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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  • blyndy - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    I've been keen on this monitor since it was announced.

    However it may use the same panel as the 27" apple imac, which has gotten alot of complaints of yellow tinging on the bottom half.

    A few user reviews with multiple units are in order.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    Remember that the Apple version uses a completely different backlight, so even if the glass substrate is the same the two displays can't be directly compared. Yellow tinging on the bottom half is a backlight problem (and possibly a design issue). Reply
  • gadgetdan - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Hi,
    Just got this monitor on order now, for use with my new computer I am yet to buy (chose monitor first). I have not seen any comments regarding video cards to drive this one. I have read about this monitor and seen recommendations to run this with 2 DVI-D cables to get full use of the resolution. I am considering the ATI 5770 card, which should handle this resolution according to the specs. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has any experience on this card/monitor combination or any other input to a suitable videocard to make justice to this monitor.
    Thanks!
    /Dan
    Reply
  • krotchy - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Dan,

    You need a Dual-Link DVI cable, not 2 DVI-D cables to run this monitor, basically it is a single DVI-D cable containing both channels. A Dual Link DVI cable is included with the monitor, but if you want more information I recommend you check the wikipedia article on DVI...

    However, at work we have ordered/installed about 20 of these so far and I am finding that DisplayPort is a much more convenient connection mechanism than DVI since a lot of the computers we are finding actually contain only single-link DVI outputs or other issues such as underpowered cards which max our at 1600x1200 over DVI. It does seem though that any card we find with displayport can do 2560x1440 despite some of them being relatively underpowered compared to other cards that dont seem to reach 2560x1440.
    Reply
  • gadgetdan - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    krotchy,
    Thanks for your comments, this is very useful for me.
    /Dan
    Reply
  • S8 - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I have a problem using the Dell U27 as a second monitor for an iMac 27. The Dell U27 doesn't let me choose its max resolution 2560 x 1440. I am using a DVI display adapter from Apple.
    Thanks for any help.
    Reply
  • chiadog - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    "I am using a DVI display adapter from Apple"
    You need the active dual link DVI adapter, not the cheap single link one. Just get mini DP to DP dongle and call it a day.
    Reply
  • sarangiman - Saturday, January 01, 2011 - link

    I have the Dell U2711 & have read a number of reviews where people keep mentioning the AdobeRGB & sRGB modes. Yet none of these articles state what monitor profile to set in the operating system when using these modes!

    Is it so obvious that it doesn't need to be mentioned? What am I missing?

    I spoke to a # of people at Dell Tech Support & they had no idea what I was talking about. We started debating it over here: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1511987. Don't think we reached a consensus.

    I can personally state that when I set the monitor to AdobeRGB mode, & then set the monitor profile in the OS to AdobeRGB (HERESY in the world of color management; that is, to assign a device independent profile to a, um, device), I get the same colors as when I set the monitor to sRGB while setting the monitor profile in the OS to sRGB. These leads some credence to the belieft that one should set the monitor profile to the emulation mode being chosen. What I'm trying to get at here is that maybe Dell created these modes not only to limit the gamut of the monitor, but also to make a mode where the monitor's color response can be reasonably described by the sRGB or AdobeRGB profiles... This would make it easy for people to have somewhat accurate colors without profiling their monitors (so would a good profile in 'standard' mode, or what have you).

    I realize that the best option when using the emulation modes is still to profile the monitor & use that profile. But I'm wondering if one can get away with using the emulation mode as long as you select the proper corresponding profile in the OS.

    Does anyone know the answer to this?

    Many thanks in advance!
    Rishi
    Reply
  • sarangiman - Saturday, January 01, 2011 - link

    I have the Dell U2711 & have read a number of reviews where people keep mentioning the AdobeRGB & sRGB modes. Yet none of these articles state what monitor profile to set in the operating system when using these modes!

    Is it so obvious that it doesn't need to be mentioned? What am I missing?

    I spoke to a # of people at Dell Tech Support & they had no idea what I was talking about. We started debating it over here: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1511987. Don't think we reached a consensus.

    I can personally state that when I set the monitor to AdobeRGB mode, & then set the monitor profile in the OS to AdobeRGB (HERESY in the world of color management; that is, to assign a device independent profile to a, um, device), I get the same colors as when I set the monitor to sRGB while setting the monitor profile in the OS to sRGB. These leads some credence to the belieft that one should set the monitor profile to the emulation mode being chosen. What I'm trying to get at here is that maybe Dell created these modes not only to limit the gamut of the monitor, but also to make a mode where the monitor's color response can be reasonably described by the sRGB or AdobeRGB profiles... This would make it easy for people to have somewhat accurate colors without profiling their monitors (so would a good profile in 'standard' mode, or what have you).

    I realize that the best option when using the emulation modes is still to profile the monitor & use that profile. But I'm wondering if one can get away with using the emulation mode as long as you select the proper corresponding profile in the OS.

    Does anyone know the answer to this?

    Many thanks in advance!
    Rishi
    Reply
  • Robincm86 - Friday, June 17, 2011 - link

    Good:
    Superb quality for photo, games and videos, plenty of port connectivity options, attractive looks.
    Thumbs Down:

    Outcome:
    Dell UltraSharp U2711 is a bit costly but looking at the performance, quality and the ports we will definitely recommend you this panel. Get this panel if you have enough money and if you don’t, then start saving! It is worth every bit of your hard earned money.

    http://www.technicalnavigator.com/dell-ultrasharp-...
    Reply

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