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With the prices of large-screen displays dropping steadily, these once-luxury items are becoming more and more affordable to budget-conscious Mac users. Take, for instance, Apple’s 23-inch Cinema HD Display ( March 2005 ): This model cost $2,000 when it debuted in June 2004 and now sells for $1,299. If cheaper prices have you considering a giant desktop display, then check out Dell’s UltraSharp 2405FPW . It outdoes the mid-sized Cinema Display by an inch, offers a ton of nice extras, and sells for $100 less than Apple’s no-frills model (in fact, you can probably get it for less from Dell’s Web site, which seems to change the price on a regular basis).,
Dell’s wide-screen, 24-inch display features the same 1,920-by-1,200 resolution as Apple’s 23-inch model, but gives the pixels a little extra breathing room by adding a diagonal inch of screen space. Dell’s display also includes quite a few more connection options than Apple’s, making it much more versatile. It has both analog and digital connectors, as well as a 4-port USB hub for connecting keyboards and other peripherals. It also features component, composite, and S-video ports for hooking up gaming consoles, DVD players, or other video devices. And with PiP (picture-in-picture) support, you can watch content from two sources at one time. Another thoughtful feature is the built-in 9-in-1 media reader, which supports most types of camera memory cards.
The dark-gray and silver display features a thin bezel and an adjustable stand that tilts forward and back, as well as side to side; it even rotates so you can view your display in portrait mode. I would have liked the ability to adjust the height, though.
When I connected the 2405FPW to a Power Mac G4 tower, it automatically booted into its native resolution. As typical of many displays, the default settings were overly bright and tended toward blue. After calibrating the display, the picture looked much better, but colors were still not quite as punchy as those on other 23-inch displays we’ve reviewed ( March 2005 ). Another issue: As I moved to the left or right of center, the picture lost contrast pretty quickly. The colors didn’t shift, but they did fade noticeably. This is something to consider if you tend to have people gathered around your display. Text was easy to read, though a little softer than on some displays.
|Text Legibility||Very Good|
Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable
|Connections||1 DVI, 1 analog, plus USB, composite, component and S-video connectors|
|Viewing Angle||178 degrees|
|Dimensions (height x depth x width in inches)||22 x 9 x 22|
|Special Features||Widescreen aspect ratio, built-in camera media card reader|
|Warranty||3 years (up to 5 years available)|
Macworld’s buying advice
Overall, the UltraSharp 2405FPW performed well. I did have a few minor gripes, including the loss of contrast when viewing the display from an angle, and the required tweaking of the default colors. But with its vast amount of screen space, plethora of connection options, built-in camera card reader, and 4-port USB hub, Dell’s display offers a ton of features at a very good value.
[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW