As a Mac user, I’ve always lusted after an Apple Studio monitor, but my bank balance has always disagreed. Apple has always made great displays, but if you have a Mac Mini or want an external monitor for your MacBook, there are alternatives from LG, HP or Dell. All three brands make some great screens, but before you commit to one of these better-known names, look at the Innocn 27MU2 with its 700 nits brightness rating and Mini LED backlights.
This smart, relatively light monitor has an almost invisible bezel and many inputs. There’s a choice of two HDMI 2.0, a DisplayPort 1.8 plus a USB-C port with 90W power output that can carry video and sound from a USB-C laptop or tablet. The screen also includes two built-in 5W speakers. If you plug an Amazon Fire Stick 4K into one of the HDMI inputs, you’ve also got a very nice TV, complete with sound.
Despite its relatively lightweight construction, the Innocn 27MU2 has an excellent stand with a height adjustment of up to 5 inches. The stand can tilt forwards 5˚ and backward 20˚, plus it can swivel 45˚ left and right, so you can easily share something on the screen with a colleague.
The 27MU2 also includes a gravity sensor which can automatically sense the orientation of the display when it’s rotated through 90˚ into portrait mode. All the physical adjustments are sufficiently comprehensive for getting the perfect viewing angle and reducing the risk of developing posture problems when working in front of the screen for long periods. If you work for too long, there’s even a feature to remind you to take a screen break.
The Innocn 27MU2 has a high-quality IPS panel with a 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160) and a refresh rate of 60Hz. The panel’s surface is matte, which cuts down on unwanted reflections compared to the shiny glass type of screen. The IPS panel is backlit using Mini LEDs, a technology that delivers a sharper and more contrasty image than standard LED backlighting.
Mini LED backlighting uses many smaller light sources to illuminate the colored pixels in the screen’s panel. This system enables the screen to be backlit with much finer control so that certain areas of the image that are supposed to be pure black will be much blacker than a regular LED monitor can manage. The brighter parts of the screen can be brighter thanks to the screen’s 700 nits brightness rating, which can be boosted in HDR mode to a peak brightness of 1,000 nits.
I found that with the screen brightness turned down to under 30%, the image was bright enough for general use. If you need even more brightness, things can be pushed further by turning on the HDR function, which sharpens things up even more. There’s also an HDR setting with 400 nits for when the full 1,000 is too much. The result is an image closer to the quality of an OLED screen than standard LED backlighting. An OLED screen uses active pixels with their own light source but costs much more.
Setting up the Innocn 27MU2 is straightforward and there’s a wide choice of onscreen languages available for the on-screen menu. The screen is powered by an external power brick that can sit on a desk without cluttering things up too much. The power supply uses a removable cloverleaf mains cable and is multi-voltage, so it can be used anywhere in the world simply by changing the cable to a local one. Also included in the box are HDMI, DisplayPort and USB-C to USB-C cables. There’s everything you need to get going without having to pop out to an electronics store to buy extra cables and connectors.
The on-screen menu has a huge range of settings for customizing the image. Before shipping, the Innocn 27MU2 is calibrated at the factory and a printed calibration certificate is provided in the box. The color setting can be switched between the color gamuts of DCI-3 99%, Adobe RGB 99% and 100% sRGB. Out of the box, the color balance was spot on and even better than my main screen, which has been adjusted using a DataColor screen calibrator. However, if you want to fiddle and change the settings, then go ahead and tinker to your heart’s content.
The on-screen menu is easy to use and five buttons on the underside of the screen make short work of applying adjustments such as standard mode, sRGB mode, Adobe mode, uniformity mode and dynamic brightness. There are endless adjustments on offer, including a choice of HDR settings. The on-screen display can also be configured with three hot buttons to make quick adjustments without wading through the whole menu. Buttons can be set up to provide immediate access to settings like brightness, volume, contrast, PIP/PBP mode, source inputs, HDR and more.
The PIP/PBP function is worth a closer look. This enables multiple input sources to be used simultaneously with the ability to switch between two of the sources. One source can occupy the main screen, while the other can be superimposed on the screen in a box as a picture in a picture. This enables both devices to be accessed at the same time without having to switch between the two sources. It’s a great feature if you use a computer and tablet asimultaneously
Verdict: The Innocn 27MU2 screen isn’t built to Apple standards, but it’s robust enough for desktop use and surprisingly lightweight, considering its image quality. The stand is rock steady and adjustable, plus the screen can be wall mounted. There are plenty of input options plus the ability to display two sources on screen at the same time. However, this screen is superb for the money because the Mini LED backlights make a massive difference over standard LED backlighting. Once you’ve tried Mini LEDs, you won’t want to go back to using a regular screen. The Innocn 27MU2 offers incredible value for money and is an ideal 27-inch 4K monitor for use with a PC or tablet. Things get a little more complicated when using a 4K screen with a Mac because Apple machines work best with a native Retina 5K display. If you use the Innocn 27MU2 or any 27-inch 4K monitor in native mode, the text may be too small to read comfortably. However, the 27MU2 is good enough to scale the graphic output of the Mac to a more usable text size, but it may not be quite as sharp as a native Apple 5K display. Overall, the Innocn 27MU2 offers outstanding value for money.
Pricing & Availability: The Innocn 27MU2 27-inch 4K Mini LED monitor is available now from Amazon and costs $699 with a $180 coupon bringing the price down to $519.99 if you’re quick. That’s very competitive for a 4K Mini LED monitor.
More info: innocn.com
- Model: 27MU2.
- Display size: 27-inches.
- Panel type: LCD IPS.
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.
- Backlight: Mini LED.
- 700 nits brightness (1,000 peak brightness).
- Refresh rate: 60Hz
- Speakers: Two 5W.
- Display colors: 1,074 million.
- Contrast: 1000:1.
- Ports: DP, USB-C, HDMI 2.0 (2), 3.5mm audio.