Dell UltraSharp U2711

Continuing its IPS assault on the monitor space, Dell outs a 27-inch, 2560x1440 wunderkind, with all the expected trappings to boot.


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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Following up on the U2410 and 2209WA, Dell's updated its 27-inch screen, leaving the 3008WFP as the last of its premium range yet to receive a makeover.

Its predecessor, the 2709W is still on sale under Dell Australia's business section for AU$999 — although we imagine this won't last too long, as it's currently limited to two units per customer, and the higher spec U2410 is only AU$200 more. The 2709W was a 1920x1200 screen like its 24-inch brethren, but with a larger pixel pitch; something that would perhaps help those who found that 24-inch screens were difficult to read. It was a VA-based screen that started Dell's current design ethos of the black bezel and proximity/touch-sensitive buttons.

The U2711 goes the other way. At a resolution of 2560x1440, it's second only to 30-inch monitors (excluding some freak occurrences), by virtue of opting for a 16:9 ratio over the usual 16:10. Think iMac 27, but without the Mac or the gloss bit. It's also dual-link DVI territory, so you'll need a graphics card that can handle the output.

As a consequence of the resolution and screen size, text and icons at default look tiny. Windows 7's DPI scaling handles this minor hurdle perfectly, allowing elements to be scaled to comfort, but Windows XP's messy implementation leaves a lot to be desired, and in some instances may leave you squinting.

What else is new? The U2711 steps up from its VA roots to be H-IPS based, meaning theoretically better viewing angles and colours, and features 12-bit internal processing for smoother greyscale gradients. There's also a few colour management surprises under the hood... so let's get cracking and see what this super resolution monster has to offer.

Specs at a glance

Size 27 inches
Resolution 2560x1440
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch 0.233
Panel technology H-IPS
Viewing angles
(10:1 contrast)
H: 178°
V: 178°
Response time 6ms G2G
Max vertical refresh 60Hz
Connections 2x DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, component, composite, soundbar power, 3x 3.5mm line out for surround sound, 4x USB, xD/SD/MS/MMC card reader
Accessories DVI, VGA, DisplayPort, USB upstream, power cables

Stand and ergonomics

We've long loved Dell's stand, with its rack and pinion height adjustment, swivel adjustment through the neck rather than the base, and tilt adjustment and cable management through the neck. Sadly, the U2711 (unlike its smaller cousin, the U2410) doesn't pivot, meaning no portrait mode. Mind you, the height of the stand would have to be significantly increased to even attempt this, and we're not too fussed by its omission. One thing we do miss, however, is the button release to separate the panel from the stand — in this case you'll need to get funky with a torx driver in order to get it off.

Dell UltraSharp U2711 stand

The Dell stand is great, but the sheer size of the monitor means the 90° pivot function has been removed.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Connections

Dell UltraSharp U2711 inputs

The U2711 continues Dell's massive input tradition. Power, speaker bar power, 3.5mm audio jacks for 5.1 sound, DisplayPort, 2x Dual-Link DVI, VGA, HDMI, component and composite, USB upstream and two USB ports. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Dell UltraSharp U2711 USB ports

Two more USB ports, and an xD/SD/MMC/MS card reader. Like the U2410, the CF card reader is no longer there. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Buttons and on-screen display (OSD)

Things have shifted minutely since the 2709W. While the buttons remain capacitive, the power button is now mechanical, preventing accidental turn-offs. The rest of the buttons are still proximity sensitive: they stay unlit until a hand comes near them, then the bottom button lights up. Press this, and the menu appears, along with context-sensitive options described next to each button. It's a powerful and well-designed UI that's served Dell well.

Dell UltraSharp U2711 buttons

The unmarked buttons have a blue light in the middle. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Dell UltraSharp U2711 OSD

It's been around for a little while now, but Dell's OSD is still one of the best on the market. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

The menu contains Dell's usual vastness of options including picture by picture; RGB/YPbPr colour space setting; PC or Mac Gamma modes; Graphics and Video modes, each containing their own presets; fill, aspect and 1:1 scaling; sharpness settings on digital inputs; and AdobeRGB and sRGB modes.

What caught our attention though, was the claim that the U2711 supported six-axial colour calibration (RGBCMY), as well as hue, gain, saturation and offset controls. It took us a little while to discover, but you have to put the U2711 into Video mode to turn these on, and then select the "Custom Color" preset mode. For this sort of control you usually need to shell out for a hideously expensive professional monitor — Dell is continuing its tradition of bringing these features to the grasp of the ordinary consumer.

