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Review: Dell 2405FPW Widescreen LCD Display

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 7 November 2005, 08:15

Tags: Dell 2405FPW, Dell (NASDAQ:DELL)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qadx3

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As one of the miscreants that does graphics for HEXUS, and the Group Technical Editor, I'm the one that has to make sure we do it properly. And it turns out that recently we haven't. The launch of the NVIDIA G70 graphics chip and the first two SKUs powered by it, along with ATI's latest pixel pushing bit of silicon and its primary offspring, means that graphics chips are out there that can seriously game. And game at higher than UXGA resolution (1600x1200). And if I'm honest, that's been realistically possible in modern games since NV40.

Yet we've never published results of testing that use a 3D accelerator to go any higher. Err. The reason why has been one of available pixels. I personally switched to LCDs a year or so ago, offloading my last CRT to a friend to leave me with just a pair of LCD monitors, one 1600x1200 and one 1280x1024. The UXGA one is a Philips 200P4SS in silver (you get a black one too, but it's a fair bit rarer) and it uses a Philips Super-IPS (in-plane switching) panel to show me the goods. It's the panel you'll find in the Dell 2001FP among others and it's about as good as it gets at 20 inches.

An 8-bit panel with 16ms pixel response (although that metric matters little in reality, compared to the other facets that make a TFT LCD panel) it's a ghosting-free example of how to do an LCD properly. The only downsides for me are a relative lack of panel brightness due to the lamp choice, only a single DVI input (I wish high end LCD displays would give you two) and a fairly fat bezel containing speakers that I've been too embarassed to ever use. Otherwise she rocks and I'll have a hard time giving her up to replace it with something else.

My other panel is an 18 inch Samsung 181T. Really old now (3 years or so since manufacture), it's 8-bit too but has horrible ghosting in fast motion video, the screen coating is coming off now and rotating the thing to portrait mode makes me think I'm snapping it in half. Good for secondary display duties doing 2D in Windows, but not much else. And not enough pixels for greater than UXGA gaming.

UXGA is not big enough!

So when faced with the need for something with more than 1.92 million pixels with which to output for high-res gaming testing, I had a dilemma. Do I source a giant professional level CRT or do I source an even bigger LCD? For doing graphics properly a CRT has a number of advantages, including great colour reproduction, no scaling artifacts at differing resolutions and no issues with ghosting. However, at 40 kilos or more for something as big as I'd need, it would shatter the glass on the monitor shelf of my pimp glass desk, leaving me to find somewhere else to put it.

Power requirements for large CRTs suck, too. A HP A7217 or a Sony FW900 is a 170W monster. That's more than my PC in its usual desktop power state. LOL? No. Size wise, an A7217 is nearly as deep as it is wide. 20 inches, even if my desk was man enough to take the weight, would have me moving the desk away from the wall to get it on properly. So we've established that a big CRT, despite the image quality benefits possible, has serious downsides (at least for me).

The other option is get a bigger LCD, one that has many upsides. Yes, the absolute image quality is going to be less than the HP A7217 or a Sony FW900, but the size, weight and power draw will make it worthwhile. I just needed to find something with lots of pixels that wouldn't cost HEXUS the earth, which also looks good in terms of image quality to boot.

Some asking of friends, web research and price perusal turned up one clear winner. Since Dell got into the LCD game, they've played it one way. They wait for panel vendors to release new models, see what the best panels are from their own research and what the competition are using in their product, choose the best one and use it in a new model who's intro price undercuts pretty much everyone else.

Dude, you're getting a Dell!

They did it recently, Samsung releasing a new consumer grade 24 inch panel at 1920x1200 pixels (16:10 widescreen) with 8bpc colour depth for subpixels, 16ms pixel response (grey-to-grey, 12ms black-to-white) and good contrast and brightness claims. Dell have taken that panel, married it with a good display controller, formidable input options and a good looking bezel and stand to create the 2405FPW.

It's that display that I requested recently for my high-res games testing endeavours. I've had the pleasure of using it for the last week or so, give or take, so here's a HEXUS.mini-review.