In terms of testing I happened to still have on my desk a 24in Dell 2407WFP behemoth. With a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 it has the same number of horizontal lines but has more resolution to the sides, making for a very good comparison.
Incidentally running multiple monitors with one 24in screen and one 21.3in screen next to it was amazing and something I got used to very quickly. Shame it was only for one day. In fact, I could have done with a second 21.3 inch screen to the right on my widescreen Dell. One for the lottery ticket I guess.
I had high hopes for image quality on the VP2130b and my first impressions were good. From the off it looked like a very bright screen with excellent sharpness and colour purity, looking even better than the Dell 24in. Investigation further with our DisplayMate tests showed this to be true.
The colour banding test that caused some problems for the Dell 2407 24in were entirely absent, with the Viewsonic showing how it should be done. Colour purity was essentially perfect, with even and rich colours across the whole of the screen. Grey scales and colour scaling were also fantastic, with even stepping and everything visible right to the end without compression.
This was evident when viewing actual images. On the Dell, detail seemed missing in darker areas, whereas all was clear on the Viewsonic, giving some justification for its quoted contrast ratio of 1000:1.
For video though the Dell seemed to have the edge. As ever, there were no discernable issues with response time, with 8ms (grey-to-grey) quoted, but the screen was slighly less bright and vivid.
For gaming performance I tested with a bout of Counter-Strike: Source and found the screen performance to be perfectly smooth. However, if gaming is a high on your list, then spending extra to get a 24in widescreen display would be worth considering.
The Viewsonic then is a touch more suited to the professional environment rather than entertainment and also offers corporate friendly features such as software than enables IT departments to asset manage.
Image quality is first rate, and the features are good. Of course, for around £130 more you can get the 24in Dell but if colour accuracy and contrast is paramount then this is a better choice.
Widescreen may be the new black, but thanks to its superior colour accuracy the Viewsonic 21in monitor has black down perfectly. If colour accuracy is important to your work, two of these will be a better bet than a 24in Dell, despite the cost. Alternatively, for a straightforward upgrade from a large CRT this is highly recommended.