Everyone has their own idea of the perfect display size, determined by some mystical combination of applications used, available desk space, viewing distance, and resolution, tempered by a degree of techie feng shui and a hearty dose of budgetary reality. Remove my budget issues from the equation--it's much less than the $1,400 list price Dell commands for the UltraSharp 2707WFP--and I'd have to say that 27 inches is my new Goldilocks point. Anything smaller is too small, and the 30 inchers are too big: the 16-inch-high screen on the 2707WFP perfectly complements the adjoining Sony Artisan CRT on my desk. If I didn't need exceptionally accurate color, the 2707WFP might even suffice by itself--it's large enough to view two letter-size facing pages at actual size, a dizzying number of Adobe Lightroom image thumbnails, and twice as many rows and columns in Excel or Access as are visible on the CRT--not to mention providing enough space to make Outlook's right-hand preview pane layout practical.
As you'd expect, the 2707WFP is pretty easy to set up. The solid glass base provides an unshakable ballast, and perhaps more important, spilled orange juice comes right off with a little Windex. You can quickly route all cables through the neck, thanks to a slide-off plastic cover. The two USB ports in the back are nice for routing the cables of more permanently attached devices, while the side ports can be used for quick hookups to USB flash drives and such.
Manufacturer's specs and features
- Resolution: 1,920x1,200 pixels
- 92 percent NTSC color gamut
- Dot pitch: 0.303mm
- Pixel-response rate: 6ms (gray to gray), 16ms (black to white)
- Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
- Viewing angle: +/- 89 degrees vertical, +/- 89 degrees horizontal
- Connectivity: One each single-link DVI-D, VGA, component, S-Video and composite; one upstream, four downstream USB 2.0 ports
- Other features: HDCP compliant; CompactFlash SD/MMC, Memory Stick, and SmartMedia card slots; picture-in-picture display
Though the 2707WFP has most of the features you'd consider essential in a display, it had some notable omissions. I'd much prefer two DVI connectors with a VGA adapter option rather than one of each. And no HDMI at this price seems a little stingy. I also found the color controls in the onscreen menus lacking--PC Normal, PC Red (warmer) and PC Blue (cooler) lack context in the world of photography or video and seem to just make the display really red or really blue. You can adjust the individual RGB outputs, but it's a pain. I would have preferred to have seen color temperature settings for the experts and meaningful presets for movies, graphics, work, and so on for more casual users. Thankfully, there are presets on the analog input: Standard and Vivid. Additionally, it does offer PC Mode and Mac Mode, which I assume refer to the standard 1.8 and 2.2 gammas, respectively. Unfortunately, the manual isn't specific--it explains modes with the unhelpfully tautological explanation of "To achieve the different color mode for PC and Mac."
Dell fares better on the nondisplay options, such as the built-in CompactFlash SD/MMC, Memory Stick, and SmartMedia card slots, which mount on your system when you plug in the upstream USB cable. For the most part this works smoothly, although we did run into a hiccup: the 2707WFP insists upon assigning four contiguous logical drive letters. If you don't have four together (say, because you've got a lot of pesky network volumes, like my roster of 13), you'll wonder where some of the card slots have disappeared to. Of course, this won't affect the majority of home users, but those on large corporate networks should take note. The card slots do perform quite zippily, though, as expected of a USB 2.0 transfer rate. There's also, as previously mentioned, a total of four USB 2.0 ports--two in the back and two in the sides. The side ports are especially nice for those who like to keep their actual PCs hidden; they can still snap in a USB flash drive without a lot of effort.
There's been some grumbling out in the ether about the 2707WFP's low resolution for its size--just take a look at the comments on Dell's site. I have to admit, there's some truth to the resolution issue. The way the math works out, the 2707WFP has a resolution density of about 83 pixels per inch; that's effectively the same as working on a 15-inch monitor at 1,024x768. Remember those days? At their native resolution, most current LCD monitors instead operate at a minimum of 96 ppi, and notebook displays are even denser. As a result, text and graphics on the 2707WFP look comparatively coarse, and extended viewing may leave you feeling a bit woozy, as it did me.