I’ve been a notebook computer user since 2002 when I got a decked-out Titanium PowerBook. I’ve tried a couple of external displays to get a little more desktop space, but was never happy enough with them to warrant all the fiddling it required. A few weeks ago I came across a Macworld review of 24-inch displays and, on a whim, decided to try again with the HP ZR2440w. It arrived yesterday and I’ve been using it for a few hours now, so I thought I’d write about a few first impressions while they’re fresh.
First, it’s big (duh). I’ve been on an 11-inch MacBook Air for about six months, and 15-inch screens for years before that, so this is obviously a whole different experience. I love the Air’s display quality, but it is cramped for some things, not surprisingly. The biggest gain so far with the external display is with vertical real estate, which makes scrolling less of a full-time job than it can be on the Air. It’s also nice to have two full-width windows open at a time, side-by-side.
I’m connecting the HP to the Air via an HDMI adapter which also carries audio. This display does not have speakers, but it does have an audio jack that passes the signal along. The only trick was to select the display to receive audio output in System Preferences on my Mac. The only other connection (besides power) I need to make to the Air is a USB cable when I need it. The display is acting more or less as a hub, then, for audio and USB peripherals, similar (though not with the single-cable elegance) to the Apple Thunderbolt Display. Apple’s display is bigger, supplies power via a MagSafe connector, has built-in speakers and a camera, and a Thunderbolt port. All of those additional features might be worth an additional $600 for some, but I decided I could do without them.
When I first plugged the display in, I found the colors to be too something, which was probably just different than what I was used to. Nonetheless, I ran through the color calibration and toned the something down to a more familiar level. The other annoyance was with the huge bar code sticker wrapped around the end of the USB cable. It was just close enough to the display that I could see it peeking out and found it distracting, so I cut it off and it left a sticky adhesive goo behind. Sure, I’m a freak for noticing, but what use does the customer have for an inventory sticker in plain sight? I suppose if that’s the worst thing I have to say about this display over its lifetime it’s money well spent — here’s to hoping it is so.