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Dell 2405FPW Review

Highs

  • Large
  • bright screen; many inputs; small footprint; fast response time

Rating

Our Score 9.5
User Score 8

Lows

  • No HDCP support via the DVI input; could be replaced soon by a newer model
The Dell 2405FPW 24-in. LCD is a first class, top-of-the-line monitor.

Summary

If you have been waiting for a large LCD at a great price, the Dell 2405FPW is the display for you. Unless you are dead set on an HDMI with a 24-in. display, there is no reason to pass up on the Dell 2405FPW. The bright, crisp images the screen delivers are matched only by the flexibility and features built into this behemoth of a desktop.

*Edited 3/2/06 – We changed the “cons” to to show our lack of dissapointment for no HDCP support via the DVI input.

Features and Design

As of the date of this review, Dell supplies around 60% of all displays used in corporate America. The low cost but high quality of the early Dell display line, coupled with low bundle prices, gave the PC maker a foothold into the market they now lead. The most significant break into the consumer desktop market occurred with the 2001FP 20.1-in. display, which was given high marks by nearly every site that reviewed it. The quick response time, brightness, and low cost made the 2001FP the darling of the gaming community, and a great option for graphic designers looking for a break from the high prices of Apple monitors. Since then, aggressive pricing and high quality panels have taken Dell to the top of the market.

The 2405FPW marks Dell’s entry into the 24-in. LCD category. The significance of this display is beyond simply expanding the product line. The only other 21-in.+ options on the market by a large manufacturer, as of this writing, are Apple and HP. Apple offers both 23-in. and 30-in. displays, whose sleek, brushed aluminum finish inspires techno-lust in all who see them. For a while, these two displays stood alone. HP’s L2335 uses the same LCD display panel as the 23-inch Apple Cinema Display, developed by Lg- Philips and won our Editor’s Choice Award last year. If you wanted a 23-in. display, you had only two options, and the price premium could be rationalized by taking into account the fancy finish or exclusivity of being the first on the block with one of these impressive displays. The Dell 2405FPW offers an extra inch, better all-around specs, and a significantly lower price (especially when bundled with a system), compared to the Apple and HP equivalent. To anyone on a budget, the decision is a no-brainer.

Out of the box, you get the LCD panel, desktop stand, DVI cable, VGA cable, USB cable, and driver CD. The stand is of the standard Dell variety, used for years. It allows for tilting up and down and side-to-side, in addition to raising and lowering the neck of the mount. The connection point in the back of the panel is a standard VESA mount (and a $30 option for Apple displays). The stand will consume 8×12-in. of desk space, with an empty space large enough for a PDA or MP3 player docking station. The back of the stand’s neck has a rubberized clasp for cable management. We’ve seen some better cable schemes, specifically by Samsung, but the Dell option gets the job done.

The panel itself has a nice thin bezel around the 24-in. diagonal, 16:10 aspect ratio screen. All controls are located in the bottom right corner, along with an LED backlit number that indicates the selected input. The controls include Input Selection, PIP mode, Menu, and Plus and Minus. PIP has two modes:  Boxed and Side-By-Side. The position and size of the PIP box can be adjusted, and the two inputs can be swapped or placed side-by-side, essentially turning the 2405 into a cheap dual monitor setup (although we’d never recommend it for that use). Integrated features include a four-port USB 2.0 hub, with two ports mounted along the left side, and two in the back next to the input ports. The side-mounted ports are intended for use with USB flash drives and other devices where quick connection/disconnection would be convenient. Above the side USB ports is a built-in 9-in-1 flash media reader, for quick access to nearly all types of memory cards used in digital cameras.

If you have a video device, the 2405 has an input for it. The native resolution of 1920×1200 can be driven through the DVI, VGA, component, S-video, or composite inputs. With the recent introduction of a 30-in. display, it should be noted that most video cards will be able to drive the 2405 at maximum resolution. The resolution of the 30-in. displays requires so much bandwidth that a dual-link DVI capable card must be used to drive it. This is not the case, thankfully, with the 2405FPW. Essentially any graphics card purchased in the last two years should drive the 2405, with the exception of many laptop chips. We had no problem driving the 2405 with our Radeon 9800XT.

Dell gives you a three year warranty with this monitor which is industry standard. It’s worth pointing out that Gateway only has a one year warranty on most of their monitors and you have to pay them extra for a longer warranty.

Dell 2405FPW
Image Courtesy of Dell

Performance

The image quality of the Dell 2405 is stunning. The once king of the large LCD displays, the 2001FP, looks downright dim when placed side by side. The 500 cd/m2 brightness rating makes whites bright and colors vibrant. The 1000:1 contrast ratio gives deep blacks and rich color transitions. And with a 12ms response time, even the fastest motion is as smooth as butter. Compared to the Apple 23-in. Cinema Display, the 250 cd/m2 brightness, 400:1 contrast ratio, and 16ms response time look second rate. The HP L2335 23-in. display uses the same panel as the Apple display, but improves the backlighting slightly, with a 500:1 contrast ratio. We used the 2405 with Quake 4, City of Villains, and Counterstrike:  Source, and never observed any ghosting or smearing. We watched parts of The Matrix and Lord of the Rings:  Return of the King to test dark scenes and earth tones. We could find no shortcomings in image quality. The dot pitch is .27 mm, which is a little high, and accounts for the 1-in. vertical difference between the 2001FP and 2405FPW, since both have the same 1200 vertical pixel count.

The one glaring omission is an HDMI port. Without HDMI, and HDCP, protected high definition content such as HD-DVD and Blue-Ray Discs will not play at native resolution under the upcoming Windows Vista. An updated version of the 2405FPW is rumored to be in the works to add HDCP, but that doesn’t help owners of this display. We feel that if your primary use of the monitor will be for anything other than a high definition video display, you shouldn’t worry about the lack of HDCP. To be cautious, it might be worth waiting for the rumored 2407FPW with HDMI.

On factor (besides the features and performance) makes the Dell 2405FPW stick out from the crowd:  Price. While the MSRP is listed at $1,199.99, the past few months have seen the prices drop to as low as $770 with combined coupons, and it can be found regularly for $899.99 with a system purchase or through the Small Business Division. The HP L2335 display has been out for a while and can be found for slightly more, and the Apple 23-in. display (MSRP $1299) can be found for $1099.99 through the education store.

Conclusion

Aside from the lack of HDCP support via the DVI input input, the Dell 2405FPW 24-in. LCD is a first class, top-of-the-line monitor. The picture quality is excellent, the integrated features go above and beyond anything else on the market, and the price make this beauty a flat-out steal. Whether for gaming, working large spreadsheets, or Photoshopping in full 24-in. glory, the 2405FPW is the king of the large panel LCDs.

Pros:

  • Large, bright screen
  • Many inputs
  • Small footprint
  • Fast response time

Cons:

  • No HDCP support via the DVI input
  • Could be replaced soon via a newer model

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