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Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP 30-inch LCD With DisplayPort
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Date: Jan 04, 2008
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Dave Altavilla
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Introduction and Specifications

Like high-end graphics cards setup in multi-GPU configurations, terabyte desktop drives, and 3GHz quad-core processors, 30-inch wide screen LCDs cater to what we like to call the "enthusiast" niche.  And though this niche obviously drives lower volume demand versus the mainstream, you have to remember that the enthusiast end-user is a very influential segment of the market, often times assisting in the definition of what will become mainstream technology tomorrow.  Not to mention 30 inches of screen real-estate is a professional workstation designer's nirvana, so perhaps this niche isn't as small as it would appear on the surface. 

Regardless, though there are fewer in our audience who might find it practical to justify the cost of a 30" monitor, the undeniable allure of a panel of this size makes these products easily one of our most popular areas of coverage here at HotHardware.com.  There's just something about them.  Maybe it's a size thing.  We've got people buzzing over tiny, little Eee PCs and they're also in a tizzy at the other end of the spectrum about huge LCDs.  Sexy is in the extremes we would surmise, though the ever-present "newness" factor is obviously a head-turner for these products as well.

It's easy to see where Dell was going with the introduction of their new UltraSharp 3008 WFP 30" LCD.  Calling upon the input received from previous 30" panel incarnations and marrying these feature requests in with new technologies like a wider color gamut and the bleeding-edge of display interface technologies.  As the first DisplayPort-enabled LCD from Dell, the 3008 WFP is claiming that sexy is back.  No Justin, not you -- she's getting a Dell?

 


Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP 30" Widescreen LCD
Specifications and Features
Viewable Image Size 30 inches
Diagonal Size 30 inches
Display Type Active Matrix - TFT LCD
Color Gamut 117%
Image Scaling Built in image scaler/processor
Depth 9.35 inches
Height
18.98 inches compressed
22.52 inches extended
Width 27.43 inches
Weight (with stand) 34.36 lbs.
Stand Adjustability Tilt, Swivel, Height Adjustable
Horizontal Viewing Angle 178o (typical)
Vertical Viewing Angle 178o (typical)
Color Support 16.7 million colors
Contrast Ratio 3000:1
Response Time
8 ms (grey-to-grey)
Brightness 370 cd/m2
Resolution 2560x1600 (max)
Pixel Pitch (Dot Pitch) 0.2505 mm
Ports
Analog, DVI-D (dual link) with HDCP x2, S-Video, Composite, Component, HDMI, DisplayPort
USB 2.0 (4)
9-in-2 Media Card Reader
Kensington security port
Power Consumption
250W(max)
Less than 2W switched off

Taking what we know of Dell's previous 30" LCD product, the 3007 WFP HC, you'll note that there are more than a few upgrades provided with this newer 3008 version. Specifically, the 3008 WFP now has a 117% color gamut, in addition to having a 3000:1 contrast ratio versus the 1000:1 performance of its predecessor.  The panel also comes with the same pixel response time of 8ms but now has enhanced brightness capability at 370 cd/m2 (or nits if you prefer) versus 300 for the previous 3007 model.  Finally, Dell also heard our plea back when they introduced the 3007 WFP, and saw fit to adding significantly more connectivity to the panel, with not only two DVI-D inputs, but also HDMI, Composite, Component, S-Video and the new DisplayPort interface.  In short, anything you could want to hook up now or in the future, can be hooked up to this new Dell 30" panel.  Bravo, Dell, bravo.

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117% Color Gamut, Image Scaler and DisplayPort Interface Overview

An Even Wider Color Gamut:
We know what you're thinking; Why would an LCD's color gamut performance need to be anything more than 100%?  This is a good question that probably will occur to some of you familiar with the recent updates to Dell and HP 30" panels that brought performance up to 92% color gamut reproduction.  The long and short answer to this question is, more is, well, better.  With a keen sense of the obvious, we're sure you're craving a bit more data here.  Allow us to explain.

Color gamut can be described as the entire avaialable range of colors that a device can reproduce.  For example, you computer monitor can generally display a wider color range than say your inkjet printer.  Dell claims the new 3008 WFP can reproduce up to 117% of the standard NTSC color gamut.  In other words, this new panel has the capacity for color resolution, range and fidelity above and beyond this standard specification.  In fact, Dell claims the UltraSharp 3008 WFP supports Adobe 98 color standards which is a significant advantage for those in the desktop publishing market especially.


