Design & Build
From the front, the Envy 27 is an attractive-looking monitor. The screen has an entirely glossy finish which extends right up to the edges of the front face, covering the 5 mm black border around the screen's sides and top edge. When switched off, it's like one big desktop mirror.
The speakers are located in a strip just under the front of the screen. Below that, there's a row of buttons for access to the internal menu and for switching on the Beats Audio function for enhanced sound quality (see below).
This monitor is somewhat less refined around the back, finished in the usual bog-standard black plastic. The Envy 27 is mounted on a decent-quality aluminium stand. This has a tilt function but it's not height-adjustable. You can't flip the screen round into portrait mode either.
Video connections include VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort entries. There's an audio line in that can be used to input sound to the monitor's speakers with a source connected over VGA, as well as a headphones socket (on the right-hand edge) and an optical output (S/PDIF). There's even a mini-jack output for hooking up a subwoofer, which is definitely not something we see every day in a monitor.
Colours & Contrast
The Envy 27 displays colours perfectly accurately with its factory settings. We measured the average Delta E at 2.4—note that a score of 3 or less is required for colours to be considered "accurate". Contrast is high, measured at 1050:1 no matter what the screen brightness setting, and viewing angles are wide. It's therefore suitable for demanding users looking for high levels of onscreen image fidelity, such as photographers and graphic designers. The only real blip is a gamma that's a little wide of the mark over dark greys.
In spite of its high-end position, the Envy 27 sticks with run-of-the-mill Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). There's no sign of the kind of higher resolutions we've been seeing in monitors like the 2560 x 1440-pixel ViewSonic VP2770-LED, which has 77% more pixels to its screen. That can be a real plus for editing images from a digital camera—a 12-Megapixel compact like the Fuji X20 takes pictures with 4000 x 3000 pixels, and a 20-Megapixel snapper like the Canon EOS 70D shoots with 5472 x 3648 pixels! Certain imaging professionals won't have to think twice about which monitor to pick.
The average input lag of 9.5 ms is low enough to be insignificant when playing multiplayer games. You therefore won't be at a disadvantage when gaming on the Envy 27.
This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, which measures the time it takes this monitor to remove the previous frame entirely .
The lower the ghosting time, the more fluid moving images will appear.
- Accurate colour rendering straight out of the box (Delta E = 2.4)
- IPS screen
- High contrast (1050:1)
- Power use is relatively low (30 watts at 200 cd/m²)
- Beats Audio mode improves sound quality over the headphones out
- Not responsive enough for gamers (average ghosting time = 18 ms)
- Fixed stand (the screen can only be tilted a little)
- Beats Audio mode doesn't improve the built-in speakers enough
With accurate colour reproduction, a Full HD IPS screen and high contrast, the HP Envy 27 lines itself up alongside the ViewSonic vx2770smh-LED. That said, it's a bit pricier than ViewSonic's model. OK, so you get Beats Audio technology, but this isn't quite as impressive as we would have hoped.