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The basic frame and stand of the UltraSharp remains the same as it has for roughly the past two years. It's a clean-enough design that doesn't quite have the aesthetic polish of an Apple display, but it's suitable for display in any environment. The screen is easy to attach and remove, and the stand gives you just as much adjustability as NEC's recent 24-incher (and much more than any Apple monitor), including tilt, pivot, up-and-down, and 90 degrees of rotation to move into portrait mode.
NEC's display earned a few design points for its easy-to-navigate onscreen menu, which was made possible by a small joystick next to the power button. Dell's new UltraSharp receives no such kudos. All of the options you'd expect to find are present, including three presets for multimedia, games, and desktop, but making a selection and navigating in general is unintuitive. Dell also offers no software for integrating the monitor controls with your Windows display settings, a feature of the NEC that we appreciated.
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,200
Dot pitch: 0.27mm
Pixel-response rate: 6ms
Viewing angle: 178 degrees horizontal, 178 degrees vertical
Connectivity: DVI, VGA, S-Video, composite video, component video
Included cables: VGA, DVI
Here's where the Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP-HC shines. As we've listed in the specs above, Dell includes almost every kind of PC and mainstream video input you can imagine on this display, the one exception being HDMI. It's not out of the question that you might want to connect an HDMI-only device to this monitor, but you can always use a DVI-to-HDMI adapter if that's a requirement.
The display lacks speakers out of the box, although Dell offers a Dell SoundBar for an extra $35. This set of encapsulated speakers snaps onto the bottom edge of the screen and provides 10 watts of stereo audio output. But even if it doesn't come with audio output, thanks to its large screen, its high resolution and its HDCP-compliance, you might reasonably consider using Dell's display for watching movies in a den or bedroom. You'll just need a separate set of speakers from your video source.
Dell also makes great use of the monitor's downstream USB capability. In addition to four USB 2.0 ports, Dell also includes a 9-in-2 set of media card slots. Building slots for your digital camera data cards into the screen lets you keep your desktop stowed farther out of sight. Those slots also fill a features gap if you own a desktop that lacks a media card reader (aka Mac owners).
Finally, the UltraSharp 2407WFP-HC includes both picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture capability. With all that screen real estate, it's easy to imagine those features coming in handy. The screen will not automatically switch the aspect ratio when you rotate into portrait mode, however, so you'll still need to make that change manually in your video driver software.
Compared to a similarly priced Gateway 24-inch LCD, and a more expensive NEC, the Dell UltraSharp stayed very competitive on our image quality tests. It tied the Gateway in overall quality, and lagged behind the NEC by only a very small number. Digging into the test scores a bit deeper, we found that the Dell UltraSharp was, indeed, ultra sharp, and as good in overall crispness as the more expensive NEC. We were also very happy with the color quality, especially during our World of Warcraft, Kill Bill (Vol. 1) standard-definition DVD, and Swordfish Blu-ray tests.
Our major complaints were that its grayscaling didn't do very well at very bright white and very dark black, and in general the scaling between shades of gray lacked the intensity of the Gateway and the NEC displays. We also found the intensity of static color lacking as well. That leads us to our conclusion that we like this monitor much more for its moving image capabilities, rather than for photo editing or other tasks where you need to stare at static images for long periods of time.
Like most monitors, the Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP-HC comes with a three-year default warranty. You also get 24-7 telephone assistance and a fair amount of online help. Dell also offers warranty upgrades for up to five years for an additional $49.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.