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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  • Hxx - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    if you need anything bigger than a 24 inch for gaming youre better off with a nice led or lcd tv (40 inch or so is perfect) hook up your machine to it and youre in business. seems rather pointless to spend that much money for a monitor unless youre using it for something other than games/movies. Reply
  • FlyTexas - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    Yuck...

    Who wants a 32" LCD running at 1280x720 2 feet in front of you?

    Blah...

    Besides, those TVs were meant and designed to be watched from 6-10 ft away, not for close up viewing. Even if you got a 1080P panel, it would still have half the resolution of a 30" desktop LCD (at 2560x1600, it has 4 million pixels compared to 2 million on the 1080P or 1 million on the 720P)

    Now, I have seen HDTVs used as computer monitors for wall displays of information in companies, but again those are meant to be viewed 6-10 ft away, not to be put on your desktop.
    Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    I think that the GP was referring not to the actual size of the monitor, but the resolution of the monitor. The problem with the LCD or LED TV's is that they run at (at best) 1920x1080 resolution. This screen has substantially higher resolution to it. The dot pitch of those screens are pretty .. terrible in fact.

    When will people understand the difference between dot pitch and physical screen size?
    Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    Also, if you do any kind of image manipulation (Photoshop-style of CAD style) you want a high resolution screen more than a physically large screen. While it's generally true that larger screens have higher resolution, that isn't generally the case. In fact, it reverses the trend once you start going with TV's... Reply
  • evilspoons - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    I disagree; the 3008WFP is an older model with slower signal processing and narrower black levels.

    I bought a U2410, it is amazing, period. You put it in 'game' mode and the input lag drops to ~15 ms, which is one of the best LCDs on the market today. (Check out the review on tftreview.co.uk - no affiliation here except I read their review before I bought my U2410.)
    Reply
  • FlyTexas - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    Err... Maybe... But you're comparing a $500 24" monitor with a $1,000 30" monitor. Not really in the same league...

    If you want/need a 24" monitor, that is probably a very good one. If you have never used a 30" monitor, you don't know what you're missing.

    To each his own... :)
    Reply
  • evilspoons - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - link

    I had a 30" monitor (an LG with an IPS panel) and found it was excellent except for the huge lack of signal processing abilities (no scaler, one input). I also found that playing games on it was inconvenient because I'd actually have to turn my head to see the entire picture at my desk.

    Anyway, the U2410 is $750 MSRP and the U2710 is $1000 MSRP. Compare apples to apples. It's on sale for $500 off and on, and I expect the U2711 to be on sale in the same manner fairly soon. What I'm saying is the U2410 is excellent for certain things that the U2711 presumably is and the WFP3008/9/whatever isn't. It's not for everyone but I'm offering an alternative.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    No it wouldnt. It's grainy if you have good eyesight with its huge pixel pitch ~.255 vs . 233 for this model. I wish LCD makers would get below .15 but is a start. Reply
  • rbnn - Friday, March 12, 2010 - link

    Hi,
    Very interesting review, thanks. Still, I am not a monitor expert and just use ordinary apps in Windows 7:

    (1) Text - reading web pages (chrome), using Word and PDF (often multiple large text docs open at once);
    (2) Blu-ray.

    Is the monitor good for these?

    I frankly did not understand your comment about smaller dot-pitch being bad. Wouldn't smaller dot pitch be good, as you get crisper text? Being able to see large pdf pages, or multiple ones, at full size on would seem to be helped by smaller dot pitch, not hindered. I just don't understand your comment there. You can always just reset software to magnify if text is too small, is that what you were complaining about?

    Reply
  • Griswold - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    Bullshit. Get a reality check. Just because it suits YOU, doesnt mean it suits the majority. Reply

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