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Dell U3011

The last monitor in this review is the 30-inch U3011 with a native resolution of 2560x1600 pixels (an aspect ratio of 16:10). Besides the large size, it features excellent functionality. A couple of years ago, when monitor processors used to be too slow to normally work with such a high-resolution video stream, 30-inchers were equipped with a single DVI input, supported two resolutions (2560x1600 and 1280x800) and had only one setting (Brightness). As opposed to them, the U3011 has the richest selection of inputs and setup options among all the Dell monitors I’m discussing today and surpasses most of lower-resolution monitors from other brands in this respect, too.

The monitor’s default Brightness and Contrast are both 50%. I achieved the 100-nit white by choosing 35% Brightness and 36% Contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180 Hz.

Dell seems to have tried to make its large monitors brighter. The U3011 has a maximum brightness of almost 400 nits. The practical worth of this parameter isn’t high, though. I don’t think that anyone would want to buy a 30-inch monitor for movies because a Full-HD TV-set is going to be much cheaper whereas the resolution of 2560x1600 isn’t yet popular when it comes to movies. For productivity applications there is no scenario in which you’d need a screen brightness of over 200 nits. Fortunately, the monitor’s brightness can be lowered to comfortable levels at which it will not illuminate your room and blind your eyes.

The contrast ratio is somewhat lower than 600:1.

The gamma curves are excellent at the default settings, merging with the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2 through most of the diagram. The gamma curves retain their shape when the Contrast setting is reduced. The monitor can display the entire range of halftones, from darkest to lightest, and does not show any banding in color gradients.

The shape of the curves remains overall the same in the AdobeRGB mode except for the darkest halftones, but this part of the diagram is rather difficult for my calibrator, so there can be some inaccuracies. Moreover, this discrepancy can hardly be caught with a naked eye.

The sRGB diagram is almost identical to the previous one.

The U3011 has the same native color gamut as the two previous models. The gamut is larger than sRGB in reds and greens but does not cover the entire sRGB color space, being smaller than sRGB in yellows. Therefore we cannot expect the U3011 to exactly emulate sRGB even though the monitor has this option in its menu, along with AdobeRGB emulation.

The monitor corrects the position of the red and green points in the AdobeRGB mode, so its color gamut does not go beyond AdobeRGB. It doesn’t match AdobeRGB, either. Yellows and even reds are purer and more saturated in AdobeRGB than the U3011 can display.

The same goes for the sRGB mode: the positions of the red and green points change in such a way that the resulting color gamut does not go beyond the sRGB limits, yet the monitor is physically unable to cover the entire range of sRGB colors. No color correction program can bypass the limitations imposed by the phosphors of the backlight lamps.

Like the rest of the Dell monitors you’ve seen in this review, the U3011 has a high color temperature, producing a cold-looking image. The sRGB and AdobeRGB are as cold as 8000 K rather than 6500 K as they should be. On the other hand, there is no deflection towards greens or pinks, and the different levels of gray are close in their temperature.

By the way, you will find a paper with the results of color temperature measurements for the particular sample of a Dell monitor (top-end models only) in its box which also testifies to the neutrality of gray. It is unclear, however, why Dell’s engineers calibrate individual samples for color temperature dispersion but not for the absolute value of color temperature.

Although the irregularities in white are quite conspicuous, the monitor does not have the brightness gradient from left to right as we saw with the U2410 and U2711. Therefore this defect does not strike the eye at everyday work. As for the exact numbers, the average nonuniformity of black brightness is 4.6% with a maximum of 12.3%. For white, the maximum and average are 6.9% and 20.4%, respectively.

The U3011 does not try to set any records in terms of speed. Its response time average is 8.4 milliseconds (GtG), which should be enough for games and movies.

The RTC errors are in fact absent. They only accompany a few transitions, so the average value is as low as 0.6%. It is impossible to see the RTC-provoked artifacts on this monitor unless you use special instruments.

So, it is the 30-inch model that proves to be the best among the top three models in this series (U2410, U2711, and U3011). It has high color accuracy (except for its predilection towards cold colors), it lacks the asymmetric backlighting typical of the other two models, and it has a good response time with almost no RTC errors. Well, the U3011 is actually much more expensive than the U2711.

But if you can afford it, the U3011 will surely please you with its neat exterior design, excellent functionality, rich selection of interfaces, and accurate setup.

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