Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dell 2405FPW Review

Dell delivered my replacement 2405FPW today. The white line pixel problem had actually disappeared on my first monitor when I switched it on the second day, but when a problem has shown itself once, who is to say it would not come back. I feel better knowing I have a new monitor with zero problems from the start.

So, now all the problems are over, how is the 2405FPW? Outstanding!!!

Setting up the monitor was easy. The stand was first out the box and was very sturdy with a nice rubber cable channel at the back. The monitor itself came out next (with VGA cable already attached, which I thought was a bit strange). The monitor hooks into the top part of the stand and snaps into the bottom half. This is a nice design, as there is a release button at the bottom of the monitor, which means it can just pop back off the stand again very easily. The stand also has a height adjustment, which is somehow weighted so the monitor can be raised up and down very easily. When at the top of it’s height setting, the monitor can also be pivoted to give a portrait-style display. Very useful if you are editing lots of documents, I am sure.

Just out of curiosity I first tried the monitor with the VGA cable. It looked very good, but there was a little ghosting. Not unusual for an analog signal at such a high resolution. I immediately switched to DVI and the difference was amazing. The clarity was pixel perfect and the colors were very vivid.

After loading the driver disk (which really didn’t do that much since plug-and-play had already recognized the resolutions of the device), I proceeded to give the first test. Having just purchased the third season of 24 (another Frys bargain at $44), I thought this would be a good start. I loaded up Cyberlink PowerDVD and ran through a couple of episodes. With the 2405FPW's 12ms refresh rate, I saw no visible ghosting on any of the fast action scenes, it looked superb. I then proceeded to try The Incredibles. Coming directly from the digital source, The Incredibles looks fantastic on this screen. If anything the only problem is that having a monitor of this kind of resolution and quality starts to show up the imperfections of DVD MPEG-2 compression more than it does itself. Roll on Blue-Ray.

So, great for DVD’s, but let’s face it the real reason to buy a monitor like this is for hardcore gaming. Next test was World Of Warcraft. Setting the resolution of 1920x1200 was no problem; it was immediately available in the games options. The result was truly outstanding. The vivid colors of Warcraft came through beautifully, and the resolution size and width of the new screen added an amazing amount of immersion to the experience. I immediately used the HUD scaling to shrink the user interface and give me more world viewing area. Even using the UI scaling the interface still looked very sharp. So, last test. Half-Life 2. Again, I loaded the game and the options were immediately available for the new resolution. I have to say that Half-Life 2 on any system is a beautiful game, but seeing it on this monitor just blew me away. The textures on the avatar’s faces, which I think are the most detailed in the game, were unbelievably clear and life-like. During the action scenes again, no visible signs of ghosting and the extra screen size and width added an immense amount of immersion, especially with having virtually no HUD.

Dell has also built a memory card reader and USB hub into this monitor. This I found to be more annoying than useful since every time I turned the monitor on and off from the front it would connect and disconnect all the USB devices attached. I think a better design for this would be to have the front power button just turn off the display and have a rear power button for turning the entire unit including the USB hub off. This is just a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things though.

In addition to the VGA and DVI connectors, the monitor also has connectors for S-Video and composite video input. I haven’t tested these yet, but I will probably give the composite a test with my PS2 when I get it set back up again.

To conclude I would say this was the perfect screen. Clarity, color reproduction and resolution are superb. In true Dell style the build quality is excellent and very well thought out. The size is perfect. In fact, to be honest I have been drooling over the 30” Apple Cinema display lately, but having played on this monitor now I think that 24” is the perfect size. Any larger would be great for TV, but not ideal for desktop gaming as you would have to be moving your head to see the extremes of the display. Moving your head to look at the HUD on the top left corner of the screen would distract from the action of past-paced shooters. At a price point of under $1100 after discount, this monitor blows the competition out the water. I love my 2405FPW, and I think it will be on my desktop for a long time to come.


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