Reviews  

Dell UltraSharp U2711

Madana Prathap 2010-06-21
93 Superior
Price: Rs 49,500

Full Review

Managing to wow everybody at the PC World Test Center is no mean feat. The Dell UltraSharp U2711 is an LCD monitor that did everything we expected, and did so commendably well. As one of the best monitors that a consumer can buy, the U2711 features an excellent 27 inch screen. The screen uses an IPS panel (In-plane Switching) that can display colors better than most others, including Dell’s older 27-inch model (the U2709W). In keeping with the current trend, it features a 16:9 wide-screen aspect ratio for movies, but the big deal here is its screen resolution. A mind-blowing 2560x1440 pixels packed into 27 inches worth of diagonal screen space ensures that even Full High-Definition Blu-ray movies are just a large window on-screen. This is not a surprise considering it provides an extra 77.8 per cent worth of screen real-estate compared to Full-HD resolution. The monitor also offers every type of display input connector you could think of.

The Dell U2711 is an awesome multi-purpose IPS-panel monitor for “prosumers” and enthusiasts.


Design and Features
The Dell U2711 is a gentle giant, your eyes quickly adjust to the massive screen size and it does not even feel all that imposing any more. It carries forward the looks of the familiar Dell UltraSharp series of monitors. Colored in black with dashes of metallic color, it looks sombre and professional, yet stylish. The surrounding bezel is fairly thin in proportion to the monitor’s display size, but the monitor as a whole is thicker than normal ones. The screen itself is recessed slightly from bezel level as usual. Controls for the monitor’s OSD are touch-based with a sensor that detects when you take your finger anywhere close to the power button at the bottom-right. Input ports are at the rear facing downwards, including 2 USB ports. Power and sound outputs are also present right there, meant for attaching the Dell SoundBar (AX510/AY511) which could facilitate using this monitor as a TV.

The new U2711’s stand is not plastic, it has a metal mechanical system so it is an upgrade from earlier such Dell monitors. What stands out is the stand’s large base (in comparison to smaller monitors). The stand offers cable management, and adjustment of the display – height, tilt and swivel are the adjustments possible. Perhaps due to the size of the monitor, Dell has not offered the “pivot” facility with its stand, which otherwise is a staple feature on UltraSharp monitors. That indeed is a pity, turning the screen around by 90 degrees vertically to function in “Portrait-mode” at a resolution of 1440 pixels wide and 2560 pixels would have been quite a treat. Still, it does support VESA mounting, so you can use a wall-mount to use this monitor in just the way you want it, whether oriented horizontally or vertically.

There is a memory card reader built into the left side, along with two more USB ports to let you easily plug USB devices into the system. A number of brands are moving to offer an LED backlight on their laptop/desktop monitors, but Dell has stuck to the tried and tested CCFL for this 27 inch giant of a monitor. Dell claims a viewing angle of 178 degrees on the U2711, both horizontally and vertically, so you can view the display just fine without color shifts from almost any angle. Even when placed beside a normal CRT monitor, you’d be hard-pressed to find colour-reproduction issues, since it uses one of the best panels currently (an LG H-IPS 10-bit panel, model number LM270WQ1). Color depth is good, with Dell claiming it can display 1.07 billion colors (as against the usual 16.7 million colors), output 30-bit color (compared to the usual 24-bit color) has 12-bit color processing (most normal monitors are 6-bit) and a color gamut of 110% (on the CIE1976 standard most monitors achieve just 72%). In short, this means you would be able to see every color as the author intended it to be seen, making it a good choice for photographers, movie buffs and print/web graphics content creators.

Typical power consumption is rated at 113W while active and 2W during standby/sleep, these numbers exclude any additional power drawn by speakers/USB devices attached to the LCD monitor. Compared to the 5-year warranty for high-end monitors earlier, Dell has reduced it now to a 3-year warranty. But even this warranty continues to carry the privileges you’d expect after having paid for such a high-end monitor. We shall leave the task of informing you about this monitor’s specs (which is far too long a list), to the “Specifications” tab of this review.

