Dell's previous 27-inch screen, the 2707WFP, was designed as a larger version of the 24-inch alternative — it featured the same resolution of 1,920x1,200, a bigger screen, and hence bigger dot pitch — meaning things were just a little bit larger, a boon for those with diminishing vision. The 2709W follows the same trend, with a few new features to boot.
The 2709W sits on a black square base and has a silver neck, with swivel, tilt and height adjustments available. The height adjustment mechanism has been inherited from the 3007WFP's rack and pinion design, rather than the lever system found on the 2707WFP and — and while it's a step up, it isn't as smooth as it could be (especially from the top position). Regardless, the base is heavy enough and you should be able to find optimal positioning with little worry. Instead of the brushed aluminium look of the previous 2707WFP, the 2709 opts for the tried and true matte black, with a silver trim around the edges.
Our first worry was the seeming lack of buttons, remembering the limitations of the 3007WFP — however, this was quickly blasted out of our brains by the monitor making a horrible elongated beep when turned on, as if there was an error.
Five blue lights on the right then lit up one at a time, and slowly disappeared again one by one. These are the new menu buttons. They're touch sensitive, and unlike those capacitive buttons built on a super-smooth, fingerprint-loving surface, these are part of the bezel itself, with the same matte texture. Once you're up and running, the completely unlabelled buttons disappear from sight.
You'd be forgiven then for thinking you'd never be able to find these buttons in the dark, and that it would take a while to figure out what each unmarked button does. But hold your hand near the bottom right of the bezel, and a light above the power button turns on, showing you exactly where to press — this is the menu button.
It's here where the hideous beep from before made a return, but in shorter fashion — every single button press results in an error-sound-esque squawk. This can thankfully be turned off, and we did so with amazing haste.
Once the menu button is pressed the five buttons above it light up, and a menu appears in the bottom right of the screen with context-sensitive options available for each button. It's a modified version of what appeared on the Crystal and is amazingly intuitive, not to mention leagues ahead of the annoying menu that plagued the 07 and 08 series. If there's any flaw, it's that the power button is touch sensitive too, and it's all too easy to turn the monitor off by accidentally brushing your palm against it while trying to hit another button. You can even customise three of the buttons to your favourite functions, making your experience a little more "one touch".
This is where Dell excels — the usual card reader at the left supports CF/xD/SD/MS/MMc and dual USB ports, while another two USB ports reside underneath. Also, underneath are the video inputs, offering component, composite, two DVI ports, VGA, display port and HDMI video-in. S-Video is gone, but as a bonus you get three 3.5mm jacks to support 5.1 sound when hooked up through HDMI.