At the time of writing, the SP2309W, a full 1080p 23-inch widescreen TFT display, was selling for just north of £220. Factor in that it includes a built-in webcam and has a native resolution of 2048 x 1152 pixels, and it soon emerges as a poster child for just how price-attractive quality displays have become.
For a quality display it most certainly is. It’s bright, for starters, boasting figures of 300cd/m2 brightness and an 80,000:1 contrast ratio. We swapped out a 24-inch Dell, no slack performer in its own right, and the clarity and luminance of the new screen were instantly obvious.
It’s a sharp display, too, as you’d hope. We threw in an abundance of test material, including Blu-rays of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, along with games such as Crysis Warhead and – yes! – Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, and couldn’t help but be impressed.
It deals with blacks very well and the colour range is really strong, too. We eventually toned the default brightness down a little and this was easy enough to do as well. The response time of 2ms meant that fast-moving action caused no sweat at all to the display, and while the viewing angle wasn’t perfect (and that does need to be a consideration), it’s one of just a small number of complaints.
Around the back, the unit has connections for DVI, VGA and – helpfully – HDMI, although not all of these cables are included in the box. A driver CD and printed setup guide are in there, though. What’s great about the HDMI link, incidentally, is that it’ll then pump audio out through a 3.5-inch audio connection. That’s a really nice and helpful touch.
The stand the screen is mounted on is easy to adjust and surprisingly malleable, and the inclusion of a webcam – an idea straight out of the world of laptops – is welcome, although inevitably it’s quite inflexible for something being used with a desktop PC.
We combined our test of this screen with a look at Dell’s ordering process and it’s here that we found our biggest annoyance. The screen has no built-in speakers, which is fine, but on the order page for the 2309, Dell pushes a soundbar that attaches to the bottom. What it doesn’t make clear is that you need to order a soundbar that has a power pack with it.
Many Dell monitors allow you to plug the soundbar directly into the sound power port built into the screen itself, but not this one, and apparently Dell won’t sell you the power adapter separately. Thus, while the soundbar fits very easily to the underside of the screen, without the power to run it we couldn’t test how well it actually performs.
Still, the positives of the screen are in abundance, and the whole package is finished off by the rounded, classy design. It’s got the kind of glossy sheen that may make it inappropriate to sit directly in front of sunlight, but this is still a classy screen that offers strong value for money. Even the elegant on-screen menu oozes class and the relatively low asking price just rounds things off nicely.
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