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Dell UltraSharp U3011 review

Dell UltraSharp U3011


Dell’s latest 30in behemoth grabs the attention, but it’s up against some tough competition

Review Date: 5 Oct 2010

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £1,199 (£1,409 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Image Quality
5 stars out of 6

Against most of the competition Dell’s newest monitor, the U3011, looks a suave, sophisticated individual. Where its rivals resemble huge lumpen monoliths on a desk, the Dell’s squared-off edges and two-tone finish make it look worth every penny of its asking price.

Another area where it trounces the opposition is connectivity. The usual two DVI ports are accompanied by twin HDMI sockets, plus DisplayPort, component and composite video inputs. There’s also a four-port USB hub and a card reader.

The onscreen display is equally feature-packed. Two video inputs can be displayed side by side, while a wide range of adjustments are on offer, including factory-calibrated sRGB and Adobe RGB colour modes. The only omission is the ability to calibrate the monitor’s internal look-up tables.

Few will take issue with the Dell’s picture quality. With brightness set to 50% by default, the U3011 achieved a sensible 243cd/m2 brightness out of the box, while a contrast ratio of 810:1 provides good black levels.

Dell UltraSharp U3011

Backlighting was even and our images and videos looked great, with lots of detail across the colour spectrum. Only a slight green push gave the faintest cause for complaint.

Going by LaCie’s Blue Eye Pro colorimeter, though, colour reproduction is just a little behind the competition. The green push we noticed manifests itself as a maximum Delta E of 6, and although an average Delta E of 2.1 is still pretty neutral overall, it’s a touch behind its high-end competitors such as the HP ZR30w.

With all those video inputs and excellent image quality, the U3011 is a prime candidate for gamers, so we were pleased to find an average input lag of only 22ms. With peaks of up to 30ms and lows of 10ms, it won’t be the limiting factor in split-second reaction gaming.

The Dell UltraSharp U3011 doesn’t come cheap, but it crams in a huge number of useful features, great image quality and low input lag. Factor in one of the more lenient pixel-fault policies on the market – one bright pixel is all you need for a replacement monitor – and the U3011 is a seriously tempting buy.

Author: Sasha Muller

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User comments

Is it just 'too big'?

Surely, at normal viewing distances that's more than a normal field of view. So to use it effectively you need to keep moving your head around.

Or the alternative is to move it a bit further away, but then you might as well have a smaller monitor a bit closer, getting the same effective size.

I really hate the idea of working on a screen where I might be typing something into a web form in the top left hand corner (like I am right now), and would miss a notification down in the bottom right of the screen.

Is it just me?

By PaulOckenden on 6 Oct 2010

U2711 is much better value for money

Great as the U3011 may be, it's little brother, the 27" U2711 (released earlier this year) is much better value for money. I picked one up for just over £700+VAT. It has a native resolution of 2560x1440 (i.e. double 720p). As a web developer I love having Dreamweaver filling one side of the screen and the web browser filling the other. Personally I find it much easier to work this way than using two monitors. I sit about 18" away from the monitor and the whole screen is within my field of view. It's the best monitor I've ever owned (it replaced a 22" Samsung CRT) and the first thing everyone who see it says is "wow!"

By twiga on 6 Oct 2010

Pixel Per Inch


Reading your comment, I assume you never need to depend on system fonts. (eg: typing Asian Input Languages)

I am using 27" monitor with resolution of only 1920x1200 (Dell2709W) which gives very comfortable 84PPI (Pixels Per Inch). That's the same number of PPI's the 15" monitor running 1024x768 has.

The U3011 monitor has 2560x1600 resolution which translates into 101PPI. Working on this monitor is as eye-stressing as sitting behind 20incher with resolution 1680x1050. I would definitely buy a monitor with 2560x1600 resolution, but it should be at least 35 inches big and not 30 inches.

For people interested in PPI's of other devices I am advising the following wiki article:

By stasi47 on 6 Oct 2010

"too" big


The bigger the better, ask anyone ;-)

Your peripheral vision is sensitive to movement, you won't miss much.

Personally, I shall be writing to Santa real soon...

By SimonF on 6 Oct 2010


Funny enough, I found myself in exactly the opposite situation - working with photos and graphics, I need highest pixel density possible (for maximum sharpness) and the monitor that currently sort of suits my needs is 22" 1920x1200 Eizo, which roughly translates into 103ppi. Unfortunately it's still not as sharp as a screen of HD laptop :-/

By Lomskij on 7 Oct 2010

I'll stick with my 3 old Dell 24" with 1920 x1200.
All together they cost less than one of these and are still going strong after 5 years, not a bad pixel among them :)
Maybe when they need replacing.....

By TiredGeek on 7 Oct 2010


I was as much astonished with your answer as you were probably with my one. I am typing this comment on a ultraportable with 221ppi sitting with my nose about 10 inches off the screen's surface. But when I am typing Chinese characters I sometimes need to keep my nose 3 inches off the surface to be able to recognize some more awkward characters. You may have a zoomed-in document with nice high-resolution OpenType fonts, but when typing (or even writing) you are condemned to choose them from the list where the fonts are limited to a matrix of 16x16 pixels. Just to give you some impression, in Chinese language there are many characters containing 10 horizontal strokes, however there are also characters containing 16 horizontal strokes. That means, that some (or even all) of the horizontal strokes (lines) are not separated by blank areas at all.

What I mean is, while resolutions are becoming higher, application window and font scaling smoother, nobody does anything about the system-font sizes used for Asian Input. They are as obscure as dozen years ago.

This topic needs in fact broader coverage by computer magazines.

By stasi47 on 7 Oct 2010

worth x2 price of U2711 ?

I have the U2711 and U3011 side by side.
U3011 is in a different league.
30" appears much bigger and higher vertical resolution is a bless.
Both have excellent text, but its easier to read on the 30"

By antonis42 on 16 Nov 2010

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