Dell UltraSharp U2711 27-inch Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor Review

Dell UltraSharp U2711 Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor
Up until the release of Apple’s monstrous 27-inch iMac, 27-inch LCDs weren’t very common. Sure, there was HP’s 2709m, but at 1,920x1,080 resolution, that screen is essentially an enlarged 23- or 24-inch screen. But if you really want extra screen real estate—meaning more pixels well beyond 1080p—you’d typically have to step up to 30-inch screens (like Dell’s 3008WFP), which run at 2,560x1,600. But Apple seems to have created a new standard with it iMac, as Dell’s 27-inch UltraSharp U2711 packs the same 16:9 aspect ratio and 2,560x1,440 resolution as the screen of Cupertino’s flagship all-in-one desktop.

At $1,049 (direct, as of this writing), the U2711 certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s notably easier on the wallet than the $1,999 Dell asked for its 30-inch 3008WFP which we reviewed in 2008. And this screen isn’t just a poorly performing budget LCD on a grander scale. Rather than the Twisted Nematic (TN) LCD panels found in the vast majority of cheap LCD screens these days, known for viewing angle issues, this screen uses an In Plane Switching (IPS) panel. IPS panels generally offer the best performance of any current LCD technology, so we’re happy to see it in such a high-end monitor.

As a result, the U2711 breezed through our DisplayMate tests, offering superb performance on both ends of the gray scale, and excellent color reproduction that didn’t noticeably shift when viewing at different angles. The trade off of IPS panels, aside from their higher price, is slower pixel response time. While most current budget LCD monitors offer a response time of 2 milliseconds (gray-to-gray), the U2711 lists a pixel response time of 6 milliseconds gray-to-gray. While that means it takes this screen’s pixels about three times longer to switch colors, we didn’t notice any motion blur when watching action scenes in The Bourne Identity. Gamers should be happy with this screen as well, but content creators are the real target audience for this screen, with Dell’s specs claiming 96 percent of AdobeRGB coverage, and a Custom Color mode in the onscreen display that allows for tweaking saturation, hue, gain, and offset.

The screen also has a matte finish, which should make it more appealing as a work surface to most graphics professionals than the glass-covered iMac screen. After all, the last thing you want to contend with when working under a tight deadline is glare getting in the way of your productivity.

The U2711 has just about every connectivity option around back that you could ask for, including VGA, two DVI, Composite, Component, HDMI, and DisplayPort. Though we would have liked to see more than one HDMI port, we can hardly complain with that many options. Also on board are four USB ports (two on the side, two in the back), as well as audio jacks and an 8-format flash card reader. Our only minor gripe is that the downward-facing ports are a pain to plug things in to. Though once things are connected, having the ports oriented that way does lead to a cleaner-looking desk.
new Dell UltraSharp U2711 Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor
Connectivity options abound behind this screen, though the downward-facing orientation makes plugging things in a pain.

In DisplayMate testing, the U2711 performed extremely well, reminding us of just what a premium display is capable of. While most budget monitors have problems at both the high and low end of the gray scale, the DELL U2711 had no problem distinguishing the lightest shades of gray from white in both the White-Level Saturation test and the Low Saturation Colors test. On the Extreme Gray-Scale with Bars test, the monitor performed flawlessly, indicating solid performance in distinguishing the darkest shades from black.

Text was crisp all the way down to 5.3 points, though it looked extremely cramped. Though this screen somewhat disappointingly uses a cold cathode backlight, rather than more energy-efficient LEDs, the severe backlight bleed issues often found on lower-priced LCDs were thankfully not present here. With a potent 350 cd/m2 of brightness, you’ll probably want to dial down the backlight a bit to save yourself some eye strain.

Despite the U2711’s stylishly slim metal stand and the heft of the screen, it’s easy to tilt, swivel, and adjust the height—though the screen can’t be rotated into portrait mode. At 23 pounds and over 25 inches wide, we’re also happy the monitor and stand come fully assembled right out of the box.

For gamers who demand extremely high resolutions, or content creation professionals who need all the screen real estate they can get, plus excellent performance and color reproduction, the Dell UltraSharp U2711 is an excellent choice. We were hard-pressed to find fault with it in any of our testing. Though at around the $1,000 price point of this screen, there are 30-inch monitors available which offer a slightly higher resolution (2,560x1,600), and a few more inches of screen. If Dell really wants to make this screen truly stunning, they should knock a couple hundred dollars off the price.

Price range : $1,049

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