Most recent computer monitors have been designed for the home user who requires a monitor with a smooth and bright image, a nice overall design and a good low price. With recent innovations such as LED backlighting and 120Hz ‘3D’ technology at the forefront of these panels, they offer a great entertainment experience. But there are other users who require a greater level of colour accuracy and better viewing angles than these ‘budget’ monitors can provide. The Dell U2410 is one of Dell’s premier members of their UltraSharp series of IPS (In-Plane Switching) monitors. Although they are LCD panels like the ubiquitous Twisted Nematic (TN) monitors, they feature a different type of technology under the bonnet; H-IPS. This relatively new iteration of LG’s In-Plane Switching panel technology offers superior contrast to earlier IPS implementations whilst retaining the superior colour accuracy and viewing angles that IPS monitors are renowned for. The U2410 is clearly a monitor designed for professional applications, but how does it fair under general home desktop and ‘entertainment’ uses? We will be firing up some Blu-ray movies and games and finding out exactly that.
The most appealing aspects of the Dell U2410 include its high native resolution (1920×1200) and H-IPS panel. The panel used in this monitor delivers 96% Adobe RGB (102% NTSC) colour gamut coverage with 8-bits per pixel colour support (12-bit internal processing) and excellent viewing angles. This should give an excellent and rather colourful viewing experience in multiple applications – including games, movies and photo editing. Some may be put off by the 6ms grey-to-grey response time, but a number on paper says nothing about real experiences – that is what the PC Monitors review is there for. You will also notice that the U2410 is quite heavy, reasonably expensive and pretty power-hungry.
The standout features of the U2410 have been highlighted in blue for your reading convenience.
The Dell U2410 has a no-nonsense square look about it – with a rectangular bezel, rectangular stand and a square power button. The neck and centre of the stand is silver, like the shiny Dell logo, to contrast with the black surrounding it. Overall this is quite a smart aesthetic.
The stand offers many adjustment options such as 30 degrees or so backwards tilt, slight forwards tilt, 45 degrees swivel each way and 4 inches of height adjustment. You can even put the U2410 in portrait mode; but do be careful as even at the maximum height the screen is very ‘snug’ with the stand in this mode. You must tilt the stand fully backwards before rotating the screen to avoid any stand bezel-bashing.
The smart colour scheme is continued from a side aspect, with a silver stripe running down the middle of the monitor. As far as IPS monitors go the U2410 isn’t overly thick at around 3 inches deep (excluding stand) but it won’t win any beauty contests from the side. This depth allows some extra features to be put in at the side. At the left side of the monitor you will find two USB ports, an xD/SD/MS/MMC card reader and a pull-out information tab including the serial number and revision.
From the rear there is no mistaking who manufactures this monitor – a large silver Dell logo can be found at the top, surrounded by ventilation slits on the top and sides. At the bottom of the U2410 lies numerous input and output ports – power in, speaker out, DisplayPort, HDMI, two DVI-D ports, VGA, ‘component video’ ports, audio out and three further USB ports. Dell really have made the best of the available space on this one.
When you turn the monitor on the blue power symbol lights up, followed closely by 5 blue ‘control’ LEDs that turn on one by one from the bottom then turn off one by one from the top.
If you hover your finger near the power button a proximity sensor detects this and the first (bottom) ‘control’ LED lights up. The controls are touch-sensitive so that if you touch the bottom ‘control’ LED the OSD menu pops up. The OSD menu is a small, simple and well-labelled affair that allows you to perform basic adjustments such as brightness, contrast and input source adjustments. You are also able to select a preset; Standard, Multimedia, Game, Warm, Cool, Adobe RGB, sRGB or Custom Color.
By selecting ‘menu’ you can access further settings such as colour settings and picture adjustments and can even perform an ‘LCD Conditioning’. This cycles through screenfills of red, green, blue, black and white and is designed to alleviate ‘mild image retention’. It is good for seeing how gloriously vibrant the primary colours that the U2410 displays are, too.
