I thought I might find something good from Dell when I purchased the Dell 2408wffp monitor back at the end of 2008 but the online reviews were wrong, Dell have no intention of making a good product when they can sell junk for the same price. I write here to say farewell to the one and only Dell product I purchased because it is as bad as all the other Dell products I have used over the years.
The car equivalent
Few people grow up with computers. Lots of people grow up with cars. We will start with an analogy to cars before listing the sorry state of Dell hardware.
You want a Porsche. You have the money for a Volkwagen. What do you do? In Australia you would buy a Subaru because they over a lot better performance than the Volkswagen at a similar price and have an all wheel drive system that works on the rough country roads of Australia.
But not everybody buys a Subaru. Some people see an advert for a Porsche at a Volkswagen price and jump at the opportunity to get something special. They assume they will get a Porsche engine in a Volkswagen body.
Now back to Dell. People buy Dell thinking they will save money and get performance. They think they will get a Porsche engine in a Volkswagen body. Based on experience working on many Dell computers, you get a Volkswagen with Porsche hubcaps. The specifications look good but there are very few specifications and the missing information is the bit where Dell makes a huge profit.
You get a freshly made computer but it may be an old design or it may be a new design using old parts. Your brand new computer might be the equivalent of a brand new Volkswagen body mounted on a Volkswagen design from the 1950s.
There is usually one spectacular feature. You get a new Volkswagen with a Porsche air filter but it is still only a volkswagen. Some of the Dell computers placed on my desk have spectacularly fast Intel processors but they perform worse than a well balanced computer with a far slower processor. The problem may be cheap inadequate support chips, pathetic memory, or really cheap disks, or all three. Think of a Porsche engine in a shopping trolley. If you are unlucky and get the worst of the bad, think of a Porsche engine in a shopping trolley with bent wheels.
The displayed price of a Dell product looks good. In Australia the compulsory delivery fee is from two to four times more than the delivery fee from their competitors. Dell could sell their products at cost and make a bigger profit on delivery fees than some of their competitors make on the whole computer. Now Dell has sporadic offers of free delivery and anyone with experience refuses to buy Dell unless the Dell produce is on sale with free delivery.
Dell computers have half the memory their competitors offer for the same price. Dell frequently offers to double the memory free. Do not buy until a product has the double memory and free delivery.
The Dell 2408wfp that I purchased back in 2008 had a slightly higher specification internal LCD panel than the equivalent Samsung and, based on the sloppy or fake reviews published all over the Web, I was prepared to pay a little bit more to get good quality colour. The advertised price was slightly higher before delivery fee and a lot higher after including the compulsory delivery fee. Back then there were few offers of free delivery. I waited a couple of weeks then there was a special offer. I think it was free delivery and an extra high quality cable for free so i bought the Dell screen.
The extra cable duplicated one of the cables already in the box and was in no way better. The cable was a HDMI cable. HDMI cables are tested to Category 1 and Category 2 standards. Both cables were only Cat 1. The extra cable supplied free with a monitor was an expensive Belkin HDMI cable but it was still only Cat 1 and was so short I could not use it for anything.
The delivery took almost two weeks and by that time the Samsung equivalent had dropped in price by another $50. If I had waited until the delivery day for the Dell and shopped around, I could have purchased a better quality Samsung for over a $100 less plus a choice of shops with plenty of stock and with the Samsung on display so I could actually see the quality in action.
The reviews said the Dell had a better type of LCD panel that would produce better colour. I can tell you now from bitter experience that the Dell has never produced accurate colour and randomly changes colour. As I type, the screen displays white as grey and black as a darker grey. An hour ago white was pink and earlier today white was beige. Blue displayed as green a few hours ago.
When I first used the Dell 2408wfp, the whites were brighter and cleaner than the white on my then old worn out Samsung Syncmaster 191t from 2003. Both had regular use from October 2008, when I purchased the Dell, until now. The Samsung still produces accurate colour although a little dull. The Samsung is at least 6.5 years old and is performing better than the 1.6 year old Dell.
