Amazon Review by Glenwing
356 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Monitor, but not Without its Flaws
Got this primarily for use with a Mac Mini to replace an older iMac from 2008, because the newer iMacs no longer come with 16:10 resolutions like they used to. I also use this extensively with a Windows laptop, and have used it with an Xbox 360 (now attached to my U2414H).
For comparison I also have a Dell U2414H and an ASUS PA248Q.
Overall the U2415 is an excellent monitor. The panel size is very comfortable, and although it’s only slightly larger than the U2414H (24.1" vs 23.8") it feels like a larger difference than that when actually using it, thanks to the 16:10 aspect ratio. As other reviews have noted, the anti-glare coating is indeed much lighter than the one found on the PA248Q (or U2412M, which is very similar). On the U2415/U2414H I don’t see any “sparkling” or graininess like I do on my PA248Q, but it still does just as good a job at reducing glare. The thin bezel looks very sleek, and although I would have liked to see symmetrical borders on all four sides, realistically that probably isn’t doable on a standard edge-lit LCD. The backlight has to go somewhere.
The stand is solid and I appreciate the broad range of ergonomic adjustment. I also love Dell’s quick-release system; attaching and detaching the stand is a snap. The casing is plastic, not metal, but it doesn’t feel cheap. The paint job matches nicely with the Mac Mini and other machined aluminum Apple products, although I would have preferred an all-black package rather than the two-toned black/silver look. I like black with silver accents, but not with solid silver parts. This is of course just a matter of personal taste though. The only functional complaint I have about the stand is that the cable hole could do with some enlargement. When you use almost all of the inputs (like I do), it actually becomes impossible to thread some types of cables through the hole, such as a standard power cable which has a relatively thick connector on the end. You start having to wire up your workstation in a certain order, so that the thick-headed connectors get threaded through first while there’s still enough space for them to fit through. A larger cable hole doesn’t seem too unreasonable a request.
The U2415 does have an option for 100x100mm VESA mounting which is much appreciated. I shouldn’t have to mention it, but you’d be surprised how many monitors don’t support 4 holes in the back. While Dell’s implementation is elegant (the VESA mount is hidden behind the factory stand, so you remove the stand to expose the mounting holes and replace it with any other VESA-compliant stand of your own) it does have one downside. Since the factory stand must be removed to use the VESA mount, you can’t use the VESA mount for other things like attaching an Intel NUC to the back of the monitor with its VESA bracket, unless you can somehow use the monitor without a stand (unlikely).
The healthy selection of modern inputs (2x DP 1.2 (one full and one mini) and 2x HDMI 1.4a/MHL 2.0) is highly appreciated, and I have made good use of all four at once on occasion. No such thing as too many inputs. The DisplayPort output for daisy-chaining is also a very valuable addition which allows me to run all three of my monitors from my laptop’s sole DP output, when I used to be limited to just a single monitor before. The monitor also has a 3.5mm passthrough so you can route the digital audio from the HDMI or DisplayPort inputs out to headphones or speakers, which is very useful. I personally prefer rear-facing connections to down-facing since I find them much easier to access, but I know this causes problems with people who want to wall-mount, so I can’t really complain about the choice to go with down-facing ports.
The monitor also includes a 4-port USB 3.0 hub, but the implementation of this is rather disappointing. The PA248Q, as well as Dell’s own U2412M for that matter (the monitor which the U2415 replaces), have their USB hubs on the side of the monitor, which is a great place for them and I used my PA248Q’s USB hub all the time. On the U2415 (and U2414H) the USB ports have moved to the bottom to join the rest of the I/O, which makes them much less convenient to access. I haven’t used the USB hubs on either monitor at all, it’s just a lot more of a chore to get things in and out. If you’re hooking up devices which you won’t be plugging/unplugging a lot like a mouse or keyboard then ok, but for things like flash drives the USB hub just isn’t very usable at all, which is a big disappointment to someone who values productivity and functionality, and a step backward from its predecessor, the U2412M and other monitors of its generation. I understand the monitor has thin bezels, but that doesn’t stop you from putting USB ports on the side. The monitor doesn’t have to be razor thin in depth to have thin borders around the screen area.
