There are probably few other names today that are more recognizable than Dell when you're talking about computers. At the corporate website, I counted no less than 85 recent product awards. Michael Dell, born in February 1965, is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Dell, the company he founded in 1984 with $1,000 and an unprecedented idea--to build relationships directly with customers. In 1992, Mr. Dell became the youngest CEO ever to earn a ranking on the Fortune 500. Nineteen other executives grace the corporate pages of Dell.
If you had asked me a few issues ago whether I would review a Dell product, I probably would have said, "No." One thing is for sure, as Marshal Rosenthal mentioned in his recent review of HP products, these computer giants are a force to be reckoned with. One of the latest products to roll out of Dell is the new W2607C, LCD HDTV display. LCDs are nothing new for the Dell people, but moving quickly into the home theater arena is. With sleek, elegant lines and styling, this 26-inch gem must be considered when you are looking for performance, design, and value. When I heard that Dell was interested in HDTV Etc. magazine doing an early test of this display, I volunteered. I haven't been impressed with many of the early LCD displays, and this is the first I have reviewed.
This full-featured display seems to have everything but the kitchen sink, so "unique" might not be the right term. What it does have is a svelte chassis of a mere 8.04-inch depth with the stand and speakers, and just a skinny 4.21-inch without. The native resolution of 1366 x 768 is ideal for both video reproduction and PC application. A contrast ratio of 600:1 and the 16.7 million display colors give the Dell a depth of field and richness new to LCD displays. Viewing angles have been improved to H/V +/- 89 degrees. Integrated speakers (offering SRS and TruSurround XT modes, with 30 watts of power), 1 analog/digital combo tuner, and a multitude of video inputs (2 Composite, 2 S-video, 2 Component, 2 TV in/coax, 1 DVI) are just a few other pluses. The backlit remote makes for easy viewing in the dark.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
It was an easy process to substitute this display for one that I was currently using (Sharp Aquos LC-32GD6U LCD HDTV, reviewed in April/May 2005 HDTV Etc., MSRP: $3,999). This Dell is substantially less, but that's because this technology has allowed for price reductions at an expediential rate. The backlit remote makes for easy viewing in the dark and is more than sufficient for this price point--and it allows for easy access to the setup menu, inputs, and all the stand fare. I used Accell cabling and the Denon AVR 2807 receiver with the Denon DVD-1920 (see review in this issue). I used an HD feed from DirecTV and the Tannoy Arena speaker system I reviewed in the June/July 2006 issue. The whole system seemed a good match in both price and performance levels. The unit comes with its own stand (removable, if wall mounting is required) and speakers, as mentioned earlier. I spent a few minutes listening to the included speakers... I guess they would do in a pinch (trying to be nice).
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Even before I was able to fiddle around with the Video Essentials
calibration disc, I was impressed with the factory settings right out
of the box. Black level was great, and the color balance was very
good--again, right from the factory. As a pro once told me, "If you
can't get the black level right, the rest will never be right."
Dell prides itself on their H.A.L.T. (Highly Accelerated Lifecycle
Test regiment), pushing each unit well past spec tolerances. This was a
nice change from the disappointing one-year-old LCD set I had been
watching, which had a lower performance in both brightness and the
black level (the frustration of early LCD technology).
The Denon DVD-1920 (also tested in this issue) was my DVD source.
The Faroudja processing in the DVD player made for a great audition.
Most discs seemed of HD quality on the Dell. Dark scenes still seemed a
little veiled compared to the Plasma sets I still watch (V-Inc.,
Runco). Using the component inputs from the Denon resulted in great
detail, and the presence of motion artifacts (or smears) were virtually
nonexistent. I was starting to believe that LCD displays had finally
arrived--and Dell has done a very good job at an aggressive price
point. I found myself trying multiple inputs and discs to really give
this panel a challenge. Everything I threw at it seemed to give back a
more-than-acceptable response. The HD feed from my satellite receiver
again took it up a notch, and the NBA playoff game drew me into the
action. I never thought that LCD would be a competitive format to
Plasma or any other flat display technology, but it is proving to be a
worthy competitor (and/or future replacement). As mentioned earlier,
the Sharp Aquos of just a year ago is almost three to four times more
expenisive than the Dell. As a direct-marketing manufacturer, Dell
already has this unit aggressively priced on their website at $999!!
I am not sure what else to conclude with this unit, other than to
say it is a dazzling performer at an incredible price. I can't believe
that just about six years ago we were all drooling over the first flat
Plasma displays at nearly $20,000. Daniel, you're right: technology is
moving at an expediential clip, and I am holding on to see what's next.
Dell ain't your daddy's computer company anymore, they are a true
contender in the home entertainment display business, and I wouldn't
bet against them.•
W2607C 26-inch Wide Screen
High Definition LCD TV
Dimensions: 32.60" x 18.37" x 8.04"
(with integrated speakers and stand)
Weight: 31.9 lbs. (with integrated speakers and stand)
500 nits cd/m2 (typical)