DELL U2711 Anti Glare Review

Dell U2711 Anti Glare Review

Dell U2711 IPS monitor

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.

Resolution

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.

IPS Panel

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.

Conclusion

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.

Have fun

18 thoughts on “DELL U2711 Anti Glare Review

  1. Peter,

    I appreciate this analysis very much. My Samsung SyncMaster 305T monitor failed last week. It’s an S-PVA monitor w/the same resolution as the HP ZR30w and Dell U-3011. The latter two are IPS monitors, although they differ slightly in the type of IPS. HP is S-IPS/H2-IPS (CN401808T6 unknown manufacturer) whereas Dell is H-IPS. I work mostly w/MS Office documents. I am always working on a white background so your comments above re: the U2711 caused me concern, especially for the Dell U-3011 which uses the same described anti-reflective coating as the U2711.

    I read all the reviews at Amazon for the 24″ version of the Dell Ultrasharp U-2411. Note the dot pitch is .27mm Most reviewers loved the monitor but one reviewer complained about the graininess http://www.amazon.com/Dell-UltraSharp-U2410-Performance-DisplayPort/product-reviews/B00302DNZ4/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_next_2?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&pageNumber=2 – search for “graininess ”

    The dot pitch on all three 30″ monitors is .25mm. The resultant text is quite small, but I have worked w/it for many years. I tried the 27″ Apple iMac and I found the screen impossible to deal w/ (it as glossy as well). Anandtech has reviewed both 30″ IPS monitors. You might find his comments very interesting in light of your review,

    “I think this is an excellent opportunity to talk about IPS graininess, something we really haven’t discussed before. Of the IPS panels I’ve used to date, all of them have had some high frequency grain on the surface from a combination of coating and interference at the interface. Thankfully the U3011 has a combination antireflection coating and hard coating, and subjectively there seems to be less grain than I’ve seen on other displays.”

    Some end-user reviewers have found the HP 30″ less objectionable than the Dell 30″. Given the paucity of S-PVA 30″ monitors (my Samsung is no longer available), do you have any recommendations on how I should proceed.

    Thanks, Richard

    • Richard, you have made a lot of good points.

      To cut straight to the heart of the matter, many people are not overly fussed with the AG Coating. Problem for me was I got use to a 40 inch Samsung LCD TV which I used in place of a monitor on and off. So when it came time to finally bite the bullet and purchase I new monitor, I was looking for something equivalent to the gloss Samsung TV. Now, I new I couldn’t use the TV because I would be sitting only 50cm in front of it most of the time, not from across the living room like I was with the TV and a wireless keyboard, but I wanted to approximate the gloss TV experience.

      I knew the Dell had an agressive AG coating. There are forums and complaints about it all over the net. BUT I wasn’t expecting the degree of graininess that I am noticing from the U2711. With a gloss LCD TV, white look fantastic; where as whites on AG Coated IPS are, to put it bluntly, SHlT.

      The graininess is only due to the AG Coating, not the IPS panel its self. Gloss IPS panels have very little if any reported graininess. The only reason most manufacturers even use an AG coating is the glare or reflection of the user in an IPS panel is so considerable due to the distance people sit from their monitors.

      IPS monitors are really multimedia monitors, meaning, that they are designed to display colours close to or exceeding sRGB. They do this very well, and, without researching to much, that is why they make excellent TV’s. Problem is the distance you sit from a monitor is a fraction of that of a standard LCD TV. You need an AG coating in order to stop the reflection of the user on the image, obviously. I have read forum posts of people loving the Apple Cinema display but complaining they cant see anything properly because of the reflection. Same goes with the Hazro (which I tossed up importing from then UK but decided against because of fear of having to make a warranty claim internationally and having to foot a huge shipping bill).

      So, the Dell it was. I wanted, again the key words there are “I wanted” a gloss image experience with the feature set of the Dell U2711. I wasn’t expecting the AG coating to be so noticable for me. Many people get use to it. I got use to a perfect image on a 40 inch LCD Samsung TV. The Dell does not provide an equivalent image in my opinion. As I have mentioned before, most of my work is on a white background, and this is the specific deficiency I was not expecting, or hadn’t prepared myself for when moving from a TV Grade image, to a Monitor Grade image.

      The U2711 does video content and gaming superbly. It has a great contrast ratio, excellent brightness and a decent response time. But white a ruined with the haze from the AG Filter. You don’t notice the AG filter during video playback.

