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Upstar M280A1 4K UHD 28 inch Monitor Review

by on December 11, 2015
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Manufacture
Overview

Upstar’s M280A1 28'' UHD 4K LED-Lit Monitor is definitely no star performer or stellar piece of name-brand technology in the 4K UHD PC display market but despite its very low price and less than well-known brand name, this particular 4K display manages to come across as a surprisingly well-rounded piece of highly affordable 4K technology.

With all of the essentials of 4K UHD PC display included into its build and some decent enough display technology and graphics rendering also there to boot, the M280A1 offers a full menu of the essentials for 4K computing without adding on much in the way of advanced features or frills. In basic terms, if you need a low cost, regular use 4K UHD monitor which will cover your fundamental resolution needs, the M280A1 might just be a solid choice if you can’t find some great discounts on superior but normally pricier name-brand ultra HD alternatives.

The Good

In basic terms, the M280A1 offers all the core characteristics of a 4K UHD monitor without delivering much in the way of what we’d call frills or extras. Thus, this is more or less something of a bare bones monitor with the core specs newer 4K displays should have. Nonetheless, those core specs are at least good and robust on paper and surprisingly, for such an unknown brand with such a rock bottom price, they actually pan out quite well.

Thus, we like the fact that despite its price and status as a relative unknown, the M280A1 offers a full 60Hz native refresh rate, VESA mounting capability a reasonably good response time of 5ms grey-to-grey and an AH-IPS display panel technology that not only enhances viewing angles very well but also provides some very solid vibrancy to the colors and brightness. Furthermore, the native 1000:1 contrast ratio in the M280A1 from Upstar is not only perfectly decent, it’s also better than what we’ve seen in a number of pricier name-brand models which don’t even quite reach 700:1 in some cases.

Now, while any monitor can have these specs on paper and then go on to deliver them in a very crappy way in practice, the M280A1 doesn’t actually do this, and this is what’s nice about it: The monitor works well and offers up some very good picture performance even if it’s not remarkable by quality 4K display standards. Thus, the 4K resolution renders wonderfully and with the kind of sharpness and crisp detail you’d expect of a quality 4K display and the onscreen brightness and color vibrancy looks good, not dull or muted or badly off in its gamma but actually quite good.

Furthermore, the M280A1’s connectivity specs are not bad at all and again, better than those we’ve seen in a number of other better known monitor brand’s models. In the M280A1’s case, you’ll get your hands on 2 HDMI ports, 2 DisplayPort slots and a DVI port in case you might need it at some point. This is more than can be said of many monitors we’ve reviewed which don’t offer more than one HDMI port or a single DisplayPort connection.

Finally, while it isn’t as adjustable as we’d like, the M280A1 from Upstar simply looks good sitting on a desk. The monitor’s physical design is elegant and somewhat reminiscent of the designs we’ve seen in some more stylish LG displays like the 34 inch UM95 34UM95 . Edge bezeling is as minimal as possible and this serves to make the 28 inch screen on the M280A1 look as roomy as it can for its size.

Check the Price of the Upstar M280A1 28'' UHD 4K LED-Lit Monitor on Amazon:

3.7 - 34 Reviews

The Bad

On the other hand, given the low price of the M280A1 and its manufacturer’s relatively unknown status, we can also expect a few flaws and unlovable characteristics and in this the M280A1 also doesn’t disappoint unfortunately.

For starters, you can forget about certain useful extras like Free-Sync or G-Sync technologies for 4K gaming , or for blue-light and flicker control features which will make the overall viewing experience while using the M280A1 more comfortable for the eyes. Furthermore, the total color coverage of Upstar’s 4K display tops off at only 16.7 million colors, or 8-bit in other words, so we certainly don’t recommend the M280A1 as a budget substitute for any professional design display with 1.07 billion colors, at least not if you’re serious about sticking to color accuracy during your work. We also didn’t like the sheer gloss on the M280A1’s screen. Blacks turn into mirrorlike surfaces and other darker colors also make detail hard to focus on, especially in any sort of brightly lit room.

Additionally, the M280A1 doesn’t include the connectivity option of USB anywhere along its body. This is something we’ve also seen in other name brand 4K monitors before and it’s always an annoying omission when a manufacturers fails to take this simply but crucial connectivity spec into account. Thus, at least via USB, there's no flexible external device connectivity for charging a smartphone or uploading content from a camera or tablet.

Finally, in terms of overall build and robustness, the M280A1 feels a bit flimsy. The stand feels cheap and adjustability in the screen is also limited, with minimal screen tilt flexibility and no options for pivot or height adjustment that we could see. What’s more, overall build quality looks a bit haphazard, with some parts of the M280A1 looking professionally made while others give the impression of having been smacked on with glue after the production line.

Final Thoughts

We were pleasantly surprised by the picture quality and overall display specs found in the Upstar M280A1 while not being so surprised by more than a few physical design defects. This, on the whole, we’d say that this extremely affordable 4K UHD monitor is a potentially fine choice if you need lots of cheap 4K displays and won’t be depending on any of them to deliver truly refined picture quality.

