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Pretty good if it fits your needs, but maybe a bit of a curiosity?
on 7 February 2012
Having looked long and hard at 24" monitors in early 2012 there seemed to be 2 main price points (if you ignored the real professional stuff that can go to £1000 and well beyond) and two types of performance. Cheap TN panel monitors are abundant from £100, but the better IPS panel monitors tend to be well over £300. The Dell 2414M sits in the middle. And whether this Dell is a good purchase for you really depends on why you are buying it (and how much you can afford) as it comes quite close to falling between the 2 stools of 'budget priced' or 'perfect image quality'
For a little over £100 you can have your choice of the mainstream brands. Construction and looks are good, while the image quality seems to be getting a little better all the time. Being TN based panels the viewing angles and colour variations are very marked - if you notice such things, and I know a few people who get on fine with them even at 24". You really should have a good look at these modern screens before you buy, the 2412 might not be worth double the money for you. It is also worth noting that some £200+ monitors can still be TN panels (although quite good ones)
From £350 and up you have the 'proper' IPS panel screens like Dell's own U2410 and HP's ZR24. These have great image quality that can compete with the Pro NEC stuff (so 100% colour gamut and calibration capability to Lacie DeltaE approaching .1) they also probably warrant the extra cost of proper calibration equipment. These are the obvious choice for colour critical applications and you probably already know you want one if you have the money or need
The 2412M sits in the middle in terms of cost and defintely seems to have been built down to a price, it has a few compromises in terms of connectivity and illumination (Dell arent reknown for the QA either). It uses an LED illuminated e-IPS panel (e for economy) that has lower colour Gamut capability but offers much lower power consumption compared to "proper" IPS panels. The 2412 certainly gets the excellent viewing angles of that other IPS panels have. The actual panel Dell uses in made by LG but doesnt seem widely used in other monitors yet, though I would guess there will be a few others entering the market in 2012. Lenovo do seem to offer something similar with the e-IPS panel but at a much higher price (rrp c£400)
For me in a screen this large the TN panel characteristics (ie poor off angle colour and contrast) were all too obvious, but stretching to the cost of a U2410 just wasn't possible. Mostly the monitor was needed for office tasks with some Photoshop and maybe some occasional gaming anyhow. The screen was going to be used for hours at a time so it needed to be easy in the eye too. Ideally I was after HDMI connection (which the 2412M lacked) as my laptop didnt have DVI - what I didnt realise is that HDMI to DVI cables are cheap as chips and work perfectly, so that was a non-issue in the end. Ultimately there didnt seem to be anything like the 2412M on the market right now so I took a risk with it
The construction (to me) is rather average and no better than many £130 screens. The plastics are quite thin, panel fits a little wavy and the stand itself not particularly precise. Height adjustment is good though and the landscape to portrait rotation very handy (even if you then have to tell the PC the orientation has changed, auto changing would be nicer) For all of that it looks pretty business like and does fit into an office environment without looking unduly flashy or expensive
In terms of image quality and screen area for my primary office uses it is ideal (1920x1200 is so much better than 1920x1080 for office stuff). Out of the box the colour calibration was awful but half an hour on Lagom.nl got things a lot better. It might be good enough for colour critical Photoshop work but I have yet to be convinced. With an 82% colour gamut it seems great for blues but less so for greens. Reds I find hard to judge anyhow so even if it is a little off I maybe wont notice. It is worth noting, one possible reason for some of the poor online reviews seems to be reviewers who assumed the screen came factory calibrated like the more expensive U2410 - it most certainly doesnt. Screen uniformity isnt all that good either, with some contrast shifts in the bottom corners on mine - I returned it in the end
So my overall view is this probably is a decent office monitor, particulalrly if you can't live with TN panel characteristics. There are some limitations for colour critial work that 'proper' IPS panels dont have and illumination variation may be an issue if you are sensitive so such things. For most users, most of the time the £100 saved over higher end IPS panels is maybe worth it, for me I am now pondering trying another 2412 as the price is so good or might save up for an Asus 246