The other profiles under the "Graphics" setting are "Standard", "Multimedia", "Game", "Warm", "Cool", "Adobe RGB", "sRGB" and "Custom Color", while under "Video" you get "Movie", "Game", "Nature", "Custom Color" and if you have an xvYCC compliant source, "xv Mode". While the PlayStation 3 supports this, we had no source material available to test.

A side note — while we were unable to discover the service menu, turning the monitor off, then holding the bottom two buttons down and turning it on again would load a display showing the backlight time and power consumption. Unfortunately, this also disables the menu, and the only way to get things back to normal is to turn the monitor on and off again.

Performance

Lagom.nl LCD tests
After calibrating to a target brightness of 140cd/m² with an X-Rite i1Display 2, Eye-One Match 3 and tweaking with HCFR, the U2711 was run through the Lagom.nl LCD tests.

Greyscale gradients were flawless, with only test 4a in the pixel walk tests flickering.

Image tests
Contrast Sharpness Gamma Black level White saturation Gradient
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Inversion pixel walk tests
Test 1 Test 2a Test 2b Test 3 Test 4a Test 4b Test 5 Test 6a Test 6b Test 7a Test 7b
Pass Pass Pass Pass Flicker Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass

Input lag
Measured against a Samsung SyncMaster 975p CRT, and using a Canon 40D set to a shutter speed of 1/320, an average of over 60 photographs were taken using Virtual Stopwatch Pro. Things weren't so great for the U2711, clocking in at 33ms on average, which equates to about 2 frames. Unlike the U2410, switching to game mode did not reduce this in any way.

Colour accuracy
ΔE is the measurement of how far a measured colour deviates from its expected value, allowing us to determine the colour accuracy of a monitor. While a ΔE value of 1 is considered perceivable, as long as it's less than 3 the shift shouldn't be too obvious. HCFR was used to determine ΔE for the monitor.

Sadly, we didn't have long enough to see how close to the wire we could properly calibrate the U2711 — we did, however, manage to compare its built in sRGB and AdobeRGB modes to reference.

Measured levels (sRGB mode)
Contrast ratio 724:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.23
White level (cd/m²) 166.48
Gamma 2.19
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
45.5 10.7 4.1 4.8 5 4.2 4.6 4.5 3.9 3.9 5.1
Colour ΔE (compared to sRGB)
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
4.6 10.6 6.1 4.8 6.6 14.0

Dell UltraSharp U2711 CIE sRGB emulation chart

The sRGB setting gets close to the dark reference triangle, pushing out mainly on green and perennial pain-in-the-derrière magenta. Unfortunately, when in sRGB mode you really only have control over brightness and contrast, making it harder to get better values. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Measured levels (Adobe RGB Mode)
Contrast ratio 731:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.19
White level (cd/m²) 138.95
Gamma (target 2.2) 2.19
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
47.4 9.3 3.5 0.7 2.7 3.3 3.5 2.6 4.7 3.3 4.0
Colour ΔE (compared to Adobe RGB)
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
5.5 9.7 8 4.5 3.7 14.4

Dell UltraSharp U2711 CIE Adobe RGB mode chart

The AdobeRGB mode gets close to the reference as well (the light grey triangle), although once again green and magenta cause the most trouble. In the Video > Custom Color mode it should be possible to whittle these values down even further. We got decent preliminary results, getting greyscale 30-100 down to an average 1.5 ΔE, and colours G 7.2, B 4.3, Y 2.1 and C 2.6. Red still needed to be tweaked at a stonking 39.8, and consequently magenta was out massively as well at 70.4. We're confident we could have screwed these values to the wall with the config options Dell gives. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

We did have some time to play with offset, gain, saturation and hue settings — unfortunately, calibrating with HCFR at this level is a long and drawn-out process and we ran out of time. One thing we noted was that offset settings were limited to increments of 10; we'd have liked a little more control here.

HDMI performance
While a monitor might have an HDMI port that's no guarantee it'll display images as expected. We hooked up a PlayStation 3 and checked for 24p capability, as well as judder and ran the HQV Blu-ray test to see how well it coped with an interlaced source and noise.