Performance
The Dell UltraSharp U2711 LCD monitor claims a dynamic contrast ratio (DCR) of 80,000:1 which is fine for movies and games. However, we disable DCR to measure its true contrast ratio, claimed to be 1000:1 which was then measured by our Chroma meter to be 972:1 which is really good. We measured brightness of 226 cd/m2 and a deep black level of 0.23 cd/m2 which again put this monitor in distinguished company. For once, we found our calibration equipment behind the curve and this premium monitor which is pre-calibrated by Dell at the factory for the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces, actually performed better before calibration than after it. We run a battery of tests including those from Lavalys Everest, PixPerAn, Lagom, and DisplayMate, measuring them with a Chroma meter. It scored well as expected, for more details see the “Performance” tab of this review. In brief, the color accuracy, brightness, and contrast were excellent as the numbers above will tell you.

Dell UltraSharp U2711 sRGB Color Space

.Dell UltraSharp U2711 Chromaticity CIE1931 Gamut Vision Monitor

Color Space graphs: GamutVision is pleased as seen from these graphs. The above images show the area of the sRGB color space that can be displayed on the U2711, and its chromaticity based on the CIE1936 standard. The U2711 far exceeds the base in both cases.

Our subjective tests consisted of browsing and productivity apps, viewing photos, movies and playing games. The colors were vibrant and felt “true”, screen was sharp and the color consistency was even across the screen (this is better than most normal CCFL-backlit monitors). Importantly for movie watchers, the depth of the black was very good – the black levels noted above are superb numbers. On a related note, we saw no backlight bleeding which is good. The horizontal and vertical viewing angles were as expected for an IPS-panel monitor, the colors were close to their original from every angle in front of the screen. Thus you can even lie down on the floor and watch a movie just as comfortably with colors faithful to their original, just as they they’d look when you’re seated on a chair. There were no dead/stuck/colored pixels on the unit that came to us for review, as confirmed on 5 uni-color screens (completely dark, white and the 3 primary colors). Input lag usually cripples many displays that use an IPS panel. Though the U2711 is not immune, it still aced this one, with no perceptible mouse lag even in fast-paced FPS games (they remain very playable), or out of sync audio in movies.

The Experience
Think of this monitor (2560x1440 - WQHD) as operating upon a unique HD resolution of 1440p, if you like. Since this screen resolution is of the same aspect ratio as Full-HD, it is nice to watch High-Definition movies and HDTV recordings in full-screen mode without any annoying black bars. The sheer scale of both vertical and horizontal resolution mean that anybody moving to this monitor even from a similar sized monitor will still feel that it is a worthwhile upgrade. But there is a weird side as well. If you are not already accustomed to sitting very close to large-screen 16:9 displays, this UltraSharp will make you exclaim loudly at first glance. Using the 16:9 ratio at such a huge screen size makes it bear a pronounced resemblance to a railway track that stretches as long as the eye can see. Even after many days, the expanse of the screen in the horizontal direction still jumps out at this reviewer. Coming from a Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP (24-inch 16:10 monitor), it feels like the height is almost the same (half an inch taller) and the length is the main difference. To those familiar with the 4:3 aspect ratio of old-school CRT monitors, it does prompt reflections on the evolution of the monitor as something that seems to keep gaining in width and cutting back on height. The industry does this under a figment of reason, that the human eye’s field of vision is wider than its height.

The available desktop resolution does feel good, and allows for a lot more to be displayed on-screen simultaneously. Note that until you install your graphics card drivers, the maximum resolution allowed by Windows is 1920x1440 even if you have connected the U2711 to your PC using a Dual-Link DVI or DisplayPort cable. Since that is not its native resolution, the screen will look distorted, lose sharpness and become fuzzy. Once you get to its native resolution of 2560x1440, freedom takes on a new meaning. The massive amount of screen space available dwarfs all other 27-inch monitors. It is a tribute to Windows 7 that even at such a surreal, beyond-HD resolution, everything still feels comfortable. Other OSes make such a resolution feel ungainly and ocean-like, which is why you see quite a few people claim that such a resolution is “over-kill for a PC” – but will change their opinion once they actually use it on Windows 7. It is a particularly proud moment when you find that a Full-HD (1080p, 1920x1080) movie is just a window even at full zoom level.
We had to make sure we sat at a distance of about a metre away from the monitor. That way, there was no need to turn the head from side to side to view the whole display area. A pleasant surprise was that the mouse did not have to make multiple sweeping movements to cover the gigantic number of pixels that separate the top left corner from the bottom right (2937 pixels diagonally). But when on a text-filed website or document, the screen area is so large that searching for the mouse cursor takes more than a second! With a display like this, one intensely wishes that websites were developed using percentage widths rather than hard limits based on pixels alone, because quite a few websites will load and look laughably limited when they make use of just 30 per cent of available screen space as an isolated column in the middle. The nice thing is that 1440p allows MS Word to display 3 pages simultaneously, at full zoom and still have screen space left over for the ribbon menu.


