Ok, my last post about this thing, I promise.
Since there are tons of other reviews on the web about this thing (where you can see pictures and specs and measurements and the like), I’ll just link to those articles that I read if you want to read about that stuff.
I’m just going to talk about what I noticed.
This monitor came with glowing reviews around the net. The other contenders are the HP LP3065, the Samsung 305t, and the 30 inch Apple Cinema Display. The reason I originally purchased this model was because a) it was the cheapast, b) it had good reviews, and c) it has a enhanced (wider) color gamut.
Setup is mostly painless. Just make sure you have a dual-link capable vgi card, and if your card has multiple outputs, make sure you plug it in to the correct one (some cards only have dual link on one port). As everyone also notes, the brightness settings come with no OSD. That’s mostly ok, except it makes it impossible to “go back” to an old setting unless you count the number of ticks from one of the extreme endpoints. It seemed like there were about 9 or 10 ticks from darkest to brightest, but you never know of the incremental adjustment grows exponentially the longer you hold it down. In this regard, having capacitive switches is actually a negative. It made it impossible to count based on tactile feedback. Supposedly if you have an Dell XPS machine, you can load some software that has many more calibration options.
Size and Resolution
The screen is huge, and similarly to other LCD’s, at full resolution, the image looks very sharp. Because the screen is so big, there is a tendency to sit farther back from it then say you would a 20 inch monitor. This causes the percieved size of each pixel to be smaller, so text can seem smaller as well. Of course you can always try to make the fonts bigger, but it’s something to think about. Physically, this screen has 100 pixels per inch — the same as a standard 1600×1200 20 inch LCD.
Another thing that some readers might care about: interaction with high-index-of-refraction glasses. I just got a new pair of glasses that have the highest index I could get. It turns out, the higher the index, the more likely you are to see color fringes along high contrast edges that are off to the side of your field of view. Well guess what, combine these properties with sitting in front of a huge display that displays many high contrast rectangular shapes, and voila, fringe city. The first time, I had to put my contacts in because it was so distracting. The second time, I noticed it less.
I found the wide-gamut feature to be a mixed bag. The one sure thing I can say is: if you care about accurate color, then don’t plan to buy this monitor without a calibrator. I suppose that could be said for most monitors, but the properties of this monitor make the statement especially true. The main reason is that most monitors out there are uncalibrated, and most of them cover roughly the same 72% of the NTSC gamut. That means designers will be creating content for this range. Without proper calibration, your screen will display colors that designers did not intend.
It may also not be able to display shades of colors that the designer did intend. How can this be the case? it has to do with the bit depth. Both standard 72% NTSC monitors and this 92% monitor are driven by data that comes in at 8 bits per color. This means that the wider gamut monitor maps the same 8 bit space to a larger range of colors. That means values in the space that are a value of one apart will be farther apart in terms of actual color. So if a designer intended a particular value X in the sRGB color range, your HC monitor has a less fine-grained capability to approximate X.
In practice, it’s hard to say if you’ll notice. It probably really depends on what you’re looking for.
If you forgo calibration, then normal content on this monitor will look super saturated and weird. Some of the reviewers liked this effect in games. To me it looks like “neon”, or “radioactive”, and it’s distracting. Web designers will often pick subtle colors that don’t create distractions in their designs. This monitor, uncalibrated, will destroy all those carefully picked hues. A lot of reviews or mini-reviews will say something like the “colors look vivid”, but in actuality it’s just like you turned up the saturation dial a bit too far in Photoshop.
Another problem for me personally is that Linux has no way of setting a global desktop-wide color profile (at least not that I’m aware of). There are a few color managed apps on Linux now, but they are still few and far between. So if you want to play around with Linux as a desktop, be prepared to look at super saturated colors. I tried full-screening Ubuntu running inside a VM, and the default orange titlebars were way too strong, again, not displaying what the designers intended.
If you really need the 92% gamut and you know what you’re getting into, then by all means go for it. But for the average consumer who doesn’t have a calibrator, I can’t say that it’s a clear win. It’s definitely not as much of an advantage as I had thought it would be. It’s mostly a software problem, but nonetheless, it is a problem. Mac OSX apparently fares better, but you’ll still need a calibrator.
In the medium term, you’re probably better off waiting for the new DisplayPort standard to become widespread, and look for monitors that support 10-bits per color (which DisplayPort allows for).
Who cares about the coating? I mean besides the choice between glossy and matte, there’s not much to say about it right? Well, that’s what I thought too until I saw this monitor. The 3007WFP-HC has by far the most visually distracting sparkly effect produced by its anti-glare coating out of any LCD monitor I’ve ever seen. It reminded me of one of those really cheap CRT that have sparkly coatings, or one of the aftermarket glare coatings that people would place over their monitors.
I compared the effect to as many other monitors I could find. My Thinkpad X60 doesn’t exhibit the effect at all. My Dell 2007fp and 2005fp at work shows it somewhat, but its much less prominent. My NEC 2070nx also is about the same level as the Dell 20 inchers: noticeable, but only if you really look for it. My older Planar PL201M doesn’t show it at all, but this monitor is from 2003, so who knows what they used for coating back then.
To really make sure I wasn’t crazy, I went to the Apple store to check out the 30 inch ACD. Sure enough, it had the effect too, but also less pronounced. It was more tolerable and less distracting.
The effect is somewhat difficult to describe. It’s as if someone put a thin layer of vaseline on the top surface of your screen. This produces a sort of noise that is overlayed on top of the image that your monitor is actually producing. If you move windows around, the noise stays fixed, as it is a property of the coating, and not the LCD itself.
On the Dell 3007WFP-HC, the sparkle has a lot of color variation. For those of you into photography, it can be desribed as really fine chroma noise. On all the other monitors I looked at, the effect is more like just a variance in luminance (i.e. a “gray noise”). The lack of color in the other monitors makes it much easier to forget about. On the Dell, my eyes would keep trying to focus on this color noise rather than the actual content, and this made reading somewhat tiresome. It was most prominent on solid light colors, like a completely white screen.
On the spec sheet, Dell calls it the new “3H” coating. But I couldn’t find any more information on the web.
I’m returning it. If I had to give it a score, I’d say 4/5 if you don’t notice the coating, 2/5 if it bothers you.
I got it from Costco exactly for the reason that I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. In retrospect, I think I was a bit too much of a stat junkie on this purchase. The monitor looks great on paper, but for me the coating was a fatal flaw, and the wide gamut was of unclear value.
For a monitor that I paid > $1000 for (for hobbyist use, no less), I felt that I shouldn’t keep it unless I could confidently say I had no major complaints. But using this monitor has been a struggle in trying to like it. After a few days, one just has to give up.
I didn’t try the builtin USB hub or the card reader. I’m sure I would have used them if I liked the screen, but alas, these features are of only peripheral importance.