Editors' note: While the 22-inch Dell SP2208 is still a great monitor, we feel the 22-inch HP LP2275 is the better value and to avoid confusion we are taking away the Dell's Editors' Choice as we prefer only one Editors' Choice per subcategory. In this case 22-inch models.
The Dell SP2208WFP offers a winning combination of high performance and low price. This 22-inch wide-screen LCD excelled in labs testing, while also delivering outstanding results with DVDs and games. It supplies a useful feature set, serving up standard VGA and DVI video connections as well as HDMI. There's also a Webcam above the display for easy video conferencing and two USB ports conveniently located along the side and another two tucked underneath. Priced at $299, it's hard to make an argument against the Dell SP2208WFP--only its glossy screen coating, perhaps. In a brightly lit room, you might find it picks up too much glare and reflections if employed as a straight productivity display. But for dorm use and other scenarios where it'll perform double duty as a productivity and an entertainment display, we highly recommend the Dell SP2208WFP.
The Dell SP2208WFP boasts a clean and simple design. A 0.75-inch silver bezel frames the display, which widens to a full inch along the top where the 2.0-megapixel Webcam resides. A glossy black belt runs along the sides, which matches the black rectangular base. This reviewer, if given his choice, would opt for a matte black bezel, however, because it provides better contrast against the display itself while also receding into the background during movie watching.
In the lower-right corner you'll find five buttons for powering on the display and navigating the onscreen menu. A blue LED lets you know which video connection you're using: 1 for VGA, 2 for DVI, and 3 for HDMI. The onscreen menu lets you adjust the color, brightness, and the position of the image. Out of the box and connected via DVI, we found the image had a slight pink tint to it, which was easily corrected. There are also color presets for multimedia and gaming along with red and blue presets, plus a user-defined preset. The gaming preset resulted in balanced color levels for F.E.A.R., but the multimedia preset was not useful. It created an oversaturated picture with too much red. The normal or blue preset were better options for DVD viewing. You're also given the ability to change the screen ratio between 4:3 and 16:9, or have it fill the display.
The stand provides a very stable base that is not prone to wobble, and we like the look of it more than Dell's standard Flying V base found on its enterprise-oriented UltraSharp line. It doesn't offer height adjustment, however, or the ability to swivel the display into portrait mode. The only physical adjustment you can make is tilting it forward and backward. And it may be more of a useful feature to a reviewer who is setting up and taking down LCDs more than the typical consumer, but the stand simply snaps into the back of the display--no tools required--for a blissfully easy setup. A rectangular cutout in the arm of the stand helps you hide video and power cables.
Pixel-response rate: 2ms
Contrast ratio: 2000:1
Connectivity: DVI, VGA, HDMI
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI, VGA
In addition to the standard VGA and DVI video connections, the Dell SP2208WFP also boasts an HDMI port, giving you the ability to connect the display to any graphics card and a wide range of consumer electronics. It offers HDCP support for displaying high-definition copyright-protected content. As with most 22-inch displays, the native resolution of 1,680x1,050 means you won't be able to display 1080p video without scaling.
There's also audio and power jacks for Dell's optional $35 speaker bar that attached to the bottom of the display. Rounding out the features are four USB 2.0 ports and a 2.0-megapixel Webcam with dual microphones.
The Dell SP2208WFP turned in unparalleled performance on our DisplayMate benchmarks. Along with the Samsung 2232GW, it separated itself from the pack. The SP2208WFP's aggregate score of 90 on our DisplayMate suite of tests is the highest such score we've seen to date. There was no area of weakness. It scored highly throughout, with top scores on grayscale and color tests and uniformity and sharpness tests.
It scored well on our contrast ratio and brightness tests, although there are some displays that were brighter. Still, Windows apps looked crisp, with text legible down to a font size of 7. Though the default image setting was passable, we switched to the user-defined custom mode to lower the red level to get rid of the slight pink tint we saw on a blank, white Word doc. The viewing angle moving side to side was more than acceptable, but when you move off the axis vertically, the screen darkens and colors shift quickly. With our eyes just above the top of the display and looking down at the center of the image, the image quality begins to suffer. Visitors to your desk will need to pull up a chair to share the display; those standing will see a poor image.
Movies and games looked fantastic, with rich, vivid colors and smooth movement. The glossy screen coating helped smooth edges, and the 2ms response time (gray to gray) meant there was no ghosting. We did find that the Multimedia color preset was not the right choice for movie watching, tending too much toward red. Using The Royal Tenenbaums as our test disc, Ben Stiller's red Adidas track suit looked practically radioactive. The Normal color preset presented a much more balanced picture.
Service and support
Dell backs the SP2208WFRP with a three-year warranty, which includes the Advanced Exchange program where Dell will ship you a replacement monitor the next business day, should yours have a problem that can't be resolved over the phone. You unpack the replacement, and then ship back the defective unit to Dell. You can add a fourth year of coverage for $39 or two additional years for $59.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.