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The Eizo CS2731 - An Evaluation

11th January 2022 Product News

We're even longer overdue in writing our evaluation of the Eizo CS2731 - the traditional '2.5K' match to Eizo's just unbelievably awesome CS2740 we recently evaluated in depth.

The short version of this article is - if you can at all contemplate the higher price of the CS2740, it's the better long term decision at this point, and we recommend you at least seriously consider it. That said, 4K makes very little practical difference to image editing work, so it the budget doesn't stretch, you are not losing much by going for the CS2731. In colour terms - which is absolutely the key thing to consider - the CS2731 is very much on par with it's more deluxe sibling model.

The real competition here is actually the BenQ SW270C - and between those it really comes down to price vs. refinement.

Read on for our thoughts! This one won't be as epic as the CS2740 evaluation as a fair bit of what we already said there applies here - really, the only noticeable difference is the resolution. So we recommend you read that evaluation too, to get the complete picture.

Ok, let's get into it...



Introduction

The Eizo CS2731 is something of an industry standard - and for very good reason.  

Legions of people working with digital images know that Eizo is the most trustworthy brand in the colour accurate monitor business.  Of course, and especially for professionals - who always have a million thing to buy - every penny counts. 

The CS range of monitors has proven, across many year now - to offer excellent performance, at a more accessible price - without quite the sting in the tail of the flagship Eizo CG range.  Of course, the CG models are yet better - but if you need those, you tend to know it.  You'll be working in some extremely demanding area - like art reproduction, high end fashion, or automotive photography etc. - where the importance of colours being absolutely bang on far outweighs the extra cost of the CG monitors.

For just about everyone else, 'excellent colour accuracy' versus 'the very best colour accuracy we can engineer' - is what is needed - and this is precisely what the CS models offer. 

If you're a wedding/portrait photographer, typical product photographer, or just about any type of artist working with digital images or layouts - the CS range should be at the top of your list of models to consider.  Highly reliable, ergonomically excellent tools, they are well though out in all aspects, and excellent professional workhorses.

The Eizo CS2731

In A Nutshell

The Eizo ColorEdge CS2731 is a colour accurate, wide gamut monitor with the standard 2.5K resolution of 27" monitors.

Key Features:

  • 27 inch, 2560*1440 resolution, IPS panel
  • Optical grade matte anti-reflection coating
  • Excellent display accuracy through 16 bit LUTs and 10 bit input
  • USB-C Input (with charging support up to 60W), also DisplayPort and HDMI
  • DUE Uniformity enhancement - excellent uniformity performance.
  • Eizo's attention to detail is evident throughout.
  • Excellent ergonomics, professional (if somewhat plain) design, very reliable bug-free calibration software
  • Price (at time of writing) is around AU $2000
  • 5 Year Hardware Warranty from Eizo
  • Lifetime support from Image Science
Eizo ColorEdge CS2731 27" Monitor
Eizo's CS2731 is the 27" entry point into professional colour accurate monitors from the best brand in the business.
Currently on back order - ETA of early February but subject to change based on supplier delivery date. Available to order now but do not order with other items or those will also be delayed.
Ships free to most locations! See notes.
$1,750 RRP $2,310   (Save $560!)
More info

Target Market

Pretty much everything we said about the target market in our CS2740 evaluation applies here.

That being said - the price here is obviously a lot more accessible than the 4K version, so that opens this monitor up to a wider market.

For a photographer - professional, or just someone who enjoys it as a serious hobby - we suggest you look at it like this.  The Eizo CS2731 is about the same price as a single, good quality lens.  But unlike any lens, you will use this monitor for 100% of your work.  Every decision you make about your files - bar the fixed in camera stuff like focal point, ISO, aperture and shutter - will be made when you're looking at your raw file.  White balance, contrast, clarity, vibrancy etc - all of these have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of the work you're producing.  If you cannot really see the colours in your file, accurately, you cannot hope to produce accurate work.  It's really that simple.

For any other visual artist, it is much the same.  You can't work with colour effectively if you can't accurately see the colours you're creating in your files.  Your job, ultimately, is to create a digital file that specifies exactly what you think it specifies.  Amateur or professional, getting this wrong can drastically affect your results.  And if you're making your living from this work - this will affect your bottom line.  In the modern world we rarely get second chances if we stuff something up - either we don't have the time to do it again, or the person paying for the job just won't hire you again.

