Unboxing

The Crystal Pro 4K that we purchased from Monoprice comes packed tightly in a sturdy cardboard box which is used to advertise its features at retail as well as serve as a shipping box.  Our box arrived rather beat up but the precious contents were undamaged.DSCN0012

This is the other side of the box again emphasizing the Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K as a 28″ 4K ready LED backlit LCD.DSCN0018

Even the shipping box is narrow.DSCN0011

As you can see from the end panel, the box is very narrow since the display itself is quite thin at about 1.5″.  All of this needs some great packing which Monoprice provides to get their product to you in good condition.  The box itself was quite battered but the internals were perfectly protected as there is a box within box, the best way to pack for shipping.

DSCN0025Here are the contents out of the box and still in the packing.  The stand is a simple two-piece assembly using a thumbscrew to attach the arm to the base.

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There is only one way to fit the arm into the base.DSCN0031

No screwdriver is needed – yet.  There is a convenient thumbscrew on the bottom of the base.DSCN0027

There are two built-in speakers that are passable for the audio but lack bass response.  If you use a single HDMI 1.4a cable, you do not have to use another speaker cable to connect the PC to the display. The display has a flexible pivot which moves in several directions as well as vertical height adjustment and the ability to rotate to portrait mode.  DSCN0036

There are sufficient connectors to allow for 4 separate inputs to bring you picture in picture as well as  four pictures set side beside each other, all at 1080P.  There are two HDMI ports, a single dual-link DVI, and two DisplayPort 1.2 connections either of which must be used for 60Hz operation.

Unbelievably, although Monoprice includes a nice HDMI cable in the box, they don’t include a DP 1.2 cable, suggesting you buy one for $6.00 when you purchase the CrystalPro 4K as we did.  However, we soon upgraded to a 3M Accell high performance DP 1.2 cable as we had some issues with changing resolutions from 4K to 1080P in several games previously with the Monoprice cable.

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One of the best things that we personally liked about this display is the ease of connecting to it.  One does not have to bend down or reach under to connect – you just plug directly into the panel.  Since you can easily rotate the display even to portrait mode, it is very easy to access the connection panel.

The display never got hot.  Heat is carried away from the vents at the top back of the panel and it barely got warm, even after hours of gaming.  In contrast, our CFL-backlit HP gets very warm, and it becomes noticeable on a warm day.

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The menu is accessed by buttons that need to be pressed to access their functions.  Besides the power button, there are 4 raised buttons hidden under the display where you can select the menu and change the functions by using them in conjunction with the others.  And it is very intuitive and simple to switch from one menu to another to access their functions.  You are given many choices as to the inputs and you may use up to four of them simultaneously for PiP (Picture-in-Picture, overlay) or PbP (Picture-by-Picture).DSCN0061

Audio is basic and one should not bother with the built-in speakers at all as their range is very limited.  If they must be used, Maximum volume is recommended.DSCN0072

There are many choices for Picture in Picture (PiP) and for Picture by Picture mode.  4 inputs may be used simultaneously and their positions will be set here.  It is very convenient to display information from multiple sources and 4K can handle 4 windows easily for improved multi-tasking and productivity.
DSCN0069The usual adjustments are here, easily accessed and fine-tuned.
DSCN0067OSD settings are simple and basic.
DSCN0065To run at 3840×2160 at 60Hz, one must use the proper DisplayPort 1.2 cable.  Monoprice sells a two meter cable for $6, but we preferred a 3M Accel shielded cable which certainly looks more heavy duty.
DSCN0064And if you mess up the settings, it is a simple button press to return everything to default.
DSCN0062You can calibrate your display if you like or leave it at default – which is decent and in our opinion, needs minor adjustments.  If you are in a dark room, the default brightness may be too high, and if you have a strong external source, you may not be able to achieve sufficient brightness.

DSCN0046The display is stylish and has a very narrow thin profile.  The top and side bezels are made of high gloss plastic which tends highlight fingerprints but are easily cleaned, but the base and bottom bezel are matte which hides fingerprints and dirt very well.

The display can also be rotated 180 degrees for Portrait mode, but it is not a straightforward rotation as the stand is not quite tall enough.  To rotate the LCD, it must be first pulled out from the base at an angle first which is generally not inconvenient for a single display.  It is also very convenient to be able to rotate the display to access the connections easily.

This is a TN display which means that the vertical viewing angles are rather limited especially in Portrait mode.  Colors tend to appear darker or washed out when the viewing angle becomes too extreme for the panel – usually at 160 degrees in Portrait mode, and at 170 for Landscape.  Twenty-eight inches is probably the ideal size for a 4K TN panel as larger tends to give noticeable color shifts even to a single user.   IPS is more suited for viewing in Portrait mode, although the response time generally is a bit slower for gaming.

We ran our basic Image quality and response time benchmarks and the Monoprice display did well.  Unfortunately, most of these tests are ‘in motion’ and 4K cannot be captured by our HD 1080P digital camera.  Basically, the display sits between the HP LP 3065 and the ASUS VG 278, and much closer to the faster ASUS display overall.

The 120Hz ASUS display is significantly faster than the Monoprice display, just as the Monoprice display is faster than the HP display.  Just dragging a window will show the HP display is relatively slow, the 4K display is faster, and the 120Hz display responds without any noticeable delay.  Color is perfect on the HP, and acceptable on the other two displays, especially for gaming.  There are sufficient adjustments on all 3 LCDs to calibrate your display to match your tastes.  And for the ASUS display, 120Hz allows for twitch games to be played more fluidly, while the 4K image is crisp and sharper than the other displays.  The HP display has superb viewing angles and excellent color reproduction.

DSCN0051One thing that cannot be adjusted is the reflectivity of the Monoprice display.  It is not an exaggeration to say it is “mirror-like” and that every strong light reflection in the room will probably show up on the display.  It depends on what you are doing and if the ambient light source is bright or not.  If the light is bright, it may be very distracting and sometimes the on screen objects will be difficult to see.  The only solution is to brighten the display and to darken the environment.  The HP display has no such issues, and although the ASUS 120Hz display is glossy and super-bright for 3D Vision, it is not as reflective as the Monoprice 4K display.

Since this editor is a gamer that mostly works with his PC at night, there are no issues with reflections at that time.  During the day, it is somewhat irritating and we have even considered a $60 overlay from NuShield to remove the reflectivity.  This is the only fault of this monitor that we have found in over three weeks of constant use.

Let’s check out our test configuration and then look a little closer at this image quality and features of this display, play some games in 4K, upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows 7 to get a better experience, and generally give the reader our impressions of moving from 1920×1080 to 2560×1600 to 3840×2160, and if it was worth the expense.

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