Review: Dell 24″ Widescreen Flat Panel LCD

Review: Dell 24

Dell 24 Today the Geeks are looking at the Dell 24″ Widescreen Flat Panel LCDs. Dell has built a reputation in the industry for selling high quality LCDs. This tradition started with their fantastic 2001FP, a favorite among many gamers as it was one of the first to have the refresh rates fast enough for game play while providing excellent size to cost ratio. Dell followed up the 2001 with the 2001 FPW widescreen display, and more recently with the 2007FP. Let’s see how the colossal 24″ wide screen LCD stacks up…

This 24″ monster runs at an astounding 1920×1200 pixels, yet weighs in at less than 20 lbs. The Geeks have been using this monitor for 3 weeks now and are continuously impressed by it’s sharpness, brightness and the sheer size of it! This is the first display we’ve ever had on our desk where we’ve found ourselves actually having to turn our heads to view the whole thing!

As a programmer by trade, having lots of Windows desktop space is always a good thing as it allows one to keep more windows open, provide easier multitasking, and see more code at once. Prior to using this Dell, the Geek testing the monitor was running an older Sony 20″ CRT running at 1600×1200. The additional size and desktop resolution of the Dell are very noticeable and allow the user to run two web pages side-by-side easily without having to crunch down the width. Applications such as video editing also benefit from the additional screen real estate. Likewise, working with photo and graphics at these resolutions allow the user to work with 100% or higher scaling without having to scroll images around. This additional screen space translates into productivity benefits.

Additional features such as the built in 4 port USB hub and the media card reader are welcome enhancements. Our only gripe with these features is that the hub and reader are powered through the monitor’s power supply circuitry, this means that if you leave your computer on, but turn off the monitor (say overnight) any devices hooked to the monitor’s ports are turned off as well. This can be annoying if the devices are hard drives. This monitor also features a multitude of inputs – analog VGA, DVI, S-Video and Component are all supported, and you can hook them all up and switch between them at will. This capability would be great for those who live in a small space (think studio apartment or dorm room) and like to use their monitors as both computing displays and as entertainment displays. The monitor even supports a PIP-like function where you can select 2 of the inputs to display side by side on the screen (with shrunk resolutions on each.) While not something that the Geeks would recommend doing on a regular basis, it is useful for when you’re watching a TV program and you need to log in to check your e-mail but don’t want to miss any of the show.

Aesthetically, the monitor is very clean looking, with only 1.5″ of bezel around the edges. A cable guide in the back of the unit’s stand helps keep all your cabling nice and clean. The monitor rotates from landscape to portrait mode as well. This, when used with appropriate video card drivers that support screen rotation, is a nice feature when working on a long document in word or reading a big PDF. Rotating the screen also allows for much easier access to the various ports on the bottom of the screen (especially since 2 of the USB ports are hidden down there.) Likewise, the display can tilt up/down and turn left/right which is useful for accommodating a range of viewing positions. The stand can also telescope up/down several inches to compensate for different desk heights.

How is it for gaming? While the Geeks haven’t found any games that natively will support the standard 1920×1200, they all have worked fine at 1600×1200, as the display will automatically stretch the view to use the entire screen. You’re probably thinking “UGH! Stretch?�? but let us assure you that it looks very good and really isn’t noticeable at all unless you’re looking at something that should be round (in which case it’ll look slightly elongated.) The bigger issue with running games at such high resolution is having a video card that can pump out frames fast enough. The Geeks performed this review on a brand new Athlon 64 4800+ X2 dual core with a pair of XFX 7900 GT Extreme video cards running in SLI mode, and then again solo. Games such as Battlefield 2 had no problems running at the highest resolutions in even the single card setup, but we would recommend checking the various benchmark scores around the web for the abilities of your desired card to run at such resolutions before purchasing. With the right CPU and video card(s) driving this display, the word that comes to mind is “AWESOME!�?

Aside from the minor gripe about the USB ports being powered off when the display is turned off, the only other issue we have with this display is the weight. Rather, we mean the lack of it! Our old display weighed in at a good hefty 40+ lbs. The desk that we’re working off of is somewhat light and while not rickety, is a bit wobbly. The old monitor’s weight helped to stabilize the desk. This new Dell is so light that the desk actually shakes as we’re typing and that can translate into some monitor jiggling. This could easily be fixed by replacing stand that comes with the unit for a wall-mount swing arm as this monitor uses a standard VESA mounting bracket. That would free up even more desk space!

The brightness on the display is incredible. In fact, we’ve had to turn it down a few notches as we were getting a bit blinded by it! Color is very crisp; however we do notice some slight color variation when putting the standard light blue Windows desktop color on the background. This is not unusual on LCDs though, and certainly isn’t noticeable as soon as you start putting windows on the screen or while playing games. In fact, it’s so slight the Geeks think it might just be an optical illusion!

Dell provides a standard 3 yr warrantee on this unit, which can be extended to 5 yrs. While the price is currently somewhat hefty at $949+ shipping (and tax depending upon your location), the Geeks have displayed deals and coupons recently for $759! We expect prices will continue to fall over time. Dell has also begun phasing this unit out (much like they have recently done with their fantastic 2001FP model) in favor of a new 2407FPW. The specs and price on the 2407 are identical to the 2405 though, so we expect the units to function identically although the 2407 is 4 lbs lighter. If you can catch a deal on either unit, we see no reasons to favor one over the other. Our unit was ordered late on a Monday night and arrived on that Thursday via UPS. No dead pixels (which is always a big concern on a display this expensive being shipped.)

4 Stars
In all, we give the Dell 2405FPW a rating of 4.5 out of 5. The size, brightness, and incredible visual capabilities are almost breathtaking. The power-off on the USB ports is the only real downer and is something we can live with. If you’re looking for a new display, and have waited to get a good LCD, look no further!