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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  • JarredWalton - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    Honestly, I'm sitting in from of my 3007WFP (not the HC version) and moving my head around and I just can't see anything. LOL.

    I'm looking at a white background and I can't see anything bothersome. I just did the same thing with a couple glossy laptops as well as the U2711 and I'm still not seeing anything sparkly. In fact, I just wandered around my lab and looked at six different LCDs (laptop and desktop, glossy and matte) and I'm still at a loss.

    I might actually sort of see what you're referring to, but even then it just doesn't register as something distracting to my brain/eyes. My best guess is that either my eyes just aren't good enough to see it well (entirely possible), or my brain has adapted to where this effect doesn't affect me.

    This is something I try to get across in my display reviews: you know what bothers you and I know what bothers me, and sometimes something that I totally don't see will irritate the hell out of others. If you can see/test a display in person, that's your best bet obviously. I figure if you're spending $1000 on a display, you'll want to do everything you can to make sure it's the right panel for you in advance of laying out the cash.

    Caveat emptor, eh?
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - link

    Not really. Most of the issues people are referring to and talking about are what I like to call "subjective preferences." People want things the way they like them to be will pay more attention to the features, defects, etc. For most users, they aren't even aware of most of this features/defects to even begin realizing and thus not seeing.

    Selecting a TV is no different. However, once you do start to pay attention to what others are saying then you will begin to notice as it becomes more apparent.

    If you can't see and anomalies on your 30" I wouldn't worry about it or bother to do research. Doing so might just ruin your enjoyment of it. For those that care way way too much, they usually end up here...

    AVS forums :o
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    You don't need to mvoe your head around to see it. I can get the same sort of thing only less severe on my LP2475W but only if I'm less than one foot away which is not normal use. With Dells I see it very easily from normal distance (2-3 feet.)

    If Dell still has a solid 100% back free shipping return policy on monitors there's little risk in trying them. All I know is when I tried a 2407WFP a few years back even without reference to another LCD I was like 'wtf is this?' and then found comments about the same thing from others. But obviously there are plenty of people who like Dell monitors so it's all personal preference. I was coming from a CRT and it was my first shot at an LCD if that matters but still it was immediately noticable to me. Maybe lighting plays a role too *shrug*

    Given their return policy (if it's still the same) I don't see any problem recommending people try Dell monitors. The strong anti-glare is just something that for people who know they don't like it to the extent it's a deal breaker want to know ahead of time so they just won't bother.
    Reply
  • icrf - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    I've got a refurb 3007WFP-HC and it's definitely got the sparkliness going on. I only really noticed it when I first got the display and was scouring for dead pixels (got a couple, but they're hard to see, and the rest is immaculate, so I kept it). I guess I've gotten used to the sparkling, which is a much better term than grainy. It's never bothered me. I strongly prefer it to seeing a reflection of myself like a gloss finish. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    I guess that's what sucks about being ugly :( ! lol :D Reply
  • dasgib - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    Thanks for your answer.

    Just to clarify: large white areas are shown as large, white areas, not as "large dusty/grained kind-of-white-but-not-really-white" areas? ;-)

    Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the release of the devise. I haven't found any 24-inch that has no crappy colours or that frickin' grain :(
    The LP2475w has _incredible_ colours and a very deep black - but it's extremely grainy - even in comparison to a really, really old and really cheap 22-inch TN panel.
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    If he says it looks the same as the 3007WFP then it likely has the typical Dell anti-glare coating. I just don't think he knows what it looks like or doesn't notice it any more. It just doesn't bother some people. Reply
  • hadphild - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    Does this monitor cope with different Hz ranges?

    I am really looking for a monitor that can cope with all hz range up to 60hz. I work in a pro video environment and regularly need to use 50Hz outputs.

    Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    The only reason I'd see a gamer wanting this is if a resolution that high is really worth sacrificing size since you could just get a much larger (42"?) quality 1080P HDTV for roughly the same price. Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    If I'm doing work? Yes, I'd much, MUCH rather have more vertical pixels than a larger screen, no comparison at all. I'd pay significantly more for it too, than a "High Quality" TV with crummy resolution.

    I love the 1920x1200 15" screen on my laptop, thank you very much. I love the fact that I can see 4 windows at the same time on it. Using the company provided 14" screen with an (IMO) appalling 1280x800 resolution makes me feel so ... cramped.
    Reply

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