Dell U3011

I'm pretty happy with my various computing devices, especially those of the desktop variety. One thing I'm always short on, however, is screen space.

NameWidescreen monitor: Dell U3011
At a glance:Massive 2,560 x 1,600 resolution (DisplayPort required),Excellent colour reproduction,Wide range of input options,Quality doesn’t come cheap
Summary:Budget-denting, but definitely a designer’s dream.
Rating:4.5/5
RRP:$2349
Contact:dell.co.nz

None

I’m pretty happy with my various computing devices, especially those of the desktop variety. I have ample processing power, storage and a collection of keyboards, mice and game controllers that would put many computer stores to shame. One thing I’m always short on, however, is screen space.

Here at PC World, I do the visual design of the DVD – the banners, backgrounds and icons. That involves a fair amount of image editing. Working with a 1,522 x 3,805-pixel banner on a pair of 1,280 x 1,024-pixel monitors is difficult, to say the least. I tend to push the GIMP’s toolbox and layer palette onto my secondary monitor, but that only saves so much space. It also creates all sorts of issues when working with my graphics tablet, that doesn’t like dealing with multi-monitor setups.

When Dell offered to send us their latest 30-inch, 2,560 x 1,600-pixel display, I jumped at the chance. It would be a tight squeeze on my desk, but I found plenty of room to get it running in the PC World Test Centre.

First thing’s first: you are not going to get 2,560 x 1,600-pixels over DVI or HDMI. Take one of those roads and you’re limited to 1,920 x 1,080. To get the monitor running at its full resolution, you’re going to need a graphics card or motherboard with DisplayPort.

Okay, I admit it. I often criticise machines – usually notebooks – for offering DisplayPort over the more ubiquitous VGA, DVI and HDMI connectors. Well, here’s a real-world case where the new standard actually proves its worth. If you want to break that 1080p resolution barrier, DisplayPort is a must.

If you don’t mind the lower resolution – perhaps for connecting up your notebook, netbook or media player – Dell’s U3011 does provide two single-link DVI ports, two HDMI ports, one VGA port and component video connectors. In other words, you can plug in pretty much anything.

The monitor also features an in-built USB hub, with four USB 2.0 ports, and a 7-in-1 media card reader. I can’t stress the value of that enough – especially if, like mine, your computer is stored inaccessibly beneath your desk.

Performance

Colour reproduction is excellent, with 100% coverage of the sRGB colour space, and 99% coverage of AdobeRGB. At least in part, this is owed to the panel’s IPS (In-Plane Switching) design. Comprehensive colour adjustment options are provided, allowing you to customise the display to your requirements or tastes.

Motion is completely smooth, with a 7ms grey-to-grey response time. Video looks brilliant, though you’d have trouble finding anything to utilise the monitor’s full resolution. You could use the U3011 for gaming, but the same caveat applies. Getting modern games to run at 2,560 x 1,600 pixels requires a hell of a graphics card – you’re probably looking at multiple cards if you want a playable frame rate.

So, who would use the U3011? Designers. Developers. Accountants. Data analysts. Project managers. If you edit images, multi-task heavily, deal with large spreadsheets or other documents, extra screen real-estate is likely to give you a serious productivity boost.

Designers and photo-editors, take extra notice of this monitor: in addition to the massive four-megapixel resolution, you’ll find the colour range and calibration options a serious incentive to buy.

Correction

I was under the impression that the Dell U3011 provided only single-link DVI ports, where in fact it provides a dual-link port. This means you can achieve the maximum 2,560 x 1,600-pixel resolution over dual-link DVI, not only DisplayPort.

Thanks to the helpful reader that pointed out my mistake, and to Dell for confirming that the U3011 does indeed feature a dual-link DVI port.

-- Harley Ogier, Reviews Editor, PCW

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

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