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When purchasing a monitor, most buyers expect a few key things from their investment: good performance, enough connection options to meet their needs, and a reasonable price.
Sometimes there's a specific need for really high performance or advanced ergonomic options, but in general, a well-performing monitor is enough for most.
So, does the Dell S2330MX satisfy those basic monitor needs and if so, does it dare to go any further?
Design and features
The Dell S2330MX has one of the thinnest profiles of any monitor we've reviewed. The initial profile measures an extremely slight 0.3 inch; thinner than even the Samsung PX2370, but not quite as thin as the LG E2290V, which still holds the thinness record, measuring 0.25 inch in profile. Dell does cheat this thinness somewhat though. At the bottom back of the panel, the monitor extends another 0.6 inch to house the connection options.
Speaking of which, the S2330MX includes VGA and DVI inputs. Thankfully Dell has taken a page from the best-designed thin monitors like the Samsung PX2370, and has the connections face back instead of down, making them at least seven times less frustrating to access according to an algorithm of my own creation.
The side bezels measure 0.8 inch wide, the full width of the panel is 21.7 inches, and the distance from the bottom of the monitor to the desktop is 2.8 inches. At the bottom of the glossy black panel is a gray lip that adds an aesthetic contrast to the black of the monitor's chassis. Like most thin, LED-based monitors, the S2330MX is devoid of ergonomic options and includes only a 10-degree back tilt. The monitor also comes in a 22-inch version, the S2230MX; we reviewed the 23-incher.
The foot stand is this halo-shaped circle, about 7.5 inches in diameter, and to say it has a problem with stability is severely underselling its inability to properly keep the monitor from wobbling when knocked from the sides.
I've always held up Dell's onscreen display (OSD) design as an example of how an easily navigable OSD should be designed. While the OSD shares the basic design of previous Dell OSDs, the fact that the OSD buttons are aligned horizontally under the OSD makes navigating a bit more cumbersome than in the past. The buttons don't quite line up with the OSD as well and as a result feel slightly disconnected.
The OSD itself is has seven preset options, including Standard, Multimedia, Movie, Games, Text, Warm, and Cool. Also included are brightness, contrast and sharpness options, as well as Red, Green, and Blue controls. Dell also throws in a few OSD-specific customizations. There's an energy meter that appears at the top of menus and indicates just how much power you're using at any given time.
Build quality feels somewhat flimsy, especially around the back of the panel. Also, pressing the OSD buttons sometimes elicits an undesired popping sound.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Ergonomic options||10-degree back tilt|
|VESA wall mount support||No|
|Included video cables||DVI, DVI-to-HDMI adapter|
|Screen film||Matte w/AG coating|
|Number of presets||7|
|Picture options||Brightness, Contrast|
|Color controls||RGB and 2 color temperature options|
We tested the 23-inch Dell S2330MX through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using our own DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 89 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
The screen has a pretty heavy amount of antiglare (AG) screen coating, but reflections are still possible with objects in close proximity to the screen, especially when viewing dark scenes. There's no amount of glossiness, however, thanks to the high level of coating.
DisplayMate: The Dell S2330MX visibly displayed dark gray down to a low level of 2 and light gray was visible to a high level of 253. Judging from these findings, the display would likely not have much trouble displaying dark detail or confuse white with light colors.
Color performance, though good overall, was plagued by the nearly impossible-to-escape green hue problem that crops up on many monitors during the color-tracking test. Dialing the green down to 92 helped a lot, but it was still noticeable.
Backlight bleeding was prevalent along the middle bottom edge of the screen as well as along the left edge.
Text: It's difficult screw up text on a modern monitor, so we not only look at the text itself, but also the effect of black text on a white background, which can sometimes cause a weird yellowish glow to emanate around the text. On the Dell S2330MX, black text on white looked clear, without any obvious color tint problems. Also, fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8-point size.
Movies: We tested the Dell S2330MX using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Compared with the Samsung S23A550H, the S2330MX lacks vibrancy and its colors don't pop from the screen quite as well. Like the S23A550H, there's a noticeable green push problem, but this can be treated by lowering the green to 92 percent. That doesn't perfect the color by any means, but it does significantly improve things.
The Dell S2330MX exhibited a deeper black level than the S23A550H, and blacks on the Samsung looked somewhat washed out in comparison.
Games: When evaluating the look of games on a monitor, the two most important features to consider are vibrancy and color. If the monitor can display games with a bright and vibrant cleanness, this goes a long way toward benefiting its looks. If colors can also pop with fullness and depth, games will usually look great.
While Torchlight on the Dell S2330MX looked good with a superior contrast to the S23A5550H, it couldn't match the Samsung in terms of vibrancy. Still, the S2330MX displayed the game with color as accurate as on the Samsung, with a slight green push.
To test refresh rate, we used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and stared at a number of colored blocked as they moved around the screen at various speeds. The Dell S2330MX displayed slightly less streaking behind its blocks compared with the S23A550H and would likely have less issue with streaking in games compared with the S23A550H.
Photos: Color in photos was decent, but didn't really pop the way they do on the Samsung PX2370. Compared with the S23A550 however, the colors looked almost identical, with fairly accurate representations.
Recommended settings: We used SpectraCal's CalPC to calibrate the Dell S2330MX for bright-room viewing. The following settings are what the monitor had been adjusted to after calibration.
Viewing angle: 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 colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed 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 not viewed from optimal angles.
The Dell S2330MX uses a TN panel so its viewing angle from the sides, top, and especially underneath is narrower than high-end displays like the Asus PA246Q, which uses IPS panel technology.
Power consumption: The Dell S2330MX achieved good power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 24.8 watts, compared with the S23A550H's 26.7 watts in the same test. Fairly close results, but these power consumption contests are usually decided during sleep time.
|Dell S2330MX||Average watts per hour|
|On (default luminance)||24.8|
|On (max luminance)||28.6|
|On (min luminance)||14.7|
|Calibrated (200 cd/m2)||24.7|
|Annual power consumption cost||$7.85|
In our Sleep/Standby test, the S2330MX costs 0.65 watt and the SA23550H pulled a lower 0.31 watt. The S2330MX's higher power consumption during sleep isn't enough to do it in however as the S23A550H comes in 33 cents higher.
Based on our formula, the S2330MX would cost $7.85 per year to run, compared with the S23A550's's higher $8.18 per year.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors
Service and support
Dell backs the S2330MX with a solid warranty, including a three-year, parts and labor warranty covering the backlight. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number and 24-7 Web chat. Dell also has a fast 24- to 48-hour e-mail turnaround time--a better package than most monitor vendors, which don't offer weekend support.
Dell was smart to save on the S2330MX's manufacturing costs by not including HDMI, but instead offering an included DVI-to-HDMI adapter as a consolation. While its performance won't shake up the world, the S2330MX still performs well in general tasks, movies, and gaming. Also, there are some build quality issues, but overall, the S2330MX's low price and good performance make it a very sound buy for those looking for a basic monitor.