Built In Image Scaler Processor:
As you may be aware, LCD are built with something called "native resolution" in mind.  That is to say that LCD screens are built with a fixed array of pixels displaying the image across the entire screen area.  When a source image is transmitted to the screen at native resolution, the image will look perfectly accurate.  However, when an image is transmitted that is anything other than the panel's native resolution, take 2560X1600 in the case of 30" LCDs for example, the image must be scaled in order to fit the screen.  Scaling causes distortion and that's when things begin to look less than crisp, especially in comparison to running the panel at its native resolution. 

Most standard LCD panels rely on the graphics card to provide the image processing for scaling above or below native resolutions.  However, one of the ways you can clean up scaling artifacts while not running at native resolution would be through a dedicated image processor, like those that are found in all HDTVs on the market today.  The Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP has one of these very same scaler processing engines on board.  Though we asked Dell representatives what chip was under the hood, they declined to comment but we'd suspect that its likely the Silcon Optix Realta or possibly AMD's ATI Xilleon chip.  We'll have more on our results with resolution scaling in the pages ahead.


A New Connector Interface - DisplayPort:
As we noted earlier, the new Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP also is one of the first LCD panels on the market to offer a DisplayPort interface.  DisplayPort is a new digital interface standard ratified by VESA (Video Electronics Standard Association), that is poised to supplant DVI and DVI-D in the future.  DisplayPort, like its TV-connected cousin HDMI, also carries audio signals with 16-bit color per channel.  The interface supports up to 10.8Gbit/sec data rates and WQXGA resolutions of 2560X1600 over significantly longer cable lengths of up to 15 meters.

 
Left To Right - DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D

        
DisplayPort Cables

DisplayPort is a competitor to HDMI but targeted solely for computing platforms.  All signals will travel through the DisplayPort cable including video, audio, microphone and panel control I/O.  However, an interesting debate may unfold later relative to the adoption rate of DPCP or DisplayPort Content Protection, which is competitive to HDCP, was developed by AMD, and as such will also be licensed by AMD.  

Dell has been on the forefront of driving the new DisplayPort interface for years now, so it's not surprising to see them hit the market first with a DP enabled monitor.  Of course, AMD has also been firmly behind the standard and are planning to offer DisplayPort-enabled graphics products and DP-enabled motherboard chipset variants with integrated graphics.  In fact, in order to test the DisplayPort connection on the new Dell 3008 WFP, we called on AMD for assistance with a graphics card that was up to the task. 




     

What you're looking at here is a DisplayPort ready RV635 XT Graphics card from AMD, though we completed all DisplayPort testing on an RV620 card.  As you can see, the surrounding circuitry near the connectors is minimal and gone are those all too familiar Silicon Image dual link DVI transmitter chips.  As you can see, the connector's tiny form-factor allows multiple ports to fit on a standard adapter card backplate and additionally, you can run multiple DisplayPort-ready panels from a single cable connection.

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First Impressions, Design and Construction

The UltraSharp 3008 WFP is a complete departure from previous designs in Dell's 30-inch panel arsenal.  This new screen has a much sleeker look all around and its gun-metal gray finish is a huge improvement to the drab, black bezels we've seen on virtually every other 30-inch panel thus far.

 

      
Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP 30" Wide Screen LCD

As the saying goes "baby's got back" and even the backside of this new Dell panel looks good, with its chrome emblem inspiring a mid 70s Camaro grill ornament sort of feel.  The 9-in-2 card reader makes a return appearance on the side of the display, offering quick access to various flash media types.

 

 


Probably the most significant asset of the 3008's new, more modern design, is the vastly improved control arm that comes with the panel's stand.  This new arm not only looks nicer and is built from a sturdier steal, but it also has a wide range of adjustability options for height (90mm up or down), swivel (60ºleft and right) and tilt (3º forward and 19º backward).  Generally you can dial the screen's position with a lot more flexibility overall.  In addition, the inside edge of the arm comes with an integrated sheeth for tidying up cables coming down from the IO plate in back.

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Inputs and Controls

The UltraSharp 3008 WFP has a myriad of input options, as we noted earlier, a far cry from the minimalist single DVI-D input of the 3007 series.  Clearly Dell took customer requests to heart and pulled out all the stops with this panel, in terms of connectivity options.
 
Dell UtlraSharp 3008 WFP  I/O Connectivity
Pick an input, any input...






A plethora of connection options can be seen here, with a pair of dual-link DVI-D inputs, a standard VGA input (if you simply must waste the image quality of this huge digital panel over an analog connection), HDMI, RGB Component, Composite, S-Video, and DisplayPort interfaces at your disposal.  Here again we see the panel also offers two downstream USB ports and one upstream port for connecting to the host system that enables both the downstream USB ports as well as the 9-in-2 flash card reader.  There are even RCA audio output jacks available for passing on HDMI or DisplayPort driven audio signals to an external audio system of your choice.

Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP Controls
A Total Departure From The 3007 WFP - Ultimate Control



  

  

Another area that Dell answered the call on, is with respect to image setup and control.  Though the interface definitely gets a bit click-happy with 5 control buttons and a power button available, the available on-screen adjustment options are numerous and certainly add to the panel's flexibility.  In fact, all of the available control this monitor gives you for image positioning, color, brightness, contrast, even sharpness level setting, is a significant advantage for this LCD over any other 30-inch panel we've looked at thus far.  We specifically liked the panel's "dynamic contrast" feature, which when enabled offered an impressive balancing algorithm of both light and dark colors. 

In addition, the 3008's available sharpness adjustment was a great addition offering the ability to tighten things back up when scaling resolutions down from its native 2560X1600 resolution.  Gamers especially will like this feature we feel since added sharpness can be harsh on the desktop but really come in handy in a full screen 3D rendering.  All told we were enamored by the UltraSharp 3008 WFP's range of controls and adjustability.  Without question the 3008 offers the kind of control that should be given on an LCD panel of this caliber.
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Everest - Image Quality Testing

 

We put the new Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP through its paces with a number of applications and real-world test scenarios, in addition to Everest Ultimate Edition from Lavalys. This diagnostic and benchmark tool suite allows you to test many aspects of a system's features and performance, including display performance and image quality.  Everest's Monitor Diagnostics provide a few key test patterns that allow us to evaluate various aspects such as color accuracy, uniformity and convergence.
 

 

 



These are but a sampling of the patterns displayed using Everest's Monitor Diagnostics.  In all of the other test patterns, the 3008WFP produced perfectly straight lines for convergence and focus, with zero distortion evident even at the far corners of the screen (which is expected with an LCD). The 3008 also performed well in the solid color fill tests not seen here, offering perfect uniformity across every square inch of its massive 30" area.  In terms of color gamut performance the 3008's 117% color gamut capable screen offered slightly more accurate color reproduction and gradient response, but it wasn't earth-shattering by any stretch, at least from our perspective. In fact, we can't even reproduce an image here on this page to convey the difference because web browsers inherently are limited to the sRGB color spectrum, which is a subset of what the 3008WFP is capable of.  In general, only those who deal in super high-end color fidelity, as with desktop publishing, image handling, and professional digital photography will appreciate the Adobe RGB 98 capable color range of the 3008WFP.

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Subjective Usage Model Evaluation

Technical analysis like we performed with Everest only gives you a sense of how a display will perform under specific test conditions.  For example, you don't usually stare at a solid red color-filled screen, unless that's your thing of course.  Next we'll look at real-world test with high definition video content.  We downloaded a few 1080p and 720p Windows Media clips from Microsoft's WMV HD content site.  In full screen view, these clips really showcase the hardware that is processing and displaying the source media.

Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP: Subjective Tests
DVD Playback, Gaming and General Use

HD Video Playback:

    
Rules of Attraction - 1080p, The Living Sea - 720p 

With our best digital photography hats on, we attempted to capture the visual impact that is delivered with the new Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP.  Unfortunately, our efforts were in vein of course and these pictures are nothing more than a way to show you exactly what we used for test video and the scenes that drove our test experience.  A digicam shot just isn't capable of reproducing the image.  Regardless, what struck us as most impressive was the new panel's ability to reproduce nicely saturated and balanced flesh tones, as you can see in the in the Rules of Attraction shot with actress Kate Bosworth.  This scene is filled with super-warm lighting and it's often common that we see sort of a blending of hues, with the Christmas lights in the background having an over-dominant effect on the overall image.

Notice that, over Kate's left shoulder (right side of the frame), the colors are darker and cooler, while on the left side of the screen the white lamp shade, though blurred a bit in the background, has a fair degree of color separation though it's also being heavily lit by the Christmas lights as well.  Again, this camera shot simply doesn't do justice to our scene but the effects here are even more prominent in live viewing.  As a side note, the 3008WFP's 8ms pixel response time afforded blur-free viewing even in fast action digital video playback.

Gaming Tests:
Gaming on a 30" LCD panel, given the right 3D Graphics hardware, is pure geek bliss.  There is no question that the experience becomes significantly more immersive, but at such high resolutions you'll definitely need a powerful graphics card driving the game engine.  We fired up id's Enemy Territoy: Quake Wars and let the lead fly but we didn't just lock in at 2560X1600 native res.  We took the panel through a few different settings in an effort to see how images scaled at 1280X800 and 1920X1200 as well.