For a 4K office conversion in which displays are used for basic word processing, web surfing etc, the M280A1 might be a great cost-efficient choice. For serious 4K gamers and visual design pros or anyone who wants a truly solid 4K UHD display for their home, it’s a better idea to go for a robust but affordable name brand monitor like the Samsung U28E590D 4K display, which is also affordable.

Specs

Weight: 16.8 lbs with stand
Dimensions: (WxHxD): 25.94 x 18.23 x 8.43" inches with stand/ 25.94 x 15.39 x 2.50" without stand
Screen size: 28 inches, measured diagonally
Screen type: IPS
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Colors: 16.7 million (8-bit)
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Screen Lighting: LED
Response time: 5 ms grey-to-grey
Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD)
OS Compatibility: Windows
Connectivity Ports: 2 x HDMI 1.4, 2 x DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x DVI port, Headphone out

Highlights

In terms of highlights, the Upstar M280A1 doesn’t have much in the way of special characteristics to offer. It is in effect a pretty essentials-oriented 4K UHD monitor. However, we did appreciate a couple of things like the remarkably robust and comprehensive menu of color and display tone adjustments for things like gamma, contrast, brightness, sharpness and color temperature. This was useful and given that the overall color temperature of this monitor right out of the box seems to be quite cool by its factory default setting, being able to play with all of these menu control options was a great little surprise, especially considering that we’ve seen a number of otherwise superior monitors which lacked such control features.

The M280A1’s screen itself is also something to be quite taken with in that it’s made entirely out of glass. Unlike 4K UHD TVs, most 4K UHD monitors seem to come with displays that aren’t made out of glass and this very low priced 4K display from a relatively unknown brand comes along to offer this minor but pleasant looking piece of design aesthetic.

Finally, the color accuracy of the IPS panel inside the M280A1 is pretty decent when all things are considered. This particular monitor offers 99.2% sRGB color gamut coverage and a remarkably good AdobeRGB coverage of 80.1%, which is more than we’ve seen in other high quality IPS models like the Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ which we also recently reviewed and which lags slightly behind at 76.2% AdobeRGB coverage.

Check the Price of the Upstar M280A1 28'' UHD 4K LED-Lit Monitor on Amazon:

3.7 - 34 Reviews

Visual Specs

As we’ve already clearly indicated above, the Upstar offers your basic line of 4K UHD visual specs that look good but in this case aren’t anything exceptionally spectacular. What does however surprise us is how the M280A1’s overall visual specs performance really comes across as not at all that bad despite expectations based on price and brand obscurity.

In other words, even when compared with a number of name-brand monitors, the M280A1 does well with a 1000:1 native contrast ratio, some great sRGB and AdobeRGB color gamut coverage (99.2% and 80.1% respectively) and a generally vibrant and well-adjusted IPS panel display which offers some excellent viewing angles. Also, the quality of the 4K UHD resolution looks superb, with some wonderful crispness and colors that look notably good after a bit of manual calibration for warmer color temperature.

Connectivity

The connectivity options are pretty basic and decent as far as they go in the Upstar M280A1. You get to make use of 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 HDMI 1.4 ports, and the monitor also offers a DVI port, which is a nice bonus. On the other hand, there is no USB connectivity in this particular 4K display and this was an irritating omission on the part of Upstar in our view. USB may not be powerful but it is very useful for external device and smartphone connectivity.

Pricing

Price-wise, the M280A1 4K ultra HD monitor from Upstar is pretty much unbeatable as far as the monitors we’ve reviewed to date go. This is one of its strongest selling points and with the M280A1 you get a 28 inch 4K UHD IPS display for just $341.71 on Amazon.com. They’ll even throw in free shipping.

Check the Price of the Upstar M280A1 28'' UHD 4K LED-Lit Monitor on Amazon:

3.7 - 34 Reviews


Not so Great

To summarize briefly, while nothing glaringly stands out as awful in the M280A1 given its price and unknown brand, we didn’t like the lack of USB, the numerous minor physical build weaknesses and the out-of-the-box color coolness that has to be manually adjusted away. Also, the glass screen, while being cool, also causes a bit too much mirrorlike shine when dark tones are displayed on the screen.

Positives

• Surprisingly good color rendering
• IPS display
• Glass screen
• Looks good, stylish appearance
• 60Hz native refresh

Negatives

• No USB ports
• Too much reflection off display
• Some physical build defects and weaknesses

Editor Rating
 
Features
B+

 
Quality
B+

 
User Friendliness
A-

 
Connectivity
A+

 
Price
A-

Total Score
B+

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User Rating
 
Features
B-

 
Quality
B-

 
User Friendliness
B+

 
Connectivity
B-

 
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16 ratings
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Bottom Line
 

If you want a 4K UHD monitor that’s as cheap as they get and a remarkably good performer in terms of display specs, then go for the Upstar M280A1. It would make a decent low cost 4K office monitor for mass purchasing. However, don’t depend on this 4K display for professional graphic editing or serious 4K UHD gaming.

Check the Price of the Upstar M280A1 28'' UHD 4K LED-Lit Monitor on Amazon:

3.7 - 34 Reviews

 
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