We haven't had a display review since our desperately seeking quality LCDs article. That doesn't mean there haven't been interesting displays released during that timeframe, but the trends highlighted in that last article have continued. TN panels are everywhere and are by far the cheapest option, although they do have a bit of competition from E-IPS displays. For example, we have 1080p 23" TN LCDs starting at under $200, compared with 1080p 23" E-IPS LCDs for $300. However, E-IPS isn't the highest quality implementation of IPS (in-plane switching) LCD technology; what if you want to go for the real deal?

Despite the preponderance of TN panels, it's still possible to find some good quality IPS displays. The catch is that you need to be prepared to spend two or three times as much money (or more!) to get that quality. Most consumers will look at the 24" TN panels starting at $200 and then they'll look at an IPS or PVA display costing $550 or more and they'll wonder why anyone would spend the extra money. The answer, quite simply, is quality. Dell offers U-series UltraSharp displays that look to satisfy professional users without quite getting into the professional display price range, and they'll provide substantially better quality than any entry-level display. That brings us to today's review.


Dell UltraSharp U2711 Specifications
Video Inputs 2 x dual-link DVI with HDCP
HDMI w/HDCP
DisplayPort w/HDCP
VGA
Component
Composite
Panel Type IPS (Unknown Manufacturer)
Pixel Pitch 0.233mm
Colors Up to 1.07 billion (10-bit color)
Brightness 350 nits typical
Contrast Ratio 1000:1 advertised
80000:1 Dynamic advertised
Response Time 6ms GTG
12ms TrTf
Viewable Size 27" diagonal
Resolution 2560x1440 (WQHD)
Viewing Angle 178 horizontal/vertical
Power Consumption 113W typical
Power Savings <2W
Screen Treatment Matte (anti-glare)
Height-Adjustable "Yes - 3.5"""
Tilt Yes
Pivot No
Swivel Yes
VESA Wall Mounting Yes - 100x100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 25.46" x 16.84-20.38" x 7.87" (WxHxD)
Weight w/ Stand 23.06 lbs.
Additional Features 4 x USB Ports
8-in-1 flash reader
Audio 2-channel headphone/line out
Optional AX510/AY511 Soundbar
Limited Warranty 3-year warranty standard
4-year and 5-year extended available
Accessories DisplayPort, DVI, USB, VGA, and power cables
Price $1050 MSRP

The latest offering in the U-series is the U2711, a 27" beauty sporting extremely impressive features. For starters, it has an IPS panel, but this isn't your granddad's IPS panel. The U2711 has an extremely high resolution 2560x1440 panel - similar to the panel that's used in the Apple 27" iMac. Notice that we highlighted the word similar? That's because the two panels aren't identical; the glass might be the same, but there are definitely differences.

For one, Apple uses LED backlighting whereas the U2711 sticks with CCFL technology. But isn't CCFL worse? That depends on what you're after; the iMac 27 offers a 72% color gamut while the U2711 has a 102% color gamut (based on the CIE 1931 standard). Using RGB LEDs, it would be possible to get a similarly high color gamut, but our experience with RGB LEDs to date is that they cost more and consume more power than regular LEDs, so we can understand Dell's interest in sticking with the "older" technology. (We've only seen RGB LEDs in a few laptops so far, and as one example it's a $175 upgrade on the Dell Studio XPS 16 compared to a regular white LED display.)

Since this is a display rather than an all-in-one computer, there are plenty of other differences between the Apple and Dell LCDs. Dell includes just about every input you might want on the back of the LCD - DisplayPort, HDMI, two dual-link DVI connections (all with HDCP support, naturally); and just for good measure they toss in VGA, component, and composite video connections as well - not that we would recommend using those if you can avoid it, though the VGA connection is always good to have "just in case". Like most UltraSharp displays, you also get a couple USB ports on the back, two more on the side, and a handy flash memory reader.

Besides having a higher color gamut and different backlighting technology, Dell uses 12-bit internal color processing with the ability to output 10-bit color. That means you can get 1024 levels of grey instead of just 256, reducing the amount of banding present in certain situations. 24-bit vs. 30-bit color also means you get a color palette of 1.07 billion instead of 16.7 million, though we were unable confirm this in testing. First, you need to have a graphics card with the ability to output 30-bit color, which typically means you need a workstation class GPU. You also need some sort of "special sauce" - specifically, you need an application that knows about deep color support. We connected the U2711 to a Dell Precision M6500 notebook (Quadro FX 3800M GPU) via DisplayPort. NVIDIA tells us that the GPU is aware of the deep color capability of the display at that point, but it requires an appropriate application before 30-bit color output would start. Despite our inability to test this feature, considering the cost of other 30-bit displays (often they are priced upwards of $1800), the U2711 becomes a very interesting option for users that need (and know how to use) "deep color" support.

