Dell is well known for churning out good-quality but slightly frumpy versions of the latest technology. Dell's 30-inch LCD is a case in point, as it could be the country cousin of Apple's Cinema HD Display line -- if by 'country' you mean the Home Counties.
The Dell 3007WFP, priced at £1,470, is indeed considerably cheaper than its Apple equivalent (which costs £1,799), but the 3007WFP actually offers more adjustability, a better array of features and a charming design. Our only quibble: we wish that Dell had added S-video ports and improved the video playback to make this monitor a complete media package.
The Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP is both big and bright. In fact, its outward appearance is almost as nice as what's inside the frame. The narrow black bezel is capped with silver bars along the top and bottom edges, and a heavy Y-shaped metal stand features a brushed silver coating that gives the design a retro space-age look.
We're very impressed with the display's flexibility, especially for its large size: the panel tilts about 5 degrees forward and 15 degrees back, the neck swivels where it meets the stand, which allows you to turn the panel 45 degrees to the left and the right, and it also telescopes 90mm in height. There's no portrait/landscape pivot, but with a display this size, such a function would be ridiculous -- even hazardous.
The Dell 3007WFP accepts only a digital input (cable included), and it requires a top-of-the-line graphics card to support its 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution. On the back, there's a 12V audio jack for connecting the optional 10W Dell Soundbar speakers, along with one upstream and four downstream USB 2.0 ports for connecting peripherals and powering the media-card slots located along the left edge of the display.
There are two media-card slots along the monitor's left side: one reads CompactFlash cards, the other is a combo slot that reads SmartMedia, Secure Digital, Memory Stick and MMC cards. The card slots show up as drives on your PC, so you can easily transfer files to and from them. What's missing from this display (and available on the smaller Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW) is video inputs. Limiting a display this big to your computer seems a terrible waste of space and money -- it should double as a TV or movie screen.
As with the Apple Cinema Displays, there's no on-screen menu for adjusting the settings on the Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP. The only adjustment function is brightness, and the only buttons on the display are three buttons along the bottom bezel that power the display and increase or decrease brightness.
You can install a utility (included on the install CD) that adds a Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP tab to your Windows Display Properties dialogue box, but all this does is let you adjust the brightness with a slider bar or disable the panel buttons altogether. Since other 30-inch displays also lack image adjustability, we're not surprised Dell chose to forego this feature, though colour purists may bemoan this lack of adjustability.
We tested the Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP using our DisplayMate-based tests, and it performed quite well. Text looked very sharp even at sizes as small as 6.8 points, and the contrast was excellent. We noticed that light greys exhibited a reddish hue, and there was some compression (missing steps of light grey) near peak white, which looked slightly dingy. The display handled both greyscale and colour spectrums beautifully: they were smooth and evenly stepped with almost none of the bright spots or the colour effects we see with many LCDs.
The Dell 3007WFP's screen was also very uniform throughout testing, with none of the bright edges or swathes of brightness we usually see across a dark screen. Despite the monitor's 11ms response time, DVD performance was disappointing. There was digital noise throughout the image (often it's just relegated to large areas of background colour) and ghosting, which reduced the sharpness of the picture, making it look blurry and soft-focused.
Given its size, we suspect that many people would use this screen for watching DVDs, which makes the ghosting and the digital noise all the more disappointing. For those who are interested, most games don't support the monitor's 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution, but when tested with World of Warcraft, colours looked vibrant and we didn't notice any ghosting.
Edited by Charles McLellan
Additional editing by Nick Hide