Review: Dell 2405FPW LCD Display

Dell 2405FPW: Tiger screen rotation

The nice thing about a review of this large LCD panel is that I don’t need to say much. I bought it to use as a computer display (see other uses below). I plugged it into the PowerBook via DVI when it first arrived, and it sprung to life at full 1920 x 1200 resolution immediately. I temporarily used it on my 5-year-old G4 with a graphics card which could only manage 1280 x 1024 pixels. The display had options to fully stretch that signal to fill the screen, stretch it proportionally and pillarbox, or simply show it 1:1 with black on all borders. I chose the latter for top quality.

And now on the new G5 with a phat graphics card, it continues to kick ass. Once or twice on the G4 while rebooting, the Dell seemed to get confused when the video signal went away briefly. A simple power cycle fixed that. But on the G5, the Dell 2405 seems perfectly comfortable. They do their handshaking as if they were meant for each other. Standards are good. The Dell even falls asleep when the G5 tells it so.

Quality-wise, the Dell is very good. In fact, I would have said “excellent” but I just got a new 20″ iMac G5 in as an admin machine, and it has the best display I’ve ever seen. To compare, the Dell has great whites, but the iMac is slightly better. After spending some time on the Dell, it’s not much different coming back to the iMac, but you can tell it’s just a little more balanced (maybe better blue, where the Dell either seems to have too much or not enough). I could probably run the same calibration tools on both and get them even closer. But that would still leave an interesting effect I notice at close range: The pixels on the iMac are crisp, while the Dell’s have a slight glow about them. Again, I wouldn’t even have noticed without having them side by side. Some people might even like the Dell’s glow/blur, as it can make text and graphics look less blocky at small sizes. Personally, I prefer to see what I’m doing, but again, it’s not a huge difference between the two.

The 2405 features DVI and VGA inputs for computers, as well as composite, S-Video and component connectors for video. I tried connecting a DVD player with both S-Video and component cables, but the result was a highly distorted picture in both cases. This was a Philips 727, which can output interlaced and progressive video. No matter what I did, it wasn’t useable.

A Motorola 6200 HD cable box with DVI output was different, but not better. A tiny version of its output would display on the 2405 then go blank. I’m guessing this was some sort of copy protection, but that would be pretty damned lame if I can’t even watch the show in the first place, let alone dupe it. What ever happened to one generation allowance schemes like SCMS on DAT tapes? There was definitely some “talking” back and forth, since I had to do a defaults reset before the cable box would again work with my HDTV and ReplayTV properly. This was a fun, though unsuccessful sidetrack for me. Your mileage may vary.

If you do plan to use the 2405 on a Mac or as a TV display, you obviously won’t use the included Windows driver. But that does come with one limitation: The normal setup menu accessed by the display’s on-board controls doesn’t offer brightness adjustment. Never fear, a trick is nigh: Instead of starting with the Enter button, hit – (minus). This will pop up a mini brightness menu. Easy like pie. And as you can see in the photo above, OS X 10.4 or later even supports screen pivot on many native graphics cards.

I still haven’t had a chance to try the flash media card slots on the side of the 2405, or the built-in USB 2.0 hub. I’ll try to update this entry or leave an extra comment if/when I get the chance.

Recently, I’ve seen killer deals on the Dell 2405FPW pop up again. If you can pick it up for near $800, it’s a no-brainer. Like I said when it arrived, even at the normal $1200 MSRP, this thing is the best deal out there by a wide margin. Get it? Wide..

And I don’t even notice the Dell logo when I’m using it.

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