If there were a prize for the most boring screen technology, the 1,280 x 1,024, traditional dull TN panel would win hands down. And it would turn up to the awards ceremony in sensible shoes and a cardigan, with a prepared 20-page speech and a Thermos of tea. In contrast, this Dell screen would be at the back of the room getting hammered on tequila, surrounded by glamorous ladies. The SP2309W measures 23 inches on the diagonal, has brilliant colours, sleek looks and a beyond-HD resolution of 2,048 x 1,152.
Even getting this screen out of the box is unusual – the panel can contort backwards on the stand until it’s entirely flat, and Dell ships the screen like this. This limbo-dancing pose helps when attaching all the cables, so it’s not just a quirky gimmick. There are DVI, D-Sub and HDMI inputs, plus two 3.5mm mini-jacks, a 2-megapixel webcam and twin microphones and a Type-B USB port that powers the two Type-A downstream USB 2 connections. A hole in the stalk of the stand tidies all these cables effectively.
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The double-hinged stand also allows for a fair degree of movement for the screen. It can sit flush with your desk, or stand 115mm above it, and it’s possible to tilt the screen to pretty much any angle you’d want. There’s no provision for rotating the screen into portrait mode, but this stand is everything else you could possibly want.
Sitting the Dell on our desk was a bit of a shock at first, though. The chunky bezel is shiny and reflective, as is the screen itself, and the colours displayed are so vibrant and rich that they almost look over-saturated - and they're a world away from what you'd expect, given that underneath it all, this is still a TN panel.
Keen to see if we could tweak things a little, we delved into the OSD. This menu is easily one of the friendliest we’ve seen, and yet houses a vast array of options. However, our sister publications with which we share offices were glowering at us as we frantically tried to turn off the annoying – and surprisingly loud – beep that the screen makes every time you press one of the touch-sensitive menu navigation buttons on the lower right-hand side. We found the option reasonably quickly (seriously, what was all the fuss about?) and the buttons worked faultlessly.
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It turned out that Dell had configured the screen pretty well in the factory – the default settings give you more or less the best picture possible - although we did make a few tweaks. We turned off the dynamic contrast (which leads to the frankly silly 80,000:1 quoted contrast ratio), switched the colour temperature to RGB and upped the brightness from 75 to 84. The differences weren’t great, but we had a slightly cleaner colour balance and purer whites, as well as feeling a bit happier for actually having done something, rather than just hit ‘Auto’. As ever, you shouldn’t go near the colour presets, as they muck up the colour balance horrifically – why the Multimedia setting makes everything grey and murky, we’ll never know.