We often complain about the sea of sameness, that defines the smartphone market. This has flown under the radar for the longest of durations, but external displays and PC monitors haven’t embarked on anything remotely exciting for quite some time now. Not that display companies had to rush in urgent refreshes – the pandemic had ensured 2021 clocked a 9-year high for PC display shipments, according to research firm IDC. There was a need.
Fast forward to the first two quarters of 2022, the consumer market returned to expected sluggishness. The problem really is simple. New(er) technology doesn’t always percolate down the display product line hierarchy. Most certainly not at the more affordable price points. Affordability itself being a subjective term, with displays, defined by size, versatility, and utility.
You would know of OnePlus as a brand that makes popular Android smartphones. As well as impressive smart TVs Among other things. It isn’t entirely a surprise that the company is launching a line of monitors. Could this be the first block of a wider computer peripheral and ecosystem play?
The OnePlus Monitor X27 is the premium of the two being launched, the other being the OnePlus Monitor E24. As the name perhaps gives away, this brings to your work desk, a 27-inch display real estate. The spec sheet seems mostly well ticked off – an IPS (that’s in-plane switching technology) panel, 2560×1440 resolution, 10-bit colours, up to 165Hz refresh rate, AMD Freesync Premium compatibility and DisplayHDR 400 standard.
It isn’t exactly low-cost, with a price tag of ₹27,999 and that’s no surprise considering the spec sheet and the competition landscape. It puts the OnePlus Monitor X27 in direct competition with BenQ PD2700Q (the colour saturation algorithms are impressive), LG 27QN880 (the desk stand should get your attention), and Acer Nitro XV27U (dual HDMI ports) – all of these priced very similarly, give or take a feature.
From what we realized in our time experimenting use cases and assessing performance, the OnePlus Monitor X27’s screen size is (and we run the risk of stating the very obvious here) its biggest asset. Its footprint feels large too, with the slim bezels playing their part. This is a fantastic PC display, and that would be the bare minimum you’d expect.
That said, before setting off, there is a bit of tweaking required with the display settings to get the best out of this panel. Extensive options, and you’ll likely find yourself pressing quite a few buttons (these are placed on the underside, towards the right side) for a while. Enabling certain settings, such as HDR for instance, will make quite a few other options unavailable. That’s the monitor’s software taking charge.
It’ll be your choice whether you want full control over brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and black levels, or choose one of the predefined picture modes. In fact, that might vary depending on how you are connecting with this display, from time to time.
We used this as a second monitor with an Apple iMac 24 and a Windows 11 laptop (the Lenovo Yoga series, to be specific). It simply works, particularly if you tend to struggle with multiple apps or app windows open in parallel. This seemed easy on the eyes, once you get the picture settings locked in, to your liking. We preferred colours to look a notch warmer when switching between documents and the web browser.
Your choices in this scenario, depending on the PC you have, would be either HDMI or USB-C. A second display as big as this, is the ideal recipe for decluttering. Connectivity is where the OnePlus Monitor X27 does well, with two USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm jack for headphones or external speakers (the display doesn’t have any, built-in).
Another very relevant use case is the ability to act as a large screen companion for smartphones and tablets. We connected this with an Apple iPad and a Google Pixel 7 Pro smartphone, both with the USB-C cable. Again, a very useful option to have, if you want to stream a Live match on this second display while you work, and not have to struggle with a phone or tablet’s comparatively smaller screen.
Adjusting black levels here, particularly when consuming media, is relevant. When done, you’ll begin to admire how deep the blacks get with this panel. That’s good for contrast and dynamic range. It also helps the colours come through better (richer is the word we are looking for).
We would suggest not going all out with the sharpness, with a tablet or phone connected – the screen may look a tad too soft initially but dialing up the sharpness will only add visible artefacts around written words, for instance. That can, and we’ll just mention one example here, ruin the scoreboard in a cricket or football match.
Any phone or tablet connected with the OnePlus Monitor X27 will get charged alongside too – this port delivers up to 65-watt of charge. Faster charging Android devices will utilize this quicker than some others. But you’ll emerge on the other side, with your phone or tablet’s battery holding more charge than before.
We used the OnePlus Monitor X27 for gaming as well, and that’s where the 165Hz refresh rate really shines through. Not to say it’s unique for the computing space, because a lot of gaming laptops do tend to have 144Hz refresh rate displays quite often now. This is genuine tear-free fluid gaming (which in simpler terms means there are no broken or stuttering frames), something we detailed with F1 2022 and Forza Horizon 5.
Our connected PC has a Nvidia graphics card, and that would allow us only incomplete commentary on the benefits of the AMD Freesync Premium technology, at least for now. For gamers who do have a compatible AMD graphics chip, that coupled with the fast refresh rate ratings, are a rather interesting mix.
The attention to detail extends to the OnePlus Monitor X27’s desktop stand. The display can be swiveled side-to-side, tilted higher or lower, adjusted for height and even tilted for orientation. The stand is metal, and so is the base. That exudes premium-ness, more than anything else.
There is cable management too, which is basically a cut-out in the stem to thread the wires through. Nothing too elaborate. It is placed far too low (particularly if you leave the display at its highest setting) and you’ll still see all the cables. Misses the point, by its placement. You’ll do better to thread the cables behind the display itself.
Before anything else, the OnePlus Monitor X27 does one thing quite well – it freshens up an otherwise stagnant, yet very relevant, ecosystem within the larger computing space. Remote and hybrid working has taught is about the importance of every link in the chain. How out of place would a shoddy monitor be, in such a situation. OnePlus has certainly missed a chance to get a pricing advantage over the rivals we have established earlier. The price tags are all too similar.
What OnePlus will hope for is the spec sheet, and the actual quality of this panel to filter through, as it should. The OnePlus Monitor X27 itself, has pretty much going for it. That is all it can do, to be fair.