OSD Controls and Menus

I didn't mention OSD controls on the previous page because they're somewhat interesting on the U3011. Remember that HP stipulated that their ZR30w has no OSD because there's currently no control SoC for it. Well, Dell has one, and they definitely use it and provide an OSD for the U3011. 

First up, the buttons are very understated and are located in the bottom right. The power button glows steady blue when powered, and pulses orange when in standby. What's interesting is that each button is unmarked - the bottom one glows blue when you hover your finger above it about a centimeter away, and tapping on it brings up the OSD and lights the other buttons. The button doesn't depress but doesn't seem capacitive - something optical is going on. Either way, button presses consistently work without issue. By default there's no button press sound (thank goodness), but you can turn one on in the menu if you really need it. 

The quick pop up has presets, brightness and contrast, input source selection, and a menu button for launching the big OSD. It's easy to navigate and just like other Dell OSDs, but with fancy buttons-that-aren't and that cool hover feature. 

There's options inside the sub menus for fill, 16:9, 4:3, aspect-correct, and 1:1 scaling of inputs - everything we want from a panel. In addition, there are the ever important settings for color space clamping - sRGB mode is there alongside AdobeRGB modes which don't clamp the color space. There's also gamma settings and presets for game, standard, and custom color modes. 

Console Gaming and Audio Controls

There's really nothing to complain about with the U3011 OSD other than the audio settings. You can put them in 2.0 audio out mode, something which is absolutely perfect for use with a PS3 or Xbox 360 connected over HDMI.

The problem is that there's no volume adjustment parameter exposed in the menu - it acts like line out undoubtedly because that's what Dell intended it to be used for. It'd be nice to get volume controls in that preset menu beyond being able to select between 2.0 and 5.1. 

That's a pretty nice segue into some discussion about what audio input options the U3011 supports over HDMI. I connected up a PS3 and played GT5 and a copy of Inception, both of which looked excellent and played perfectly. The PS3 saw LPCM 2 channel and 5.1 channel as options, obviously the U3011 doesn't have a hardware decoder onboard. I connected an Xbox 360 over HDMI and did the same, which worked perfectly. No doubt Dell's rationale for not providing volume controls on the OSD is that it's line out, or you'll use it with their speaker bar, but it still would be awesome to get that for when you're using headsets. 

U3011 Hardware Impressions and Specifications Viewing Angles and Color Quality
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  • MeanBruce - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    When is Dell going to start offering LED backlighting for it's UltraSharp lineup? 24" 27" and 30" We are waiting! Reply
  • cjl - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    The thing is, WLED backlighting is actually worse image quality than CCFL, and RGBLED is both expensive and still has problems with lifetime. All the lower end monitors love to advertise LED because it sounds great and new, and it's definitely the way to go if your goal is low power consumption and heat. However, for the absolute best display quality, CCFL is the way to go (unless you go to the insanely expensive RGBLED screens). Reply
  • Pessimism - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    CCFL=FAIL.

    Have you placed a year old CCFL-Based laptop next to a brand new one? You'll see a large drop in brightness and a noticeable yellowing of the picture. The manufacturers use the cheapest CCFL tubes humanly possible with short-lived phosphors. Additionally they make them near impossible to access to replace, when they could easily place them behind a removable panel with a quick disconnect connector to replace them.

    I'll take my chances with LED.
    Reply
  • ClownPuncher - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    We aren't talking about laptop backlighting here. Reply
  • cjl - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    Yes, laptops use short-lived, cheap CCFLs. This isn't a laptop. High end IPS monitors use high end, wide gamut CCFL backlighting which is much better quality than any laptop backlighting (and also more power hungry, which is one of the reasons it's not good for laptops). Have you ever seen a high end CCFL backlit monitor? They absolutely blow away WLED (which is what the vast majority of LED screens use). RGBLED would be nice, but as I said before, it's both quite expensive and it still has a few unresolved issues. Reply
  • semo - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    Yeah would have been nice to see RGB back lighting on the latest, greatest and most advanced display of a company's lineup. This thing won't be replaced for the next 3 years at least I would imagine.

    Anyway, I would prefer 3x 24" monitors instead of one or two 30" if I had the money to burn.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    I have a 30" and 2 20" 1200x1600 panels on my main system now (all bought before eyefinity was an option). I don't think I could ever go back to a smaller main screen. I makes my 22 (1680x1050) and 19" (1280x1024) combo at work frustrating to use at times. For everything except eyefinity gaming I'd recommend one 30 over 2 smaller screens; and I suspect most people who can afford a 30 will also have at least one additional monitor hooked up. Reply
  • DanNeely - Sunday, January 16, 2011 - link

    The replacement time probably will depend on when a significantly better panel becomes available. The 3007 was followed by the 3008 when a wide gamut panel was available. Nothing major changed on the next few years, so Dell didn't do a refresh until this year. And at least on paper the only thing that really changed was the addition of 10bit color, and the addition of a 2nd HDMI port in place of several legacy connections; I suspect this refresh had more to do with 08 looking like an obsolete model year than anything else.

    An RGBLED backlight that lasted long enough and that didn't break the bank would be grounds for a major update. A USB3 hub or Lightpeak support could trigger another minor refresh next year. If the memory card reader only supports SDHC an SDXC update could trigger a new minor revision as well.
    Reply
  • ZoSo - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    I'm still debating myself with getting the U3011 or ZR30w, reason being I do game often.
    But lately photo and video editing has been in the picture more and more. And of course I'd be watching movies too ;)
    Decisions, decisions, it's a love hate thing,,, lol
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    Thanks Brian. I was just about to comment on the lack of NEC models in your comparison charts. I know I will be upgrading soon and a monitor is so important. I spend so many hours a day staring at this device that it makes all the difference when you have a high-quality display. Reply

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