      I would seriously recommend viewing a U2711 in person before purchasing. If I had, I wouldn’t have bought it. I would have gone with an Apple Cinema Display or took a gamble on importing a Gloss Hazro instead. There are reported problems with the quality control on the Hazro’s and people complaining of dust and dirt on the inside of the glass panel; not good…

      The Dell U2711 has excellent features and great specs, but I don’t believe it is suited to office work of the type I use if for, being approx 20% full screen PDF’s, 60% word docs, and the remainder webpages, email etc.

      The AG Coating annoys me, and my wife, to such an extent I am considering an AG removal mod… there are several threads on the net, one of which I am involved in at the moment. The all have their drawbacks but, as it stands, I am looking to try and do something about it.

      Richard, If I had the chance again, I would hold out on a Dell and wait for the Samsung SA850. It looks very good, only a mild AG Coating and is a varient of IPS panel. BUT, it isn’t out in Oz for another 6 months. It is reported to be available in Hong Kong now, but I can’t track any down. Look into the Samsung SA850. It would be my specific choice if I had had the patience to wait.

  2. On the link above, an interesting debate on the anti-glare coating for the Dell and the relevance of having the sRGB option:

    DefBringer Limp Gawd, 9.4 Years

    Status:
    This is a no-brainer.

    The Dell has an awful anti-glare coating that makes it completely worthless for anyone serious about color accuracy.

    The lack of a scaler on the HP ZR30W is a bonus, not a drawback. People interested in playing Xbox or PS3 on a LCD monitor aren’t going to be buying a $1000+ 30″ LCD.

    vs.

    Originally Posted by PC_User
    I think you’re over exaggerating the AG coating. It’s not quite as awful as you make it sound. And even with a scaler and 25ms of input lag, most “eyes” cannot discern that or notice any ghosting.
    Agreed. the AG coating on this display is a freaking non issue. Looks perfectly fine to my eyes and im a sensitive prick.

  3. Peter. Thanks for your answer. However, I am not looking to buy the U2711, which has a smaller dot pitch that I cannot deal w/even w/out the anti-glare coating. Its too small. Since the Samsung SA850 is a 27″ monitor w/the same dot pitch .23, that’s not going to work either. My question was whether given the greater dot pitch of the Dell U3011, that the graininess effect would be less.

    As far as removing the anti-glare coating, then you would have in effect a glossy monitor w/reflections. That is also pretty intolerable. I have a Sony XBR 4 52″ LCD TV which has a matte screen. Glossy if fine on a 10″ Ipad, but that’s about my limit.

    • I wasn’t going to removed the AG Coating. I think the AG Coating is required to a small degree. There is too much risk of damaging the polariser when removing the AG Coating so that option isn’t something I was going to consider. The mod I was thinking of would effectively have buffed the AG Coating so as it wasn’t as aggressive; hopefully resulting in a clearer image and less graininess. But, I have yet to try it; and am hoping that I get use to the image as it currently is …. but, I am still waiting for the graininess to stop annoying me.

      I think the slightly larger dot pitch will result in a less grainy image; but, I am not in position to verify this myself.

  4. re: the HP 30″, an owner said the following:

    “RE: Anti-glare coat by mcklevin on Monday, June 28, 2010
    I now have had this monitor for a week, and it has performed quite well, it is a very solid professional looking build. The anti-glare screen does not sparkle like the LG screen, and the black levels are better as well. Text looks much better than the LG too.”

    So I think I am going to get the 30″ HP.

    • I would really like your feedback on how you find the image. I have read a forum review (sorry no link) and people did give positive feedback on the strength of the AG Coating not being to aggressive.

      There are several degrees of AG Coating available to monitor manufacturers. And the Samsung SA850 I referred to has a very mild AG Coating (more smooth).. so I believe the HP would have a similar mild coating. I think dell have used the same AG coating on the U2711 as they have on the U3011 even though the dot pitch on the U3011 is larger.. But I’m not in a position to verify the net impact on image quality myself.

      I would love a Tech website to do an in depth appraisal of the net effect different strength AG Coatings have on the different size dot pitches used in various IPS panels. It would make for good reading.

  5. I agree w/you. The HP 30″ also has a street price of under $1200 USD whereas the Dell is several hundred dollars more. The HP also has the wide gamut. I am not sure if this is an advantage as far as doing MS Office work vs. the sRGB on the Dell. I think the Dell support both sRGB and wide gamut and you can configure the monitor for either whereas HP is hardwired to the wide gamut. I understand well this is important for Adobe PS etc. but I am only working w/MS Office and text apps- some graphics but not actually creating them. Do you have an opinion on sRGB vs wide gamut for std MS Office work. Is this HP in any way less optimal for text w/the wide gamut?

