Editors' note (May 24, 2010): CNET has raised its standard for monitor performance over the past year, and as a result, some monitors that scored high last year, likely wouldn't do as well in 2010. Case in point: the Dell G2210. It scored a 9 in performance last year, but compared with recent monitor releases, we think its performance would equal an 8. Also, though its price hasn't changed considerably since its launch, its exclusion of HDMI would have a bigger impact today, so we're lowering its feature score from a 6 to a 7. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, but we felt this a necessary step in the interest of fairness and accuracy.
Dell sells the 22-inch G2210 for $239 online--a satisfying price--and in fact, it is your best option for a 22-inch TN display with stellar performance and low power consumption. It won't win any beauty contests with its plain design and its lack of ergonomic features, a HDMI connection, and a Full HD resolution, but it makes up for these shortcomings with great performance in movies and by offering energy options that let you track and control your energy footprint. The 22-inch Gateway HD2201 sells for about the same price as the Dell and includes a HDMI connection, but its lacks in overall performance compared with the G2210. The The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ also also has great movie playback and color, but it's twice as expensive. If HDMI means the world to you, the HD2201 is a sound buy. If you have the extra funds and are interested in 120Hz and 3D gaming, the 22-inch Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ is a higher priced alternative.
Design and features
The 22-inch Dell G2210 is plainly designed with angular features and a black matte finish. The bezel measures a short 0.75 inch long on all sides and the middle of the bottom bezel has a slightly raised silver Dell logo on it. The panel is nearly 1 inch deep (In comparison, most 22-inch models we've tested have a panel depth of more than an inch); however, the back of the display--which houses the backlight, connection options, and ventilation system--extends another 1.5 inches, bringing the full monitor depth to about 2.4 inches. The panel width measures 20.2 inches long, which is average for a monitor of this screen size.
The rectangular footstand measures 10.75 inches in width, with a depth of 6.1 inches. The footstand is a short 0.5 inch tall. We saw only minimal wobbling when we knocked the display from the sides, but with such a long and flat footstand, you'd really have to knock it hard before it toppled. The bottom of the bezel sits about 2.75 inches from the desktop, but unfortunately, this screen height is neither adjustable nor is there a screen rotation or pivot option--which is useful if you prefer portrait mode. The capability to tilt the screen back 25 degrees is the only ergonomic feature included.
To keep the price and energy footprint down, Dell only includes DVI and VGA as connection options. There is no HDMI, which is mainstay on most monitors this size.
The most improved feature of the Dell G2210 is its OSD. The OSD follows Dell's recent stellar, label-less design last seen in the SP2309W and S2409W. This OSD, however, is even simpler and easier to use, with more features. Four buttons line the lower right-hand corner of the bezel. Pressing any of the buttons brings up the OSD, which pops up parallel to the button array, each option corresponding to one of the four buttons. Once a new menu comes up, the function of the buttons change dynamically, as the top two buttons become the up and down arrow buttons used to navigate though the newly seen menu. Since any button labels for the OSD are actually on the screen, calibrating the display in a dark room proved painless.
Pressing the button next to "Energy Modes" on the OSD brings up a menu for choosing three modes that can determine your monitor's energy footprint. Choosing Standard lets the user manually set the display's brightness. Energy Smart activates the ambient light sensor and caps the screen brightness at 66 percent. The ambient light sensor will adjust the brightness based on the level of light in the room. The lower the ambient light level, the lower the brightness automatically adjusts. Energy Smart Plus is identical to Energy Smart, but it adds dynamic dimming, which automatically dims the backlight when the screen shows an image that is overly bright or all white.
As you change options that affect your energy footprint--brightness, the three energy modes--you'll see an Energy Gauge in the OSD. The gauge is a meter that dynamically changes based on how much power your monitor is currently consuming. Take your brightness to full and the gauge goes into the red. Bring the brightness back down and your gauge responds by turning green. Ultimately, the Energy Gauge is not that useful as it is heavily tied to your monitor's current brightness level; however, this is a welcome first step and we'd like to see Dell and other vendors continue to develop its usefulness. Aside from the energy mode options, OSD options include the mainstays: brightness, contrast, and various color options. The presets are separated into two categories: Graphics and Video. There are six Graphics presets to choose from: Standard, Multimedia, Game, Warm, Cool, and, of course, Custom. The movie presets are: Movie, Game, Sports, and Nature. The presets do not change anything other than the Red, Green, and Blue color balance and therefore how well each setting works will be subjective. Also, there are options to adjust the hue and color saturation in addition to options like setting the OSD to stay on screen up to a minute; useful when calibrating.
