graphics card and two additional PCIe 2.0 x1 expansion cards. One PCIe x1 slot is occupied by the included 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi card, which will serve most users well. This is an improvement over other budget systems like the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190$416.03 at antonline.com ($400) and Zotac Zbox ID83 Plus$448.99 at Amazon ($473), both of which don’t support 5Ghz WiFi, only the more common and crowded 2.4GHz channels.
The last consideration you have to make for expandability is the system’s 300W power supply. While sufficient for additional drives and minor expansion cards, 300W will be insufficient for a high-powered discrete graphics card with Nvidia’s or AMD’s highest end GPUs. You can of course swap out the included power supply, but most budget system buyers never open their chassis, even if they are tempted by the system’s expandability. Bring a screwdriver if you dare, because you’ll need it for the case door and the drive bays. At least the internal card slots are tool-less.
Like other Gateway systems, the DX4870-UB2B comes with quite a few pre-loaded applications and utilities. These include 7digital, Zinio, Kindle, eBay, Chacha, Netflix, NewsXpresso, Amazon, Tunein, Hulu Plus, Xbox Games, Cut The Rope, Stumbleupon, Skype, Merriam-Webster, Britannica, Spotify, Microsoft Office (ad), Norton Internet Security), and Wild Tangetn games. That’s a lot of pre-loaded apps, and most if not all are available for free from Microsoft Windows Store. While you may want to spend a few moments uninstalling all these programs, fret not, since the system has a capacious 1TB hard drive with plenty of free space left. The DX4870-UB2B comes with a standard one-year warranty.
The system comes with a third-generation Intel Core i3-3240 processor, 6GB of DDR3 memory, Intel HD Graphics 2500 (integrated in the Core i3 processor), and a 1TB 5,400rpm SATA hard drive. All of these components mean the system is plenty fast on our benchmark tests, certainly faster than the Lenovo Q190 and the Zbox ID83 Plus. That said, there are systems in this price range that are faster, notably the Polywell Nano i3-Q7 ($595) which trades physical and storage space for SSD speed, and the Acer Aspire AT3-600-UR11$449.99 at Newegg.com($600), which has a discrete graphics card and slightly more powerful processor adding to its performance totals. Check the performance chart link to see the final numbers, but suffice to say the DX4870-UB2B has the performance to keep your family happy for the next five years or so.