Conclusion and Awards

Three years ago, I purchased my first 24" LCD, the Dell 2405FPW. It was on sale, so I got it at an absolute steal: only $1000! (Regular price was $1350 at the time.) Three years later, you can now find even better LCDs for roughly half that price. That's one of the great benefits of LCD technology over CRTs: prices may have started out higher, but they are dropping rapidly into much more affordable ranges. 21/22" CRTs seemed to bottom out at around $500 for years before they finally started to disappear altogether. There are still users that prefer the CRT experience, but after my upgrade three years ago I have never looked back.

Our roundup today examined five recent LCD introductions from different companies. Combine that with the 24" LCDs we've reviewed previously and we now have a good basis for ranking the current LCDs. If you're looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, unfortunately we cannot come up with a single recommendation. The 24" LCD market has split into two segments. On the one hand, we have S-PVA panels that provide great colors and viewing angles but struggle with input lag, and on the other hand we have TN panels that may not offer the most accurate colors but they have no discernible input lag (at least when compared to other LCDs). We are not bothered by input lag, but competitive gamers depend on every potential advantage they can get, so 20 or 40 ms can and will make a difference. We will therefore select what we feel is the best LCD for each of these markets.

In terms of overall performance, quality, and features, one LCD rises above the others. The Dell 2408WFP looks the same as the 2407WFP, but it offers additional input options, an improved color gamut, and amazing color accuracy even without calibration. Dell has become the 800-pound gorilla of the LCD market, offering great products at very affordable prices. The 2408WFP may not be the cheapest LCD on the market, but if we had to choose one 24" LCD that would satisfy virtually all users, it's an easy choice. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect scorecard is the 38 ms input lag. That's enough to prevent the 2408WFP from receiving our Gold Editors' Choice award, but it's still worthy of our Silver Editors' Choice. If you're not an extremely competitive FPS gamer, this 24" LCD belongs on the top of your list.

For gamers, determining the best TN-based 24" offering is a bit more difficult. There are plenty of LCDs we have not reviewed, but we've seen enough that we feel comfortable in making a recommendation. The Samsung 2493HM and Gateway FHD2400 are the two favorites, and choosing between them can be pretty subjective. Samsung offers better overall color accuracy, but we figure users interested in color accuracy are already going to want an S-PVA panel, and we really like the design and appearance of the Gateway FHD2400. Thus, we are happy to give the Gateway FHD2400 our Bronze Editors' Choice award. For a price of only $450, you don't even need to compromise on input options or other features.



This is not to say that other LCD options are not worth considering. All of the 24" LCDs we've reviewed so far are at worst decent quality, and several can easily compete with our Editors' Choice recipients. The LaCie 324 for example is a professional monitor at a professional price; it's not something we would recommend for casual users, but imaging professionals and users in the desktop publishing industry might be swayed by its feature set. Depending on pricing, some of the other LCDs might become more or less interesting.

Unfortunately, we're still missing our "one ring to rule them all". [Ed: …and in the dorkness bind them?] What we'd really like to see is a single LCD that can combine the best aspects of the Dell 2408WFP with low input lag, and it might be interesting to see a glossy S-PVA panel as an option from one of the manufacturers. A lot of us still prefer matte finishes, but at least one of the editors has been swayed to the dark side by the Gateway FHD2400. If there is an inherent trait of S-PVA panels that causes input lag, another alternative we would be very interested in seeing is a 24" S-IPS panel. Considering our 30" HP LP3065 uses an S-IPS panel and matches the TN panels in input lag, that could be the perfect solution. We're sure there are plenty of users out there that would even pay extra money for such an LCD.

Color Accuracy
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  • Rasterman - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    I wish you would have reviewed an old CRT to compare the LCDs to. I still have my 22" beast and would upgrade if I knew if an LCD could beat its image quality. Comparing the best LCD to the best CRTs of 5 years ago would be interesting as I'm sure a lot people are still holding on to theirs given the results of the Valve survey suggesting more than 70% of gamers are using CRTs. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    The simple fact that new *quality* CRTs are not being made can't be overlooked. Five years back, you could get a high-end 22" CRT that would do 2048x1536 @ 85Hz (or 1600x1200 @ 110Hz). Now, most 21" CRTs only manage 1600x1200 @ 75Hz. Then throw in all the crap you have to deal with in terms of image centering and pincushion and trapezoidal distortion - all things that are completely non-existent on LCDs.

    When you consider size, weight, and cost, I'll take LCDs every time. OLED or some other display technology may replace LCDs, but conventional CRTs are brain-dead and the manufacturers are getting ready to remove life support.
    Reply
  • Rasterman - Tuesday, May 06, 2008 - link

    I totally agree it makes no sense to buy a new CRT, but what I am asking is if its worth it to UPGRADE based purely on image quality. This is why I suggested comparing it to a CRT of 3-5 years ago and not a new one. Weight, size, and taking 10 seconds to align the image are all secondary to image quality. I don't see how you can ignore the fact that most people buying high-end LCDs are upgrading from high-end CRTs. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 06, 2008 - link

    I (and many others) upgraded from CRTs about three years ago. I have never regretted the decision. I think colors are better, I love not dealing with image distortion (i.e. pincushion, trapezoidal, rotational, etc. adjustments), the size reduction at the same time as you get a larger screen area (22" CRTs are the equivalent of 20" LCDs).... I could go on.

