Dell UltraSharp U2410 Overview
First of all, I probably need to make it clear what this review is not. It is not an in-depth technical review of this monitor’s theoretical capabilities, it’s also not a complete explanation of colour management or colour managed workflows, if you desire that level of geekiness, I’ll point you in the right direction shortly. What this review is about is an overview of my first few months using a Dell UltraSharp U2410 24” IPS Monitor for photography, gaming and general use and show you why I think it is perfectly reasonable and practical to use a wide gamut monitor for everyday use other than just photography.
Before purchasing this monitor I had a cheap but perfectly functional 21 inch Samsung Monitor. It did the job but colour accuracy wasn’t great, it was a bit on the small side and viewing angles were extremely limited before you got colour distortion. I needed a bigger monitor for photography and I wanted 16:10 aspect ratio so that I had the extra vertical space. I never have understood the rationale for 16:9 screens for a PC that’s used for all sorts of stuff as you can still watch 16:9 movies on a 16:10 screen. The greater depth is better for just about anything else you do on a PC apart from watch 16:9 movies but for some reason it is the most popular format and 16:10 screens are getting harder to find. I ideally wanted an IPS (In Plane Switching) panel for it’s wider viewing angles and better colour over the traditional TN (Twisted Nematic) panels and I wanted to be able to use it for games too. I also was hooked on the idea of wide gamut; although most people will tell you that even serious photographers don’t really need wide gamut monitors (your average printer can’t reproduce all the colours anyway) I still wanted to know what I was seeing on the screen was as near as possible to what Lightroom’s native colour space of ProPhotoRGB was trying to show me. Nevertheless, remember that the only people who actually need real colour accuracy are those who need to match real life to screen to print accurately such as catalogues/brochures for clothing, fabrics, colour swatches, paint etc. Most regular photography is an interpretation anyway!
Whilst hunting down everything I could read on the Dell UltraSharp U2410 24” IPS Monitor, the same complaints kept cropping up on various forums; the screen is grainy, it has a colour cast, hard to calibrate, gaming mode has odd colours, wide gamut makes non colour managed programmes look over saturated.
Well, from my experience I can tell you that this is a fantastic monitor and I will answer and dispel all the above concerns over the nest few paragraphs.
Out of the Box
Unpacking the Dell UltraSharp U2410 24” IPS Monitor it is immediately obvious that it is a high quality piece of kit. Build quality is very high, certainly compared to budget monitors that I have had in the past. It comes complete with all the leads you are likely to need including several PC/monitor connection options; VGA, DVI-D & DP (Display Port). There is also a USB cable to connect the monitors 2 USB slots and SD Card Reader to your computer – very handy indeed, especially for images.
The stand is rock solid, easy to fit and adjustable for tilt & swivel, vertical and it rotates so you can view the screen in portrait mode. Not sure how much I will actually use this aspect as the screen is generally big enough vertically in the regular postion but I’m sure pro users will find it very useful – perfect!
I won’t go into the Dell U2410’s controls in much detail, there isn’t much point as if you plan to get this monitor it’s so easy to understand how they work it’s quicker for you to just learn as you go than remembering anything I put on here. Suffice to say, it’s very straightforward, with a touch sensitive panel at the lower right that lights up blue as your finger approaches – spooky!. It’s very simple to quickly change between preset modes, which is what you’ll be doing most of if you plan on playing games.
As mentioned above, switching between modes is just a few simple clicks through the menu. I use this monitor for general viewing, photography and games. The modes available are: Standard, Multimedia, Game, Warm, Cool, Adobe RGB, sRGB, Custom Color. Now for general viewing it’s all about personal preference. Personally, I have Standard Mode colour calibrated using a Color Munki Display. I use this mode for general viewing and for photography. Some people claim calibrating the adobe RGB preset is better but I get on OK with Standard. Custom Color preset would indicate that this is the one to use but I couldn’t get on with it and apparently there are numerous technical reasons why it’s not ideal. I’ll include a link later that will take you to a full technical review if you want all the details.