The screen looks just fine with its matte finish, so colors can stay true to intended levels, without being too vibrant or glossy. Even if your room lighting is in the wrong place, you still don’t need to worry about light glares on-screen. The monitor including all the paraphernalia of the stand, is heavy for sure, so this one is not for those who move house frequently. The build quality is stable and solid, inspiring confidence. The predecessor of the U2711 was the Dell 2709W, which had a PVA-panel, so the newer model (IPS panel, quicker response times) is better and an improvement, even if you don't account for the higher screen resolution. As for being able to drive this monitor at full-resolution, as long as a DVI port is available, even two year old motherboards with integrated graphics will do just fine. The problem might arise from actual application-usage after booting into the OS. More screen space naturally lends itself to more apps and multi-tasking, making low-end graphics solutions huff and puff, resulting in a disappointing experience for the user. Needless to say, running new games at full native resolution tests the muscle of even the best consumer graphics cards and processors available today. Some game engines may not support such a high resolution and thus have artifacts when playing even at a lower supported resolution. On Windows 7/Vista, scaling up desktop icons, web pages, and office documents can be quite a pleasure. 

The brightness and contrast are set to a pleasant 50 per cent by default. Unless your work conditions have higher lighting levels, it would be prudent to not increase these to searing levels where you could burn your eyes out! You might like to shy away a bit from white colors, and change your apps/themes accordingly, even at default brightness/contrast levels. If your work involves continuously staring at the PC monitor for hours, when you look away from it you might find that your eyes need a minute to adjust to the lighting levels of even a room lit by tube light, because the room would feel relatively less bright. Cranking the brightness levels up might be tempting during some games, but resist the temptation because once you exit the game the screen would feel searingly bright. Naturally this does heat up the monitor as evidenced from the heat exhaust vents at the rear grill, and the screen itself. After a quick subjective check (using the back of the palm) by this reviewer though, upon the U2711 and two other 24-inch UltraSharp monitors that had all been left running for 10 hours, it was settled that this monitor was not any hotter than the others. The 6ms response time claimed on the specs page might not look like a gaming-friendly monitor, but we found games just fine, including fast-paced first person shooter games like Unreal Tournament 2004.

Being a monitor that cannot leave anything to chance, the OSD menu (On-screen Display) is well provided for. There is a clear set of 5 touch-activated buttons located at the bottom right edge of the bezel, just above the physical power button. Using a proximity sensor, these buttons light up in an unobtrusive blue color when you take your hand close to the power button, and fade a few seconds after you take your hand away. This makes sure you can still operate these buttons even in a dark room. The OSD was intuitive, easy to navigate, had every setting in the book, and was as easy to use as Dell’s premium monitors have always been. All the usual stuff was present, here we shall mention only a few interesting features. Firstly, of the 5 buttons, 3 can be used as shortcut keys to quickly reach important parts of the OSD, and you can change these shortcut associations. Since the Dell Soundbar can give it audio capabilities, there is an option to set audio output to 5.1 channel or 2.0 (stereo). Menu lock is still present as usual, as is the DCR (dynamic contrast ratio) on/off setting. In case you have connected the monitor to a video output that does not do 1440p, you can change the “Wide mode” to view the video content as it was intended to be and prevent wrong scaling. The “wide modes” available are Fill, Aspect, and 1:1 – it is a good idea to change over to the Aspect mode as default, because it will preserve the aspect ratio of any video input even if your video output device is not capable of changing its aspect ratio. Note that the “Aspect” mode of scaling to fit the screen yet not stretch the video, is something that is offered only on higher-end monitors. An option called PBP (Picture-By-Picture) is present, and though it is interesting, might not be of much practical use since it is different from “Picture in Picture”. In addition to a DP/DVI video source at first, the second source on PBP can only be HDMI/Composite/Component. If you have a Netbook or older desktop with only VGA output and were hoping to use that as the second video source, too bad, won’t happen. Pressing any of the touch-buttons produces a “tink” sound, which does serve as feedback that your button-press took effect. But if you are expecting to tinker with it more than a little, make sure to use the option to turn the “Button Sound” off, to save yourself some annoyance while navigating through the OSD. Interestingly, there seems to be a debugging screen that can be used to obtain information, we shall steer clear of this topic, search YouTube if you would like to know how to enter the debug mode.

