Dell fares better on the nondisplay options, such as the built-in CompactFlash SD/MMC, Memory Stick, and SmartMedia card slots, which mount on your system when you plug in the upstream USB cable. For the most part this works smoothly, although we did run into a hiccup: the 2707WFP insists upon assigning four contiguous logical drive letters. If you don't have four together (say, because you've got a lot of pesky network volumes, like my roster of 13), you'll wonder where some of the card slots have disappeared to. Of course, this won't affect the majority of home users, but those on large corporate networks should take note. The card slots do perform quite zippily, though, as expected of a USB 2.0 transfer rate. There's also, as previously mentioned, a total of four USB 2.0 ports--two in the back and two in the sides. The side ports are especially nice for those who like to keep their actual PCs hidden; they can still snap in a USB flash drive without a lot of effort.
There's been some grumbling out in the ether about the 2707WFP's low resolution for its size--just take a look at the comments on Dell's site. I have to admit, there's some truth to the resolution issue. The way the math works out, the 2707WFP has a resolution density of about 83 pixels per inch; that's effectively the same as working on a 15-inch monitor at 1,024x768. Remember those days? At their native resolution, most current LCD monitors instead operate at a minimum of 96 ppi, and notebook displays are even denser. As a result, text and graphics on the 2707WFP look comparatively coarse, and extended viewing may leave you feeling a bit woozy, as it did me.
Of course, the wooziness factor may also be affected by the amount of heat generated by the display, which radiates both from the back and the front of the screen. I definitely felt the difference over the course of a workday, with the display about a foot away. Of course the large screen does facilitate sitting further from the screen, which I'd recommend after our testing.
While the 2707WFP may never be the sharpest knife in the drawer, it's probably the brightest, which goes a long way to compensating for its resolution issues. It boasts an incredibly high contrast ratio of 1,000:1--closer to 1,200:1 as measured--and a brightness output of 438cd/m2. To put that in perspective, our Editors' Choice LCD TV, the Sony KDL-40XBR2 has a contrast ratio of 1,300:1, and the larger Apple Cinema Displays have only 700:1 with a 400cd/m2 brightness. Very impressive.
All of these overactive whites and black blacks serve to make saturated colors in movies, photos, and graphics practically leap off the screen. Likewise, extremely light colors remain visible and defined. The 2707WFP has no gamut-mapping problems at these extremes. However, at various levels of saturation between the two extremes--the middle 55 percent or so--there are pockets of colors that the display can't reproduce properly. This display also has poor brightness uniformity: on a black screen, you can clearly see light emanating from three of the four corners. There's also various red and green color contamination visible in grayscale midtones, and lighter blues look positively purple.
All these factors explain some of our Labs' observations during testing, including soft, grainy, noisy video on one hand but sharp, detailed games with highly saturated colors on the other. Note that the noise we observed wasn't something introduced by the 2707WFP--it's just that the by-product of having such a bright screen is that it exposes all the faults of the source material. The bottom line is that your vacation snapshots will look great, but you don't want to do any color-critical work on this monster. (It's a common fallacy among marketers that "vivid colors" is synonymous with "great for digital imaging" and "accurate colors.") And videos look great at actual resolution but considerably worse when filling the screen TV style. However, that's somewhat to be expected when watching a DVD from only a foot away.
The Dell UltraSharp 2707WFP comes with a standard three-year warranty on parts, labor, and the backlight, including Dell's Advanced Exchange cross-shipping program. It can be extended by one year for $49 and by two years for $79. The company also offers three- ($99), four- ($149), or five- ($199) year CompleteCare Accidental Damage service, though it's not clear if that covers damage from ballistic Wiimotes. Dell also has its very handy, toll-free, 24/7 tech support in addition to alternative support options, such as community forums, a searchable knowledge base, and documentation and driver downloads via its Web site.
The real sticking point on the UltraSharp 2707WFP is the price, especially since it's about twice as expensive as its 24-inch sibling, the UltraSharp 2407WFP, and since Dell is running some aggressive discounts on its 30-inch UltraSharp 3007WFP--at the time of this review we could get one for around $1,300. Though neither of those models can match the 2707WFP's speed or contrast ratio, I think the 2707WFP's performance doesn't justify its price premium; the 2407WFP is a better value in my opinion. Of course, the 2707WFP's extremely bright and vivid picture looks great for some tasks, and we bet plenty of noncritical viewers will really be wowed by the picture. In all, despite some faults, the 2707WFP's large size, slick design, extra features, and relatively good performance for casual uses add up to an impressive package--I just think it should cost a whole lot less.
(longer bars are better)
Measured with the Minolta CA-210
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