Dell’s monitors positioned into the medium price range, with the exception of the top-end U3011, have indeed proved to have properties and quality typical of that market category.
The two junior models, the 21.5-inch U2211H and the 23-inch U2311H, are good overall. With their user-friendly menu, sufficient setup opportunities, and neat exterior design they are going to be good for both home and work. They cost more than TN-based products, but the price difference is justified by the functional design and the e-IPS matrix which ensures large viewing angles. These two workhorse products won’t disappoint you.
Choosing between them means deciding whether you want to spend some more money for the extra 1.5 inches of the screen diagonal. There are no other significant differences between these two models. I personally prefer the U2311H, but that’s a matter of taste.
The 24-inch U2410 is rather a disappointment. It costs much more than the U2311H but only offers an extra inch of the screen diagonal and a few video outputs. Putting apart its A00 revision with bad firmware, the A01 revision still has rather poor setup: inaccurate gamma curves, irregular backlighting, a tonal shift towards greens, and imprecise emulation of sRGB and AdobeRGB color spaces. So, if you do not need the resolution of 1920x1200 (instead of 1920x1080), the extra inch of screen space and the extra video inputs, you may want to save quite a lot of money by preferring the U2311H which offers the same image quality at a much lower cost.
Although the 27-inch U2711 didn’t show a very accurate setup, it deserves a closer look because, coming at a reasonable price, it has the same resolution as the far more expensive 30-inchers, i.e. 2560x1440. This monitor can be a real bargain for people who work in CAD/CAM systems, page layout applications, etc.
Finally, the 30-inch Dell U3011 is just a good monitor which is free from most of the downsides of the junior models in the series. It is accurately set up and offers excellent functionality. This monitor is going to be a good buy if you are not taken aback by its price.
Talking about e-IPS matrixes in general, this technology looks highly promising. Despite such downsides as its rather low contrast ratio and the brightening of black when the screen is viewed from a side, e-IPS is superior to TN in terms of viewing angles and color accuracy. It can ensure the response time necessary for games and movies and, most importantly, fits into the medium price range.
However, the LCD panel maker should see to the quality of its produce. I noticed such an unpleasant effect as the irregularity of backlighting from the left to the right of the screen, and users have also complained at forums about a tonal shift towards green and pink in different parts of the screen. These are defects of the LCD panel, not of the monitor, and occur not only in Dell products but also in e-IPS based products from other brands. Of course, you can avoid such problems by carefully checking the monitor out before purchasing it, but anyway.
Once again, my overall impression from e-IPS technology is positive. Besides being competitive to TN in terms of pricing, it has stirred the entire industry into action. In my next review you will see the response of the second largest maker of LCD panels, Samsung, to e-IPS. It will be the SyncMaster SA850 monitor with a PLS matrix.