    I definitely will let you know about the monitor if I get it. If you want to hear some interesting thoughts about LCDs, glossy, matte etc., have a listen to http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=404064215 and skip to the part where they discuss the LCDs on the new Apple notebooks.

  6. Yeah, prices are coming down. In Oz the U2711 can be got for approx $650 with discounts where as the U3011 is approx $1100-$1200. You could always splurge on 2 U2711’s for the price of one U3011… but then, in my opinion, you would have 2 x the AG Coating issue 🙂

    I am probably never going to require full Adobe wide colour gamut either, sRGB is plenty for the limited web graphics I deal with. I would think any monitor should be fine with whites. BUT that is the problem I have with the Dell U2711. The U2711 CAN do fantastic whites because of the luminescence (brightness) and its contrast ratio, but its hamstrung due to the AG Coating. The AG removal mod was instigated by a photographer who bought the U2711 because of its small pixel pitch and wide colour gamut, but found that the AG Coating was ‘displaying noise’ in his images; hence the reason for the AG removal mod.

    Personally, (baring the AG coating) I would love to have bought the U3011 because of its 16:10 screen size. But the distance I sit from my monitor is very close. So the U3011 would have been REALLY big on my desk. You may find http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum/129?g=178 helpful. Depending on the distance you sit, the pixel pitch on a 27″ will give you the same text size as a 30″ … the main benefit is the 16:10 screen size … plus, I think, the larger pixel size will result is slightly less haze from the same grade of AG Coating. But then again, I believe the HP uses a less aggressive AG Coating anyway.

    I know a lot of people think the AG Coating thing is blown all out of proportion, but, I am looking at the U2711 it right now… and the haze on white backgrounds is giving me the SHITS…

    I would recommend, with ANY monitor you are thinking of buying, to SEE IT FIRST HAND before paying the money. Same goes with a keyboard. Feel it First; With speakers, listen to them First.

    Online shops are all good and well, but unless you know exactly what you are buying, you may be in for surprises when you finally open the box. I got a surprise with the U2711… Not very happy about it.

    EDIT …

    Yet another person surprised with the AG Coating on the U2711… This post is from the U2711 thread over at OverClockers.Com.Au.

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  10. This monitor has given me severe eye strain and I only realised there was some kind of anti-glare on it when I viewed it with my polarised shades!!

    Thanks for the article.

    Charlie

    • Hi Charlie.

      Yeah. I read heaps of reviews on the specs and what people thought of it and they were all positive. I think AnandTech was the only one to even mention the AntiGlare coating. But, they didn’t go into it too much.

      I’m not actually in favoure of NO AntiGlare coating. You need some. But Dell have done something to the U2711 series, and other U series as far as I’m aware, that makes the suitable for use in high glare environments such as offices.

      I think it is far too excessive. In my opinion, the AntiGlare coating ruins the image this display is capable of. And, yes, I get headaches and eye strain, sometimes after less than a half hour of usage of the U2711.

      I most certainly would not buy this monitor again. I am sorely disappointment with it. There is no way it can be called a professional display. It just isn’t suitable for long term use or, as far as I’m concerned, image work.

      Some people will like it. I don’t. The image was a disappointment for me.

      I am looking into a Samsung 27 inch IPS to replace this Dell U2711. I’m not sure what to do with the U2711. I actually feel guilty contemplating selling it to someone else; and I sure won’t let my wife or kids use it – my wife hates it anyway.

      Peter

  11. Hi guys,

    I see the topic is a bit dead but you’re a serious bunch and I’d like to hear your thoughts about a nice monitor for my purposes. I was just going to order the U2711 as all the reviews out there wrote that this is the best price-to-performance monitor out there this year, but then I saw all online shops in Bulgaria are selling U2711-B, which I read is an inferior panel grade so I started researching once again and finally ended up in this topic which killed all my enthusiasm of buying the Dell. Eye-strain from a high priced monitor I’m going to be using for hours, no thanks.

    I have a budget of around 1300 Bulgarian Leva or 850$. I use my home PC for work [I’m a graphic designer, although I wouldn’t mind if my future monitor isn’t top of the cream on color accuracy having a shitty 19″ LG for years now] and entertainment alike, including playing games and watching movies. What would be your advice.

    Thanks in advance for your time,
    Mikael

    • Hi Mikael,

      Thanks for posting your question. I was thinking of writing up a review on the screen I’m currently using but have yet to get to it.

      If I were you I would have a look at the Yamakasi Catleap.

      I am currently using the Yamakasi Catleap Q270 LED. I picked it up off ebay for $320 Australian dollars … DELIVERED! I love it. No AG Coating and it uses an LG IPS panel. All Catleaps apparently use an A- (minus) not an A or A+ panel which is what goes into the Apple Cinema display monitors.