The OSD controls are capacitive buttons (touch-sensitive) which is kind of annoying, and they also don’t light up at all so you can’t see what you’re doing in the dark. Even when you had physical buttons that didn’t light up, you could at least run your fingers over them to feel where the buttons were. With capacitive touch buttons, running your finger over a button is the same as pressing it. Touch detection also seems a little spotty, the buttons are sometimes not very responsive. Overall these are rather frustrating to use and I would much prefer physical buttons.
The image quality looks superb to me, although I’m not any kind of artist or graphic design professional so I won’t comment too much on the accuracy of the colors. Subjectively though, I’m quite pleased with it. Backlight is pretty uniform on the one I got, no obvious bleeding anywhere (keep in mind backlight bleed always varies on a unit-by-unit basis). The IPS glow on this monitor is a LOT more pronounced than on the U2414H, which is disappointing. Relatively speaking, it’s a pretty normal level, about the same as my PA248Q, but after seeing the U2414H exhibit such low levels of IPS glow, it’s quite disappointing that benefit hasn’t carried over to the U2415. This isn’t really Dell’s fault as they only pick the panels from whatever selection LG.Display (or any other LCD manufacturer) offers, but it is still something to note.
I previously stated in an earlier version of this review that the U2414H used an A-TW polarizer to eliminate IPS glow and the U2415 did not, resulting in greater IPS glow. This was actually an assumption on my part based on my observation that the U2414H had much lower IPS glow than the U2415, coupled with the fact that LG.Display produces a panel matching the exact spec of the U2414H (23.8" 1920x1080 6+2-bit AH-IPS) which includes an A-TW polarizer. However, it has been brought to my attention this is actually incorrect, and that the U2414H actually uses a variant of that panel which does not have the polarizer. I apologize for the misinformation, although my original point still stands; The U2415 unfortunately doesn’t have the same low levels of IPS glow as the U2414H does for whatever reason.
The U2415 uses an actual dimming circuit to control brightness, rather than PWM, meaning there is no possibility of backlight flickering at any brightness level. Most people don’t notice LCD backlight flickering, but this is still a nice design decision for those with sensitive eyes, and for those that like to use their monitors at low brightness levels. It also means there won’t be any visible flickering if you capture video of it with your phone or something, which is a nice bonus. My PA248Q uses PWM backlighting and flickers quite noticeably in video, something that always annoyed me in the past.
The response time on the U2415 is quite good, and I haven’t noticed any ghosting or blurring issues of any kind, even in fast-paced games. The latency on this monitor is also extremely low, which is nice. The notion that IPS-type panels are too slow for gaming is a myth that just needs to die, it’s leftover stigma from the days of 50ms response times. It’s also a common mistake to confuse response time with latency. The feeling of “controller lag” when you press a button and there’s a delay before seeing it register onscreen is called latency or input lag. Response time has nothing to do with that delay, response time is something COMPLETELY UNRELATED that just happens to be confusingly named. And yet people still keep saying you need 5ms or less for gaming… Like I said, myth. Needs to die. A slow response time leads to “ghosting”, or afterimages/motion trails left behind moving objects. Even a display with a 500ms response time can react instantly to your controls if the latency is low, and it will feel very responsive. Fast moving stuff will just be really really blurry. Fortunately, an 8ms response time is very fast and like I said, there are no ghosting issues with this screen, even on fast-paced FPS games. The obsession with 1ms gaming monitors has been blown way out of proportion. High refresh frequencies on the other hand (120Hz+) can make a difference, although the U2415 is just standard 60Hz which is perfectly acceptable in my opinion. I tried overclocking this monitor in the NVIDIA control panel and with ToastyX’s Custom Resolution Utility, but it didn’t make it out of the low 60’s. So that’s a no-go for you tweakers out there hoping you can get 75Hz+ out of this panel to unlock some hidden potential. The monitor goes up to 75Hz at lower resolutions like 1024x768, but at full resolution anything past ~64Hz or so gets completely rejected by the display controller with an “out of range” error.
