Dell E228WFP

January 2nd, 2007 by Potato

Well, my new monitor arrived from Dell today, and I wasted no time in setting it up. A first-pass review:

First, the good: the monitor is big, and it was cheap. There also aren’t any stuck pixels as far as I can tell, which is a welcome relief (Wayfare’s has one and it drives me crazy)

Unfortunately, as I came to suspect after I had put the order in (I’m not usually so quick to rush into these things!) this is not the same type of monitor I have at work; it’s a much, much cheaper monitor. First off, the stand is pretty cheap, it only rotates up/down a little bit. There’s no height adjust or the cool rotate to portrait mode function I was hoping for (nor a way to rotate left/right without dragging the base across the desk). The back only has VGA, DVI, and power connectors: no USB hub or memory card reader (though the last part is a bit excessive on the screen I have at work). The included power cord is fairly short (though the power is on the wrong side of the desk here).

The picture is also not as good as I was hoping for. It looks really washed out somehow, but I can’t quite put my finger on how, exactly. Playing with the brightness and contrast seems to help a bit, but it still doesn’t look as good as my laptop’s screen. The viewing angle isn’t great, either. By 45 degrees off centre the colours start to go wonky, giving about 90 degrees total viewing angle. IIRC (the page is gone, so I have to go by memory) the viewing angle is reported as 160 degrees. That may be the point at which you can’t see anything, but image quality is in the pits long before that (the colours fade out to brown).

Reading up on the technology some more, I found that it has “6-bit colour” (over 3 colour channels, that should be 18-bit colour if my math is right, as compared to most LCDs which have 24-bit colour, or CRTs which display 32-bit colour), a trade-off for the very fast response time (good for gaming, or so I’m told). Since people can actually notice the difference between 18- and 24-bit colour (whereas 24 to 32 bit is harder to notice), this screen uses some sort of dithering to fake its way towards true colour. Looking at text I can’t really tell, but when I fired up a movie or an image, it seemed to shimmer a bit; perhaps that effect is a result of that.

Going to the Dell website, it looks like this monitor is no longer listed/available (it was just introduced a week or two ago). I wonder if that’s telling me something…

Now I have to wonder if I should return it or keep it. It is big, and it was cheap, and returning it would hit me for a 15% restocking fee plus shipping, so there’s some motivation to get used to it… on the other hand, it’s not quite the awesome upgrade to my CRT I was hoping for. (There’s a third option, of course: try to sell it and recover the $342 incl. taxes I spent. While it would be hard to find a buyer for a “used” screen that I’m not totally happy with at a price that would make it worth the effort, it might be possible since the normal list for this monitor is $400…).

Update: Well, I set it up with Wayfare, and I’m leaning towards keeping it. I will miss not being able to put it in portrait mode (I think I might be the only person in the city who would use that, too), but the “shimmering” that it does to get colours isn’t really all that noticeable if I stay an armlength or two away. When I had first set it up, I put it on the edge of the desk, but that only put it about a foot from my face, instead of something more like 3′, and it was fairly annoying that close. I think I’ll be satisfied with it as long as I remember not to put my nose up against it.

Update 2: I’m back in London and have it set up on my desk now. First, another complaint: the DVI cable has a big, rounded plastic bit on the connector. That is to say, the plastic part of the connector, the part just behind the pins, the part where the thumbscrews and all that are, is larger than normal, and curved instead of squared off. This makes it taller when trying to go into the port, so much so that it hit the part of the case just above the video card and wouldn’t go in! This is stupid design on two fronts: first, on my computer’s case for having this metal part (where the on-board network and USB and what not are) stick out right above the video port. I’ve had this sort of problem with PCI cards before, where adjacent cards interfered. In that case, you just move them. However, an AGP video card only goes into one slot, so if there’s an obstruction there, you’re SOL if there’s a fat ass cable like this trying to squeeze in. Of course, the other half of the stupid design comes from Dell. Why the heck did they make the connector so huge? What’s wrong with making it the same size as everyone else’s connector? Geez…

Anyhow, I ran up to work and swapped cables there, and have it hooked up now. For the moment, I’m running in dual-monitor configuration, which makes it really easy to compare the two side-by-side. The LCD is definitely “washed-out” compared to my old screen, but the shimmering hasn’t bothered me with it at a proper distance.

Also, the driver CD has the drivers for it (really only needed if your system doesn’t already have an option for the native resolution of 1680×1050), but the documentation for another screen entirely.

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