Starting our DisplayMate testing with the screen connected up via DVI, the panel put in a good, if not perfect, overall performance. There’s was some indication of compression at the high end, and the colour blocks were true but not particularly vivid, confirming my original impression. Colour fades were even all the way to the end in the colour scales test and there was also some banding in the 256 colour intensity ramp. The black level test was passed but subjectively the contrast ratio didn’t seem to match up to it’s 1,000:1 quoted figure. There were no dead pixels on the review sample.
It terms of the specs, Dell quotes a response time of 16ms, which is a number that should please gaming fans. Personally, response time is not something I’ve been bothered by since we reached sub-30 milliseconds and when putting it to the ultimate test – Counter Strike: Source – I found gaming smooth as silk, without any noticeable lag, at least when I had the screen connected to a Dell notebook with a GeForce 6800 Go Ultra. When using my own PC with a 9800 Pro, I was forced to drop the resolution to get a smooth frame rate and while the screen scales the image well the lower resolution image on the very large screen could have done with FSAA enabled. Ironically though, the card didn’t have the power to do it smoothly. Therefore, if 3D games are in your plans for this screen, it would make sense to budget for a powerful graphics card as well.
Video performance was pleasing with both DVD and HD files, with smooth playback, and a natural looking image though again, it you were to use it as a TV or for video editing more vividness would be desirable. Judging from our high resolution still digital test images, skin tones had a neutral and natural look to them. However, the HP and Viewsonic screen had a shade more accuracy, contrast and vividness.
Ultimately, while the screen is not perfect, it’s features, relative affordability and sheer scale, means that many users will be prepared to forgive any perceived flaws. It offers almost as many pixels in one screen as two 1,280 x 1,024 monitors but in one very smart and flexible shell.
With the 2405FPW, Dell has brought the ultimate in desirable screen resolution to its most affordable level yet. Despite its relatively low price tag, this is an impressive screen that’s easy to set up, very well featured and most centrally, has decent image quality. Nit picking image purists may find be able to find fault, but the sheer scale of the screen coupled with its record breaking price will ensure that this screen will find a lot of customers, though due to limited availabilty they’ll have to be patient.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8