The spread of widescreen monitors often provokes the question what is more convenient, 16:10 or 4:3?
Of course, there is no definite answer. Or rather, the answer depends on the specific applications the monitor is intended for. Other factors being comparable (for example, the resolution must be appropriate; early widescreen 19” monitors with a small native resolution of 1280x768 and a huge pixel pitch didn’t meet this condition), a wide screen is more agreeable to the human eye than a tall screen. It’s natural for the eye to move horizontally, and the monitor can be easily installed in such a way that your eyes are cast downwards. The wide image intensifies the presence effect in games and movies. The wide screen is also handy for work. It can easily display two documents at once, and you can place various toolsets, palettes and other such auxiliary windows at the side of the screen.
However, there are a couple of tasks for which the classic 4:3 screen is going to suit better. I mean various CAD/CAM software suites in which viewing a large and complex design drawing proves to be easier on a monitor with a resolution of 1600x1200 rather than 1680x1050 pixels. Moreover, monitors with a screen aspect ratio of 4:3 are better suited to work in pair. With two widescreen monitors you either have to turn them into portrait orientation (and they become too tall) or need a wide desk and a rotating chair.
Unfortunately, 20” monitors with an aspect ratio of 4:3 are generally rather expensive due to objective reasons (the diagonal being the same, widescreen matrixes have a smaller total area and thus are less expensive to make) as well as to the manufacturers’ marketing policy (monitors targeted at a small audience of professionals rather than at the mass user can be sold at a higher price).
The Dell 2007FP that I’m going to review now is a nice exception to the rule. Despite its resolution of 1600x1200 pixels, its retail price is comparable to that of widescreen 20-21” models based on VA and S-IPS matrixes.
Although Dell’s website specifies only one set of parameter values, this model may come with both S-IPS and S-PVA matrixes. Ours is an S-PVA based sample. Despite the specification of the response time according to the ISO 13406-2 standard this monitor features Response Time Compensation technology.
The monitor has a graceful appearance with a lot of silver but the sides of the case and the narrow screen bezel are black.
Seemingly fragile, this stand is actually very strong and reliable. It is made from a thick steel plate painted the color of silver plastic on the outside. The stand offers screen height adjustment (the edge of the screen is only 5cm above the desk in the bottommost position), tilt adjustment, the rotation around the vertical axis (the pole is rotating while the base of the stand remains motionless), and portrait mode.
There is a button on the back of the stand to unblock the height adjustment. When you push the screen down to the lowest position, it gets locked with this button for easier transportation. To lift the screen up again, you have to press this button and pull it up.
You can detach the stand if necessary by pressing the round black button under the spot where the stand is attached to the case and replace it with a standard VESA mount.
This monitor has analog and digital inputs and two video inputs (Composite and S-Video). It doesn’t have an audio input, though. You can buy optional speakers and hang them under the bottom of the case (they are connected to the monitor’s power supply). The power adapter is integrated into the case.
There is a 4-port USB hub next to the video inputs. Two of its ports are placed nearby for permanently attached devices (keyboard, mouse) and two more can be found on the monitor’s side for quick connection.
The control buttons are located in the bottom right of the front panel. They are large round concave buttons with white icons that are perfectly visible even under dim lighting. I think some manufacturers who try to free the front panel from any “redundant” elements, making you fumble for the control buttons somewhere at the back, should instead use this monitor as an example.
When the monitor is turned on, a green LED highlights the number corresponding to the selected input. The Power button is highlighted in green as well. The LEDs are of moderate intensity.
The onscreen menu is beautiful, but not quite user-friendly. The monitor has too few buttons for quick navigation, so you have to do a lot of actions mainly due to the lack of a button that would quit the current menu item. I also think that the selected menu item is not emphasized enough. You don’t see it at a glance in sections overcrowded with setup options.
A gross ergonomic drawback – for those who are going to use the video inputs – is that the Picture-in-Picture mode is enabled/disabled in the main menu only. There is no dedicated button for that. Switching between the inputs is implemented well, however. When you press a button, the name of the input is displayed and, if the press is not repeated, the monitor switches to this input in a couple of seconds (most other monitors switch to the next input right away, and you can’t press the button a few times quickly – you have to wait for the switching process to complete; besides Dell monitors, Samsung’s ones are an exception as they can detect which inputs have signal sources attached to them and switch only between these inputs).
For the Picture-in-Picture mode you can configure such parameters of the secondary window as size (4 variants), position (4 variants), brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation.
I want to note specifically that the monitor offers an option of interpolation. You can enable the 1:1 mode so that a picture in a non-native resolution (i.e. in a resolution other than 1600x1200 pixels) is displayed normally, without being stretched to the entire screen. Today, this mode is almost exclusive to Dell’s monitors (other manufacturers have abandoned this option), but you can achieve the same effect for DVI connection using your graphics card settings.