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.
HD Video Playback:
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 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.
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.