Who else has a Dell 2711?
I got my first one today, I say my first because there are plans for it to get a friend.
I've never been a huge fan of LCD's, for years I've been using old Sony Trinitron CRT's, either IBMs or Dells.
They have been fantastic, awesome quality, massive resolution and second hand, really cheap.
But, being old and used a LOT they have had a habit of dying on me, and one of them died yesterday, leaving with me with just one monitor (which is never enough).
I had a feeling it was going to happen, so have been looking at replacement LCD's.
What I want is an NEC or Lacie, but they are just way out of the budget.
So I went out today and got a Dell u2711 (27inch), which gets consistently top reviews.
A 3011 (30inch) would have been nice, but costs twice as much and I can't fit two on my desk.
The 2711 gets similar results for image quality, has the same horizontal resolution and only 160 pixels less vertical res.
So, after 8 hours, what do I think?
It needed calibrating.
Forget about the BS bit of paper that comes with it saying it's been calibrated.
I don't know what Dell use to do the calibration, but I suspect it's an old blind man who calibrates by eye.
After calibration it looks VERY good. In fact colours are very close to those on my remaining IBM P275 (CRT), which is the first time I've ever had two different monitors calibrate nearly the same.
The blacks are good, the whites are very good and colours and saturation look great.
The extra horizontal res is nice, but I am noticing the difference in vertical res.
How does it compare to the old school CRT?
Well the Sony Trinitron is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, monitor screens ever made. I've gone through about 6 of them now, and once calibrated they have all been amazing to look at.
I've spent hours working on LCD's, but always enjoyed coming home to my big pair of Trinitrons. They were just so nice and natural look at.
And the resolution, oh! the resolution!
Two 21inch screens each running at 2048x1536, a total of 4096x1536 pixels of screen real estate to play with.
I'm one of those people who likes to edit at the highest resolution possible, as close as I can get to 100% the better, and bigger I can get it the better still.
Well the Dell definitely lets me get it big!
The 2560x1440 native res is really nice, and the screen is physically a lot wider than the old CRT, while being roughly the same height.
Being larger, the pixel size is also bigger, so text is actually easier to read and the screen is a noticeably sharper.
Currently I do notice the missing 100 vertical pixels, but I don't think it's a big deal and will get used to it.
I'm running my last CRT beside it at 1920x1440 to match, and it works (although more on that later).
After a couple of days I expect I'll be used to the different res and won't notice the missing few as I take advantage of the massive increase in horizontal res.
(and it's nice to play games in 16:9, some just don't work in 4:3, like COD MW3)
Quick note on gaming, it works very well. CRT's are regarded as gaming gods because they have zero input lag and can run at massive refresh rates. I haven't noticed a difference.
So hows the colour and are all the blacks and whites there?
The colour is very good, almost as good as the CRT. It's sort of so close you can forget the difference, but sometimes I see it and it catches me out.
Contrast is excellent, and along with the brightness once properly set looks better than the CRT (yes I said that).
I did have to reduce both values from factory default though.
The white tones are all there too, not as clearly defined as they are on the CRT, but I can see all of them in the Spyder Pro test screen.
Of course they lack the pure white that the CRT does, the bulb in the back is always going to mean they are never as white as the CRT can be.
Fortunately the brain adjusts for such things
The blacks are a different story. The very last 2 blocks on the gradient chart are easily visible on the CRT, but merge into one on the 2711.
So while LCD's have come a long, long way, they still can't match a really top CRT.
Does this really mean anything?
Well I have yet to actually notice it in use, but it's there. If your really anal about black and whites then it's something to consider. Although unless your already using a nice CRT, or something as good as the 2711, then chances are it will be an improvement.
I've been through some of the black and whites in my library and I'm happy with the missing black tone.
Who cares, its functional, has a thin bezel and it fits on my desk (just)
To get the most out of it, i.e. make full use of it's 10bit display, you need to connect the 2711 via Displayport.
If you have a Mac, that's easy as they all have display port connections now.
If you have a PC, it could be an issue, although most of the mid to high end cards released in the last 18 months have display port connections.
If you don't have display port it will run of a DVI'd connection which is now common, even on computers with internal graphics.
It won't support a full 10bit work flow, but it will run at full res and to be honest, I doubt you'll notice the difference.
If you've still got a computer with only a VGA connection forget about it. Spend the money on a new computer first. It will connect over VGA (and comes with the VGA cable connected, I suspect this is how it was calibrated and explains the shocking factory results).
But, VGA has a limited on horizontal resolution of 2048 pixels, so it will not run at it's native resolution, which just looks really, really ugly (I tried it).
The built in USB ports are nice too. I've connected my calibration puck to them, which frees up space on the back of my comp and helps with cable management.
There's also a card reader, but no CF slot, only SD etc. Great if you have a 60D, not so good for those of us with 5D's and other older Canons.
Running more than one?
We all know 1 is never enough, Cameras, Lenses, cats and girlfriends. The more the merrier.
Well it's a physically BIG screen. You need a wide load sign to carry it down a hallway.
That said, I like to have the extra space of a second screen, I'm used to working with massive res, and I've kept my remaining CRT connected.
If your currently working with a pair of 19, or even 24inch LCD's, the step up to a 27inch might give you enough space in one screen.
Of course if working on two different monitors is part of your workflow (using the grid in LR, having mail open etc) then your going to still need a second screen.
I'm going to get another 2711, but I have a huge desk. My office space is a bedroom at home, and fully 1/3 of the wall space is taken up by my desk.
But what you really want is another 19 inch screen sitting beside it in portrait orientation. Something with 1440x900 res.
Ideally you have an ATI Graphics card with eyefinity, then you can put two 19inch monitors beside it for a 3 screen set up. Awesome for gaming
Quick note, mixing LCD and CRT doesn't seem to work very well.
With the 2711 connected via DP or DVI, and the CRT via VGA one of them will flicker and do weird things.
I believe the graphics card is having a hard time outputting a both a digital and analogue signal.
This is with an ATI 5870, a pretty high end card with lots of grunt.
I expect a second 2711 also connected via DP will resolve this.
Any questions ask away, there is a lot more to the 2711 than what I've covered, but hopefully it gives you some idea of how it compares to one of the best monitors ever made, and what it's like to use.
I've also got a lot to learn about it yet