    
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars - 2560X1600, 4X AA

Though image the 3008WFP's image quality at lower resolutions wasn't quite as crisp as playing at the panel's 2560X1600 native resolution, the new 3008WFP definitely scaled images down better than any large LCD screen we've seen to date.  In fact, at 1920X1200 resolutions we'd offer that scaling looked darn near pixel perfect.  And again, the panel's 8ms pixel response time was plenty fast for any fast action first person shooter we threw at it, sans any visible ghosting or motion blur artifacts, unless they were specifically induced by the game engine.


General Workstation Usage:

On the desktop was another area we saw the new 3008WFP excel.  The 3000:1 contrast ratio of this LCD offers a very noticable improvement especially with respect to reproducing contrast between very bright whites and black.  We would offer however that it took a fair bit of tweaking to get the panel setup the way we wanted with the proper contrast, brightness and color calibration.  We didn't pull out any color calibrators to achieve this but instead trusted our eyes.  Though it took some effort, the good news is we were actually able to make significant adjustments in many areas of color, contrast, brightness and image sharpness.  Again this is a big upgrade over the 3008WFP's predecessor, the 3007WFP, which comes completely without image control and left us more than a bit parched for a good calibration session. For most end users, color and related settings are going to be set based on preference more than anything, so these controls are a welcomed feature.  For the digital photography, graphic artist or design professional, the level of control the 3008WFP offers is critical, especially if you want to take advantage of this panel's wider available color space.

And once again, the 3008WFP performed admirably with respect to image scaling below it's native 2560X1600 resolution.  The panel's built-in scaler processor allowed us to drop down to 1920X1200 and with a small bit of adjustment in the sharpness setting, we achieved what we would consider to be as close to perfect image quality as you could expect, short of turning back up to native resolution.   Again, nothing looks as crisp as native resolution, no matter how much image processing and clean-up you apply, but the Dell 3008WFP definitely outshined our 30" HP LP3065 and its older 3007WFP sibling in this regard.

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Performance Summary And Conclusion

Performance Summary:
Though it honestly took a fair bit of coaxing with respect to image and color setup, the Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP outclassed any 30" panel we've set our eyes on here at HotHardware.com thus far.  In addition, due to its on-board image processor, the panel was also the most flexible LCD we've worked with in a long time, allowing crisp image quality at resolutions below its native 2560X1600.  Color spectral capability and contrast performance of the display was also unmatched amongst the 30" panels we've tested to date, including Dell's own 3007 WFP-HC and also HP's LP3065.  In short, the UltraSharp 3008 WFP's overall performance was, (and we shudder at the risk sounding overly exuberant), nothing short of spectacular.


 


If you're the type of user that is has the need or is seriously considering a 30-inch LCD panel, then you probably have some fairly stringent requirements in terms of performance as well.  In addition, whether you're a workstation professional type, hardcore gamer or enthusiast, you're also going to expect more from a product within the price bracket a 30" screen.  In this regard, the UltraSharp 3008 WFP delivers; it just depends on what you consider to be a reasonable price of admission.  The 3008 WFP will have a retail MSRP of $1999.  This puts the panel well in excess of any 30-inch display on the market today, most of which are weighing in closer to the $1K range.  On the other hand, you most definitely get what you pay for.

The Dell 3008 WFP has the widest array of connectivity options of any 30" LCD we've seen thus far, including the next-generation Displayport interface, which at the very least is a bit of future-proofing insurance.  From dual DVI-D, to Component, Composite,  HDMI, Analog and Displayport, if the source appliance has a cord sticking out of it, you'll most likely be able to hook it up to the 3008 WFP.  In addition, the panel has killer good-looks, as well as image quality, color and contrast reproduction that will impress even professional publishing, content creation users and other similar types of pixel snobs.  For the gamer, the 3008 WFP is an incredible blend of performance and flexibility, offering excellent image scaling performance so you don't always have to run at native resolutions and can enjoy higher frame rates in the process.  Finally, you'll have to remember to have a bit of patience with this new panel, should you get your hands on one.  It certainly did take a fair degree of tweaking to get the panel setup the way we liked it but the good news is, those control options are now all there for you in abundance with this new 30" monster.

It's fairly easy to see we are exceedingly impressed with the new Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP and as such, we feel more than comfortable handing Dell our Editor's Choice award for product innovation and excellence.

  

  • Fantastic overall image quality
  • 117% color gamut output
  • Fast pixel response times
  • 3000:1 contrast ratio
  • A plethora of IO options
  • Great new design and stand
  • Expensive
  • Lots of tweaking for setup

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