Dell U2410

Now, this is not meant to be a proper technical review of Dell’s new fancy U-series monitor. It’s just my personal (as well as an industry professional color & printing expert) opinion.

Dell’s Ultrasharp series of monitors were their premiere line of monitors with zero-pixel defect warranty and 8-bit panels and all the good stuff. Recently, some of their Ultrasharp panels got watered down TN-panels, especially the smaller sizes. That didn’t sit well with me and a lot of people. Lately, they revamped their entire monitor line with single letter prefixes, i.e. G-, S- and U-. The G-series seemed to be Green, as i.e. low-power, environmentally friendly monitors. While I do minimize my carbon footprint, using solar energy as much as I can (from water heating to pumping water), recycling rain water, etc, I needed accurate color without the price tag of an Eizo monitor. The U-series replaces the former Ultrasharp line and while a 27″ incher would be lovely (as of writing this, the U2710 has not made an appearance), I rather have two monitors than one.

The U2410 caught my attention for one reason. IPS panels. You can go read here about LCD panel types but when I replaced my 21-inch 45-kilo Mitsubishi DiamondTron monitor for Dell’s Ultrasharp 2405WFP, the monitor still won on color accuracy but not by much. The 2405WFP by the way uses a S-PVA panels which is not as accurate as an IPS panel.

Reference targets and print matching…

The RM1,799 price was also too good to be true (there’s a additional RM200 rebate that I can get being a Dell partner so if you’re nice to me…). I paid RM2,385 for my 2405WFP in 2005! Talk about deflation! I have to come clean here about my 2405WFP’s price. Dell’s check-out process double-added the Merdeka rebate, i.e. original rebate was RM900 with a RM250 Merdeka rebate. I ended up getting RM900 + RM250 + RM250. Kudos to Dell however. They shipped, I got the monitor and it was awesome.

Calibrating with an i1 Photo SG and reference Eizo monitor

Likewise, the U2410 (Ultrasharp, 24-inch, 2010 model) came in a non-descript brown Dell box. I’d love some Apple packaging but at the price I paid, I’d live with brown boxes. I won’t talk about the specs here, you can read them over here plus a better review if you want. Compared to my 2405, the calibration went much better and when compared to an Eizo monitor four times the price (and minus 4-inches), it looked close enough. The advantage of the Eizo was a presentable color-temperature, i.e. 5600K, 6000K, 6500K etc.

Good color uniformity

The best would be to use my pro-lab’s words. They calibrated my monitor with their production Macs that output to Gretag-Macbeth lightjet printers and a lovely 60″-wide HP DesignJet Z6100. First words after calibrating with an Eye-One Photo were “How many more can you get?” The calibration however was consistent and it was not too difficult (under 30 minutes) to get it to match a print under 6500K lighting. Compared to the Eizo, I could tell the Dell was visibly cooler but only if they were side-by-side.

With appropriate color profiles for the LightJet and DesignJet loaded, the reference target prints look great. We matched on Photoshop, we matched against prints, and we matched with a specific kelvin temperature light. I’ve been printing with this lab for 10-years and the past four years with my 2405WFP with relatively faithful color reproduction (with the preview profile loaded of course) so if they claim the U2410 is better than my 2405WFP, I ought to have a easier time previewing and working on the difficult colors.

My pro-lab is a stickler for color accuracy so they’ll still do final proofs on the Eizo but for 99% of daily photo work, they can use the U2410 so that says a lot. That’s because it’s already very close to the Eizo according to them so it makes sense to have more monitors to work with and only save final proofing for the Eizo. After all, you can buy a few U2410s with a single Eizo.

The U2410 (left) with my 2405WFP (right)

Compared to my 2405WFP, the U2410 was a bit cooler. That’s probably because my 2405WFP defaulted to a native white point of 5700K compared to the U2410’s default of 6500K. Color uniformity is good with deep blacks and vivid colors. Overall, the U2410 is easier to calibrate (with an i1 Display2) than my 2405WFP. I don’t notice any response time issues. I’ve been working on a video the past three days so video previews has no noticeable ghosting or contrast issues. No dead-pixels either! The only drawbacks for me is the lack of a CF reader (yes, would be nice to download 2 CF cards at one time using the monitor and my Sandisk reader) and the boring stand. At least my 2405WFP stand can double up as a stationary tray of sorts. Anyways, it makes up by having SDHC support on the SD, MMC, Memory-stick reader and the soft-touch buttons are nice. The double-DVI and display port options are also nice so I can easily hook up my notebook. HDMI is also a good thing to have. Overall, no regrets with another excellent Dell monitor. Won’t mind getting another one if I can just make the cart double my rebate!

By the way, 3840-pixels wide is just amazing 🙂

Factory calibration report!