    I think most professionals upgraded to LCDs a long time ago; the people who remain with CRTs are those who are ultra-dedicated to high refresh rates and faster pixel response times. The only area where that really matters is gaming. Throw in the fact that the phosphor used on CRTs starts to fade after 4-5 years, and even if you have the best CRT ever produced it's probably time to upgrade.

    In short, I am not ignoring CRTs; I am simply refusing to beat a dead horse.
    Reply
  • probert - Friday, June 13, 2008 - link

    This may be an old thread but I'd like to put in my 2 cents.

    Love your reviews but I think you're wrong about CRT's. They're used more than you think and for someone who does print work they are an excellent inexpensive alternative to a really good lcd.

    For example Pixar has stockpiled CRT's (trinitron FD tubes) and I suspect a lot of places do. It takes about 15 minutes to calibrate one and - as far as being bulky - I'll admit I won't take mine backpacking any time soon, but why would I want to.

    There are sites that still sell new and refurbed CRTs with the trinitron FD tubes (Generally Dells and IBMs). These are superb and cost about $200.

    They are great for print work You can adjust not just rgb but bias and gain on each channel. Their color accuracy and ability to render gradients may be matched by a top line NEC - but at 1/6 the price.

    My set up is a 21" crt and an 8bit lcd for web work and checking sharpening. (In fact, I don't calibrate the LCD presently to simulate the general web experience. This is driving me a little crazy and I may tighten it up.) The whole rig cost $400.00 - has plenty of real-estate and has very good monitor to printer accuracy.


    I'm happy that people who don't need this precision use LCDs, as it saves energy and materials, but the crt is a very viable alternative for someone who does need accurate color and good tonal range for short money.

    In fact, I'll toss the gauntlet and say that for this particular niche - they are better than, or, as good as, any LCD on this or any other planet.
    Reply
  • icthy - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    Just curious, has anyone actively considered buying either two 24" monitors as a substitute for one 30" monitor (or the other way around). I know it depends what one does, but I'm so frustrated working on my one 20" monitor, I want to go big, big, big! But I'm unsure if the cost of the 30" is worth it. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    I personally prefer one large LCD over two smaller LCDs. Working on large images in Photoshop, I can use all the resolution I can get. Splitting an image over two displays just isn't the same to me. That said, I know others that really like having two 24" LCDs. My dad is set up that way, so he can have web pages, documents, etc. on one side and spreadsheets, other web pages, and such on the other. In fact, my dad sometimes has both 24" LCDs in portrait mode, so he can have a virtual resolution of 2400x1920 and see long segments of text that way.

    Total cost of two 24" LCDs would be $900 to $1200 depending on brand (or $1800+ for two LaCie 324 LCDs). A single 30" would run at least $1000 I think (outside of used/refurbs), and some like the 3008WFP would cost as much as $2000. Total screen resolution and area is higher for two 24" LCDs: 12.5% more pixels and 28% more screen area. If you can live with the black back between the LCDs, two 24" LCDs is a more economical/flexible approach overall.
    Reply
  • icthy - Saturday, May 03, 2008 - link

    Thanks. I'm tempted by the shear prettiness of one 30" monitor. But I tend to run Linux, and than use windows under Vmware. I suppose with two 24" monitors, I could have one Vmware-Windows display, and one for my Linux-computational stuff--although I don't know if the vmware drivers would support that. Reply
  • KLC - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    Your review confirms my experience with the Dell 2408, it is a great monitor and also an excellent value for its performance. Just look at comparably sized NECs and LaCies to calibrate your value gauges. I got it for $599 with free shipping.

    I've read the comments about pink tinges and banding and on and on and on in hardware forums, like Jarred I've had no such problems with mine. I mostly use my system for photoshop, video editing, office apps and websurfing, no games so lag time doesn't matter to me.

    The ergonomics are also outstanding. You can easily adjust height, tilt, etc. And like all Dell monitors I think they've done a great job of industrial design. If you like all of your tech to mimic a Transformer you'll have to look elsewhere, but if you like something elegant and functional Dell has few that surpasss them.

    It does put out a lot of heat, it is very bright, too bright, out of the box and I still haven't been able to use my Spyder3 Pro to fix that to my satisfaction. I'm going to use Jarred's RGB settings and see how that goes.

    One mildly irritating thing, after playing around with the On Screen Display and the Spyder for several days the white contrast marking on the front panel buttons has completely worn off. Jarred, did you see any of that on your sample?

    But I have no buyer's remorse over this purchase, and that is something I don't experience very often.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    I haven't noticed any issues with the button labels wearing off, but then I might not be using them enough, or perhaps your fingertips have more oil than average and that's causing the loss. After the labels are gone, you can pretend to have a Samsung 2493HM and guess at which buttons do what until you get the layout memorized. :) Reply

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