Dream Color 2 rumors

Okay, I bet most of us are happy that an ATI Mobility Radeon 5000-series based FirePro M5800 is coming to the Elitebook 8540w, an even better FirePro M7820 is on its way to the upcoming Elitebook 8740w and that the Elitebook 8740w jigsaw has been (mostly) pieced together… But are you sitting down?! Rumors of the new DreamColor 2 display (first discovered about a month ago in an Elitebook 8540w service manual and leaked by HP themselves) have recently surfaced. Wow, with so many rumors and things pouring out recently, we can speculate that something must be brewing… HP? ATI?

The DreamColor display by HP, launched in 2008 with DreamWorks (yes, must be the people who made Shrek and Over The Hedge), has been renowned for showing off ‘true colors’ without breaking the bank (much). This latest iteration (DC2) is rumored to have higher native color bit (10 bits versus 8 bits of DreamColor 1), IPS technology (just like the current 24 inch DreamColor monitor) and ‘improved’ backlighting, among other things…and, based on past news, will be making its way into -at least- the 8540w and 8740w.

For those asleep because they thought DreamColor 2 was going to just feature ‘more colors’, wake up! Because rumors seem to be pointing to something more impressive than just an ‘evolution’ of DreamColor 1.

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  1. Greg March 7, 2010 Reply

    The current 24″ HP monitors HP LP2475w and LP2480zx look like they generate a lot of heat and are extraordinarily thick. The 2480 is impossibly expensive so I’m more interested in the 2475 and whether either will come out in a thinner model with LED back light with improved color reproduction.

  2. Chema March 7, 2010 Reply

    Wow! It’s the return of the IPS technology to the laptop LCD’s. Some older IBM Thinkpads, such as the T60, used this technology years ago, but nowadays it’s non-existent for laptops. Instead, laptops use TN panels, cheaper to manufacture than IPS and VA panels, since viewing angles are not very important with panel sizes lower than 20″. It makes much more sense to use this technology in large desktop monitors, from 20″ in size.

    This is good and bad, that is, it’s good because the colour fidelity, viewing angles and stability are the best in the market for LCD displays (I have a H-IPS NEC 2490WUXi desktop monitor and I can notice the difference with a cheap TN panel), nearly the obsolete (but still very good) CRT technology. And it’s bad because this may provoke the price of an EliteBook 8x40w with a DreamColor panel will increase very much. My main concern is if I want an EliteBook 8740w with a DC panel, no version 1 of the panel is no longer available and, in addition, the machine has a customized configuration, I’m afraid of it will have a forbidden price for the majority of mortals (for Spielberg not, of course 😛 )

    I hope HP be wise and they offer DC1 and DC2 as options for DreamColor quality.

  3. domiel March 7, 2010 Reply


    I also have the same NEC2940WUXi panel… the only complaint I’d make about it is the buzzing from the backlight, I expect that won’t be a problem on the Elitebooks

    As for DreamColor1 vs DreamColor2 although I’m sure it’s somewhat of a stepwise refinement I suspect it really is just some marketing gloss to make the change from 16:10 to 16:9 look like a selling point rather than the weasley cop-out on the part of all the notebook manufacturers that it really is.

    • Brad March 7, 2010 Reply

      @Chema and @domiel, it is said that DreamColor 2 mobile will up the game (for notebooks and mobile at least) for color precise displays, and that the DC2 Mobile on the 8540w and 8740w will match DreamColor of the existing LP2480zx display.
      @domiel The change from 16:10 to 16:9 only applies to the smaller Elitebooks, presumably due to the overall market with OEM’s moving towards 16:9 displays… unless, like a reader posted before, HP develops their own 16:10 displays for notebook screen sizes besides 17 inch. The 17 inch 8740w has been confirmed to have a 16:10 display (for both ordinary and DreamColor display), hence the 1920×1200 resolution from the preceding 8730w will be maintained, and will offer an additional 120 vertical pixels over the 1920×1080 resolution display of the 15 inch 8540w

  4. Chema March 7, 2010 Reply

    Well, but wait a moment, who is willing to pay an IPS 10-bit panel on a laptop with more than 1 billion of simultaneous colours? For sure it must have a *perfect* sRGB emulation like its big brother, the fabulous 30-bit panel HP LP2480zx ($2000+), which is able to emulate several colour spaces with high precision. For me this is too much. My monitor is an 8-bit (sRGB) panel and I’m very happy with it. It has the precision I need, no more no less. I only want an 8-bit panel with decent contrast and brightness, like the DC1, but with improved sRGB emulation (the DC1 sRGB emulation was poor) on my (probably) next EliteBook 8740w.

