Dual-monitor configurations are ideal for users who need to view multiple applications simultaneously, but not everybody has the desktop real estate and video hardware needed to accommodate two monitors and their associated cables. Enter the Dell UltraSharp U2913WM, an attractive 29in monitor with an ultra-wide display which is priced at £490.
This panoramic display boasts a 2,560 x 1,080 resolution and a unique 21:9 aspect ratio (as opposed to the popular 16:9 aspect ratio), and it is loaded with ports. What's more, it uses IPS (In Plane Switching) technology to deliver great colour and greyscale reproduction. However, it has a relatively slow pixel response and its vertical viewing angle performance is a tad off.
Design and features
The U2913WM's AH-IPS (Advanced High Performance IPS) panel is the same panel technology used on the Dell UltraSharp U2713HM. It has a non-reflective anti-glare finish and measures 29in diagonally with a total display area of 11.5in (height) by 27.3in (width). The monitor uses a sleek bezel-less design similar to that of the Viewsonic VX2770Smh. The top and side bezels are negligible and the matte black bottom bezel is only 20mm high and sports a shiny Dell logo and five tiny touch-sensitive buttons (including the power switch).
The 5.8kg cabinet sits atop an elegant stand consisting of a curved mounting arm with a two-tone matte black and silver finish, and a black rectangular base with one curved side. The cabinet is attached to the arm with a sliding hinge that lets you adjust height and tilt the panel. The arm swivels at the base but there is no pivot adjustment, which is understandable given the cabinet's excessive dimensions. Granted, the U2913WM will require more desktop space than a traditional monitor, but it's a bit easier to accommodate than a dual monitor setup because it has a space-saving stand and requires only one power cable.
The U2913WM will handle every video signal you can throw at it. At the rear of the cabinet there’s a dual-link DVI input, DisplayPort and mini-DisplayPort inputs, HDMI and VGA inputs, and a DisplayPort output for Multi-Stream Transport (MST) functionality, which allows you to daisy-chain multiple monitors. There's also an upstream USB 3.0 port back there along with two downstream USB ports and an audio output for use with an optional Dell Soundbar. There are two more USB 3.0 ports conveniently located on the left side of the cabinet, but built-in speakers are not included on this model.
Dell's OSD (on screen display) is a breeze to use thanks to the on-screen labelling system which tells you which buttons to press for selecting options and navigating the menu and submenus. It offers seven picture presets (Standard, Movie, Multimedia, Paper, Game, Colour Temp, sRGB) and a custom setting where you can adjust red, green, and blue saturation levels. The Colour Temp option allows you to choose between six colour temperature settings ranging from 5,000k to 10,000k.
In addition to brightness and contrast settings you can select a colour format (RGB and YPbPr) and choose a PC or Mac gamma setting. Hue and saturation settings are only available when operating in Movie and Game modes. There's an aspect ratio menu offering the native 21:9 setting as well as 16:9, 1:1, and an auto mode that resizes based on content. Other display settings include noise reduction, smart video enhance, uniformity compensation, and picture by picture, which allows you to view two images from different sources at the same time.
Dell covers the U2913WM with a three year warranty including parts, labour, and advanced exchange. Included in the box are a dual-link DVI cable, a DisplayPort (mini to DP) cable, and a USB to PC cable. A resource/driver CD is also included.
The U2913WM handled colour and greyscale reproduction with aplomb. It was able to cleanly display every shade of grey on the DisplayMate 64-step Greyscale test and delivered crisp, uniform colours that scaled smoothly from dark to light. Skin tones from the Blu-ray version of Men in Black 3 were realistic and image detail was superb.
The panel has a pixel response of 8-milliseconds (grey-to-grey), which is fine for movies and most video applications but produced a touch of smearing while playing Midnight Run: Los Angeles on my PS3 console. Assassin's Creed II on the PC also produced an occasional blur when the action heated up, but gameplay was still enjoyable. Chances are that only the most demanding gamers will notice these minor blemishes.
Horizontal viewing angle performance was excellent as there was no loss of luminance when viewed from an extreme side angle, with colours remaining vibrant and true. Vertical viewing was not as sharp though; colour quality remained quite good but there was some dimming as you moved from top to bottom. That said, vertical viewing was still much better than what you can expect from most TN (Twisted Nematic) panels.
The big screen required 36 Watts of power during testing with the Energy Smart feature disabled, which is about average for a large IPS panel. Energy Smart uses dynamic dimming to reduce brightness depending on the content shown on the screen. Enabling this feature can help reduce power depending on how much white area the image contains, but it's difficult to measure because it is constantly changing.
The Dell UltraSharp U2913WM's ultra-wide panel makes it easy to view multiple windows on a single screen without the need for a dual-monitor setup. The IPS panel delivers solid colour and greyscale performance, and the monitor is equipped with every video port under the sun as well as a four-port USB 3.0 hub and an ergonomic stand.
You'll see some dimming when viewing the panel from the top or bottom, and you may notice a trace of smearing while playing fast action games, but both flaws are relatively minor. If you're more concerned with resolution than panel width, our Best Buy award winning Dell UltraSharp U2713HM gives you 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, and can be pivoted for portrait mode viewing.
Manufacturer and Model
Dell UltraSharp U2913WM
2560 x 1080
Analog VGA, Dual-mode (DVI-I), HDMI, DisplayPort
Diagonal Screen Size