Dell U2711 OSD buttons

Enthusiast Concerns
Video input signal processing, input lag, DPI and color gamut are going to be four big concerns for the class of users who’d consider buying this monitor. We shall take up the first topic of signal processing. For the target audience of this monitor, going into hair-splitting detail of each port might be a bit extreme. Suffice to say that we tested all the input ports under expected use-cases (analog input with a TV set-top box, DisplayPort/DVI/VGA with laptop and desktop PCs, HDMI with a PlayStation 3 game console and also a PC). In each case the monitor behaved as expected and all was well. We did not test for different Hz input ranges, and just optimized the video output device to play well with the monitor. All of the digital ports tested with a PC were at 60 Hz (this is the default and the maximum on most LCDs in existence today). With the simple tests of how it looked to the human eye, we cannot claim exhaustive tests at 50 Hz and 23.9 Hz. What we can say for a fact is that the wide variety of input ports and the signal processing ability of the monitor are both very nice. There are “Fill” and “Aspect ratio” modes of scaling up the incoming video stream, and considering the number of pixels, the scaler managed to do an admirable job. Which input port should you prefer? We thought the DisplayPort (the newest) standard would be the natural choice. However, the DP port had an issue with the drivers of the Radeon 5000 series card we used (switch off your monitor when PC is running, then switch it on again, only to be greeted by a blank screen since the card seemingly refused to acknowledge that the monitor was switched back on). So even if your graphics card has DP as an output option, those who’ll only use one monitor might be better served by the Dual-Link DVI input, at least it is reliable even if the cable is a bit thicker.

DVI single link and dual link, see the difference

Input lag usually cripples many displays that use an IPS panel. No display is perfect in this regard and the absolute lag between user actions and the screen may never be eradicated since it is influenced by many other factors – Processor, Motherboard chipset, Graphics card and mouse for instance. To quantify an objective number of milli-seconds for input lag, you’d usually have to connect a top-of-the-line CRT in dual-monitor mode, run a stop-watch application and take photos with a camera after a few minutes. This can be quite a complex issue, as the U2711 (DisplayPort/digital) and the CRT (VGA/analog) do not use the same native display cables. In addition, the DVI-VGA adapter or different graphics cards could make a difference if they use differing RAMDACs for output. On the side of the monitor under test, multiple input ports might exist with each having their own relative lag as per the respective signal decoder, the monitor’s inbuilt scaler (used for upscaling) might impact this, as would the "overdrive" function to reduce lag in games, and the dynamic contrast. Using stopwatches to measure lag has limitations as well, since an LCD's refresh rate of 60 Hz means the screen is updated only 60 times a second. Since shutter speed of digital cameras can be far higher and 1000 milli-seconds comprise a second, this 60 Hz limit can translate to an error margin of 17ms by itself. While playing a game online, you need to factor in your internet connection’s latency as well. Thus any lag seen may not be entirely objective. Context of reference to a lag was subjective, as observed while playing. To be specific about the numbers we saw, this monitor does have lag, about 30 ms at worst and 10 ms at best. You have to add the rest of the lag that can be possible in a system to this number.

We compared input lag to a CRT (good), a current-gen gaming LCD monitor (low lag) and an older U2408 LCD monitor (bad lag). The Dell U2711 performed surprisingly well, in comparison to other consumer monitors and even Dell's own previous S-PVA and IPS panels (at this price level you wouldn't expect anything less). Though it is not immune to lag, it still aced this one, with no perceptible mouse lag even in fast-paced FPS games (they remain very playable), or out of sync audio in movies. The only time you can sense the lag is during system boot-up and while switching input sources. Resolution switching was almost instant. To put this in words as simple as possible, let us just say that the Dell UltraSharp U2711 was a monitor on which playing games was a pleasure.

