Dell UltraSharp U3011 30-inch Monitor Review

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Introduction & Specifications

There are two types of power users on this planet, and they consist of those who use a 30-inch monitor, and those who don't. The latter far outnumber the former, but thanks to a number of factors, this particular digital divide is growing smaller by the day. For one, 30-inch monitors are somewhat more affordable compared to a few years ago, at least in the sense that the average Joe doesn't have to sell a kidney to come up with the scratch for one (except for teens, who are more interested in trading body organs for iPads, anyway). That in itself is pretty remarkable when you consider that 30-inch monitors aren't just big, they also represent the pinnacle of display technology in terms of picture quality and, in this case, features.

It also no longer takes a herculean system to drive a 30-inch panel. Sure, if you plan to play bleeding edge games with all the eye candy maxed out on a 2560x1600 resolution, you better be rocking something more potent than integrated graphics. But if you're more of a casual gamer or are willing to tone down the graphics settings, just about any discrete-level GPU out there will drive a 30-inch display, removing one of the barriers that in years past prevented some PC users from shopping larger screen panels.


Dell's U3011 - 30 inches of precision goodness.

Of course, if you're reading this, then you've probably already decided that a 30-inch monitor would look swell in your home office or game room. The question, then, is what does Dell's UltraSharp U3011 bring to the big-screen table? Quite a bit, actually. Simply put, the U3011 is the most feature rich and flexible 30-inch panel there is right now on the market. Part of the reason for that is because the 30-inch display segment is largely ignored by too many of the major vendors, but even if that wasn't the case, the U3011 would likely still stand out. It sports a high-quality In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, is extremely versatile with a plethora of connectivity options, and even boasts a built-in 7-in-1 media card reader, not to mention excellent On-Screen Display (OSD) controls, something that's a bit of a luxury in the 30-inch display class.

You can think of the U3011 as an enlarged version of the U2711. Both use the same panel technology and offer mostly the same features.  However, the U3011 is a bit bigger with a slightly higher screen resolution (2560x1600 and 16:10 versus 2560x1440 and 16:9) and has an extra HDMI port. It's natural competitor is Hewlett-Packard's ZR30w (reviewed here), a similar 30-inch panel with fewer overall features. How does Dell's UltraSharp U3011 compare overall? Let's break it down, beginning with the spec sheet.

Dell UltraSharp U3011 30" IPS Monitor
Specifications & Features

Display Size
30" Widescreen
Resolution
2560 x 1600
Aspect Ratio     
16:10
Brightness
370 cd/m2 
Contrast Ratio 
1000:1 (Typical); 100,000:1 (Dynamic)
Response Time
7ms (gray to gray)
Viewing Angle
178° vertical / 178° horizontal
Display Type
IPS (In-Plane Switching), anti-glare with hard coat 3H
Connectors
2 x HDMI; 2 x DVI-D (with HDCP); 1 x DisplayPort; 1 x VGA; Component connectors
Power Consumption 
110W (typical); 250W (Maximum); <2W Power Consumption Standby / Sleep
Speakers
No
Stand
Height-adjustable stand; tilt and swivel with built-in cable management
I/O Ports USB 2.0 hub (4 down, 1 up); 7-in-1 media card reader
Dimensions (with stand)
18.95 inches ~ 22.50 inches x 27.34 inches x 8.32 inches (HxWxD)
Weight
33.67 lbs
Included Accessories

Power cable; DVI cable; DisplayPort cable; VGA cable (attached to the monitor); drivers and documentation media; color calibrated factory report; quick setup guide; safety information
Warranty
3 Years Limited

Everything you would expect to see in a 30-inch monitor is present and accounted for in the U3011, plus a whole bunch extra. Most notably, the U3011 has more connections than a fast-talking Hollywood agent. One of our gripes with HP's ZR30w is that connectivity options are limited to a DisplayPort and a DVI-D port. The U3011 has those as well, plus a pair of HDMI ports, a VGA connector, and component connectors. This gives you the flexibility to hook up and switch between multiple electronics, including game consoles, a Blu-ray player, and of course your PC(s).

The 7-in-1 media card is another thoughtful touch, and one that also isn't included on HP's panel. Out of the gate, it would appear the U3011 has a leg up in the 30-inch category, but we've only begun to scratch the surface.

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