The Dell G2210's 16:10 aspect ratio has a 1,680x1,050-pixel native resolution. An interesting decision by Dell, since the G2410 has a 16:9 aspect ratio. A 22-incher (or 21.5) with a 16:9 aspect ratio as a potential native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels. We wish Dell could have found a way to give the G2210 a higher resolution.
The 16:9 monitor trend currently sweeping the market has given many smaller monitors higher resolutions than they were capable of at 16:10. It's disappointing that Dell did not include it here, because high-definition content--in particular 1080p movies--can fit onto a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen without distorting the image.
Resolution: 1,680x1,050 pixels
Pixel-response rate: 5ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Connectivity: VGA, DVI-D
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? VGA, DVI
Panel Type: TN
We tested the Dell G2210 with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 97 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, which is the highest we've yet seen. We compared it with the 22-inch Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ, which scored an 89, and HP's LP2275w's 91. What impressed us the most during our DisplayMate tests was the G2210's accurate reproduction of color and its screen uniformity. In the Dark Screen test, the display yielded the least backlight bleed-through we've seen in a monitor. This indicates that movie watching on the G2210 will not be plagued by backlight glare during dark scenes as some monitors are. The G2210 easily passed all of our color tests getting perfect scores in all six tests.
Great scores in DisplayMate don't always translate into similar results in our real-world test, but the G2210 has some of the deepest blacks we've seen on a monitor; a critical attribute for good movie playback. We used the Movie preset to check out "War of the Worlds" ("WotW") on DVD and "House of Flying Daggers" ("HoFD") on Blu-ray. "WotW" looked great for a DVD, with a deep black level and accurate colors. "HoFD" also had deep blacks, accurate colors, and solid picture fidelity without any ghosting or streaking. The Gateway HD2201 used to be our favorite 22-incher to watch movies on, but it just cannot compare to the G2210.
Most of this incredible performance can be attributed to the LED backlight in the monitor. Most monitors use cold cathode fluorescent lamp-based backlights--several fluorescent tubes stretched horizontally across the screen. The Dell G2210 relies on individual LEDs all over the back of the screen that turn off or on independently, giving the display more precise control over the amount of light coming through. The purported advantages of an LED backlight are better energy efficiency, more accurate color reproduction, a conceivably thinner panel design, and a higher potential brightness level.
A high black level on a display will distort the grayscale and adversely affect color reproduction. However, thanks to its precise control of the backlight light, the G2210 is capable of a low black level, which translates into fantastic color reproduction. While its maximum brightness is lower than the Gateway HD2201 (249 versus 289 respectively), this was never a problem and at times we had to turn down the G2210's brightness to decrease the strain on our eyes. Its tested contrast ratio beat Dell's claim of 1,000:1 scoring 1,009:1 in our test.
We looked at the game Crysis on the G2210 in its Game preset and saw a clean picture with no signs of ghosting during fast movement. The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors and gamma correction as they were intended. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles. The G2210 uses a TN panel, and when it is viewed from the sides or bottom, we perceived the screen to darken about 6 inches off from center. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems. Performance-wise this is the only area that the LP2275w fared better. The LP2275w is made with a S-PVA panel, which are known for having wide viewing angles.
|Dell G2210||Avg watts per hour|
|On (Default Luminance)||20.56|
|On (Max Luminance)||22.23|
|On (Min Luminance)||12.2|
|Annual energy cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$6.46|
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors
Service and support
Dell backs the G2210 with a solid warranty including three-year parts-and-labor that covers the backlight. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, 24-7 Web-chat, and fast 24- to 48-hour turnaround e-mail--a better package than most monitor vendors, whose support doesn't usually carry into the weekends. Navigating Dell's Web site and finding the drivers, product manual, and quick guide was simple and easy.