For pleasure or profit, getting things right is important.  And good, reliable tools, making getting things right much easier.

Setting It Up

Anyone who has ever plugged in an external monitor will find setting up the Eizo CS2731 very simple.

In order of preference:

USB-C
- the CS2731's USB-C support includes 60W charging support if you're attaching this to a laptop.   So with a laptop, you can have the much ballyhooed 'one cable connection' - video, data, and power delivery to your laptop, all over just one cable.  

DisplayPort
- A better connector than HDMI, use this if possible and you don't have USB-C.  

HDMI
- Use this if the other options are not available to you.

(Remember, if you're not using USB-C for the video side of things, you'll also need to plug in the supplied USB cable to support communication during calibrations, and to enable the downstream USB ports on the monitor).

To get going, plug in your best video option, the extra USB cable if needed, and power - and you're all done.

Ergonomics

As ever with Eizo, this monitor won't win any prizes for being especially pretty.  

However, ergonomically, it's about as good as you can get out of the box.  An excellent stand, with a very generous range of height adjustments possible, combines with the low-blue light, flicker free panel to make this monitor wonderfully comfortable to use.    If the included stand doesn't suit your needs (and this will be rare!) - then the monitor has a standard VESA 10x10 mount of course, so you can use just about any after-market stand/arm that might suit you.

The panel also has Eizo's excellent matte coating.  This means the panel is extremely matte - no glass or gloss of any sort to impair your view on all those accurate pixels.  (This is one the primary difference's to the BenQ SW270C and the thing customers always notice when they see both monitors.  BenQ's monitor has a coating that, whilst technically matte, is one generation back from their best coating (currently found only on the SW321C.  And the improvements between those generations was vast - the 270C is definitely distinctly more glossy than we'd like it to be).  The Eizo, in contrast, is marvellously 'quiet' to the eyes - showing once again the refinement only they can bring to the table.

The Eizo does not come with a hood - and for the monitor price, it absolutely should.  Frankly it just seems like mean penny pinching for Eizo not to include such a relatively cheap to produce accessory.  BenQ includes their hood, and this only exacerbates the Eizo price gap.  Worse - Eizo then charge a real premium price for this accessory.  I really hope they change their mind on this at some point...but people have been telling them for years they should, and nothing has yet changed.  A real shame, and something that could be an easy win for Eizo should they eventually change their minds. 

(If you do buy the hood - it is at least an excellent hood - fitted or removed in seconds using Eizo's unique magnetic mounting system, vs. BenQ's positively clunky click-in plastic clip approach - I once watched a BenQ staff member struggle for a solid half hour to fit a hood on a PV270 many years ago!!).

Software wise - Eizo's ColorNavigator (CN) calibration software is highly reliable.  It can take a few minutes to understand, but you soon realise it's (again) very well designed and considered software.  And bugs with CN are extremely rare.  We wish we could say the same about BenQ's software efforts...

I don't think we've ever had a customer express anything other than tremendous satisfaction with the ergonomics side of the Eizo experience.  Everything just tends to work easily and well, as expected.  This is a tool that just does what it should, wonderfully well, and gets out of your way - it's very low friction.

Calibration

First things first - yes, you do need an external sensor with this monitor.  These monitors support hardware calibration - that is, the calibration adjustments are stored and applied using the high quality monitor hardware, not your video card's low quality hardware for this - but the CS models do not have the integrated sensor or automatic calibration that the CG models do (so if you're afraid of calibration or looking for the best ease of use - this can be another great reason to consider a CG model - as once set up, those are fully automatic - nothing is simpler!).

The only sensible sensors, as ever, to buy/use are the i1Display Pro/Plus models.  These are the industry standard sensors because they are very easy to use, and very reliable & long-lived (much more so than Spyders).

With your sensor in hand, and Eizo's trusty ColorNavigator software installed, you'd just follow our comprehensive guide to complete your calibration:

...and within a few minutes your Eizo would be all calibrated and ready for professional, reliable use.

A post calibration

Evaluation of the CS2731

Here follows a general (non technical, non numerical) evaluation of this monitor based on our day to day use of it - for more than a year now.  There are websites out there that do all the measurements - but honestly, with monitors at this level, the numbers are almost meaningless and it's our firmly held belief - based on 20 years of actually using these things day to day in a producction environment - what matters is how effective they are as a professional tool, in daily use, to produce high end work.

