Dell SE2716H review

Dell’s curved 1080p monitor has us wondering if resolution really matters

Dell’s curved SE2716H makes 1080p look so good, you might pass on more pixels.
MSRP $400.00
Dell’s curved SE2716H makes 1080p look so good, you might pass on more pixels.
Dell’s curved SE2716H makes 1080p look so good, you might pass on more pixels.

Highs

  • Solid construction
  • Great color and contrast
  • Immersive curve

Lows

  • Middling brightness
  • A bit expensive for the resolution

As resolutions and screen sizes rise faster than ever, those who are stuck with, or prefer, 1080p are running out of high-end options. Enter the Dell SE2716H which, despite its lack of catchy name, is actually a memorable 1080p LCD with a 27-inch curved panel, impressive specs, and very few competitors.

In fact, the only real competitor is Samsung’s SD590C, a curved display with 1080p resolution and an almost identical price of $400, although both are available closer to $300 at publishing time. That’s not unreasonable for a nice 1080p screen, but it’s also the starting range for 2,560 x 1,440 monitors.

Which begs the question of what’s a better value — high-end 1080p, or entry-level 1440p? How this Dell performs will certainly sway that debate one way or the other.

Sturdy and simple

Build quality is a high note for this Dell. Unlike a number of monitors that have passed through the Digital Trends test bench, the SE2716H doesn’t sway or jiggle excessively when the desk it sits on is bumped. Unfortunately, the tradeoff is that there’s only one axis of rotation built into the stand, allowing it to lean back and tip forward. That issue is compounded by the lack of a VESA mount.

The thin black bezel is attractive and simple, with a semi-gloss finish that doesn’t distract or cause excessive glare. Dell claims it’s the narrowest bezel found on a 27-inch curved display, and that’s hard to verify, it certainly looks beautiful.

This Dell’s standout feature, however, is its curved screen. It doesn’t have the serious scoop to it that larger 34-inch monitors have, but it’s still an improvement on the flat design of most screens. The slight curve makes the monitor a conversation starter, and improves immersion in movies and games.

Hateful buttons

Controlling the Dell is a bit of a pain, thanks to the exclusive use of five buttons underneath the right side of the monitor. With the exception of the power button on the far right, which is lit only when the monitor is actually turned on, the rest of the buttons can be tricky to find.

The monitor excels by every metric aside from resolution.

The far left button brings up a menu to select from a number of preset monitor modes including standard, multimedia, movie, game, paper, warm, cool, and custom color. The second button from the left allows for quick volume adjustment for the monitor’s built-in speakers. The third button brings up the main menu, with a number of submenus underneath.

Brightness and contrast controls are the first you’ll find. There’s an automatic adjustment feature, but it’s not clear what effect it has beyond “optimizing the display settings for use with your particular setup,” and it’s only available over VGA. The color menu allows for inputting color information in YPbPr or RGB, as well as selecting from the preset color modes listed above. Under display, there are menu items for aspect ratio, boundaries, sharpness, pixel clock, phase, dynamic contrast, response time, and an option to reset everything to default.

Dell SE2716H monitor
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

It’s worth noting that depending on settings and inputs, some options may be unavailable to set manually. The audio menu has both volume and source selection, and the energy menu just has one option to change when the power button is lit, but only between being off all the time, and being on when the monitor is turned on.

Double the HDMI, but no DisplayPort

Ports are appropriate, if not a little dated, for a newer display. Two HDMI ports with MHL and a single VGA make up the video-in selection, while a microphone-in and headphone-out port add to the suite. The Samsung SD590C offers a similar selection, but swaps the second HDMI for a lone DisplayPort. That would’ve been nice to see on the Dell as well, but those with older machines looking for a monitor upgrade will be pleased to find VGA instead of DVI.

Charming out-of-the-box

While the SE2716H’s 1,920 x 1,080 panel isn’t the highest resolution around, it managed to score well in most of our benchmarks. The maximum brightness of 272 lux isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s enough to ensure clarity even in brightly-lit office spaces. Color gamut is strong, covering 98 percent of the sRGB spectrum and 74 percent of the AdobeRGB spectrum, plus good contrast with a 790:1 ratio at max brightness. Color accuracy is sharp with a 2.3 average deviance (lower is better) although gamma is a bit off the mark at 2.1.

Calibration enhances the strong points of this already impressive display.

The uncalibrated Samsung offers much higher brightness than the Dell, for what it’s worth, but loses out in almost every other area. Its gamma is actually further off at 2.0, color accuracy is slightly worse, and the color gamut is about the same. The big difference is in contrast, where the Dell smashes the Samsung’s uncalibrated contrast ratio of just 540:1 at full brightness.

The Dell’s excellent results mean a display that looks and runs great right out of the box. The issues it has are minor, and aren’t noticeable unless you’re looking for them. Dark scenes look deep and true, colors seem bright and vivid, and the maximum brightness, while low, is still perfectly adequate unless your office is on the surface of the sun.

The good gets better

Like aerating a wine, calibration serves to enhance the strong points of this already impressive display. Gamut sees a slight bump, up to 99 percent sRGB and 76 percent AdobeRGB, and contrast and black levels improve very slightly. Most noticeable are the gains to color accuracy, which see the average deviance improve from 2.3 to 1.26 (again, lower is better). Any deviance below one is considered generally unnoticeable to the human eye, so this is an excellent result.

Those changes make a difference in the visual quality of the monitor, particularly in colorful scenes. The differences between shades were more pronounced after calibration, with light-soaked blues and greens looking less washed-out and faded than before.