24p capable Understands YUV Mission Impossible III
Scene 11 judder test
Mission Impossible III
Scene 14 judder test
Yes Yes Very slight judder Very slight judder

HQV noise
reduction
score
HQV video
resolution loss
score
HQV jaggies
score
HQV film
resolution loss
score
HQV film
resolution loss - stadium
score
Total score (out of 100)
10 (no noise reduction, 25 with adaptive noise reduction) 20 20 25 0 75 (90 with adaptive noise reduction)

Video performance is excellent for a computer monitor — there was still ever-so-slight judder present during the MI:III scenes, but nothing too disturbing.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles were taken with a Canon 40D in spot metering mode, with only shutter time adjusted to obtain a good exposure.

Dell UltraSharp U2711 viewing angles

Ah IPS, how we love thy viewing angles. It's only right at the edges of the viewing angles where the contrast ratio begins to suffer. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Backlight uniformity
Backlight uniformity was measured by placing HCFR into free measure mode, displaying a completely white image and recording the brightness along a 5x3 grid on the screen. This should be considered a guide only, as backlight uniformity is likely to change from unit to unit.

Dell UltraSharp U2711 backlight uniformity

This is definitely more uniform than the average TN screen, but then, it should be. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Light bleed
While no light bleed was present, the U2711 suffers from the IPS "white glow" effect on a dark screen, as it does not come with an ATW polariser. Dell informed us this is because the company it used for polarisers stopped production, as they "no longer made economic sense".

It's important to note that the effects of light bleed will likely change from monitor to monitor, regardless of make.

Other issues
The panel itself is quite deeply inset, and the bezel is piano black, meaning that during bright scenes you may notice the screen's reflection on the bezel, which will be distracting for some.

Power consumption
We measured power consumption using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. It's important to note here that due to limitations of the meter, measurements are limited to values 1W and greater, and are reported in 1W increments.

All measurements, screen brightness and contrast were set to 100 per cent, and a test image displayed.

Juice Box
Maximum power draw 110W
Power-saving mode <1W
Off <1W

Wow, that's quite a hit at max draw. Impressively though power usage drops to less than 1W in power-saving mode.

Warranty

Dell offers a three-year warranty that can be upgraded to a four-year warranty for AU$26.40, or five years for AU$46.20. This includes next-business-day exchange.

Dell's dead pixel policy alters depending on what monitor you have bought. For the U2711, you'll only need one bright subpixel to get a swap out; but if you have a dark pixel, you'll have to wait for another five to be eligible for a swap over. You are able to return any monitor within 15 days of the invoice date to Dell; however, the user pays shipping in this instance.

Conclusion

With a huge resolution, excellent performance in both colour and movies, and a huge amount of inputs, the U2711 excels in almost every area it puts its mark to. Hardcore gamers may be a little wary of the input lag, and others of the cost — but if you can afford one, you'll likely be very, very pleased.

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Ghostly
3
Rating
 

"Disappointing colour shading, resolution, scintillating anti reflective coating."

Ghostly posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Lowers to very comfortable viewing height, just a tad bigger than 24" screen.

The Bad:Colour shading, 1920x1080 resolution, scintillating anti reflective coating.

Colour shading across the screen from blue to white to pink, soft edged 1920x1080 resolution unless you buy another cable - Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort Cable.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10246&cs_id=1024606&p_id=6006&seq=1&format=1#largeimage

You also need to know that you should get a v1.2 not a v1.1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DisplayPort

You might be able to use a DVI dual link cable rather than a Single Link cable - but that did not work for me.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/DVI_Connector_Types.svg

The screen looks like it has a fine black scintillating dust over it - the price you pay for an anti reflective coating. If this had been available in a store I would have been able to see it and would not have purchased it. So, because I had to rely on the integrity and truth in Dell's advertising completely I find I am now feeling duped and deceived. There are no indications in Dell's advertising that the anti-reflective coating appears as a bright scintillating black dust all over the screen. However I have two other DELL monitors - 24" and 23" and they are fine (brilliant in fact). That is the reason I was happy to buy from Dell again on-line - NEVER again.

I found that the teflon comments from the multitude of low level Dell customer service reps that were written in very bad and incomprehensible English just refused point blank to answer my questions. I have no idea what questions their answers addressed but they were not answers to the questions I asked. They have a set of poorly interpreted cut and paste 'massage the customer' lines such as, "Sorry for cause you inconvinence." and "I truly understand your frustration." and "Good days to you." and "I had tried my best to escalate this on your behalf." (these are exact quotes)

Like nailing jelly to a tree.