We use our Eizo CS2731 side by side with an Eizo CG2730 on our primary services / art reproduction station.  So this means we literally have Eizo's two main 27" professional monitors side by side.  We're pretty lucky!  This is the machine on which we do our most complicated and difficult colour matching work.  There is simply no harder, more technically demanding, task in all of imaging than art reproduction - it requires both skill and utterly reliable, accurate tools, to be able to produce reproduction of originals that are almost indistinguishable from the original works. 

The CS2731 stands up remarkable well next to the CG2730 next to it.  Of course, the CG2730 has a number of advantages - primarily its fully automatic calibration using the in-built calibrator.  So, so good!  But in reality, popping an external calibrator on the screen once every couple of months for 10 minutes is a pretty minor burden.  The CG2730 is yet more accurate - particularly in those super-difficult areas like deep shadows and near neutrals.  It's also more perfectly uniform than the CS2731.   And we do indeed use that one for the most critical work. But the difference are minor, in all - the sort of differences you really have to go out of your way to find/see.  In general use, the two are very close together in performance - almost interchangeable.  Eizo might not love me saying so (naturally they'd prefer to sell the more expensive CG models!) - but the CS range really does hit the sweet spot for accuracy...and increasingly it's fair to say that the people who really need a CG are the ones with an obvious professional use case (like us!).

For the sort of work most folks are doing, the CS2731 is definitely up to the job.   You get accurate, reliable display of the entire (well, 99%) wide gamut  AdobeRGB colour space (which means, of course, 100% of sRGB/REC.709 and 90+% of  Display P3).  As ever with Eizo, their results in the difficult areas - neutral, near neutrals, and deep shadows - are just excellent, and noticeably better than other makers who often seem to focus their efforts & calibration biases on the outer edges of saturated colour - colours that, frankly, only make up a small percentage of the colours people actually use (to explain quickly - something like 90% of all photographs/images fit quite comfortably in sRGB - those key things like neutrals and skin tones are _much_ more important for perceived accuracy, in  general, than whether the super saturated magenta sunset is the exact shade of super saturated magenta that was there or not...).

Eizo have the best screen coatings in the business - only the BenQ SW321 comes close to the natural, quiet display of an Eizo ColorEdge monitor.  (The SW271C, SW270C and SW240 all, unfortunately, having the previous generation coating - not awful at all, but also distinctly not in the same league!).  Over time I have come to believe the coating is a key part of Eizo's long term advantage.  It's one of those things difficult to communicate without a monitor demo (which of course we've done very few of lately thanks to Covid lockdowns...).  But with the Eizo ColorEdge models, the image sits right at the front of the panel, unobscured by any optical flare or gloss at all.  This makes it feel like you can literally reach in to your image.  It gives your images wonderful dimensionality, and there's just something more akin to the quality of a glorious print about the way an Eizo presents an image vs. lesser monitors.  This is one of those subtle things that specifications on a product listing just doesn't tell you, but definitely affects the experience of the using the monitor,  each and every day.

The Eizo is also just generally fast and responsive.  Eizo design all their own ASICS (i.e. the driving circuits, AKA 'chips') - and it shows.  The monitor handles everything quickly and neatly - e.g. wake from sleep is positively brisk with an Eizo, and positively...sluggish...with BenQ.  The menus are much better designed with Eizo too - although once set up, you don't spent much time in them (as you control everything those Eizo's ColourNavigator software, typically).

These benefits, of course, extend beyond imaging use.  An Eizo monitor like this is warranted for five years, but thanks to Eizo's use of excellent, self designed components, and high quality LED back-lighting, monitors like these have life spans well beyond monitors from previous generations (that used fluorescent back-lights, for example).  They are, simply, comfortable and excellent to use for everything - emails, browsing, spreadsheets etc, as well.  We find most Eizo owners use them for around 8 years or so in practise - and almost always replace them with a new Eizo when they do finally move on.  And indeed - the urge to move on is because of the march of technology - some new-fangled thing tempts them - typically at this point their Eizo is still an excellent, reliable tool in their workflow. 

