Published: February 7, 2010 11:00 PM
By Vincent Alzieu

On the left: the Dell U2410 with the latest generation of IPS panel with extra-wide viewing angles, excellent hardware and a five-star rating from us. |
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On the right: the Samsung F2380M, whose PVA panel ensured it was one of our most popular tests ever.  It came out with five stars too!

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IPS | PVA
1920 x 1200 pixels | 1920 x 1080 pixels
6 ms | 8 ms
DP + HDMI + 2 DVI + VGA + Component | HDMI + DVI + VGA
178° / 178° | 178° / 178°


THE BACKGROUND

The Dell 2408WFP used an S-PVA panel, but this made way for the latest generation of IPS technology in the U2410, E-IPS.  The price has fallen considerably compared to earlier IPS monitors, with a saving of around 40%.  The lower price should be accompanied by a better quality display, higher contrast ratios and lower energy consumption. 
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Although it was slipped out without much fanfare, the F2380M still managed to become our most-read monitor test of last year.  It has an attractive recipe for success: it's half as expensive as earlier PVA monitors, but offers as many extras as some of the most advanced models currently available.  The latest C-PVA panels are much less expensive to manufacture but are of comparable quality to earlier S-PVA panels, which are now something of an endangered species.

After so many years of loyalty, what motivated Dell to give up PVA technology?  Is Samsung's monitor still worth our original score after we found so many problems with it?  And can displays that cost half as much as their predecessors really be as good, if not better, if you believe the manufacturers?  There's nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get to the heart of the matter!

HARDWARE: DELL WINS


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Both monitors are excellent and could teach other monitor manufacturers a thing or two: they have height-adjustable stands, excellent build quality and plenty of video inputs.  Dell however, still comes out on top in four areas:
1200 pixels high: the display is 1200 high, rather than 1080.  The extra real estate is handy for working with long documents.

More connectivity: even though there's nothing to complain about with the Samsung, Dell's monitor still has more inputs and outputs, including a second DVI input, a Display Port, a four-port USB hub and component video.

Hardware

Total number of points awarded for hardware features
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Wider viewing angles: the PVA panel might well claim 178° in all directions, but the contrast ratio falls off quickly as soon as you move away from looking at it straight on.

No card reader:
the Samsung F2380M doesn't include a memory card reader, but Dell's U2410 does.

Dell also ships its monitor with better factory settings.  We've even had to publish our own recommended settings after finding so many problems with Samsung's default configuration.

RESPONSIVENESS: DELL WINS

Faster in our tests: the figures speak for themselves: 0.4 frames of coloured ghosting on the Dell, compared to 0.95 frames on the Samsung.

PVA progress: Dell certainly wasn't a surefire winner from the word go on this test: response time was for a long time the biggest weakness of IPS screens.

Ghosting over 10 frames
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Default settings aren't right: using the factory settings, extra ghosting can appear on the F2380M.  It's essential that you turn off the Dynamic Contrast, and don't use Cinema mode either--we found Gaming mode gave the best results.

Motion blur: ghosting appears when objects move quickly across a background of a contrasting colour, making them look blurry.  A classic example is a black cursor moving across a white page.  Such bad ghosting is shocking on a PVA monitor, and it's the only one we've seen like this.  The Dell 2408WFP, for instance, is much faster

COLOURS: SAMSUNG WINS

Less deep blacks: IPS technology struggles to produce a perfect black.  We found these contrast ratios with white at 200 cd/m².

Contrast (xxx:1)

Even worse for pros:
at 100 cd/m², the Dell's contrast falls to below 600:1, while Samsung's climbs again to 3267:1!
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Excellent quality: Samsung's C-PVA panel works wonders and didn't fail to impress.  Some of you have suggested we put too much support behind a screen that couldn't display perfect blacks.  In reality though, it's the only one that can really display them.  While its competitors display a solid block of attractive colour, the F2380M distinguishes far more individual shades, which make any problems in the video itself stand out.  It takes a little bit of getting used to seeing so much detail.

Set it up correctly:
by default, Dell's screen is more accurately configured.  Its colours are accurate out of the box, but you need to carefully adjust the Samsung to get it right, otherwise posterisation and other problems will effect your enjoyment.  Dell also comes better if you're interested in how accurate the colours are when you're not looking straight at three screen, because Samsung's viewing angles are less wide.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION: SAMSUNG WINS

Consumption (W)
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45% more efficient: You might have forgotten about it, but a few years ago, 24'' PVA screens would regularly consume 100 W.  Since then, excellent progress has been made, but PVA still has the advantage.  The Samsung F2380M uses 45% energy less than the Dell U2410.

RESULT: DELL FOR PROS, SAMSUNG FOR THE PRICE (AND US TOO!)

If we add up the points from each round of the competition so far, it's a draw at two each.  That doesn't mean both screens are equal though: you need to decide which factors are more important for what you want to use the screen for.

Video editing: Dell wins out because of wider viewing angles and faster response times.

Gaming and watching films: the better response time gives Dell the advantage.  Then again, for games, we'd suggest a 120 Hz screen.

Office use: 1200 pixels from top to bottom gives Dell the advantage.
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Photo editing: do you need a wide gamut screen?  If so, the Dell is just that.  Otherwise, the Samsung triumphs, with excellent contrast allowing you to see detail where it's often invisible on other screens.

Value for money:
the Samsung F2380M easily comes out on top.  Only some professional users are likely to pay double for the handful of extra features (and one or two extra problems) that the Dell has.

For us:
we used to have a lot of Dell 2408WFPs here in the office, but we've since moved over to the Samsung F2380M, and we've never looked back!
Why did Dell abandon PVA?
The IPS panel is technically better than Samsung's C-PVA.  It's an excellent choice, but expensive at that.

Is the Samsung screen still number one?
It's an excellent monitor, but it isn't the best we've ever seen.  It's still worthy of a five-star rating, though, and sets the standard for value for money.

Can displays that cost half as much as their predecessors really be as good? 

IPS panels certainly can be.  That's also true for PVA panels, about from with response time.  Let's hope Samsung can fix this problem soon.
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