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Dell SX2210 review: Dell SX2210

Dell SX2210

Eric Franklin Former Editorial Director
Eric Franklin led the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.
Expertise Graphics and display technology. Credentials
  • Once wrote 50 articles in one month.
Eric Franklin
6 min read

The Dell SX2210 is a 21.5-inch, 16:9 monitor that would benefit gamers and movie watchers looking for a monitor that doesn't take up too much desktop space. You can purchase the SX2210 online from Dell for $270. While we didn't care for its stark white back-panel design, we were impressed with its overall performance, inclusion of both DVI and HDMI connections, and a robust onscreen display (OSD). The display lacks height adjustment and panel rotation but makes up for it with a built-in Webcam and four USB ports. Looking at some of its competitors, we note the $250 Lenovo L215p includes screen rotation but lacks a DVI port and has slightly worse movie performance, while the $249 Dell G2210 has better movie performance and lower power consumption than both but does not include as many features. Although you can't go wrong with either the L215p or SX2210, if you can afford spending a little more, we recommend the Dell SX2210 over the Lenovo L215p because of the inclusion of DVI.


Dell SX2210

The Good

The Dell SX2210 has very good movie and game performance, an exquisitely designed OSD, DVI and HDMI, and four USB ports.

The Bad

The Dell SX2210's connection options are difficult to access, and it lacks ergonomic options.

The Bottom Line

The Dell SX2210 is a well-priced 16:9 monitor with high performance and enough features to satisfy most.

Design and features
The 21.5-inch Dell SX2210's stark white back is the first detail we noticed, and while it stands out among a sea of black monitors, we prefer the glossy black look of the Lenovo L215p. The SX2210's black, matte bezel measures a length of 0.9 inches on the right and left and 1.5 inches on the bottom where a raised silver Dell logo resides. The middle of the top bezel houses an integrated 2-megapixel Webcam. The panel is a somewhat thick 1.5 inches deep (by comparison, most 22-inch models we've tested have a panel depth of slightly above an inch); however, the back of the display--which houses the connection options and ventilation system--extends another 2 inches or so, bringing the full monitor depth to about 3.5 inches. The panel width measures 20.75 inches long, which is about average for a monitor of this screen size.

The oval-shaped footstand is uniquely designed and resembles a foot with its weight on the ball. It measures nearly 8.5 inches in width, with a depth of 5.5 inches. The footstand is a short 0.2 inch tall. When knocked from the sides, the 10-pound display wobbles and slides considerably, but not to the point where we feel it's in danger of toppling, thanks to its flat footstand. The bottom of the bezel sits about 2.4 inches from the desktop, but unfortunately, this screen height is neither adjustable nor is there a rotation or pivot option--useful if you prefer portrait mode. The capability to tilt the screen back 25 degrees is the only included ergonomic feature.

Dell includes DVI, HDMI, and VGA connection options. However, the ports are located directly behind the display's neck, which makes it frustrating when attempting to access them. Thanks to the HDMI port, Blu-ray player and console owners will be able to hook the monitor directly to their devices. The display includes three USB downstream connections and one USB upstream. There is also an audio out and audio in port for directly connecting the display to an external audio device, but no speakers are included.

The OSD follows Dell's recent stellar, labelless design last seen on the G2210 and SP2309W. 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, and each option corresponds to one of the four buttons. Once a new menu comes up, the function of the buttons changes dynamically, as the top two buttons become the up and down arrow buttons used to navigate through the newly seen menu. Since any button labels--that would be on the bezel on another display--for the OSD are actually on the screen, calibrating the display in a dark room proved painless.

OSD options include the standard 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 Video 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. There are options to adjust the hue and color saturation in addition to options like setting the OSD to stay onscreen up to a minute--useful for anyone who will spend a good amount of time calibrating.

The Dell SX2210's 16:9 aspect ratio supports a "Full HD" 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution. This continues the trend of more and more monitor vendors moving toward 16:9 from 16:10 because high-definition content--in particular 1080p movies--can fit onto a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen without distorting the image.

Manufacturer's specs:
Resolution: 1,920x1,080
Pixel-response rate: 2ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Brightness: 300cd/m2
Connectivity: VGA, DVI, HDMI 1.3
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? VGA, DVI
Panel Type: TN
Backlight: CCFL

We tested the Dell SX2210 with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 94 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, beating the L215p's 93 by the smallest of margins, but didn't quite measure up to the Dell G2210's 97.

In DisplayMate, the SX2210 and L215p tested virtually identically. Both achieved near-perfect scores in our color tests, but each had trouble with the Color Tracking test, which shows how accurately a monitor can replicate the gray scale. Both the SX2210 and L215p's representation of the gray scale had a slight greenish hue that kept them from being perfect. In our Dark Screen test, backlight bleedthrough was noticeable on the top and bottom edges of both screens, suggesting that the displays would not be able to display deep blacks when playing a movie (see below).

The SX2210 achieved a brightness score of 270 candelas per square meter (cd/M2)--lower than Dell's claimed 300 cd/M2 max. Its tested contrast ratio was above the 1,000:1 claimed by Dell and came in at 1,094:1.

We used the SX2210's Movie preset to check out "War of the Worlds" ("WotW") on DVD and "House of Flying Daggers" ("HoFD") on Blu-ray. In "WotW" we saw fuller color quality when compared with the L215p, where colors were slightly washed out in DVD movies. Although the SX2210's blacks--a critical attribute for good movie playback--were not as deep as the G2210's (backlight bleeding was apparent on the top and bottom edges of the display), they were darker than the L215p's. In "HoFD," we saw fairly accurate color, but those deep blacks we enjoyed on the Dell G2210 were still nowhere to be seen. Picture sharpness was as good as the G2210 since subtitles looked sharp and not blurry as on the L215p.

We looked at the game Crysis on the SX2210 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 varies at nonoptimal angles. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles. The Lenovo L215p uses a TN panel, and when it is viewed from the sides or bottom, we perceived the screen to darken and the gamma to shift about 6 inches off from center. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.

Brightness in cd/m2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell SX2210 21.5"
Dell G2210 22"

DisplayMate Tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Dell backs the SX2210 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 e-mail turnaround--a better package than most monitor vendors, whose support doesn't usually extend into the weekends. Navigating Dell's Web site and finding the drivers, product manuals, and quick guides was simple and easy.