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David Murphy

Jun 24, 2008

Dell Ultrasharp 3008WFP

At A Glance

Lancer

Crystal-clear white; acceptable overall picture quality.

Pruner

Compressed grayscale; presets lead to color oversaturation.

Dell’s jumbo entry in its Ultrasharp line of monitors, the 3008WFP, performs exactly as the company’s marketing materials promise. This monitor truly “produces darker blacks.” In fact, we think Dell’s underselling the device, because the 3008WFP takes the dark spectrum and covers it with the digital equivalent of a dark sheet. We cranked the device to its maximum brightness and still found ourselves unable to see distinctions at the low end of Display Mate’s grayscales.

The situation doesn’t get much better on the light end: As a whole, the 3008WFP suffers from a compressed range. While the 3008WFP’s white is bright and dramatic, it spills over into the light grays, blowing out image detail in both our artificial and real-world test scenarios. If we lower the brightness at all, the dark end of the grayscale worsens. And that’s when we’re using the monitor’s sRGB preset. Other modes, such as the Desktop preset, distort the monitor’s clarity and add uncomfortable shades of color to grayscale gradients. The display also fares horribly on our backlighting test, presenting one of the most spotlight-style, splotchy representations we've seen.

That said, the monitor’s Multimedia preset did seem to accomplish wonders on our HD DVD test, making the detail in the dark bits of the movie match that of our current favorite 30-inch monitor, Gateway’s XHD3000. But while this made us happy, the setting also made colors appear overly saturated.

Our other real-world tests, including high-quality picture viewing and romps through BioShock, produced similar results. But there was one instance when the 3008WFP’s grayscale issues couldn’t be resolved by any presets. A high-res digital image with shadows producing a sweeping black-to-white gradient was clearly marred by banding and other artifacts. A very specific example, yes, but something serious photogs or designers should note.

For gaming, the 3008WFP is as good as any other high-performance LCD. We also like the 3008WFP’s adjustable stand, its five built-in USB ports, and its built-in media reader. This is also the first DisplayPort monitor we’ve ever seen in the Lab. Too bad our high-end videocards don’t yet support the Dual-Link DVI-destroying technology.

Editor's Note: Dell has pulled the 3008WFP line of displays from its online store at the time of this review's posting. According to the company, a technical issue with the monitors has extended the production times for the displays, and Dell is currently working to fulfill orders on a prioritized basis.

SPECS
Size 19" by 27.4" by 9.4"
Weight 34.4 lbs
Native Resolution 2560x1600
Response Time 8ms
Connections VGA, DVI-D (with HDCP), HDMI, S-Video, Component, Composite, DisplayPort, CF, xd/SD/MS/MMC, USB (5x), 5.1 Audio Out
THE VERDICT

Dell Ultrasharp 3008WFP

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