On the whole, the SE2716H’s image quality is perfect for multimedia use. Its high contrast ratio creates a sensation of depth, and its color accuracy provides lifelike details. Both photo editors and gamers will appreciate these traits, but the benefits are noticeable even while watching YouTube or browsing photos on Facebook.

Listen up

The Dell has a pair of speakers totaling nine watts of power built into the back of the display. Monitor speakers usually aren’t very impressive, and the SE2716H is no exception. The volume of the speakers can rattle the case of the monitor. That means the speakers are clear at low volume, but become buzzy when the volume is kicked up.

Long live the warranty

Dell includes an abnormally long three year limited warranty. That’s much longer than the one year warranty on the Samsung, and better than average for monitors in its price range.

1080p to remember

Dell’s SE2716H doesn’t offer the best value for a 1080p screen, nor does it sport any groundbreaking new features that will change monitors forever. What it does do is smack the objective targets for a competent display right on the head, and add a curve that makes the monitor an (almost) unique proposition.

When put up against its only direct competitor, the Samsung SD590C, the Dell looks even better. It offers better visual quality, and calibrating the screen boosts its already great out-of-the-box picture. Both monitors sell for around $300, so there’s no question the Dell is a better choice, unless DisplayPort is an absolute must-have.

While many PC enthusiasts have moved on to 1440p or even 4K, it’s understandable that not everyone is ready. 1080p is more affordable, and requires less powerful hardware. Curve aside, the SE2716H isn’t cutting-edge, but it’s a good pick if you’re not ready to upgrade to a higher display resolution.

Highs

  • Solid construction
  • Great color and contrast
  • Immersive curve

Lows

  • Middling brightness
  • A bit expensive for the resolution
Product Review

The Sony Xperia 1’s cinematic 4K screen is fantastic. The rest? Not so much

Sony’s Xperia 1 smartphone is svelte, tall, modern, and powerful. The 21:9 aspect ratio means you get a cinematic viewing experience. It’s too bad there are several other shortcomings, such as a lackluster camera.
Product Review

The Lenovo IdeaPad S940 has its flaws, but the presentation won us over

The Lenovo IdeaPad S940 is a well-built laptop that leverages its tiny bezels to good effect. It’s small, thin, and has a great display, with a cost in performance and battery life.
Deals

Walmart drops an incredible deal on this 65-inch curved Samsung 4K TV

Curved screens are to 4K what red wine is to cheese — a match made in heaven. As such, this fantastic deal on a curved 65-inch Samsung 4K TV is not to be overlooked. A $250 price cut is nothing to sneeze at.
Home Theater

OLED or LED? We pick the winner in the battle of competing TV tech

The acronyms OLED and LED sound and look very similar, but the two technologies are vastly different in terms of engineering, performance, and capabilities. Which technology wins when you pit OLED versus LED in a TV?
Computing

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 gets a $140 price cut before Prime Day

We’ve already gathered some pre-Prime Day MacBook deals, but if you’re not a fan of Apple, this MacBook Surface Laptop 2 discount is worth a look. Though there will likely be more Prime Day laptop deals coming down the pipeline.
Computing

TrickBot returns with new attack that compromised 250 million email addresses

TrickBot returns with a new attack that teams up the malware with a module dubbed TrickBooster. An investigation into TrickBooster's servers discovered a database with 250 million compromised email accounts.
Deals

Walmart Prime Day sale: 4K TV, iPad, and Nintendo Switch Deals

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is here, and thousands of deals are already live. Of course, we should have known Walmart wasn't just going to sit back and let Amazon bask in the glory of its own Prime Day deals.
Deals

Early Prime Day deals: MacBook, 4K TV, AirPods, and Apple iPad discounts

Prime Day 2019 is coming fast and great early deals pop up every day. We've been tracking the hottest categories including smart home devices, 4K TVs, laptops, and headphones pulling out the best deals.
Deals

The Apple iPad Pro gets a huge $175 discount for Walmart’s Prime Day sale

Whenever online retailers battle for supremacy, shoppers usually win. And that's definitely the case with Walmart's iPad deals going on right now. If you're in the market for a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, you can pick one up with a $175 discount.
Deals

HP offers up its own sweet deals on Spectre x360 laptops for Prime Day 2019

Prime Day doesn't just mean Amazon's having a huge sale for its Prime members. Other companies like HP are offering their own deals and discounts. In fact, check out HP's current sale on its Spectre x360 laptops.
Deals

Best Prime Day Apple deals: iPad, MacBook, and AirPods discounts

Prime Day is officially here, and there are still some nice Apple deals to be had during Amazon's big event. We’ve rounded up iPads, Macbooks, and more, along with a quick and handy guide detailing what Apple deals you can expect to find.
Deals

Best Prime Day Apple deals: iPads, MacBooks, and Apple Watches

Prime Day is officially here, and there are still some nice Apple deals to be had during Amazon's big event. We rounded up a few right here, along with a quick and handy guide detailing what Apple deals you can expect to find.
Deals

The Eero Pro Wi-Fi system is $200 off in early Amazon Prime Day deal

Amazon Prime Day is a fine time to upgrade your home Wi-Fi system. Now, Amazon Prime members only can secure an early Prime Day deal on a mesh network wireless router, with the Eero Pro Wi-Fi system now just $299.
Smart Home

Amazon cuts prices on Google Wi-Fi mesh network router for Prime Day

Amazon cut prices on Google Wi-Fi mesh wireless network devices for Prime Day 2019. Google Wi-Fi systems mesh network routers are expandable. If you use a conventional router and want faster Wi-Fi, these deals can help you save.