      I ended up selling my U2711 for about $400 au, losing about $350 on it. I just couldn’t stand the AG coating. I would notice the AG Coating strain my eyes after about 15 minutes, and after an hour my eyes were stinging. I am not sure if it is just me but I couldn’t stand it. My wife refused to use it and chose to use an old Samsung 226BW instead of the U2711. So, the U2711 in my opinion, has one of the worst images available on the market. The specs are great, the features are great; but the image is SHIT!

      If you want to use your monitor for watching films then it should be a glossy display. You will get background reflection on a glossy display because they have the same characteristics as LCD or LED TV’s. The Catleap Q270 has a glossy display and I get background reflection in bright or sunny rooms. BUT … the colours are FANTASTIC and the trade off is worth it in my opinion. Try plugging your computer into an LCD TV for a day to see what I mean.

      I haven’t colour calibrated the Catleap Q270 but for the work I do I don’t need to. It’s fine just the way it is. Nice bright colours, blacks are actually black not grey, and whites are bright white, very bright and clean without the grainy texture the U2711 gives to its colours. (note, the Q270 doesn’t have colour adjustment buttons, just contrast. You have to do colour adgustment in software in your operating system. You don’t get any bells and whistles on the monitor for $320 au).

      Go and have a look at an Apple Cinema display in a shop and you should get a similar picture quality from a Catleap or any of the other brands selling A- Korean panels from LG or Samsung. There are heaps on the market.

      One thing to note: I bought mine off ebay from a guy called Greensum. You can get PIXEL PERFECT displays for an extra $100 au bucks. I didn’t. I just got the standard (no tempered glass) monitor. My screen is basically perfect. No dead pixels. Some people have had one or two or more dead pixels but not many. On a 27 inch 2560 x 1440 panel the pixels are so small it is hard to notice them anyway. A dead pixel is better than a STUCK ON pixel. Stuck ON means it may be white, red, green or blue (?) all the time. You may find it annoying if you are watching a film. It is a gamble I was willing to take and it paid off. My screen has 100% perfect pixels.

      There is a fraction of light bleed in the bottom right hand corner. I can’t notice it. I was actually LOOKING for faults when I noticed it. The room was black and the screen was black … except for the faintest white bleed in the bottom right hand corner. For the record my U2711 had exactly the same bleed. It is irrelevant to me. I really cant’ notice it, not even when watching films.

      The colours on the Q270 LED are, as I have said before, great. No AG Coating means my photos look excellent. Really, there is no going back to an AG coated display once you try a glossy / non-AG coated screen like the Catleap.

      Look on ebay for a Yamakasi Catleap. Read some reviews. Have a look on Youtube too. Search for Yamakasi Monitor Catleap. There are other brands too but don’t know about them. However, they all apparently use an LG or Samsung A- (A Minus) panel. B Grade panels have too many dead pixels, apparently.

      The price is the best part about these displays. But, you get what you pay for. The Catleap Q270 LED only has one DVI port (thats it) and a contrast button. No colour adjustment. You will have to do that in you operating system. Side note. I have volume control buttons on my display, but no speakers. Funny huh. So, the same beazle is used for every monitor regardless of the features it actually has. They really cut every corner to get the price down but, hey I think it’s worth it. The U2711 had 2 dvi ports, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 compost. And, I never used anything except one DVI port so all the others were a waste of money for me. I miss the USB and SD card ports but can live without them.

      So, if I were you or I had to choose again, I’d look into a Yamakasi. I’m happy with mine, but keep in mind you may end up with a display with a couple of dead pixels. I didn’t but a couple of people have. The gamble is worth it for $320 Australian. A 27 inch IPS Glossy display is fantastic. I am interested in the 30 inch version of the same monitor but, for now, the 27 inch is plenty.

      NOTE: I use Fedora Linux. The EDID (google it) isn’t set properly on the Catleap’s epprom so that when I try and use Nvidia display drivers nvidia can’t tell what sort of monitor it is and I get display errors and it defaults to a smaller screen resolution which looks crap. I don’t use the Nvidia drivers for this reason, just the default X11 drivers which detect and install without problems. They aren’t as good as the Nvidia drivers but they work well enough so it isn’t an issue for me. If you run a Linux system then you will understand what I am talking about. If you run Windows then this doesn’t’ matter to you. Nvidia drivers should install without any problems and you should get a perfect picture / display. I am looking into it, the EDID issue in Linux but I don’t have the time to trouble shoot it right now.

      Hope this helps, have fun.

      Peter

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