Dell Singapore has loaned me another monitor to review and this time it's the Dell U2917W.
This is my first time using an extra wide monitor with an aspect ratio of 21:9 (that's like 2.33 in the film world). My preference is for 16:9 or 16:10 monitors.
As usual, my review is from the perspective of an artist, graphic designer, photo and video editor.
I would like to start this review by saying that you should get a monitor for the type of work you do. That's pretty obvious, right? Maybe. Because of the work I do, even after using this monitor for 2 weeks, hours each day, I have not gotten used to the extra wide aspect ratio yet, and I doubt I ever will. More on that later.
Currently, the extra wide monitors that Dell sells are the U3417 (which replaces the earlier U3415W) and the smaller U2917W (which replaces the earlier U2913WM). Below's the specs list comparing the two.
Dell U2917W specifications
|Viewing size||28.8 inch flat||34 inch curved|
|Resolution||2560 x 1080 at 60 Hz||3440 x 1440 at 60 Hz|
|Contrast Ratio||1000 to 1 (typical)||1000 to 1 (typical)|
|Brightness||300 cd/m²||300 cd/m²|
|Response Time||5 ms (gray to gray, typical)||5 ms (gray to gray, typical)|
|Color Support||16.7 Million colors||16.7 Million colors|
|Color Gamut||99% sRGB||99% sRGB|
|Coating||Anti-glare with 3H hardness||Anti-glare with 3H hardness|
|Adjustability||Tilt, Swivel, Height Adjust||Tilt, Swivel, Height Adjust|
|Ports||DP, mDP, DP out, 2x HDMI, 4x USB3||DP, mDP, DP out, 2x HDMI, 4x USB3|
Two important things to note. The U2917W is a flat screen monitor unlike the U3517W which is curved. The resolution it uses is 2560 x 1080 vs 3440 x 1440 of its larger brother.
Build quality and design
Build quality of Dell monitors are usually very good. Same applies here. The monitor looks great. It has the matte surface finishing to the body and the screen.
That's the stand. You should be able to use a VESA arm if you want.
The monitor still has a sizeable thickness from front to back, but not too different from other brands of IPS LED monitors.
These are the ports beneath. There's a full size DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, DisplayPort out, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x USB3 upstream, 2 HDMI and 4 USB3 (two on the side).
These are the two USB 3 ports on the left side of the monitor. There's no card reader.
Power switch and menu buttons are at the bottom right, facing downwards. The power light indicator is small and not obtrusive. Buttons has a nice touch to them. You can do the PIP feature if you want to.
Bezel is not as small compared to the Dell U2716D or U2717D. The bezel size is just right for me. The bezel on the top and sides are flushed to the screen. The bottom bezel protrudes out slightly and is thicker.
The screen is matte. The matte surface is said to be some anti-glare. I think it works well. If there wasn't any mention, I won't even know it's there. Most importantly, the screen looks sharp.
Who is this monitor for?
Because of the extra wide aspect ratio, this monitor is more suitable for people who game or watch a lot of 2.33 aspect ratio films, and also want a monitor that has good colour reproduction.
Is it good for designers and content creators?
My review is from someone who uses a monitor for content creation. More specifically, I use my monitor for graphic design, video and photo editing and writing.
My main monitor uses 2560 by 1440 resolution. Switching over to 2560 by 1080 feels like a major step backwards to me. The 2560 by 1440 monitor offers 33% more resolution. Basically, with more resolution, I was able to see more of my working space and content and the user interface. The extra pixels really help with productivity.
For example in Final Cut Pro, a Mac video editing software, I rarely have to scroll to see my clips or all the stuff in the time line.
This 21:9 aspect ratio does not work well when editing photos with Adobe Lightroom. Working on a 3:2, 4:3 or even 16:9 photo will leave significant empty space on the sides. This also has the effect of making your main photo look smaller because it's now squashed vertically.
Doing page layout or graphic design isn't really too bad. It's quite good actually. There are plenty of horizontal space for the palettes. However, if you're using a tablet, such as a Wacom tablet, to map that tablet to the whole screen would mean you are not going to maximise the whole working surface area on the tablet. Most graphics drawing tablet nowadays are designed for 16:9 screens.
Watching 16:9 content on Youtube, which basically means most content on Youtube, will give you black bars on the sides which can be quite distracting, more distracting compared to horizontal black bars.
Some 2.33:1 content on Youtube are formatted for the 16:9 aspect ratio. Those would have large black borders all around.
The monitor is advertised to support 99% sRGB gamut. I measured 100% sRGB colour gamut support with the Spyder5PRO calibrator. I also measured 77% Adobe RGB and 72% NTSC.
Viewing angles are great. Colours appear to be reproduced evenly across the screen. Even when looking straight into such a wide screen, there aren't any colour shifting on the sides. TN panels for example will have those colour shifts on the side even when you're not looking at the screen at an angle. I'm pleased with the colour reproduction. The 100% sRGB colour gamut support means this monitor is great for general purpose use, except perhaps for extra gaming where you need higher frame rates (60Hz here) or better response time (5ms here).
For those who appreciate good colours and want a quality screen, the Dell U2917W delivers on that front.
IPS glow and backlight bleeding
Since this is an IPS panel, it does have that characteristic IPS glow, more evident when your room is totally dark. IPS glow during normal room lighting conditions should not present itself.
My unit has some backlight bleeding at the top left, bottom left and right. It's not that obvious and not enough for me to be dissatisfied with it. Under normal conditions, this backlight bleeding does not show up, just like the IPS glow.
By the way, from the reference photo, if you see a large gradated lighted patch, it's because my camera is not centred properly in front of the screen. That's the IPS glow and any slight change to the angle of the lens can produce significant effect of an IPS glow.
Overall, the Dell U2917W is a quality performer. There aren't really any downsides to the build quality or the colour reproduction.
This monitor is best suited for those who consume majority of their content in 21:9 aspect ratio. For example if you watch a lot of films in the 21:9 aspect ratio, it is satisfying to watch them on this monitor. Gaming with such an extra wide screen feels quite immersive, but this the frame rate and response time doesn't compare with dedicated gaming monitors, however you do get better colours here.
I don't think this monitor is a good general purpose monitor. If you want Youtube 16:9 videos, you'll get thick vertical black bars by the side.
Content creators, photo and video editors should avoid this monitor because of the aspect ratio. Most software aren't designed for extra wide aspect ratio, and make poor use of the space. E.g. Photo editing with wasted space by the side. Final Cut Pro or other video editing software can do better with more vertical working space. Every time I use this monitor, I have a strong urge to switch to my 2560 x 1440 monitor. I work most of the time on my monitor, so I don't need the 21:9 aspect ratio.
The price of this monitor sits between the 1920 x 1080 and 2560 x 1440 monitors. That's not surprising considering the amount of pixels that it has is also in between. If you're coming from a 1920 x 1080 monitor, again unless you watch a lot of 21:9 films, I won't recommend this monitor. There's no point in getting an extra wide screen like this but don't use it to its full advantage.
If you're someone who consumes a lot of 21:9 content, I feel that this is a quality monitor you can consider. And for the price that it's selling at, it's quite worth the money.