Dell 3007WFP-HC

Back in October 2008 Dell had a one day sale on the 3007WFP-HC for $1000 Canadian, that is $600 off. So, later that year when I was starting to think about getting a 30" monitor, I looked at what was available. First thing you notice is, most monitors that size go for about $1300-$1500(Canadian) and the new Dell 3008 was(and still is as of Feb 2009) $2200. Given the price, I started to look to see if the 3007 was behind or limited in some fashion, which would account for the price different. Answer is, both yes and a big NO. At first glance at the specs, you notice one large difference in the 3007 vs. the other monitors in the 30" range. Most offer a large, or at least larger, set of inputs. The 3007WFP-HC has a single DVI port. That's it. While most other monitors in that size have dual dvi, vga, (some hdmi etc). The simple trick is to tell your video card to do the scaling rather than have your monitor do it. Setting this option in the NVidia control panel allows the 3007 to work at any resolution generated by the OS.

Looking deeper...

Most review sites stop there. Some though pointed out a very important point. The 3007 has no built in scalar, thus it can't up convert, so you only get the single DVI input, bad news, not really. Thing is, since it does not have a scalar the video lag with this monitor is much better than almost all others in it's size. What is this lag? The time between what the video card/signal sends and the images getting displayed. A CRT has no lag, if your LCD has a lag, it will cause a number of very bad effects depending on how you wish to use the display. For normal web browsing/desktop use, it's not a big deal. Problem is, for viewing videos or playing games it's a big deal. The audio/video will be out of sync for movies, and when playing games your display will be a few frames behind. Not a good thing in a first person shooter firefight.

One of the reviews that point this out is at Comments on LCD's at

So for my use, the older 3007WFP-HC was superior to the newer 3008 and possible most other 30" monitors. I was not able to get enough reviews to see if all the other manufactures also had this issue. Some do provide a 'pass-through' option I think, that will by-pass the scalar.

I waited over the 2008 Christmas holidays to see if Dell would have the 3007 on sale again, no luck. They did in January, this time for $900 (that's $700 off), and well below other monitors of that size. I have had a chance to use it now for a few weeks and have a few comments. Dell is a zero bright pixel policy, which is good since having a bright pixel is more noticeable than a dead one. My monitor seems to have a single dead pixel, which I almost never notice. Given the great price, I was not going to be too concerned. As for using such a large monitor, it's not that big a deal for most web browsing tasks or other general uses. The time it really shines is when you have some program/data that can make use of a 2560x1600 display. First off the digital pictures from my Nikon D80 look great, I usually shoot at a 3800x2500 resolution. Mapping programs either on the web or that ones you run locally, are another area where the large size really stands out. Being able to see such a large part of the map is great. Lastly, but far from least is gaming. Being able to play Fallout 3, Crysis, Far Cry 2 at this resolution and size make the entire experience much more immersive. It's really hard to describe until you try it.

I find the EVGA 8800GT card has enough processing power to play almost all games at full resolution with high quality effects settings, the only game I really needed to dial the settings back on was Crysis. This was on a Core 2 Duo running at 2.8Ghz.

Update: the brightness display software that runs to show the results of +/- on the monitor has a bug. It causes a dead space on your screen(logical not physical) so kill that process if you find this issue. It's lcdOSD.exe. Otherwise you might notice you can't click on links in that small region in the bottom middle of your screen! Long term fix is to rename/remove this file, or short term fix is to just kill that process using the task manager. Below is an example of what to look for:

Task Manager