Pros: UXGA (1600x1200) resolution, video and computer inputs, decent response time
Cons: Average display quality, outdated styling, largish footprint
I'm rather late in writing this review. When I was shopping for a large LCD monitor, I could find no adequate critical reviews of Dell's 2000FP (and none at all on Epinions), so I was a bit nervous taking the plunge. Hope this is helpful to other prospective buyers.
I bought the monitor separately (I don't have a Dell computer, and don't like their systems much). My main criteria were a UXGA (1600x1200) LCD display and a price I could stomach. The only reasonable alternative at time of purchase was the Iiyama 19" model (AS4831D) which is within a hundred dollars of the same price. I also compared screens by Eizo, Samsung, LG, SGI, Viewsonic (VP, the VX2000 not available at time of purchase) and Apple (with adaptor) but each was considerably more expensive (up to twice the price). I use the monitor on my home computer for typical household use (office apps, a few DVDs, and a lot of gaming). I'm driving it primarily with a GeForce3 using DVI.
The reaction of anyone seeing this monitor for the first time is the same one I had when I first put it on my desk: Wow, this thing is huge! Dell calls it grey but it's basically black (and silver), with a wide bezel around the massive 20.1" screen. It's the size of a television. It makes an impression.
I don't find reviews that spend a lot of time gushing about a product particularly helpful, so I'll run through the pros quickly and get to the nit-picking. So that this doesn't give the wrong impression I'll just say: I like the display a lot, I'm not sorry I bought it, I'm happy with the choice I made (although today with more options available might choose differently).
+ 1600x1200 native resolution, with a dot pitch that is quite fine (~.25mm) without being unreadable
+ Auto-scaling modes that provide acceptable quality, in part due to the fine dot pitch
+ Bright, even display and good contrast (from driver's seat) - this screen came out towards the end of 2001 I believe and is of typical spec for that generation (around 200 cd/m brightness and 250:1 contrast); while the latest displays can boast higher specs this is very decent. Manufacturers seem to take a lot of liberties with these measurements, to be sure I don't find that the latest screens offering a stated 500:1 contrast look anywhere close to having twice the contrast of this display.
+ D-Sub, DVI, composite, and S-Video inputs which is pretty much everything you could want. Also supports picture-in-picture from either composite or S-video onto your computer display. I don't find the PIP all that useful, and you can do that using video input capabilities of a lot of decent graphics cards anyway, but it's a good gimmick and does make it versatile.
+ Adequate response time. I don't know that I've ever seen where Dell specifies this, and I don't know how to measure it, however subjectively it seems to me to be comparable to all the 40ms (20ms up, 20ms down) displays I looked at. I use it for games and DVDs and ghosting has not been an issue. New generation IPS and MVA technology displays can exceed this, but this display comes from the the first generation of screens that I found to be "good enough".
- The display doesn't pivot. This was not a factor for me, 1600x1200 resolution is large enough to display two upright pages side by side, but you may consider this a disadvantage.
- No USB hub. Would have been appreciated, considering the multitude of other connectors.
- Off-axis viewing is claimed to be +/- 80 degrees. I suppose this is technically true, the display is very readable over that range, however the backlighting is very evident on black and the even brightness on large white regions is lost at a modest 30 degrees off axis (bear in mind that with this size screen when you're 30 degrees off the middle you're more like 60 degrees off the side if you're sitting close). In this respect it's a bit worse than a lot of other monitors I looked at, although to be fair it still looks very good.
- I haven't played endlessly with the colour temperature, but I've never found an entirely satisfactory setting with a purity of white I could accomplish on other screens. The colour ramp for a continuous gradation is not as good as a CRT, but roughly as good as most of the LCDs I looked at.
- The refresh rate at 1600x1200 is only 60Hz. Keep in mind that for a TFT display the refresh rate is not needed to refresh the pixels so this doesn't result in any flicker or eyestrain, but is a factor in overall response. Then again, unless you've got a pretty beefy graphics card your frame rate for fast action games at this resolution is more of a factor.
- The anti-glare coating on the screen works very well, however I think it's largely responsible for the off-axis uneven whiteness. Also the coating seems a bit more "textured" than that on other displays, and I think it collects more dust as a result.
- The styling of the case is a bit outdated, both in terms of the very wide bezel (almost 2") and the black and silver moulding.
- The stand is very sturdy, but adjustment is quite stiff. The stand does not stick out past the front of the screen, however the back is pointed and sticks back a bit far. Very steady as a result, but considering how large this display is you need to place it as far back on your desk as possible so you're not moving your head when you look at the screen (not joking). If a shallow desk is one of the reasons you're buying an LCD display, this is a problem.
- Using the DVI connector the display goes into stand-by based on usual power settings in your OS, but when the computer is turned off completely it displays "no input signal" walking around the screen permanently and never goes into standby. This is incredibly annoying. I have to manually turn the monitor off and on.
- Using the DVI connector the on-screen monitor brightness and contrast controls are ineffective, they must be adjusted through the properties on your display adaptor. Yes it's a digital signal, but I don't see why this isn't possible.
- Three bad pixels, and in the middle quadrant. Yields on big LCD are notoriously low, so I suppose this isn't surprising. They're two stuck blues and a green. There's no dead pixels, and no stuck white, both of which are far worse, and it actually turns out to be unnoticeable under almost all circumstances. I found this acceptable if slightly disappointing.
There's a new generation of large screen LCDs coming on the market in the next couple months. If I could have waited until I could compare with a few of these (for instance the Viewsonic VX2000 which was supposed to have launched but was delayed) I would have done so, and recommend you compare with these as well. I suspect they'll offer better brightness (and blacker blacks), off-axis viewing, and response time. However I'm happy with the monitor and don't expect to be regretting the purchase, even if I have to put up with friends making fun of me owning a Dell. There's always something better around the corner.