Due to the ‘professional’ nature of this panel we felt that using the Windows 7 calibration tool, as we usually would, is not appropriate. If the best colour accuracy is important to you it is always best to regularly calibrate using your own colorimeter – each particular panel and revision is different and things change over time, so it’s not always enough to copy somebody else’s settings. That being said; TFT Central provides some excellent ICC profiles that are derived from their full calibration of the screens they have tested. The panel we tested was a newer revision than that tested by TFT Central which can bring about issues with the screen. After applying the profile the colour temperature was much more agreeable (it seemed a bit warm before) and it was no doubt a large improvement from any ‘by-eye’ calibration we could manage. Comparing the white point (visually) to a calibrated reference high-end CRT we could also see that the TFT Central ICC profile made a large improvement in this area. The ICC profile was designed with the monitor set to 30% brightness and 50% contrast. We like things a little brighter (and absolute colour accuracy is not of critical importance in our testing); so we bumped it up to 60 and 60.
Dell states a rather high typical luminance of 400 cd/m2 and a fairly mundane 1000:1 static contrast ratio and relatively sane 80,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. We tested the U2410 using the Windows 7 default calibration profile (i.e. no ICC modifications) primarily using ‘Standard’ mode and compared the luminance of an entirely black scene to an entirely white scene. This is the default mode which gives the greatest freedom over tweaking settings and was also the mode we used in our subsequent testing of the monitor. Values are also given for Standard mode using the ICC profile and brightness settings detailed in our calibration (used during our testing) and other monitor presets, uncalibrated, at 60% brightness for comparison. Unless otherwise stated assume a contrast setting of 100%.
|Monitor profile||White luminance (cd/m2)||Black luminance (cd/m2)||Contrast ratio (x:1)|
|Standard, 100% brightness
|Standard, 80% brightness
|Standard, 60% brightness
|Standard, 40% brightness
|Standard, 20% brightness
|Stadard, 0% brightness
|Standard (calibrated), 60% brightness, 60% contrast
|Multimedia, 60% brightness
|Game, 60% brightness
|Warm, 60% brightness
|Cool, 60% brightness
|Adobe RGB, 60% brightness
|sRGB, 60% brightness
With the Dell U2410 we achieved a peak white luminance of 655 cd/m2 using dynamic contrast – this is stunningly bright. Dynamic contrast is not a feature that never really appeals to us as it is often an unwanted compromise at best or very distracting at worst. The dynamic contrast mode can be enabled under the ‘Game’ preset mode on the U2410. The effect is rather subtle and the change very gradual – it takes just under 15 second for a transition between an all-white scene at full brightness to a dark scene at minimal brightness (and vice-versa). This delay does mean that the dynamic contrast is less distracting than a rapid and constant change, but it also makes it pretty useless in most situations. At times this gradual shift can actually be a bit of a curse. If for example you were to stay in a darkened room on a game for a while the backlight would gradually dim – but step outside and it will take 15 seconds before the desired luminance is reached. Nonetheless we recorded a contrast ratio of >65,500:1 (limited by the 0.01 lux resolution of our light meter) for people interested in this feature. This is pretty close to the 80,000 figure that Dell claims. At 100% brightness, using static contrast, we recorded a truly exceptional peak white luminance of 623 cd/m2. You would never want to use this setting because it feels like looking into the sun and the overall image becomes slightly bleached. At this brightness blacks have a slight silver sheen to them but still look reasonably deep -the stated typical luminance of 400 cd/m2 is very believable.
At 40% brightness blacks appear pleasingly deep whilst whites remain nice and bright. The image still appears a little bleached and it is clear that a contrast setting of 100% is too high on the U2410. By using our calibrated ICC profile and reducing the brightness and contrast each to 60% the overall image was greatly improved. The stated contrast ratio of 1000:1 was not quite achieved but we did achieve our (pretty pleasing) peak contrast ratio of 846:1 using these settings. The white luminance level of 330 cd/m2 is a good number for entertainment purposes and in our opinion works nicely on the desktop too. Even using this reasonably tame setting the U2410 does emit a fair bit of heat from the top and in our small testing room it’s like having a little radiator on at times.