Now we shall discuss the much misunderstood DPI (dots per inch) issue. The U2711 has a pixel pitch of 0.233 mm. Remember the much bandied-about term “dot pitch” during the CRT days? The logic remains the same here, a lower pixel pitch number is better since that will increase the DPI (pixel density). As against the conventional 96 dpi seen in most displays (0.28 mm), the U2711 betters that number to 109 dpi (0.233 mm). This means the pixels are arranged closer together (can help reduce the “sieve effect” for people who notice it). If today’s laptops can cram a Full-HD 1080p screen resolution on a 15.6 inch display (translating to 147 dpi), a 27 inch display with a 1440p resolution would likely do just fine. A great “dot pitch” means you can have a higher screen resolution and thus more screen real-estate. More workspace is always welcome, not only for photography enthusiasts and those who use graphics/CAD applications, but also for browsing and programming. For gamers, remember the better the pixel pitch is, the lesser is the need for GPU-based Anti-Aliasing, thus improving graphics card performance. The same thing can negatively impact those who browse the web and have to work on text documents a lot, because fonts become smaller than you are accustomed to. The extra number of pixels crammed into the same space can make the screen sharper, but it could feel "too sharp" for those with any less than 20/20 vision (so try it out once before buying to see if your eyes hurt). This is not necessarily a problem and you just have to be aware of it, there are solutions such as increasing the zoom level and the DPI setting on the OS. The “Magnifier” tool on Windows 7 is an option as well. The keyboard shortcut to summon it is to hold the Windows key and press the plus key to summon it and zoom in, Win+minus to zoom out, and Win+Esc keys to exit the Magnifier. Remember, the Magnify tool can be unwieldy if you have more than one monitor hooked up to your graphics card in a dual-monitor setup.

Windows 7 Magnifier screen

The wider color gamut supported by this monitor is worth explaining, since on the one hand some people are irrationally taken in by the specifications (mentioned in this review earlier) and on the other hand are people who are apprehensive about possible color distortions. The reality is that the 1.07 billion colors that are supposedly made possible by "deep color" will not be actually made use of by current apps, so it is currently just a potential benefit lying in wait. If you see a difference (pleasant improvement) of display quality, the reason is the IPS panel used and the calibration performed upon it at the factory itself. You first need to install the color profile (.ICM file on the disc accompanying the Dell monitor) and change the preset on the monitor’s OSD to actually get to use the claimed "deep color" ability. For the techie, 30-bit color in short means 1024 values for red, green and blue, instead of 256 for 24 bit. This increases the number of colors (gamut) that can be shown, and your eye will be able to see more real colors and see a real difference, provided the entire chain is compatible (content, application, OS, graphics card, signal input, monitor). Visual content in 30-bit color is limited at the moment, but expect the future to usher this wave in, just like DVD and LCD TVs took off in the past decade and became common. Recently released consumer graphics cards support 30-bit output over DisplayPort, as does Windows 7 and this monitor. So the chain is completed and is now waiting for games/apps to use more colors. For this reason, the calibrator and chroma meter we used might not even be enough to fathom the true color gamut of this monitor. But the naked eye can see the difference on RAW photos shot by newer dSLR cameras, and in select color-managed apps like Photoshop. Gamers and others who don't need or want the extra color gamut can simply switch to the normal one on the PC side, or pick sRGB on the monitor side. As for media players and gaming consoles, current-gen products simply don't make use of the extras in this panel, nor have a color profile to actually utilize the expanded color gamut, and so will display in sRGB mode which is what you'd expect. So do not worry about whether wide gamut color will distort or have negative effects on visual content, it remains in your control.

