Three 27-in. displays prove that bigger is better

If you want to use a single display for both work and entertainment, one of these might suit.

Admittedly, while "bigger is better" may be the general rule, context has a lot to do with it. (Have you ever shopped in one of those big-box discount stores with their 50-gallon drums of peanut butter?)

However, most of us will agree that, when talking about monitors, one big display is better than several small ones.

I'm not talking about monsters like the 46-inch, 86-lb. NEC M46-AV I reviewed last year. I'm talking about displays like the three 27-inch models in this roundup. They're a reasonable size to use with a computer, but they're also large enough to give you the space you need to keep a variety of applications on your desktop -- or to enjoy a streaming movie full-screen.

For this roundup, I looked at the Dell UltraSharp U2711, the Samsung P2770HD and the Sceptre X270W-1080P. They range in price from $269 (for the Sceptre) to just over $1,000 (for the Dell).

How we tested

I connected each display to a MaxForce Javelin P55 computer with ATI Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850 graphics cards using an ATI CrossFire connector to produce fast frame rates.

The PC was also equipped with a Blu-ray optical drive to let me observe HD video. I also tried out the Far Cry 2 video game (with its plentiful explosions and action scenes) to check for motion blur and streaking.

One of the drawbacks to bigger monitors is that you need to sit farther away from the screen than you would with a smaller display. As a result, bigger monitors must be able to present a quality image in terms of brightness, contrast and refresh rate at that enhanced distance. As I worked with these monitors, I kept these factors in mind.

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Three 27-in. displays

Dell UltraSharp U2711 Samsung P2770HD Sceptre X270W-1080P
Price $1,099 $400 $360
Display size 27 in. 27 in. 27 in.
Aspect ratio 16:9 16:9 16:9

Max. Resolution

(at 60 Hz)
2560 x 1440 2560 x 1440 1920 x 1080
Contrast ratio (typical) 1,000:1 1,000:1 1,000:1
Dynamic contrast ratio (maximum) 80,000:1 50,000:1 60,000:1
Brightness 350 cd/m2 350 cd/m2 400 cd/m2
Response time 6ms 6ms 2ms
Viewing angle (degrees)

178 vertical /

178 horizontal

160 vertical /

170 horizontal

160 vertical /

170 horizontal
Colors 1.07 billion 16.7 million 16.7 million
Dimensions (with stand) 25.5 x 7.9 x 16.8 26.3 x 19.3 x 9.4 25.5 x 17.9 x 9.4
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