In our game testing on the U2410 we enabled the aptly named ‘Game’ preset mode. The image itself didn’t change much, but the image processing that the monitor does is reduced in such a way that input lag is considerably reduced. According to TFT Central this mode pretty much halves the input lag from around 33ms to around 14ms – which can make a noticeable difference in fast paced games as we explore in the ‘Response Times’ section of this review. The first game we tested isn’t particularly fast paced but it is one of our current favourites for testing out a monitors gaming performance and image quality; Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. Overall the contrast on this title was fantastic. Things were bright when they needed to be – roaring flames, explosions, muzzle flashes, artificial lights at night and glare from the bright sun are some notable examples. Glints of sun off reflective surfaces such as aircraft in the game were also dazzling and a very clean-looking white. Details in dark buildings and shadows were all present and correct. Character uniforms also showed excellent subtle detailing- if the contrast is poor they will often appear smooth and blended.
In our second and somewhat more fast-paced FPS title, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, contrast was equally impressive. Sparks and explosions were brilliantly bright, especially on dark maps. On lighter maps such as ‘Atacama desert’, glare from the sun was noticeable and very bright. Meanwhile building interiors exhibited no noticeable loss of detail. The U2410 also impressed on Colin McRae: Dirt 2, showing excellent contrast. There was no loss of detail to speak of in dark areas and artificial lights on the game and sparks at the finish line (celebrating our victory, of course) were impressively bright.
We also tested the contrast performance of the Dell U2410 by playing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Blu-ray. Blacks in this film looked nice and deep whilst whites were crisp and clear. No loss of detail was evident in dark scenes or shadows whilst lights and flames in these scenes looked suitably bright. To give you a better idea of these distinctions we used the Lagom LCD tests. These tests highlight any weaknesses that are present in a computer monitor’s performance; even if they would not usually be noticeable. For these tests we used our calibrated profile, but did adjust various settings to see if it enhanced the results.
The U2410 did excellently on the contrast test with distinct brightness steps for each coloured bar. The high-end of the red bar in particular was fairly intensely saturated, but all bars remained fairly distinctive.
Performance on the black level test was not entirely perfect as the first 3 squares blended into the background. A quick switch to game mode revealed all squares, distinct from the background, although we found that using Firefox rather than Internet Explorer gave us a similar flawless performance even in ‘Standard’ mode. In any mode or browser no dithering was evident, either, although some minor flickering could be seen on some of the lighter shades that could possibly be attributed to the CCFL backlight.
White saturation performance was very good – all but the final square had a distinctive checkerboard pattern. Despite adjusting brightness and colour settings the final checkerboard could not be revealed. In ‘the real world’ these results are likely to have minimal noticeable impact.
The greyscale gradient was very smooth, although if you viewed it closely enough you could see faint banding at the low end. When viewing a complete image such issues did not manifest themselves.
The Dell U2410 has a broad colour gamut covering 110% of the NTSC colour space. Some people see this as a bit of a problem, as they may need to work with images or produce content using or designed for smaller colour spaces. There is already heaps of information about this on the internet and we don’t really want to say anything that may be deemed too controversial. If you are concerned about the broad gamut of the U2410 in your work, bear in mind that U2410 features an sRGB emulation mode that works very well (especially when calibrated correctly). If you would like to know exactly how this may affect your work, check out the comprehensive TFT Central review that covers the U2410 from a ‘professional use’ perspective. For our purposes the broad gamut is great as it adds an extra depth and vibrancy to the whole image. Colours appear much more dashing and the range of shades displayed really adds to the atmosphere in games and movies in particular.
Our first game title tested was Dragon Rising. In this game we are quite particular about a certain ‘natural aesthetic; more muted colours are preferred over heavily saturated colours. We had a similar experience to what we did on the NEC MultiSync PA241W – the game is not designed around a colour gamut as large as that of the U2410 or PA241W so greens appear oversaturated. Learning from our previous experience we were able to mute the greens to acceptable vibrancy levels without noticeably affecting the image in other ways by raising the gamma level in the game from 50 to 55. Skin tones and earthy brown khaki tones and the greens of the vegetation all looked natural. Red marker smoke had a particularly beautiful of swirling red shades whilst explosions were a glorious mix of yellows, oranges, reds and of course blinding white.