Worth noting is that (like all IPS based monitors without special treatment) - the CS2731 does not have 'killer blacks'.  This means it's not really appropriate for higher end video work (i.e. it's not a pro-grading monitor!) - and you wouldn't want to use this monitor in a very dark room - or you'll begin to perceive the blacks as a bit milky.  By this, I really mean a dark cave - any normal environment other than an edit suite - i.e. a typical office like environment, and the blacks are great - more than adequate.  The monitor is definitely ok for 'desktop' video work - if you're editing for the web, corporate clients, social media etc.  It's just not the monitor you'd choose for broadcast video or feature film work.  But then that sort of work comes with a budget to support even better hardware...

The Competition

The main competition to the CS2731 is the BenQ SW270C. 

We have a separate evaluation of the SW270C.  

Put simply - if cost is no issue, then you'd choose the Eizo each and every time.  It's clearly the better monitor of the two.  But of course - cost is pretty much always an issue.  And this is where things are a bit more difficult for Eizo.

The BenQ SW270C offers most of the performance of the Eizo CS2731.  If you had to put a number - probably about 85% of the performance.  But it's fully a third cheaper.  For ~$1499 at time of writing you get a complete package from BenQ, monitor, cables and hood.  Yes, it's a bit more clunky in usage, all around, and the software in particular remains a real weak point - but once set up, in use, the BenQ is definitely fairly close, overall, in terms of efficacy and accuracy.   The Eizo, whilst undeniably much better, seems over priced - given that once you add the hood, you're paying about $800 extra for the Eizo package (at standard pricing - but Eizo do often do very good sales so often the difference is less....).

If you're a working professional, then even $800 is probably, in all, quite well spent - two full years of extra warranty (and Eizo offer superb support - the best of any company I've ever come across, in any industry) - and a better, more refined monitor across the board, makes it a reasonable expense for a tool you earn your living from.  But for a serious hobby-ist, or a student - it is of course harder to look past the value that BenQ is offering.  It probably comes down to how much you really appreciate that extra level of refinement. 

As ever with Eizo, the stumbling issue for many will be the  price - it's never an issue of quality, as Eizo are pretty much always the leaders there.  Each person has to decide if they think the Eizo premium is worth it.  For us, the answer is unquestionably yes - in our production work, we've relied on Eizo screens for more than 15 years now, helping us every day to produce the best possible work for our very demanding customers.   But if budget is tight - you'll certainly be able to do good work with the BenQ too.  The Eizo is not worlds better, and it doesn't achieve anything dramatically different.  It's just...it does essentially the same things, but just that bit better, in every possible way.  The BenQ is good - but the Eizo is great.  And if you have the opportunity to try both...you'll certainly want the Eizo!   You just have to get your wallet to agree...

Conclusion

(Again, you should really read our CS2740 evaluation as well, as these pieces go hand in hand (with the CS2740 being the 4K version of the '2.5K' CS2731).  For example - everything we said in that article about 'the not so good' - is identical here - there are areas Eizo could still definitely improve.  (But then again, they're minor, and no one else is doing those things better either!).

In the end, both versions of this monitor are simply excellent tools for colour accurate work.  4K or not will make very little practical difference to the colour accurate work you'll do (much more in the CS2740 article about that of course!).  It's much more important to focus on the colour accuracy side of things than the number of pixels - that will always be true. 

For primarily colour related work, I would, for example, choose to use an Eizo CS2731 instead of a BenQ SW271C - even though the latter is a distinctly more expensive 4K model.  If the key problem to solve is accurate colour - then the Eizo is simply the better solution.  (For general purpose work, though, with perhaps a small amount of imaging - I'd choose the BenQ as it's those other areas 4K does make a worthwhile difference).  

At Eizo's regular price, north of $2000, you can't really call this one cheap.  It is, realistically, a little over-priced in the current market.  But - all said and done - I still think it is thoroughly worth it.  Great tools always cost more than we want them to - that's just a fact we all need to live with.  But a couple of years in to owning an Eizo CS2731 and you'll have long forgotten about the price, and you'll definitely be enjoying and relying on one of the very best monitors available today for imaging work.

Eizo ColorEdge CS2731 27" Monitor
Eizo's CS2731 is the 27" entry point into professional colour accurate monitors from the best brand in the business.
Currently on back order - ETA of early February but subject to change based on supplier delivery date. Available to order now but do not order with other items or those will also be delayed.
Ships free to most locations! See notes.
$1,750 RRP $2,310   (Save $560!)
More info