Viewsonic VX2880ml 4K display review

Viewsonic VX2880ml

ViewSonic is joining in with the new wave of 4K-class UHD displays with the VX2880ml, a 28-inch budget monitor designed, says the company, for entertainment. See also: best displays of 2014.

As part of ViewSonic's VS range, the 'entertaiment' clause may be a useful get-out, since we found this display ill-equipped for use as a computer monitor. While it does use a 3840 x 2160-pixel panel, its refresh rate is limited to 30 Hz, where computer monitors operate at 60 Hz or higher.

At the low 30 Hz frequency, you may see ghosts of movement on the screen, such as trails behind the mouse cursor. While ViewSonic lists the display as supporting DisplayPort 1.2 – a minimum prerequisite for 60 Hz operation at 4K resolutions – switching to DisplayPort 1.2 from the display's setup menu does not help this intrinsically 30 Hz panel.

After discovering the display's specification we continued with a brief review, as some customers may not need to use it with a computer, or be able to tolerate its visual issues. (See also: LG 34UM95 widescreen display review.)

Viewsonic VX2880ml review: Design and Build

The ViewSonic VX2880ml is a budget 4K-class display built around a lower-cost twisted-nematic (TN) panel. While TN technology typically helps to lower price and power consumption, it also means restricted usable viewing angles. TN also provides poorer colour reproduction than today's preferred display technologies such as IPS, now commonplace on mobile devices.

The VX2880ml chassis is black plastic, feeling lightweight and insubstantial, with a distractingly glossy finish around the screen bezel. Supporting the display is an unusual triangular A frame, which provides good stability but no height or rotational adjustment. There is some limited fore and aft tilt available. There's also a 100 mm VESA standard set of screwholes on the monitor's back.

On the rear of the display are two DisplayPort inputs, one of these an Apple-designed Mini DisplayPort, as well as a DisplayPort output. Specified to version DP 1.2, this display could theoretically sit in-line within a chain of other display devices, although we did not try this. Also available is an HDMI 1.4 port, itself limited to 30 Hz operation with 4K-class video.

The display is powered by an external laptop-style mains brick which connects through a round DC inlet next to the DisplayPort output.

Setup and operation of the monitor was not easy, as we had to keep moving between four buttons after checking on-screen prompts to see which to press each time.

The on-screen menus rely on two buttons labelled 1 and 2, and two arrow buttons pointing up and down. Our biggest grievance though, and one not solely confined to ViewSonic, is the way that the menu button does not function at all without a working input. So in order to make any adjustment, you must connect the display to a video source that is currently playing.  

Finding the menu is itself a challenge, and here you must use button 1, this only discoverable by reading the instruction manual, and with no printed manual included with the display. Even after discovering that button 1 should open the menus, it still initially failed to work due to the no-active-input problem.

A pair of small speakers faces the front through a perforated panel along the bottom of the screen. Sound quality was poor, sounding somewhat metallic, tinny and focused on a limited midrange. The sound was also degraded by a plasticky quacky coloration. We would not favour the built-in audio for enjoying sound from video playback, for instance.

Viewsonic VX2880ml review: Performance

We put the ViewSonic display through a lab test to measure basic image quality parameters. Its colour gamut as measured by a Spyder4Elite colorimeter was just 88 percent of sRGB, falling to 66 percent of the wider Adobe RGB gamut.

Judged by eye, colours looked bleached and whitened, even after calibration, although in turn it did not suffer from overdone, garish colours like some budget panels.

Also evident were occasional horizontal lines flashing on the screen during our testing, connected to a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013) and running at full resolution over the laptop's Thunderbolt 2/Mini DisplayPort 1.2 port.

Viewing angles suffered as expected with TN technology. Side to side, images rendered reasonably well right up to shallow angles to the display plane. Viewed from above there was around 30 degrees movement possible before lighter shades merged into homogenous white blobs, while below-screen viewing was particularly poor after a few degrees from the normal, with the screen effectively blacking out.

Contrast ratio as recorded in a chequerboard test reached a maximum of 590:1 at full screen brightness (a below-spec but adequate 292 cd/m^2), and was more uniformly reading 540:1 at nominal 50 and 75 percent brightness settings (corresponding to 155 and 224 cd/m^2).

Colour accuracy from a 48-tone spot test was good, averaging 1.83 Delta E, with a maximum deviation of 4.84 Delta E, this from the teal-blue tone.

Power consumption was found to be relatively economical, drawing 35 W from the mains supply with the screen set to 200 cd/m^2.

Viewsonic VX2880ml

Viewsonic VX2880ml: Specs

  • 28-inch monitor
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • TN technology
  • white LED backlight
  • 1x DisplayPort, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x MHL 2.0 (HDMI 1.4)
  • 1x DisplayPort output
  • 3.5 mm minijack headphone output
  • stereo speakers with 2 W amplifier
  • 660 x 511 x 240 mm
  • 4.6 kg
  • 28-inch monitor
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • TN technology
  • white LED backlight
  • 1x DisplayPort, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x MHL 2.0 (HDMI 1.4)
  • 1x DisplayPort output
  • 3.5 mm minijack headphone output
  • stereo speakers with 2 W amplifier
  • 660 x 511 x 240 mm
  • 4.6 kg

OUR VERDICT

There may be some limited application for using this display as a 4K television, when combined with an external set-top box, in spaces where a regular 40-inch 4K television will not physically fit. But we would not describe this ViewSonic as fit for purpose as a computer monitor due to its unacceptably low 30 Hz refresh rate.