A good monitor can mean the difference between a good computer setup and a bad one. With LCD prices dropping every day it is becoming more possible to own bigger and bigger monitors. The Dell 2405FPW is not the biggest, but it is also not the most expensive. We will see if Dell is able to find a good ground between size, quality and cost.
- Watch DVDs in natural format and run multiple applications simultaneously
- Wide aspect panel improves productivity with less scrolling and toggling
- Supports advanced features like PIP (Picture in Picture) and PBP (Picture By Picture)
- Delivers distortion-free, sharp images with 1000:1 contrast ratio
- Panels pivot, swivel, and tilt to optimize viewer comfort
- 19-in1 Card Reader
The Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW is so big that it is difficult to see the whole thing in one view. With all the features of a TV, this monitor could be the center of your entertainment center. When mated with a high performance computer like the Velocity Micro Gamers Edge this monitor really shines. With support for up to 5 different video types you are sure to find one that fits your computer. The Dell 2405FPW supports D-SUB (VGA), DVI-D, S-Video, component, and composite. VGA is what an older computer would use, this is also referred to as analog video. DVI-D is a newer digital video which is suppose to produce a cleaner picture, S-Video and component is what comes out of your DVD player and composite can sometimes be found on video cameras and VCRs. Keep in mind that because this is an LCD, you are only suppose to use it at its native resolution. So, people with older computers and video cards may not have the capability of delivering a picture at 1920 x 1200.
The Dell 2405FPW really has a lot of features that make it a multi-use device. With Picture in Picture (PIP) you can display two different video sources on the same screen. This monitor does not have a TV tuner so it does not support direct coaxial input, but it does have S-Video so you could have your DVD player in one corner of the screen and the rest of the screen would be used for your computer. Of course if you already have a DVD player in your computer you can do this by moving the DVD window up into the corner and setting it to always be on top. In fact this is often more useful because you don’t lose any screen space and you can hide the DVD program when you need to.
This monitor also supports Picture by Picture. This is similar to Picture in Picture except that the two pictures are side by side. In this mode both screens are made smaller and placed side by side. The only way I found this useful is when you have more than one computer and you need to see them both at the same time.
In addition to all the other great features the Dell 2405FPW also has 4 USB ports. There are 2 on the side and 2 on the bottom. These are great for devices that you do not want to leave attached — things like joysticks and external hard drives. You should plug your mouse and keyboard into the back of your computer so that the cables are not dangling from your monitor. In addition to the 2 USB ports on the side there is also a 19-in1 Card Reader. This is very nice because you have quick easy access to the card reader from the side of the monitor, unless you have the monitor in a hutch.
The design is very clean and flat. The monitor is all black except for a small band of silver that runs around the side of the monitor. All your controls are located in the bottom right corner of the monitor. With these controls you can switch between the different inputs and also access the menus. With the menus you can adjust the brightness, colors, turn on and off the PBP and PIP and much more.
The stand is well designed also. It has a black neck to match the monitor with a silver base that matches the band that goes around the monitor. It is balanced to the weight of the monitor so the spring inside helps you lift and lower the monitor without much effort. In Landscape mode, the neck raises 3 inches to bring the panel to the huge height of 25 inches. The stand also makes it possible to rotate and tilt the monitor. The stand can tilt the monitor 5 degrees forward and 20 degrees back, and it swivels 40 degrees to the left and the right. If you don’t like widescreens or you just want to have a tall monitor, then the stand lets you pivot the monitor so it is tall rather than wide. However, the monitor does not come with any pivoting software so it is harder to pivot the operating system from a wide screen to a tall screen. There is a user guide on the CD that comes with the monitor that tells you how to get the monitor to pivot with certain graphics cards. The cable holder in the back helps the design a lot. This helps so that you don’t see lots of cables dangling about when you are sitting at the computer. The cable holder can sometimes get in the way; for example, if you want to raise the monitor or turn it you may have to manually re-adjust the cables because the cable holder is not slick enough to let the cables slide.
All of the inputs and another set of USB ports are all located on the back of the LCD. This is nice because it keeps the cords out of the way so you don’t see them, but it is difficult to connect new things with out having to tip the monitor on it back. The monitor is so big that it can be difficlut to find a space big enough on your desk to hold it.
As I tested the Dell 2405FPW I really noticed how sharp the text was and how clear and crisp the colors were. I did not find much that I could complain about. Although, I did notice that during the monitor setup process for Windows Media Center I was not able to get the screen to go as dark as the setup recommended. You will also notice, if you look really closely, that some of the colors are not as bright in the corners. This is more noticeable when you are in a dark room and you have the entire screen one solid color. This can be duplicated by turning on the blank screen saver and turning off your lights. This anomaly is called backlight bleeding and all LCDs suffer from it. As LCD technology gets better the effects of this are less noticable. The 2405FPW suffers much less from this than it predecessors.
I also watched several movies and played several games on this screen. I didn’t have any problems with games. This is great because previous LCD monitors have had trouble with ghosting and streaking. This was primarily because of the refresh rate of the LCDs. Actually, I did have one problem with games, but it was not the monitors fault. Most games do not support the 16:10 aspect ratio that this monitor needs. So a lot of games don’t fill up the screen, or are stretched to fill the screen. Using the monitors controls you can choose whether or not to have the picture streached, but it sure is nice when you can play a game at the full 1920 x 1200. The only game in my collection that supported the 16:10 aspect ratio was Half Life 2. Movies were also very clean looking. The colors were good. Even thought this is a wide screen monitor there is still a considerable amount of black space on the top and bottom of your widescreen movies.
Warranty and Support
The Dell 2405FPW comes with a three-year warranty. Toll-free technical support is available from Dell for the life of the warranty. The Dell 2405FPW did not come with a printed user guide, but the manual on CD is good. Unfortunately, if you cannot get the monitor working and you don’t have another computer it is kind of hard to see the user guide. Dell’s Web site offers online support in the form of answers to FAQs, a searchable knowledge base, troubleshooting tips, and downloads and upgrades.
These wide displays are perfect for working with multiple windows or extremely wide documents and spreadsheets. They are rather expensive, so be sure to look for sales and coupons. If they would get rid of PIP and PBP, and reduce the price, I think it would be for the better. If you are an extreme gamer or you work with a lot of windows or wide documents, then you will probably find a use for this. Most everyone else will probably do fine to stick with a standard size monitor.
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