Pros: Large, good price, great performance, bright, no perceived problems.
Cons: Larger footprint, may want to wait for newer technology.
The Dell 1800FP has gotten rave reviews at several computer enthusiast sites, and that's what prompted me to buy one. And now I'm going to prompt the rest of the world to seriously consider this beauty of a monitor.
On paper, the 1800FP isn't all that impressive. In fact, compared to the competition, it ranks in the lower percentile...in terms of specifications. But of course, specifications don't account for everything. The Dell 1800FP's main knocks are that it has a response time of 25ms (fairly slow, lower is better. For an explanation, go here. ) It also has a rather low contrast ratio as well as average image brightness. The 1800FP positively sounds like a terrible bargain at this point of the review.
However, its saving grace is when the monitor is in actual use. I compared it to several other LCDs, including a Viewsonic and an NEC, and the Dell was actually much more pleasant to use. There was very little ghosting (a problem in LCDs in which afterimages occur from the pixels not updating quickly enough), certainly none that could be seen in moderate gaming and any action movie tested. In comparison, the Viewsonic VP181 had some slight instances of this.
The brightness is more than adequate, as there's no situation in which the LCD is unviewable. In some cases, I felt that the black on the screen was actually overbright...but can be fixed by just messing with the display properties. The fact is that this perceived shortcoming plays no part in the actual performance. Same with the contrast. Grays are all represented well, and several monitor tests displayed some very nice gradients.
The resolution is also standard at 1280x1024, although some LCDs offer higher at 1600x1200. The monitor only supports one refresh rate at 60Hz, although it is possible to force a higher one. Neither the resolution or the refresh rate is an issue.
The 1800FP is in the slim line of Dell's LCDs, although it's not especially thin compared to some other LCDs out there. The only annoyance with the LCD is that the footprint is rather large for a screen of its size, as Dell opts to use a square base as opposed to the curved ones of its competitors.
Dell Support is absolutely fantastic. The LCD is under warranty for a year, and at the slightest sign of trouble, they will not hesitate to send a replacement for any broken parts or the monitor. They send you the replacement, you send back the broken one, and there's no hassle, as they pick up the shipping. The support staff is very courteous as well, completing a very enjoyable shopping experience, from beginning to end.
And now the final issue in LCD shopping, price. Potential buyers will be relieved to know that the price of this monitor has dropped from back when it was first released, and by a good deal. It's now down to $549 as of late November 2003. This is with Dell's free shipping, of course. This is a competitive price with the rest of the market, especially considering that it will go for cheaper on other sites, namely eBay.
The only issue? New technology. Dell's new line, notably the 2000FP, the 20" LCD from Dell, will be using new LCD panels with a response time of 16ms. It would be premature to say that the 1800FP will be gradually phased out, but for those looking to be on the cutting edge of technology, the 2000FP would be a better choice.
All-in-all, the Dell 1800FP is a great 18" LCD at a very good price. Anyone in the market for an LCD at a midrange price should consider the 1800FP, looking beyond the specs and instead on the quality of Dell products and support.