Target Audience
This monitor is high-quality, priced high and offers a lot, but make no mistake about who it is not meant for. The super high-end market segment of professionals, whose livelihoods actually depend upon the quality of work they do on their monitor, is the segment that the Dell UltraSharp U2711 27-incher is not targeting. Part of that segment, in the graphics and medical applications fields may use Dell’s UltraSharp line but given more finance and a choice, they might have bought something else. NEC, Eizo and HP are just three of the brands in the top rung, while Dell, Apple and LaCie are the ones making products that try to reach the top rungs.

Monitors based on PVA and TN panels feel quite poor, for those who've gotten used to, and expect the kind of quality offered by IPS panels. Similarly IPS technology is no competition to TN panels when it comes to gaming, although there is still much debate about how the claimed "2ms response time" on those TN panels is actually misleading in a way. If you compare the gorgeous viewing angles of the U2711 to what you experience on a normal LCD TN-panel monitor (even on laptop or mobile phone) when you look at the screen from a different vertical/horizontal angle, you'd never want to look at a TN again. Even in a limited home environment setting, the "angle issue" crops up, when a person is holding a laptop and displaying photos to on-looking members of family, but those at the farthest edges end up seeing just ghostly images, looking like film negatives (resurrecting as it were, visions of cameras that used to save photos to "negative" film rolls that'd then have to be "developed" by photo studios, before today's digital cameras came in).

The Dell U2711 on the other hand is simply an awesome multi-purpose IPS monitor for “prosumers” and enthusiasts. Professionals might still prefer top-class CRT and LCD models, while consumers will baulk at its price and are happy with "good-enough" cheap LCDs. Unlike the perception in some circles, CRTs are not always better than LCD, only the very high-end ones were good, otherwise LCDs are better for most purposes. In any case, the best CRTs keep getting harder to find and existing good CRTs in the premises of the pros have been deteriorating over the years. But with this monitor's display quality and image vibrance, people can finally feel secure in moving out of CRT-land. Ironically the weight of the 27 incher is close to that of a large 19-inch CRT monitor. It is a splendid replacement in terms of accurate color reproduction for a good CRT monitor. It is for users who want 10-bit color in all its calibrated glory, hate backlight bleed, want access to very high resolutions, a wide range of inputs for maximum flexibility, and the extras of a premium product. But though it can be useful for general purposes, web browsing, movies, gaming and photo editing, it is not needed for general home and office use.

Screen resolutions and how they compare

Competition and Alternatives
Individual preferences are a deciding factor, in addition to intended purpose, monitor size, resolution, looks and price. So here’s a look at the competing options.
The first and most obvious competition this monitor has is LCD TVs. It is tempting to consider getting a TV with an even larger screen instead of a monitor priced so high. But anyone who has used a plain-old 720p (or even 1080p) TV needs no convincing that the Dell U2711 (at 1440p and all the trappings of a premium display product) is very different from a TV.

Any discussion about this monitor cannot leave out the Apple iMac 27-inch computer priced at Rs. 90,000 which uses the same panel as the Dell U2711. However, the iMac uses an LED backlight which might have contributed to the yellow banding issues, whereas the Dell uses a tried and tested older technology of a CCFL lamp as backlight. We had both, the Dell UltraSharp 27-inch and the iMac 27-inch in the PCW Test Center at the time of writing this review. What did we find out? That image quality wise both can be considered similar, so that was the end of that. Using the iMac as an external monitor takes some extra expense (mini-DP convertor), the iMac does not have OSD buttons to adjust the screen in hardware mode outside of OSX, and you still don’t get the number of input ports found on the U2711.

Dell UltraSharp U2711 input ports at the rear

An LED-backlight does make for a monitor with a thinner body, and they are not bad at all in quality, laptops have been using LED monitors since a while now. But for a desktop PC, not all LED monitor models can justify a price premium yet, considering their performance, so they do not quite fall in the class of the U2711.

Another contender is 3D compatible 120Hz monitors. But these are effectively still a gimmick for now, except for select games, and in any case the “3D glasses” make it an individual experience and not a shared one. Moreover, 3D for normal content is not going to be possible very soon. Despite claims to the contrary, content that is not specifically made for 3D viewing gets distorted and annoys people who want to see things as intended by the image/movie author.

As is always the case in this segment, Dell is its own most serious competitor. You can buy two 24-inch IPS panel monitors for a little more than the price of the U2711. Or you can buy three 24-inchers for a price close to that of Dell’s U3008 30-inch monitor, set them up in Eyefinity mode and get more screen space than the 30-incher!

