Sales of computer monitors have never been greater and bigger monitors are leading the race. The computer monitor has progressed from being a simple display device to becoming a highly advanced, interactive display that also brings lots of entertainment value. Increasingly, monitors are becoming multi-functional devices capable of showing visuals from a whole range of sources. The downside is that these developments have made it all the more difficult to choose a monitor fit for business.
What is it and who is it for?
Dell’s UltraSharp U2410 (£475 ex. VAT) is no ordinary monitor. For a start, the 1,920 x 1,200-pixel monitor costs almost twice as much as other 24-inch monitors. The reason for this is that it’s is designed for accurate colour reproduction, a critical feature for designers, photographers and other creative types.
The UltraSharp U2410 also uses a superior H-IPS (Horizontal IPS) panel rather than a PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment) variant to improve viewing angles, colour reproduction and contrast ratio. And because the UltraSharp U2410 has been designed for business, Dell has paid attention to outstanding ergonomics and a plethora of connectivity options. The UltraSharp U2410 is not your average computer monitor—similar to models from Eizo, it means business and it’s best appreciated by those who demand pinpoint accuracy and faithful colour reproduction.
Does it do it well?
The UltraSharp U2410 (revision A05 reviewed here) sports an understated matte black design that’s reminiscent of old IBM displays. Far from stylish (19mm bezel and square base!), the UltraSharp U2410 makes up for its lack of eye candy with a solid stand that pivots into portrait mode (great for long documents), swivels through 45 degrees in either direction and lifts through to a dizzying 100mm.
Setting up the UltraSharp U2410 comfortably on a desk shouldn’t pose any problems and it’ll look professional once done. Or you can save valuable desktop space by detaching the panel from the stand for wall mounting (necessary equipment sold separately).
Dell has gone to town on connectivity and the UltraSharp U2410 covers most bases: VGA (cable provided), DVI-D with HDCP (cable provided), DisplayPort, component, composite and HDMI (cable provided). Also present are four USB 2.0 ports (two at side, two at rear) and a media card reader (xD/SD/MS/MMC), though for some reason the reader no longer supports CompactFlash.
Interestingly for a monitor of this type is a 3.5mm output for passing through audio from an HDMI source. As there are no integrated speakers, an optional 10W sound bar is available for £20 (ex. VAT) with dearer bars available offering Virtual Surround. Uniquely, there’s a pull-out plastic tag which has the monitor’s information on it—a usability enhancement compared to a sticker on the back.
The UltraSharp U2410 is actually the first Dell monitor that is colour-calibrated at the factory for accurate, consistent and precise colours. It’s also compatible with industry colour spaces such as Adobe RGB (96% coverage) and sRGB (100% coverage), enabling the monitor to meet the needs of professional users involved in colour-centric work such as graphic design, CAD/CAM and media creation. Advanced users will appreciate the ability to customise and adjust parameters for saturation, hue, gain and offset, and there are predetermined settings for Standard, Multimedia, Game, Warm, Cool, Adobe RGB and sRGB. The UltraSharp U2410 is rated at 400cd/m2 but goes blindingly bright, so we left it at the 50% factory default.
The UltraSharp U2410 performs beautifully, with photographs, videos and page designs looking stunning. An impressive Adobe RGB colour space, 12-bit processing combined with its exclusive PremierColor system make for excellent colour range. DDC/CI profiles are supported and there’s also the rare ability to colour-adjust CMY. The 6-millisecond response time (typical) can be bettered by monitors designed for multimedia, but we saw no evidence of the ghosting or blurring evident in a lot of other professional TFTs. Viewing angles were also among the best we’ve seen thanks to the H-IPS panel.
Where does it disappoint?
The UltraSharp U2410 is an excellent performer and we didn’t have any issues with its sharpness, brightness, or colour accuracy. The only consideration is the slightly dirty look in white backgrounds caused by the anti-glare coating.
Our biggest grievance with the UltraSharp U2410 was usability. While designed to easily manipulate the-on screen display, the five capacitive-touch buttons were frustratingly unintuitive. Sure the proximity sensor is cool—it activates the main button when your finger gets close—but the confusing context-sensitive menu system leaves a lot to be desired. This is compounded by the fact that only the lights next to the buttons that have active selections are lit. Not all menu sections have enough options to utilise all buttons so those that are not active are not lit. Thankfully the outrageously loud button ‘beeps’ can be turned off.
Another usability issue was the location of the power button. Situated on the bottom-right corner of the bezel, we frequently found ourselves turning the monitor off when raising the screen to a more comfortable level (our tip is to secure the bezel at the middle, rather than push up from the bottom). Incidentally, the power button’s bright blue backlighting can’t be turned off, which is annoying in a dark room.
And what Dell calls built in cable-management is actually a hole in the stand. Unsurprisingly, this does a poor job of hiding protruding cables and we’d have expected better. Professional photographers may also be disappointed at the lack of CompactFlash support, as high-end SLR owners are likely to be prospective buyers of monitors like the UltraSharp U2410.
Would we recommend it?
The UltraSharp U2410 is a premium display for image-intensive workers that rely on accurate colours. It’s also good value for a professional display. We didn’t get on well with the capacitive-touch buttons and menu system, but in all fairness once the display is set up you’ll rarely need to mess. And as it supports 1,920 x 1,080 24p playback, after hours you can relax and enjoy Blu-ray and movie footage at the frame rate it was intended. Overall it’s an excellent screen.