ON-SCREEN DISPLAY (OSD)
This is where I take off a star. The OSD has a number frustrating things about it. None of them are really dealbreakers for most users, but they add up enough for me to subtract a star, especially since a company as experienced as Dell shouldn’t be making ANY of these mistakes.
First of all, the input selection menu doesn’t have an auto-detect option. If my desktop was the last machine I was using and I come home and hook up my laptop, I need to switch the input manually even if nothing else is powered on and the laptop is the only device sending a signal. And that means I have to deal with the annoying unresponsive capacitive buttons again and again to switch inputs back and forth all the time. Very frustrating. I have an old Dell 1600x900 TN monitor from like 2010 that has auto-detect as an input option, and yet a $300+ UltraSharp in 2014 doesn’t. Come on guys, figure it out.
Secondly, another omission which will be a huge problem for some users; there is NO 16:9 scaling support, only 5:4 and 4:3. The lack of 16:9 scaling basically means any device that outputs a 16:9 signal (such as game consoles, DVD/Blu-ray players, or other media devices) the image will be stretched to fill the whole 16:10 screen rather than simply displaying at 1080p with black bars on the top and bottom. Most computers will support scaling on the GPU side so you’ll have no problem running 1080p with black bars in games (which can be advantageous since most games use HOR+ scaling, which long story short means you can see more of the game on 1920x1080 than you can on 1920x1200, it sounds counter-intuitive but most games do scale like that; wider ratio = more stuff onscreen, regardless of the resolutions in question), you just need to make sure you set the GPU to handle scaling instead of the display. So for computers this won’t really be a problem in most cases, but for consoles I would consider this a dealbreaker. I tested this with my Xbox 360, it DOES stretch the image. No black bar support for consoles or media devices, unless the new generation of consoles supports GPU scaling (I don’t have one to test unfortunately). Anything 360-era or earlier will be stretched for sure. You’ll be better off getting the U2414H instead. This is a glaring oversight on Dell’s part, one that really is inexcusable.
It would also be nice to have some kind of volume control in the OSD for the 3.5mm audio output. Consoles like the Xbox 360 don’t really have any sensible kind of direct volume control themselves, and it’s often too loud with no way to make it quieter if you’re plugging headphones directly into the monitor’s 3.5mm output. Just a minor thing. I don’t know of any monitors that do this other than ones with built-in speakers so I can’t really complain much, but I thought I’d bring it up anyway. I think Dell intended the 3.5mm output to be used for speakers, not headphones directly.
Another gripe with the OSD is a very very tiny one, but I’m going to say it anyway: the power LED controls. Most monitors don’t have any controls for the power LED, so this monitor is at least a step ahead in that respect. Normally, the power LED (which is thankfully white) is solid during use, and pulses slowly when in sleep mode/standby. Inside the OSD you have the option to control whether the LED is on or off during use, but oddly enough there is no control for standby mode. Slow pulsing is the only option. You’d think Dell would give you the option to have the power LED off while the monitor is off, especially since they give you the option of having it off while the monitor is ON, but nope. No option. Not exactly an emergency, but quite strange at the very least, and it might annoy people who want to use this monitor in the same room they sleep in. Of course if the pulsing light REALLY annoys you, you can always hit the power button and turn the monitor completely off, but that cuts power to the USB ports and depending on what you use them for (phone charging cable overnight with the handy high-amperage charging port in the back for example) that might not be a very desirable solution.