I use the Game preset for games as this mode bypasses certain internal circuitry to reduce input lag to speed up keyboard/mouse to screen response times.
Some Myths about the Dell UltraSharp U2410
OK, number one, “A wide gamut monitor makes all your colours off and over saturated for general viewing” Well, actually, no it doesn’t. In some instances it will but not all, it depends on the application. If the application is not colour managed what happens is, for example, you will see the relatively limited range of sRGB colours stretched into the wider spectrum of your wide gamut monitor, making some colours, especially the brighter ones like reds etc, over saturated. A better explanation than I could ever give can be found here.
Firstly, use a colour managed browser such as Firefox. Firefox can read the profile of an image and display it properly, taking into account your monitor profile, rather than assuming the image is sRGB and letting the monitor profile stretch those limited sRGB colours into your monitors wider colour space. The preview pane in Windows Explorer is not colour managed and you will notice that your images are over saturated here on a wide gamut monitor. However, double click the image file and it will open in Windows image viewer, which is colour managed. I don’t see that as a problem, after the preview pane is just that and only meant to show you which file you’ve selected. All that’s left is your Windows Wallpaper and programme icons which will be over saturated. This seems to bother some people, I don’t know about you but I don’t spend much time staring at these so it doesn’t bother me.
Image handling applications like Photoshop and Lightroom are, of course, colour managed so you will see everything as it should be seen it all its glory so long as your monitor is correctly set up and profiled. This means that I just have to flick between my calibrated Standard preset and Game preset. If it bothers you that some parts of Windows are not colour managed, you’ll have to use the sRGB preset for general viewing but you need to remember that ALL presets use the same calibration profile. If you want to calibrate the sRGB preset separately you will have to switch profiles when you switch presets, otherwise you’ll just have to accept how sRGB looks once you’ve profiled your preferred image editing preset.
Number two, game mode has odd colours. Well, it depends on the game. It can make some colours, yellows especially, over saturated. I play Call of Duty mainly and the colours are fairly muted anyway so I don’t find it a problem. If you do, there is a work round to avoid the over saturated colours but remain in Game mode. Switch to the Game preset and click OK (tick) and you will see the screen go off briefly as it clicks into Game mode. Then select your preferred colour preset but DON’T click OK (tick). The screen changes colour but the monitor doesn’t actually switch out of game mode.
The Screen is Grainy
If you are used to the high gloss screens of certain fruit based personal computers and tablets the screen will definitely look matte but it’s not grainy. One of the main advantages of this screen is it’s lack of reflections and wide viewing angles, perfect for photography – a high gloss screen isn’t.
It has a Colour Cast & is Hard to Calibrate
Some of the earlier models apparently did. Make sure you buy the latest revision, mine is A10 and is absolutely fine. I had no problems at all calibrating using the Color Munki Display. The screen is naturally very, very bright so you’ll will find you have to turn the brightness down much more than standard monitors. My Brightness is set to 5 and Contrast at 50. Just remember to return both to 50 before calibrating/re-calibrating.
I love the Dell UltraSharp U2410 24” IPS Monitor and am extremely happy with it, having initially hesitated due to indecision around some peoples experiences with wide gamut. If you really don’t think you need wide gamut (most people don’t, even serious photographers) or if you don’t do much photo editing (then you definitely don’t) why not take a look at the Dell Ultrasharp U2412M 24 inch IPS Widescreen LED Monitor or maybe even the Asus PB238Q 23 inch Widescreen IPS Multimedia Monitor. Both have an IPS panel and cost a fair bit less than the Dell UltraSharp U2410 24” IPS Monitor but be aware that the Asus has a 16:9 aspect ratio, so you are losing a bit of height.
Also, if you really want to look into the tech specs try TFT Central for a full technical review and all the facts and figures you could hope for including a in depth look at preset modes and why ‘Standard’ is probably your best bet for calibrating and colour sensitive work.