    I think no one except DreamWorks is willing to pay an astronomic price for a DC 2 screen (don’t think a DC2 screen it will have a mainstream price!). Exclusiveness has a price, in this case, it would probably have a very high price, and I don’t want the EliteBook line will become a “luxurious line” only allowed to the fattest wallets. Many professionals with modest salaries invest a lot of money in decent devices for their work, like me.

  5. Chris C. March 8, 2010 Reply

    How can IPS technology be “impossibly expensive” on a diminutive 17 inch laptop screen when you can get huge (42 inch) true HD (1920×1080) TVs with far superior brightness, contrast lighting and viewing angles with 120Hz refresh rates for less than $700?

    It’s just another proof how marketers manage to brainwash consumers into expecting very high prices on certain “premium” items (The IPS “Premium” Dreamcolor panel), which reduces demand therefore production therefore keeps the price high, whereas a product that is much nicer to look at, using the same if not better technology, sells for a fraction of that because it’s aimed at Mr and Mrs Everybody (the common crop of 120Hz true HD [1920×1080] 100000:1 dynamic range flat screen TVs)

    In any case I hope it comes out soon so that I’ll finally be able to grab an “old” DreamColor 8730w at clearance price instead of the outlandish prices they (still) fetch..

  6. Brad March 8, 2010 Reply

    @Chris I’m not quite sure what the cost vs selling price of individual notebook components are… but perhaps the price premium of DreamColor could be due to miniaturization? Varying technologies and implementation? The DreamColor panel is unlike regular TV screens in the sense that it caters to designers and people handling graphics work who need color accuracy (so yes, I agree there may be a price premium stuffed in there somewhere… but a different price premium than, let’s say, “Apple tax” where you’re downright paying a big extra sum for hardware components you can find in competing/last season’s notebooks.) There may be a price premium as it costs more to manufacture small sized IPS panels for mobile devices, plus the fact these screens are unique to Elitebooks (that none of competitors’ products have). TV screens are made to make colors ‘pop’ and as vivid/colorful as possible to appeal to consumers.

  7. Greg March 8, 2010 Reply

    @Chris – I was talking about the 24″ US$2900 DreamColor monitor, not the laptop display. See the model numbers above.

    I am almost positive that monitor was down to about $2400 on Friday but it is now $2000. Maybe clearing out old stock.

    The less expensive performance series, non-dreamcolor 24″ is the LP2475w and is only $569. But a lot of people think that HP went too cheap with that one and are looking for something a little pricier with better color reproduction.

  8. Chris C. March 9, 2010 Reply


    I don’t agree that miniaturization is inversely proportional to price. If anything, it should be the opposite. But the number of steps it takes to manufacture a panel definitely impacts final cost. So large panels built using identical technology should be, if anything, slightly costlier.

    I know there is the preconceived idea that expensive things are necessarily better. This is clearly not the case. In the market, there is a large variation of value depending on the _perception_ of quality. Remember, these laptops are “Professional Workstations” aimed at consumers who earn their living with it (so presumably don’t look at prices) and the people this laptop is presumably aimed at are presumed to be highly paid individuals, or people who have been *conditioned* by the market to traditionally expect to pay high prices for their hardware (until recently and in a large measure the domain of Apple)

    However, the DreamColor technology, as nice as it may be, is not *that* unique in high-end laptops. Take for example the Dell LED lit WUXGA laptop, the M6500 with edge-to edge LED backlit WUXGA display which sells, new, for less $1000 for otherwise comparable specs to the 8730w but for $500 less if not more.

    Now I don’t pretend to say the other LED lit panels are the same as the DreamColor, indeed having ‘exact’ colors may be extremely important but my question is, how much better are these panels compared to high end led lit panels from other manufacturers? Has a side-by-side comparison been made by photographic or other graphic experts? I sure haven’t seen any!

    So, DreamColor 2 may be amazing and visually stunning… But I would sure like to see serious, _real world tests_ before I, as a professional user, will agree to shell out an “impossibly high” premium for the ‘privilege’ to get a this panel on a laptop.

    Frankly, I’d much rather see laptops sport true high resolution LCDs that are at least at little closer to what I, as a photographer, produce in real life (6MP and more) than one with questionably “accurate” colors. Because in the end, where do we, as media consumers, see most of our graphic media? When is the last time you had all your pictures produced on 8×12 paper, which its grossly inferior luminance ratio? That’s right: on a TV screen or on a computer monitor! Insisting on maintaining paper standards pre-eminence is absurd, because most people don’t use this type of medium anymore!

    DreamColor2 may be the next great invention after sliced bread, but please, will someone tell the laptop manufacturers to get out of their so-called “HD” rut and give us monitors with resolution that are at least *reasonably* close to the _resolution of our cameras_?! Now THAT would be a _true_ revolution!

  9. Chris C. March 9, 2010 Reply


    Thank you for the clarification. But like I said in my previous post, we need to move on to a more realistic “color” standard based on the media _we actually use_: HD TVs for movies and, for still photography, something we should have had for a long time, QUXGA and similar resolution panels.

