PROS / Dell has an effective support team that helps you swiftly work through any issues.
CONS / There is no HDMI option, but you can purchase a converter cable separately.
VERDICT / This monitor is the best in its price range, with advanced technology and features, such as the IPS display panel and numerous adjustability options.
Editor's Note: A new Dell UltraSharp monitor is now available. Clicking the Buy button will take you to this version for purchase. We will evaluate the newest UltraSharp monitor when we next update the Monitors reviews. Meanwhile, enjoy our review below about the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM.
Dell is a Fortune 500 company that has been in the business of computers for over 25 years. They began as PC Limited and soon developed into Dell Inc, a multinational information technology corporation. They are based out of Texas, specializing in PCs and about everything that goes with them, from data storage to networking equipment. Monitors are one of the many things they manufacture, and they make some of the best on the market, but their monitors get surprisingly little attention compared to their other products.
For monitors under $400, the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM is our current number one pick and the winner of the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award. This is a solid product that delivers a quality picture and it is one of the most versatile units we have reviewed. They also have a quick and reliable support system that is available 24/7 to ensure you are satisfied. With their quality guarantee, you can be sure to get a Dell UltraSharp U2312HM monitor without dead pixels, backlight leaks or any other defects developed during the manufacturing process.
The Dell UltraSharp U2312HM comes with IPS (in-plane switching) display panel technology. IPS panels are currently the leaders in flat panel monitors because of their superior color reproduction. Color clarity is vitally important in this world of high-definition viewing. We all want to get the most out of our movies, games and all other visual media, which is why flat panel technology has changed and improved so many times over the last 10 years. IPS panels also provide a wide viewing angle so you still get a perfectly clear picture even if you are not looking at the screen straight on. The Dell UltraSharp U2312HM allows you to see clearly anywhere within a 178 degree angle, both vertically and horizontally.
The one flaw in IPS panel technology is that it does not have the fastest response times. Some TN (twisted nematic) monitors can have response times as fast as two milliseconds, but the IPS panel on the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM tops out at about eight milliseconds. The six-millisecond difference is minute enough to not even notice most of the time, but quick movements in some action sequences may not be quite as smooth and clear.
The other two key features on the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM monitor are the brightness level and contrast ratio. The brightness set to the maximum level puts out an impressive 300 candelas per square meter, which means your colors will be bright and vibrant in high-def. The typical contrast ratio is 1000:1, which is commonly found on most modern computer monitors. With both of these options, you have plenty of room to adjust your screen to your preferred settings.
Many computer monitors have moved away from full adjustability to allow only for tilting the screen up and down. The problem with that is not all desks are the same height and some of us like to have our monitors at the same height as our eyes. Yes, you can tilt the screen back so that it is vertically perpendicular, but it does not have the same feel. Thankfully, the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM has tilt, swivel and height adjustment so you can adjust it to just the right position.
Another popular feature found on modern monitors, including the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM, is the ability to mount it on the wall. Flat panel technology on your desk opens up your desk immensely compared to old CRT monitors, but now you do not even have to have it on your desk. This monitor comes with instructions and has online help available to walk you through the fairly simple process of mounting your Dell UltraSharp U2312HM to the wall. This opens your desk up completely for work notes, schoolbooks, video game strategy guides and anything else you want.
Unfortunately, there is no HDMI option on the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM, but you can get a converter cable if that is what you need. This monitor has a DVI port as well as a DisplayPort to connect through. Either one of those can be converted to HDMI or used as is. DVI is still one of the most commonly found graphics card connections, which makes the inclusion of it convenient. A side note to be aware of is that DVI, like HDMI, is HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) compliant.
For those of you who do not know, HDCP was developed by Intel to prevent illegal copying of digital media. Any content that has been encrypted with HDCP can only be played on HDCP-compatible devices. All Blu-ray Discs and other modern media will be encrypted and therefore require you to use HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort. Luckily, the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM monitor has all three, so take your pick.
There are five other connections on the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM monitor, aside from the standard AC power port. First, there is an optical USB upstream port that allows you to use the remaining four standard USB ports. An optical USB upstream cable is included with this monitor, so there is no need to buy one. Two of the four USB ports are located on the side of the monitor and the other two are on the bottom with the other connection types.
Help & Support
Some of the first Dell UltraSharp U2312HM panels had issues with dead pixels and backlight leaks, but this was fixed for the production batches that followed those first few defective ones. Defects like these still happen occasionally though, on any monitor, but thankfully Dell has a great RMA (return merchandise authorization) process and service that allows you to quickly return the defective product and receive a new one. You simply send in an RMA request and within 24 business hours, they should get back with you. Once approved, you repack the monitor and place the RMA barcode on the side of the box. A typical turnaround time for Dell is about a week, two weeks at the most.
In the event that you need technical support or warranty service, Dell can be contacted 24/7 with a toll-free phone call or they also have email and chat support. If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, you will want to check out the FAQs and other documentation on the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM monitor. If you cannot find the information there, then proceed to contact Dell directly. Their friendly customer service team should quickly resolve any questions or issues you may have, so rest assured that if you need help with either, they will be resolved.
There are many great monitors available for about the same price. Deciding between them all can be difficult because of the similar specs. For us, the deciding factor between the top couple of monitors was the level of help and support that the manufactures provide. Although everyone's experience varies from one degree to another, in our experience, Dell has always provided support worthy of their customer service award. For nearly identical products that have to be broken down to the manufacturing support level, the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM has the best backing and a generous three-year warranty.