Nit-Picking
In the context of all the positives of this monitor, there aren’t really many negatives. Still, if we had to nit-pick, the following paragraph will spell out our thoughts. The height not being very different from the 24-incher and the change of aspect ratio to provide a higher resolution, are closely linked and to be honest this part cannot be changed because it had to be this way to achieve a diagonal size of 27 inches. Accordingly, you have to make sure you have a large desk and sit about a metre away from it to prevent spoiling your eyes. The decision to not include pivot functionality with the stand provided though, is something that could have been improved upon. After getting used to the screen pivot function (flip the screen around by 90 degrees, to view screen vertically in “portrait mode” as Windows 7 calls it) in the 24 incher, being denied this useful feature even after pricing it so high is disappointing. The same goes with regard to the provision of a remote. Add-ons like a webcam and remote can be flaky and are not usually expected in a monitor of this class, but Benq does provide a remote with their 27-inch monitor, and that makes it easier to manage the monitor. In any case, the remote’s buttons and the touch-sensor on the U2711 would both wear out eventually. As for the screen resolution, we sometimes wish that it was a 16:10 monitor if only to gain the 160 extra pixels along the vertical plane (the current 2560x1440 versus the familiar resolution of 2560x1600).

The Indian Angle
An interesting detail we discovered during the course of this review was that Dell in India does not directly sell the U2711 to consumers. This is unlike their usual model of direct sales, one that is followed in the case of laptop sales for instance. You can still place an order for this high-end monitor over Dell’s toll-free sales number. But the actual payment goes to third-party vendors who then ship the goods. Their shipment tracking is not quite as centralized as Dell, and you have to pass through multiple hoops to get in touch and setup and appointed time with the courier person who is tasked with delivering the package. For the same reason, you don’t get to pick add-ons such as accidental insurance or benefit from special offer prices, unlike in the US. Again, because the actual vendor who ships the goods is a third-party, stocks are limited and if you are certain about your choice then it is advisable to place the order right away, since the very availability of this monitor is quite exclusive. We would not recommend buying this monitor from abroad, because the display could break or get damaged in transportation, and even if you have chosen an international warranty, all you might get is a refurbished unit as replacement. While Dell provides an official price quote of Rs. 53k, some Indian shops let you pick it up for Rs. 48k and through certain forums online you can purchase the same for Rs. 40k including shipping charges.

Below is Dell’s current pricing of accessories and other UltraSharp models:
Dell UltraSharp U3008 - Rs. 84500 (LCD IPS, 2560x1600)
Dell UltraSharp U2711 - Rs. 53000 (LCD IPS, 2560x1440)
Dell UltraSharp U2410 - Rs. 32500 (LCD IPS, 1920x1200)
Dell UltraSharp ST2410 - Rs. 13225 (LCD TN-panel, 1920x1080)
Dell ST Series G2410H - Rs. 16675 (LED backlight, TN-panel, 1920x1080)
Dell UltraSharp 2209WA - Rs. 16675 (LCD IPS, 1680x1050)
Dell UltraSharp U2211H/U2311H - not available in India yet.
Dell UltraSharp Sound Bar speakers - Rs. 3500
Benq G2420HD - Rs. 11500 (LCD TN-panel, 1920x1080)
Benq M2700HD - Rs. 25000 (LCD TN-panel, 1920x1080)

To discuss this review, or if you have any questions, ask away on the PCW Forums!

Bottom Line

The Dell UltraSharp U2711 is an absolutely enjoyable 27-inch monitor. With an awe-inspiring screen resolution, a quality IPS panel, future-proof color gamut and wide variety of input options, people who do not mind spending more for a good product need not have to think very much as it is simply the best buy. If you were anyway looking for a 26 inch monitor or beyond, consider this one where the picture on-screen rivals a good CRT, games are easily playable with negligible input lag, and the overall package is mouth-wateringly cool.

The only sticking bone could be that Dell seems unconcerned about the high price. This is one area where nit-picking is pointless, since this monitor is still the most economical at this niche level of feature offering and there is almost no competition in this price segment since the U2711 would win hands down on the price/quality graph.

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