While most widescreen monitors follow the standard 16:9 aspect ratio, the Dell UltraSharp U2913WM dares to be different – it’s the first PC monitor we’ve seen in the unusual 21:9 format.
The monitor uses an IPS panel with a matte anti-glare coating, and cuts an imposing figure on a desk. It’s no taller than a regular 23in widescreen monitor, nor any deeper, but it’s almost 7in wider, giving it a long 29in diagonal and an unfamiliar native resolution of 2,560 x 1,080.
At first, this ultra-wide aspect ratio is disconcerting. With only as much usable height as a Full HD monitor, the 2,560-pixel horizontal resolution makes the Windows desktop look oddly letterboxed. Soon, though, it simply comes to feel like having two 1,280 x 1,024 monitors placed side by side, with the bonus of no bezels to cut the desktop in half. The width makes it possible to spread a large browser window alongside a Word document, or to use the Windows Snap feature to quickly split the monitor down the middle for effective multitasking.
For entertainment, the Dell’s eccentric proportions can be both a blessing and a curse. Games such as Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2 look fantastic, with the ultra-widescreen resolution giving a highly involving, almost cinematic experience. The shape of the screen is also perfect for widescreen movies shot in the 2.33:1 format: with no need for the black bars as seen on 16:9 monitors, the action stretches from corner to corner. With video recorded in a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, however, the Dell’s extra width is wasted, with wide black bars appearing at the screen’s edges.
Image quality is excellent. At its default settings, the U2913WM reaches a maximum brightness of 349cd/m2, with an exemplary 1,170:1 contrast ratio. This out-of-the-box configuration is perhaps a little warmer than is ideal – we recorded a colour temperature of 5,920K – but overall colour accuracy is excellent, with an average Delta E of only 2.1.
Engage the Dell’s factory-calibrated sRGB mode and things get better still. Although the maximum brightness and contrast ratio drop slightly – to 325cd/m2 and 1,084:1 respectively – colour temperature edges upwards to 6,222K, closer to the ideal of 6,500K, and the average Delta E figure drops to only 1.1.
In terms of physical design, the U2913WM has D-SUB, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, as well as a DisplayPort passthrough and a 3.5mm audio output. An integrated USB 3 hub provides two side-facing ports and another two at the rear. Adjustability is another strong point, with the Dell’s stand providing a height adjustment of 130mm, and ample forward and backward tilt.
The UltraSharp U2913WM’s great image quality and features are backed up by a three-year on-site warranty, and an immensely reassuring no-pixel-defect guarantee. Desktop users may prefer a conventional design that affords more vertical breathing room; our recommended ViewSonic VP2770-LED, for example, features a 27in 2,560 x 1,440 panel for not much more money. However, gamers and movie-buffs will revel in the superb visuals and generous screen width of this beautifully realised display.
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