Don't believe for a moment their promotional stuff that "Dell is committed in delivering the best Customer Experience to its customers." Dealing with Dell will rip your guts out. As it is I got through to a sales rep in an instant when I wanted to make the purchase - now that I want to return it I can't find anyone to talk to and everyone is out of the office. They have not answered my emails in the last 24 hours.

So, there you have it - crappy monitor and crappy service and probably borderline deceptive advertising.

AnthonyH1 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Poor Build Quality"

AnthonyH1 posted a review   

The Good:Nice display

The Bad:Leans to one side

I purchased one of these monitors at the start of the year. It wasn't long before I noticed it had a tilt to one side which I thought I could live with by propping it up with a CD case. In the end I couldn't, so about six weeks ago I contacted Dell Support to see if it could be easily fixed, thinking it must only be an adjustment screw, maybe something I could do myself?

I was told Dell could not repair monitors in Australia and they would replace it, while I said this seemed like overkill for such a minor issue I was happy to be getting a new monitor that would no longer require propping up with a CD case. It took a few weeks and a couple of follow up calls but Dell finally supplied another monitor.

On unpacking it I was disappointed to see it was a refurbished monitor with scuff marks on the front, I was even more disappointed to see it suffered from the same tilt problem, although only a few millimetres from side to side instead of the nearly 10mm of the original monitor. Unfortunately there was worse to come, the monitor display was faulty, not only did Dell supply me with a monitor in much worse condition than the one I had it didn't even work.

So here I am with my original monitor still propped up with a CD case, Dell support have gone quiet, not that it matters as I wouldn't accept another refurbished unit anyway. So be warned, it appears that many of these monitors are poorly manufactured and while they may appear to be good value they're are most definitely not.

Tee
9
Rating
 

Tee posted a review   

The Good:Resolution, IPS panel, great colour reproduction, range of inputs

The Bad:Price, Stand, bezel width, slow to wake over DVI, very bright

Overall this is a fantastic monitor. The pixel pitch can be a bit small for some and you may prefer a similarly resolution 30" monitor.

However, it produces fantastic colours and beautiful sharp images.
This is one of the best monitors I have used (general use, photo manipulation, gaming).

Negatives:
1. The stand doesn't go high enough; maximum height of the top of the display is 510mm from desk level. It is also quite stiff for pivoting.
2. The bezel is too thick; at 25mm, this means multiple screens separate the image by at least 5cm.
3. You will likely need an adapter if you want to use the DisplayPort input option. Most DisplayPort outputs use Mini DisplayPort.
4. The DVI input is very slow to wake the monitor up.

Given the price, I shouldn't have to buy monitor arms to get the right height. The stand on the Dell 2405FPW monitor was fantastic, why did the change that? If they fixed the stand and reduced the bezel width, I would happily give this a 10. But these are significant enough issues to warrant a 9.

Jaelkay
10
Rating
 

Jaelkay posted a review   

The Good:Great colours, easy to calibrate, perfect for my photographic needs

The Bad:Nothing of note

I was offered one of these monitors when my Coloredge was being repaired. The Dell was such a surprise, I ended up buying it.

After calibrating the Dell with EyeOne i1Match, I am hard pressed to distinguish between the Coloredge and the Dell.

 

Nathan posted a comment   

The Good:Resolution, IPS panel

The Bad:Very small pixel pitch, price

A great monitor and I can't want for other manufacturers to produce 2560 x 1440 monitors.

Pixel pitch of 0.233 is very small.

I would be quite happy with a 30 inch 2560 x 1440 monitor at a reasonable price.

 

Jon posted a comment   

Great review! like how scientifically detailed your results were. Not just how it looks to your eyes only




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User Reviews / Comments  Dell UltraSharp U2711

  • Ghostly

    Ghostly

    Rating3

    "Colour shading across the screen from blue to white to pink, soft edged 1920x1080 resolution unless you buy another cable - Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort Cable.

    http://www.monoprice..."

  • AnthonyH1

    AnthonyH1

    Rating1

    "I purchased one of these monitors at the start of the year. It wasn't long before I noticed it had a tilt to one side which I thought I could live with by propping it up with a CD case. In the end ..."

  • Tee

    Tee

    Rating9

    "Overall this is a fantastic monitor. The pixel pitch can be a bit small for some and you may prefer a similarly resolution 30" monitor.

    However, it produces fantastic colours and bea..."

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