So what's not to like? As with so many other things in life, all of these lovely features don't come free. The U2711 has an MSRP of $1050, so it costs quite a bit more than lesser 27" displays. Then again, it has a higher resolution, better features, and it's still $200 cheaper than most 30" LCDs. Overall, the U2711 makes a very good impression if you're after a high quality LCD; it's just not intended for users that are merely looking for a decent display at an affordable price. If you're a discerning image professional or just someone fed up with lackluster consumer LCDs, read on to find out if the U2711 is the right display for you.

Impressions of the U2711
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  • dszc - Tuesday, March 02, 2010 - link

    Jarred,

    Thank you for such great display reviews. I am an avid fan and have found no others as good.

    I have 2 questions/requests:

    1)Would you please do a review comparing good quality LCD and Plasma TVs to a "computer monitor" like the HP 3065.
    I am a pro photographer and spend most of my days processing images. I find it easiest to see artifacts and other processing problems on displays with bigger pixel pitches (like my Dad's 1080p 58" Panasonic Plasma). I guess I'm saying that I want to see my images at their worst, but accurately.
    I'm about to pull the trigger and move to a 35-45" LCD or Plasma TV as my prime editing monitor, but I'd like to see how they stack up in one of your top-notch reviews.

    2)Where can I get Monaco XR software. I have the DTP 94 colorimeter, but I need the software. I have used ColorEyes form many years, but have never been happy with it. And now I can't even get it installed on Windows 7.

    Thanks for any help you can give me. And keep those great display reviews coming!
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - link

    Looking for a big screen, how do the 30 inch monitors from Dell compare? I wish there was a nice big chart with several of the monitors in this range.
    Would like to see how the u2410, 3007wfp, 3007wfp-hc, and 3008wfp compare with the reference HP 30" in processing lag.
    Reply
  • pjackson11 - Monday, February 08, 2010 - link

    Here's another review with calibration reports and such: http://www.flatpanelshd.com/review.php?subaction=s...">http://www.flatpanelshd.com/review.php?subaction=s... Reply
  • kasakka - Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - link

    The lag when turning on and switching resolutions is really annoying on the 3008WFP. I switch between my Macbook Pro and my desktop PC and the lag annoys me. Otherwise I haven't noticed any real input lag problems with the display.

    I was hoping that Dell had fixed that problem for the newer models but apparently they just crammed the same software and hardware in with a smaller panel.
    Reply
  • mikeyakame - Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - link

    I find the turning on lag to be the worst personally. Resolution switching lag isn't nearly as bad compared to that! Other than that there is no real input lag you are definitely right there. It behaves really well at native resolution on DVI-D. Reply
  • ochentay4 - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - link

    Hi, how can I calibrate my crappy Dell S2409W without professional tools? Is there any way? Reply
  • mikeyakame - Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - link

    You could pick up one of these for personal use, they aren't all that expensive and the result is pretty good for the price.

    http://www.pantone.com/pages/products/product.aspx...">http://www.pantone.com/pages/products/product.aspx...

    I've got a Huey Pro myself, this model:

    http://www.pantone.com/pages/products/product.aspx...">http://www.pantone.com/pages/products/product.aspx...

    And the main difference is the software mostly, a few extra features on the Pro software, like being able to set gamma and cool/neutral/warm color temps through the tray tool.

    The results I've got with my Dell 3008WFP with the Huey Pro are quite good, while it doesn't detect reds all that perfectly, I don't mind the slight red tint, it makes it alot easier to sit 30cm away from the monitor and have it not hurt my eyes.

    Food for thought anyway.
    Reply
  • ochentay4 - Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - link

    Thanks man. I also read that AVIA Guide to Home Theater and Digital Video Essetials are very good DVDs to calibrate for videos. I supose that the calibration is worse than PANTONE products. I will test and see. Shame I really dont have money right now. Reply
  • jazzfreek - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    Very nice article. I enjoyed reading it as I am in the market for something like this. One thing that caught my eye was your comment regarding better results using Monaco Optix over Coloreyes Display Pro and remembered seeing Integrated Color recommending using the Spyder 3 calibration puck over the otherwise recommended DTP-94 when calibrating wide gamut displays. I believe the DTP-94 is the same colorimeter as the one you use. Perhaps the older puck isn't sensitive enough to the new wide gamut. (see link). Thought you might be interested in this. Thanks.
    http://www.integrated-color.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?S...">http://www.integrated-color.com/mm5/mer...&Cat...
    Reply
  • 10e - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - link

    The Spyder3 is deficient in measuring black levels and color gamut, so I wouldn't recommend it. The Eye One D2 and DTP-94 are both better at this. Reply

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