If you're looking for a low-priced 24-inch monitor, the Dell S2409W will serve you well. For as little as $300, the Dell gives you VGA, DVI, and HDMI connections, great performance for games and movies, and an intuitive and elegantly designed onscreen display (OSD) that includes a plethora of useful options. Compared with the $690, 24-inch Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP, the S2409W lacks connection options and ergonomic features. Still, if price is your focus, the Dell S2409W provides good quality for the money. The BenQ E2400HD is available for about the same price, but it has slightly worse performance and fewer OSD options.
Design and features
The bezel of the 24-inch Dell S2409W is a striking, glossy black that reflects everything. The bezel measures a short 0.75 inch long on all sides, and the middle bottom of the bezel has a slightly flush, silver Dell logo on it. The panel is nearly 1 inch deep, which is thin for a 24-incher. (Most 24-inch monitors we've tested have panels well over an inch deep.) A thin, 1 centimeter strip wraps around the outer edge of the panel, bringing the panel width to 22.75 inches; that's about average for a monitor of this screen size.
The circular footstand is nearly 9 inches in diameter and unfortunately doesn't provide the type of stability we expect; it doesn't take much lateral force to wobble the whole display.
As mentioned, the Dell S2409W can be found for as low as $300, but not without some sacrifices. To get the price that low, Dell skimped on a few ergonomic features, including screen height adjustment, rotation, and pivoting. The screen does tilt back 20 degrees and forward 5 degrees, but that--and a hole in the display's neck to route your cables--is all the ergonomic benefits you get.
The Dell S2409W's connection options include the video connection trifecta of VGA, DVI, and HDMI. Although the VGA and HDMI are easy to reach, the DVI port sits just a little too close to the display's neck to rule out hand cramping when trying to connect the cable. Sadly, Dell only includes a single VGA cable with the monitor, so if you want to risk hand cramping, you'll have to invest further.
The OSD button labels are located on the bottom right side of the bezel and consist of four buttons (located on the right side of the panel): a Menu button, an Up button, a Down button, and an Enter button. Calibrating the display using the OSD in a lit room where you can see the labels is simple and easy. Worse, the buttons are only separated by a sliver of space, so it's difficult to tell where one button begins and another ends.
If you'd rather not deal with the sometimes headache-inducing process of calibration, the OSD includes nine preset modes including Standard, Movie, Sports, Nature, Game, Multimedia, Cool, and Warm. Each mode alters the sharpness and color temperature in an attempt to make it more suited for the task at hand. We found that the Standard preset was the best all around for movies. The Movie preset's picture is over-tuned to the point that dithering is very much apparent and details that should look smooth look bumpy instead. The Game preset, however, was tuned better than Standard for games.
The OSD interface is the same one Dell started using for the Dell Crystal. It's an elegant and intuitive interface that includes typical controls for brightness, contrast, and color options, but also controls that directly affect the OSD, like a menu timer and controls to modify the OSD's level of transparency.
The most touted feature of the 24-inch Dell S2409W is its 16:9 aspect ratio, which supports a resolution of 1,920x1,080. Dell and other vendors refer to monitors capable of this resolution as "Full HD" monitors. This is an interesting name given that a 16:10 24-incher would have an even higher native resolution of 1,920x1,200, but we digress.
More and more monitor vendors are starting to move toward 16:9 from 16:10. The main reason for this is that hi-def content, in particular 1080p movies, can fit onto a 1,920x1,080 screen without necessitating that the image being stretched or scrunched.
Pixel-response rate: 5ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Connectivity: HDMI, DVI, VGA
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? VGA
We tested the Dell S2409W with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 87 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests compared with the 24-inch BenQ E2400HD's score of 85. The two displays exhibited similar performance in most of the DisplayMate test screens, but the Dell scored slightly better in our color tracking tests as it exhibited no noticeable compression or expansion at the dark or light ends of the color scale. A color-tracking error occurs when the intensity of red, green, and blue (RGB) do not adjust identically with signal-level changes. During two color tests, Low Saturation Colors and 64-256 Intensity Color Ramp, the BenQ showed clear signs of expansion at the light end of the scale, while the Dell displayed the colors in the scale smoothly.
The Dell S2409W posted a brightness score of 242 candelas per square meters (cd/m2), according to our test, which is lower than the 300 cd/m2 maximum claimed by Dell. The BenQ E2400HD barely bested it with a 246 cd/m2 brightness rating. Contrast ratio was more favoring to the Dell as we measured it at a 1,001:1 contrast ratio, virtually the same as Dell's claimed 1,000:1 rating. This beat out BenQ's 892:1 contrast ratio by more than 100.