Dell U2711 Anti Glare Review
This review of the Dell U2711 Monitor focuses solely on the Anti Glare coating employed in the U2711 and its subsequent impact on the displayed image the monitor is capable of providing. There are literally hundreds of reviews on the internet for the Dell U2711 monitor that discus its feature set, performance and price. Read those if you want an a more in depth analysis of the U2711’s feature set.
The Dell U2711 has a 2560 x 1440 resolution giving it a 16:9 display ration, which is exactly double 720p HD video. This makes it a very good choice for viewing HD video content. A double 1080p HD display resolution would be better but is not easily obtainable in the market at an equivalent price point that the U2711 is available for. The U2711 represents a good screen real estate to dollar value ratio.
The Dell U2711 monitor is a premium monitor, there is no doubt about that. It has a premium feature set with the inclusion of numerous video inputs as well as USB and flash card reader; and most significantly, the use of an IPS LCD display panel. The use of an IPS panel provides the U2711 with a 178 degree viewable image and an excellent wide colour gamut.
Read this to clarify why you would want a Wide Colour Gamut.
IPS panels are superior to TN panels which have very limited viewing angles before the image contrasts out or fades out to black. The user needs to sit directly in front of a TN panel in order to view the image with out any degradation and sitting off centre will result in degraded greyed out image. This is the inherent limitation of TN (Twisted Nematic) display technology.
TN panels are only suitable for use by single users. IPS panels provide a greater viewable angle as well as better colour reproduction and colour gamut.
Anti Glare (AG) Coating
The Resolution of the Dell U2711 is its primary selling point, and its greatest drawback. The small pixel pitch of 0.233mm of the IPS panel used in the U2711 is what gives the monitor it its high resolution. The smaller the individual pixel pitch the higher the resolution of a given LCD panel because pixels will fit on a given panel size, resulting a more finely grained, smoother and better quality image.
However, the image produced by the LCD panel and the image ultimately displayed ot the end user are not the same thing.
Dell utilises an Anti Glare coating on the U2711; which is exactly the same as an Anti Reflective coating, designed to eliminate reflection and subsequent interference with the image presented to the user. The AG coating is only specified as Anti Glare with Hard Coat 3H on the Dell website.
The Anti Glare coating employed in the Dell U2711 monitor is necessary because the high luminescence, ie: how bright it is, means that if the monitor was a gloss panel then the brightness would result in significant user reflection on the panel. The Anti Glare coating is required in order to prevent this user reflection.
But: the use of this Anti Glare coating results in degradation of the displayed image.
Many people on the Internet refer to this characteristic as Display Sparkle or a graininess of the image; and this characteristic makes whites and greys look dirty on screen. The reason for this apparent sparkle is that the roughness or texture of the Anti Glare coating is at a size where by it impinges on the light being emitted by individual pixels.
Due to the roughness of the U2711 Anti Glare 3H coating, the refraction of light emitted from each individual pixel is altered to such a degree that it is noticeable to the unaided eye; resulting in a lower perceived quality of image that is displayed.
This characteristic of the AG coating is less evident on displays with a larger pixel pitch than the U2711, such as the Samsung 223BW.
The sparkling is immediately apparent when viewing any whites and mild greys. All office documents, and many websites are displayed on a white background and and as such the sparkling effect is emphasised whenever working with office documents or anything with a white background.
Dell would have been better off utilizing an etched glass such as Eagle Etch which mitigates the need for such an aggressive Anti Glare coating. The noticeable sparkle on the U2711 would be almost totally eliminated.
From my personal experience use of the U2711 lead to eye fatigue whilst viewing bright content with this monitor.
To sum up: I love the Dell U2711 Monitor, but I hate the image it displays. I won’t be buying it again unless Dell drastically reduce the aggressiveness of the Anti Glare coating and minimise the resultant image speckle. The U2711, with its huge resolution, high level brightness and the aggressive Anti Glare coating result in noticeable image speckle and makes for a fatiguing visual experience.