On our second game title, Bad Company 2, the U2410 handled the colours on the game fantastically. There was a brilliant range of vibrant forest greens and bright amber fires as well as muted earth and pastel shades. A particularly good example of the excellent colour reproduction and indeed contrast was, of all things, a recycling bin in the game. All whites on the bin looked very white indeed whilst the greens were vibrant and ‘plasticy’. The red of the no smoking sticker on the bin was an impressively pure and deep red, too. We don’t usually take pictures as what you see depends on your own monitor and the image processing of our camera – but to set the scene we photographed the bin we’re talking about:
The final game title we tested was Dirt 2. Colours were very impressive; shocking neon pinks and greens, highlighter yellows, deep reds, minty greens and earthy browns were all handled beautifully. The car paintjobs always stood out with a varied mix of pastel shades and vibrant, bold colours – intense reds were particularly ostentatious. Meanwhile the natural environments were varied and balanced. The forests showed a great range of greens with excellent vibrant lushness, whilst the dusty greens and browns of Utah were far more muted. Nothing here appeared oversaturated – given that the U2410 is a wide-gamut monitor this is impressive. The rocks in Utah also showed a subtle red tone that rocks in the region are well known for, although if anything this was too subtle. At least it didn’t look like blood was splattered over them which is what you sometimes get on ‘lesser’ monitors.
We also fired up a few Blu-ray films. The first of which was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – a film that flaunted the natural aesthetic that the U2410 could produce rather nicely. Skintones and human eyes were particularly good whilst more intense saturation was reserved for the likes of blazes of orange and red fire and deep blood reds. The second film title has quite the opposite aesthetic intended; Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder. The colours in this film were bold and vivid yet suitably varied. Neon colours such as bright green, blues purples and pinks were very vibrant whilst pastel shades of the same colours were also displayed. Subtle differences in skin tones were also evident whilst colours throughout the scene were consistent. On a panel with limited viewing angle capabilities (i.e. TN panels), skin tones in particular will change depending on where on the screen they’re being shown – not so on the U2410. We explore this in more depth in the subsequent section on viewing angles.
It was clear from our application testing that the ‘colour shift’ that plagues TN panels was not a big issue for the U2410’s H-IPS panel. This is illustrated quite nicely by the Lagom LCD tests for viewing angles. The results here were certainly favourable to any TN panels we’ve tested. The purple block appeared slightly pink at the very far left but was completely uniform purple elsewhere. The red block appeared ever so slightly pink-tinted in the top left but a very uniform cherry red everywhere else. The green block was a uniform but overwhelming lime green that, whilst impressive, is not a colour you’d want to stare at for long. The blue block, in contrast, was much more gentle on the eyes and appeared perfectly uniform and an unmistakable deep blue.
The final part of the Lagom viewing angle tests is the ‘Lagom text test’. This shows the degree to which a monitor’s gamma curve is viewing angle dependent. This gives an indication of how likely colours are to ‘shift’ depending on their position on the screen and your position relative to the screen. This simple but effective test confirmed that the gamma curve of the Dell U2410 is not viewing-angle dependent to anywhere near the extent of a TN panel. Although there was a slight hint of red to the far left , the overall image appeared to be a well-blended grey. You can see the results of this Lagom text test as well as the red block test at ‘extreme viewing angles’ in the video below but do bare in mind the video makes the shifting look a lot more noticeable than it actually is:
It’s the moment you’ve all been nervously awaiting – the part when I dash your hopes of such a promising monitor by telling you that it’s as responsive as an old Lada. Fortunately that is not the case – we were actually surprised by how responsive the U2410 turned out to be in the applications we tested. In Dragon Rising for example, the fluidity of the whole thing was just shocking (in a very good way). The whole experience was exceptionally smooth – seemingly more so than some TN panels we’ve tested. There was the slightest blur if you strafed quickly near objects but you had to actually concentrate on this so it was not at all distracting. Bad Company 2 was also a very smooth experience, although trailing was slightly more noticeable due to the faster pace of the gameplay. Again this was restricted to slight blurring during quick strafing or movement in vehicles so was not in the least bit distracting for us. Dirt 2 is a title that we rarely have issues due to a monitors responsiveness (or lack thereof) but somehow the U2410 still managed to exceed our expectations. Even as the environment whizzed past around the car at high speed, the track textures retained much of their detail (even if you stared at them; not advisable whilst you’re driving). The overall fluidity was just great.