    Why no one hasn’t noticed that WUXGA is hardly more than 2 megapixels (and hasn’t complained about it) is mind boggling to me. I am still holding onto my 15 year old 21 inch QXGA (3MP) Sony Trinitron CRT because frankly, there is nothing *at a reasonable price* that can touch it in that resolution and pixel density. And no, a ‘Cinema’ screen that is hardly finer but much, much larger is really not worth the extra expense to me.

    DreamColor2 *may* be nice, but I hardly believe it’s worth the “impossibly high” premium. Which will most probably keep the prices high and slow down adoption hence future improvement and evolution as a standard.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll chose a high-resolution panel over one with better color any day. There is simply no substitution for proper lighting and high resolution for giving the impression of “being there”, just look at some Ansel Adams pictures and tell me with a straight face they don’t evoke a sense of presence. You’ll end up forgetting they are not in ‘accurate’ colors… 😉

  10. Greg March 9, 2010 Reply

    I agree we need innovation on the resolution. We have been stuck at 4 dpm (dots per mm) for more than 20 years now.

  11. Chris C. March 9, 2010 Reply

    Indeed, it is absurd that we have to deal with monitors that have about 4 dpm (or about 100 DPI) when the normal human eye resolves around 1 minute or arc (1/60 degree), which means, for a normal laptop viewing distance of 16 inches (400mm), 400*sin(1/60)=0.1 mm, which is 10 dpm or 250 dpi!

    Considering a 17 inch 16:10 laptop is about 9 inches by 14.4 inches (hence the standard 1440×900 resolution), the normal eye should be able to make use of 250/96 times finer resolution, which would correspond to 3600×2250!

    Yet we are still being sold 1920×1200 as having “high resolution” on a 17 inch laptop… NOT!

    But I digress… We do need to get realistic resolution, but we also need photo realistic color as well. That’s why I’m looking forward to this new laptop LCD panel… At a reasonable price, of course! 😉

  12. Chema March 9, 2010 Reply

    @Chris C.:
    But how could you expect a reasonable price for a 10-bit IPS panel in a laptop LCD? Note this panel will be *UNIQUE* in the world. Even the stunning (but ugly) Dell Precision M6500 uses an 8-bit TN panel. No one laptop exists with a non-TN panel now. This is my main concern. If HP releases that panel to a similar price of the DC 1, congratulations for them, they could shift both Lenovo and Dell laptop displays and the EliteBook 8740w would be a clear winner.

  13. Chris C. March 10, 2010 Reply


    I notice you stressed the term “unique”… Unique maybe for marketers, but hardly in fact. In reality, there are only a handful of LCD manufacturers in the world, most of them in China, and what can sell as a “DreamColor2” can also sell as a “TruBrite Second Gen” or some other name. I highly doubt the manufacturer will have entered an exclusivity agreement with HP, it would have cost to too much in R&D.

    In other words, this may be a “unique” display for the HP line and, for a little while, among competing laptops, but not for long. Technological advances not only filter down, but very often sideways as well. One example, the IBM/Viewsonic/Sharp WQUXGA of about 10 years ago, yes, a 22 inch LCD with 3840×2400 resolution! Made by one company, sold under many different names, each adding their own unique ‘flavor’.

    Of course, the DreamColor2 will be a very expensive option at first. As for size… 1920×1080 or 1920×1200, not a big difference technology and manufacturing wise, mostly marketing wise. I’m quite sure we’ll start to ride the HD crowd and as HD panels become common (I saw an Acer Laptop yesterday, with i5xx processor, 360GB HD, Blue Ray DVD writer, 4GB RAM, a 1MB video card and a 1920×1080, 18.4″, _very_ bright LCD, selling for $1080 (CANADIAN!). In other words, as everybody demands true HD on their laptops, you can expect prices for so-called “high-resolution” panels to come down quite a bit.

    As for 16/10 vs 16/9, I’m afraid the holdouts of the non widescreen crowd (I’d MUCH rather have a 4/3 screen!) have lost already, there simply isn’t any decent, high resolution non wide computer monitor anymore. When my venerable 2048×1536 21 inch Trinitron gives up the ghost, that’s it baby, so I’ve started to convert slowly to landscape mode. It’s only way to be productive with documents in a wide screen environment…

    The announcement of the DreamColor2 makes these very exciting times to get a laptop. The HD wave means 18920×1080 is going to be the standard instead of being just simply a specialty resolution, this will undoubtedly force prices down of the older technology laptops.

    Of course, I’d still prefer a 19 inch WQUXGA LCD laptop, but at least we’ll finally move on from the incredibly low res 1440×900 that has become the 17 inch laptop standard in recent years.

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