Review: Dell U2711

Our score: 4/5
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January 24, 2011 4:03 PM
 
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Published: January 20, 2011 11:00 PM
By Alexandre Botella
Take a 27'' IPS panel with a huge 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, add colour calibration as standard, make sure it's nice and responsive and add a pinch of the excellent hardware Dell is so well-known for and you've got a recipe for the U2711.

Hardware: everything you need

The Dell U2711 shares the same basic design as the U2410, and the overall styling is refined and elegant.  The monitor enjoys an impeccable finish, and the range of hardware options is very similar to that offered on the 24'' version, apart from a few exceptions.  There's a HDMI port, two DVI inputs, VGA, Component video, DisplayPort, a four-port USB hub and a memory card reader.  Because the monitor has an IPS panel it can boast very wide viewing angles—or wider, at least, than a TN-based monitor would manage.  One thing that has gone is the pivot mode, meaning you can't rotate it to portrait orientation.  The new monitor might not have built-in speakers, but it does have three mini-jack outputs that allow you to pick up the sound carried by the HDMI signal and send it to your speakers (up to 5.1) with analogue inputs.


A resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels easily allows you to display two documents or Web pages side by side.  It makes editing text a real treat, and can replace a two-screen set-up in some situations.  For games, you'll need a powerful computer because managing so many pixels gives the graphics card a lot of extra work.

It's also worth pointing out that you can't enjoy the native resolution using all of the inputs.  You can only get 2560 x 1440 pixels if you use both DVI ports (as dual-link) or the DisplayPort input; 1920 x 1080 is the maximum resolution for HDMI and it's 2048 x 1152 pixels for VGA.

Great standard calibration

When we unpacked the U2711, we found the little certificate that confirmed that Dell had tested the accuracy of the monitor's colour reproduction in the factory before shipping it.  In sRGB mode, the deltaE was recorded as below 3.0, which is low enough for us to consider the colours as accurate.


We set straight to work investigating the sRGB mode ourselves, which is the one we recommend for most users, unless they're editing photos taken on an SLR.  We can confirm that the U2711 has a deltaE of 2.6.

If you do use an SLR and want to remain in the same colour space—the range of available colors, essentially—that was used by your camera, you need to choose the Adobe RGB mode.  That too is pretested in the factory, and our test results revealed a deltaE of just 2.1 in this mode.

You can, therefore, rely on either of these modes.  But accurate colour reproduction doesn't always mean perfect colour reproduction, and in the sRGB mode, for instance, the white is a little rosy.  Our calibration profiles are always available for the most demanding users.

Dell has chosen a traditional IPS panel for the U2711, by which means one that suffers from washed-out, faded blacks.  It's not a total disaster here, but the contrast ratio doesn't get beyond 830:1, which is slightly below the average value across all the monitors we've tested, 850:1.

Responsiveness: a real disappointment

Responsiveness
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This graph shows the time, measured in ms, that the monitor takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear

The U2711 isn't as responsive as other monitors, and suffers from reverse ghosting.  This phenomenon leads to phantom images trailing behind moving objects but in inverted colours, which makes them especially noticeable.  Fortunately, it's only really visible in games.


That means that this monitor is more than capable of meeting the needs of users who want to edit documents or retouch photos.  There's good news for cinema lovers, too: reverse ghosting was invisible in the videos we watched.

It's a real shame that the responsiveness isn't up to the rest, as with an input lag that's below the threshold of human perception, the U2711 could have been a great choice for gamers.

Movies

Although 27'' might seem large enough to justify turning your monitor into a small TV, it's important to remember that Dell hasn't designed the U2711 for that.  The monitor only does a very limited job of upscaling.  Blurriness, which you normally can't spot in HD, is much more noticeable when you start with an SD source like a TV or DVD and the upscaling effects are very obvious.  You need to make sure you're at least 2.5 metros back and leave the difficult job of upscaling to a Blu-ray or DVD player (which always perform better than monitors) if you really want to enjoy video on the U2711.
4/5 Dell U2711 DigitalVersus 2011-01-21 00:00:00

Pros

  • Colours calibrated in the factory
  • Usability
  • Design and finish
  • Low input lag
  • Open viewing angles

Cons

  • Contrast slightly below average
  • Reverse ghosting
  • Energy consumption: 86 W at 200 cd/m²

Conclusion

If you're not a big gamer, then the Dell U2711 is an excellent choice. It can boast accurate colour reproduction and great hardware. As long as you've got the right connectors, its native resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels means you can work on two documents side by side.

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