The film titles were also impressively smooth, although here there are additional inherent issues with the relatively low frame rate at which the films are shot. Despite this you can still detect variability based on the responsiveness of a PC monitor. Motion in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was very smooth with no ghosting or severe trailing. The only minor trailing was evident during fast driving sequences but this is something we often see even in highly responsive TN panels. Futurama is a particularly good test of response time as it features bold black lines and solid colours moving against one another. The U2410 gave a smooth performance yet again with some slight trailing that is often observed at certain points during this film. Considering the preconceptions people usually have of the response times of IPS panels this was an excellent performance all around from the U2410.
The Dell UltraSharp U2410 is designed with the professional user in mind. On the outside it has a very square business-like look where substance really is more important than style. Despite offering this ‘professional’ level of stand adjustability there are some nice little touches to the U2410. The control system is actually one of the best we’ve used – it includes proximity and touch sensors and a nice neat line of blue LEDs which we find very easy to use and also very practical. The lack of gloss around the control panel means that greasy marks aren’t a problem and the positioning of the touch at the front face of the monitor is intuitive. Dell also mixes in silver throughout the panel (on the stand, at the sides and at the back) to make it a little more interesting to look at than a black box. At the rear of the monitor and at the sides you get every input you could possibly want (and probably some you wouldn’t).
On the inside, where it really counts, you get an H-IPS panel that offers exceptional colour accuracy, high resolution, an excellent range of colours, great viewing angles and good contrast. In the games and movies we tested (these are things that the home user would enjoy rather than professional applications) it was clear that the H-IPS panel made a positive difference to the experience. The broad colour gamut of the U2410 really added an extra level of immersiveness to games and movies by combining very striking and vibrant colours with an excellent variety of more muted and natural tones without oversaturation. Contrast was also very good with an exceptionally strong backlight delivering great whites without excess bleed-through to compromise blacks and darker shades. Where the Dell U2410 really surprised us though was in how responsive the panel was in the games and movies we tested. The fluidity and smoothness was just fantastic and we have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this as a suitable gaming monitor.
So there are the positives – but what about the negatives? Well the most obvious one is the price. At around £460 (550 USD) it is certainly not the cheapest option available. Then again – for a monitor of this quality it offers a hell of a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ (to coin an American phrase). The colour reproduction and overall image quality was actually similar to the far more expensive (~£950) NEC MultiSync PA241W we recently tested whilst responsiveness was even better. Another negative, especially in our current cautious if not paranoid climate, is the relatively high energy consumption (75W typical) and heat output of the unit. It is also the kind of monitor that likes to be left alone – it is quite heavy and bulky so it isn’t good if you have to or plan to frequently relocate the unit. But fortunately that’s about it. In summary; the Dell UltraSharp U2410 is an outstanding monitor for both home and professional users and is, in our opinion, worth the price.
|Very good contrast with pleasing blacks, bright whites and a particularly powerful backlight||CCFL backlit. Not flicker free or as energy efficient as an LED backlight|
|Excellent level of stand and screen ergonomic adjustability||The monitor gives off a fair amount of heat at the top in particular
|An astounding array of inputs offering great connectivity
||It won’t win any beauty contests|
|Excellent colour reproduction
||Monitor requires calibration to achieve optimal colour accuracy
|Broad gamut extends the range and vibrancy of possible colours, improving the game and movie experience
||Broad colour gamut can be an issue for some applications designed for smaller colour spaces (although sRGB emulation is very good)|
|Good viewing angles (no significant colours shift)
||Quite expensive, but you do get what you pay for|