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November 28, 2005

Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW 24 inch LCD Monitor

Here’s another item from the TechSpot Holiday Gift Guide that likely has more general appeal than an 800GB RAID 0 array. It’s the Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW 24 inch LCD Monitor which lists for a remarkably low $1,199 at Dell, but which you can find for less than $1,000 elsewhere.

This monitor has been on the market for a while and collected a number of reviews. All seem to agree that for ordinary productivity applications it is incredibly slick. Bent User (who has some nice photos):

I am no stranger to high-resolution work environments. Prior to using the 2405FPW, I used two monitors with resolutions of 1420×1200 and 1280×1024. As you might expect, the difference between one large monitor and two smaller is night and day. Let me say that again: there is no comparison. Widescreen 1080P isn’t just bigger, it allows you to do things that you otherwise could not. Consider the following: the 1920×1200 pixel native resolution of the 2405FPW allows Word, Internet Explorer and Instant Messenger to run comfortably side-by-side without overlap…

Hit the link for the screenshot. Also:

It is also important to note that even with the immense 1920×1200 resolution, the pixel pitch … is still reasonable – 0.270 mm – comparable to that of a 19” monitor running at 1280×1024. This means that because of the monitor’s size you can get away with the high resolution without increased eye strain.

More in the same vein from Loyd Case at PC Mag where it is an Editor’s Choice:

With its 1,920-by-1,200 (WUXGA) resolution, the 2405FPW is a productivity boon for graphics pros, spreadsheet jockeys, and knowledge workers who want to keep an e-mail window open off to the side while they work in another application. And while the Dell is not a TV (it lacks a built-in tuner), it’s just crying out to be connected to a Media Center PC (or other tuner-equipped machine).

Even though low price doesn’t always mean a good product, we’re happy to report that Dell has delivered a highly capable widescreen display. The model has a 9-in-1 USB memory card reader and a USB 2.0 hub built into the display. In the lab, the 2405FPW hit its marks, with a measured contrast ratio of 612:1. The minimum dark level was also quite good for an LCD. In addition, the unit we tested tracked close to the 6,500 K (Kelvin) color temperature that’s specified by the NTSC standard, which is good news if you plan on watching DVD movies or TV.

One key parameter for fast-moving video and high-frame-rate gaming is the response time. Dell rates the 2405FPW at 12 ms gray-to-gray (from one shade of gray to another). Several action movies we viewed showed no visible signs of smearing or streaking—once we updated the graphics card driver. If you buy one of these, make sure you update your video card with the latest drivers. Games also looked good, and we saw no ghosting even in fast-paced 3D game play. Most games, however, are still mired in 4:3 aspect ratio, so you’ll want to set the scaling of the display to Aspect Ratio; the default stretched mode makes some games look really odd.

Which introduces several important points. As Dell warns on their web site, you need to be sure that your graphics card supports the WUXGA resolution of 1920×1200. Then there was a constant refrain in the reviews that you need to update your graphics card drivers, particularly for video playback. ExtremeTech:

We watched parts of several DVD movies on the UltraSharp 2405FPW, also through the DVI input. At first, we encountered a really ugly image quality problem, with white streaks appearing during full-screen video playback. We paid a visit to nVidia’s Nzone web site and downloaded the public beta 67.66 drivers for the GeForce 6 series. The image-quality issue disappeared. The lesson here is that driver updates may be needed for these ultra-high resolution displays.

Frankly, the reviews vary greatly on DVD playback and it’s not clear how many would have been improved with a driver update. Kristina Blachere at CNET:

DVD playback was mediocre, with visible streaking and ghosting; however, the UltraSharp 2405FPW rendered details well, even in darker scenes.

Alexander Gasparski at WindowsAtoZ:

We did, however, notice small ghosting and streaking when playing fast-moving action games and watching a DVD, but nothing that was bad enough to make the picture anywhere near mediocre. Dark-scenes rendered and displayed very good in our testing as well.


The Dell’s numerous inputs should endear it to entertainment-minded buyers. The 2405FPW accepts not only analog and digital output from a PC, but also composite, component, and S-Video from consumer electronic devices such as DVD players and camcorders. Each input is clearly labeled and numbered on the back, and the corresponding numbers on the front bezel light up as you select the input.

The existence of inputs does not translate into excellent output, however. When we played our test DVD movie through our PC’s digital output, the 2405FPW showed fuzzy images and somewhat dull colors. When we connected a high-quality DVD player to the monitor via its component inputs, the colors improved, but the image still lacked crispness. Details did look impressive in dark areas, though, particularly in the highlights on a black velvet cloak.

Finally, as the PC Mag review alludes, gaming is problematic on all large displays because of the aspect ratios. Extreme Tech recommends checking in on the Wide Screen Gaming Forum for particular games but observes that when the full resolution is supported, it is really nice. LAN Game Reviews:

Right off the bat let me say WOW. Primarily this was used for BF2, EQ2 and City of Heroes and not only was the gameplay excellent but quite possibly somewhat improved due to clarity. The special effects when casting a spell or firing the mini-gun seemed to jump of the screen…

With a decent 5.1 sound system, and a quality video card to drive the monitor you will be startled by the impact of a well placed arty round. This is not the kind of monitor that makes a game look better; it immerses you into the world as the game designers intended. This monitor is made for one thing and one thing alone, to make you feel like you can leap from tall buildings… and feel frightened when you realize your secondary in City of Heroes hasn’t got Flight yet!

To sum it up, the Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW seems to be a bargain on a very capable display for ordinary computer uses, but you need to be sure your graphics card can handle it. For DVD playback and games you will need to be a little careful.

Posted at 8:04 pm. Filed under Companies, Dell, Displays, LCD

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