I’m pleased to say that I’m once again using a big 24″ monitor. A power-surge had blown-out some vital component on the old one. I heard it go “pop”, and… the monitor was dead.
The new monitor is a Dell UltraSharp u2412m, which is a proper 1920 x 1200px 16:10 widescreen. It cost just £130 new, from Amazon UK as a warehouse deal with free shipping. Compared to £450, eleven years ago in 2007, for an equivalent Dell UltraSharp 16:10 with good colour response. Thank you, capitalism!
DRIVERS AND PROFILES: I installed the latest 2015 drivers from Dell and a Spyder3 Express calibrated colour profile, switched to the monitor’s internal Photoshop-friendly “Multimedia” preset for a slightly better colour/greyscale range, and boosted the brightness up a little to 30. I also re-ran the Microsoft Cleartype calibration to enhance small type display.
STAND AND BUILD: The adjust-ability of the screen angle and orientation is outstanding, compared to my old Dell. It glides up and down on micro-castors and precisely tilts with a slight push/pull. On the downside, there are no side SD-card slots. There’s also a cheaper plasticy 1980s-retro surrounding frame, which seems less sturdy than before. The control buttons look cheaper than my previous monitor, and care will be needed in handling them. Most especially the ON/OFF.
POWER: The new monitor stays very cool at the top-back, where the old monitor was distinctly warm after ten minutes. That’s perhaps because the new one uses less power. Just 18 watts, at my current brightness setting of 30.
eIPS BANDING: There is very very slight banding of fine gradients, seen in one part of the shadows range. This is apparently a drawback of the newer eIPS monitor type. Though it’s hardly perceptible and you wouldn’t spot it if you weren’t looking for it very carefully. Apparently A-FRC is being used to support the monitor’s 6-bit eIPS, and to display 16.7 million colors. I can live with almost-imperceptible banding in the shadows.
GREYSCALE FIDELITY: I find that the PCMag review was wrong about the smushing at bottom end of the greyscale response. Using various online tests, I could see all gradations of grey right down to black, and even in complex tests I could distinguish between the final two gradations of black + very near-black. My guess on this is that…
1). The PCMag test was done in a normally-lit office, rather than a low-lit graphics studio enviroment, and their office-worker eyes just couldn’t adjust enough to see the difference between black and nearest-black on a bright monitor in a bright environment.
2). Dell took note of their review and improved the bottom end of the greyscale response on later production runs.
3). My switching to the calibrated colour profile / the monitor’s internal “Multimedia” preset cured the problem they identified.
So all in all, I’m pleased, especially with the price. I now have a 24″ again alongside my Ugee 1910b pen monitor. In an ideal world (where making art paid) I’d have combined the £130 and £300 from both of these, been able to add another £120 on top and maybe purchased a single £550 pen monitor with less screen real-estate. But for the moment, I can easily switch between them as needed.