The OSD overall is just somewhat lacking, especially for something carrying the UltraSharp name. There’s no picture-in-picture or picture-by-picture modes, somewhat limited image adjustment (no saturation control or gamma adjustment, other than choosing between “PC” or “MAC”). The input select has no auto-detect option as I mentioned earlier, and the only scaling modes offered are force 16:10, force 5:4, and force 4:3. There’s no 16:9, there’s no maintain aspect ratio, there’s no 1:1 direct pixel mapping. ANY of those would have allowed for 1080p w/ black bars on consoles along with a myriad of other configuration possibilities, but alas, none of those are present. I guess a less complex display controller is the price for the low latency this monitor achieves.
It should also be noted for Mac users that DisplayPort 1.2 and daisy-chaining doesn’t seem to work with Macs. The monitor has a setting in the OSD that lets you change the DisplayPort revision between 1.1 and 1.2, and it’s set to 1.1 by default for compatibility reasons, and it’s a good thing too. When I change the setting to DP 1.2 mode, the Mac Mini 2014 is not detected, I only get a black screen, despite having Thunderbolt 2 which is SUPPOSED to leverage DP 1.2 for its display capabilities, and a Haswell processor with a DP 1.2-capable iGPU. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t work. Naturally daisy-chaining is also non-functional, since DP 1.2 mode is required for that. I’m inclined to blame this one on Apple or Thunderbolt 2’s DP 1.2 implementation since my laptop works fine in DP 1.2 mode (from a pure DP port, not Thunderbolt) and Apple loves doing weird things instead of following basic common sense standards.
But anyway, that’s another thing; if you change to DP 1.2 mode and find out your computer is no longer detected, it’s not exactly obvious how to change it back. Dell, in their infinite wisdom, designed the software so that you can’t actually access the full OSD unless you have a signal from a working computer. If you don’t have a signal, then pressing any of the buttons only brings up an input selection shortcut menu, with no way to access any other part of the OSD. This means you can’t change any of the monitor’s settings while your computer is off or not detected. Brilliant. However, there is thankfully one exception. If you need to change the DisplayPort revision back from 1.2 to 1.1 for compatibility, there is a hidden function on that input select shortcut menu. You can navigate to one of the DisplayPort options and hold the green checkmark button for ~8 seconds or so. A prompt will come up asking if you want to switch DP revisions. I would really prefer that Dell didn’t implement these kinds of things as hidden functions. That option needs to be plainly visible, because otherwise you have no way of finding out about it unless you Google it or consult the manual, which is very inconvenient when you can’t access your computer, because Dell doesn’t give you a paper copy of the manual, just a CD. If you need to switch the DisplayPort revision to read the manual in the first place, you have a problem. In the name of saving trees I’m all for digital manuals, but if you’re going to do that at least design the product to reduce the chance that you would need to look in the manual in the first place as much as possible. Meaning less hidden functions and more labeled functions.
(EDIT: I have heard some troubling tales of people having problems with the daisy-chaining feature on the U2414H when putting the computer to sleep, specifically that the monitors sometimes fail to wake up with the computer and must be turned off and on again or in extreme cases disconnected from power entirely to start detecting a signal again. I just wanted to check in and add that I have been using daisy-chaining in my daily setup for many months now and I haven’t noticed issues of any kind with my U2415 or either of my U2414Hs (I have two now).
Also I noticed the stands for the U2415 and U2414H are actually not identical, they are very slightly different both in height and in the base dimensions. Just a fun fact. You would only notice if you put them back to back.
It’s been 8 months or so, the monitors are holding up well. End log-err, uh, edit.)
Anyway… overall, really a superb monitor. The OSD just falls a bit too short of my standards, along with the terrible capacitive touch controls and the repositioning of the USB hub to the bottom. With those in mind I can’t give it a 5-star rating. But if you’re just planning to use this monitor purely with a single Windows computer, and not a Mac or a console or all three, I wholeheartedly recommend the U2415. In fact I recommend two or three.