The Dell can display colours brighter than the Samsung when the Dell decides to display white as something similar to white. The Samsung has had the brightness turned up over the years but is not yet anywhere near the limit of the brightness setting. What can I say? The Samsung uses a theoretically less accurate LCD panel but produces more accurate colour. The Samsung needs colour calibration only once per week. The Dell needs colour calibration as often as every ten minutes.
No, the Dell is not green. There is massive heat blasting out of the Dell. I can feel the heat on my face when I use the monitor. I have never found another LCD monitor as hot as the Dell. The amount of electricity it churns through is almost twice the closest competitor, based on the monitors I have used or evaluated for possible purchase.
Almost no LCD screens arrive from reputable brands with dead pixels. My Dell has a dead pixel. Dell will not replace a monitor with a dead pixel. Some corporate purchasers of Dell products send their dead pixel screens back and Dell replaces them. Everybody else is stuck with what they get. In fact, according to several corporate buyers, they sent back as many as 40 percent of Dell screens (in 2008) and some said they were told by Dell the screens would be sent to other customers, meaning us non corporate buyers received the 40 percent regular dead pixel screens plus all the dead pixel screens sent back by corporate buyers.
When I found the Dell dead pixel, I searched forums for Dell and dead pixels. There are a lot of forum entries recommending you do not send back a Dell screen with only one dead pixel because, among those non corporate customers who tried, many received replacement screens with more than one dead pixel and they were refused further replacement.
There are endless pages complaining about the Dell 2408wfp producing pink instead of white no matter how they adjust the controls. Comments from Dell support usually blame the computer or the video card. Many of the pink screeners try several different computers, different cables, different connections, updated all firmware, and update the operating system before asking Dell for support. Dell appears to ignore what you say in a report and ask you to try
different computers, different cables, different connections, updated all firmware, and update the operating system.
The pink screen problem is reported across more models than just the 2408 and across all of 2008, 2009, into 2010. Apparently Dell take the Microsoft view that really bad products will force people to upgrade more often.
My 22408wfp did not produce the pink screen problem until recently.
Screen goes blank
A common problem with Dell 2098s and other models is a random black screen. You are sitting at your computer typing then the Sell switches into power saver mode and the screen turns black. Some people get it at start up and never get out of it. Some get it randomly all day. I have two machines going black several times for the first minute of use and one that goes black every few seconds forever.
All the machines have modern hardware with almost identical hardware. I tried various combinations using different cables, tested both DVI and HDMI, tried different operating systems, and investigated all the hardware display settings both in the Dell monitor and for the graphics chip. Nothing fixes the problem.
The Premium Panel Guarantee
From the Dell Web page for the 2408wfp:
Dell monitors are designed and built to our highest standards, providing the quality and reliability you expect when you see the Dell logo. Each has been exhaustively tested and comes backed by a Dell Limited Warranty34. Unyielding commitment to quality and the satisfaction of our customers has driven Dell to offer a Premium Panel Guarantee ensuring replacement of UltraSharp series monitors with zero bright pixels. Even if only one bright pixel is found, a free panel exchange is guaranteed during the limited warranty34 period, so you can rest assured your investment is protected.
Notice they say
bright pixel. They do not replace the dead pixels that go black. The guarantee is almost useless because most dead pixels go black.
reliability you expect when you see the Dell logo Yes this Dell lived down to the rubbish quality level of most of the other Dell products I have used.
Lots of connections
The 2408wfp has lots of sockets across the bottom including two DVI connections. Some people report one or both DVI connections giving problems. on my machine, both DVI sockets product problems with the first DVI socket producing far more problems than the second.
Internally HDMI is the same as DVI. DVI has digital channels plus some old analogue VGA rubbish. HDMI drops the old VGA connections and adds USB sound. A connection through the HDMI socket should produce exactly the same results as a connection through one of the DVI sockets. My machine produces fewer dropouts to black when I use HDMI but the colour fails miserably and the pink problem occurs frequently.
One good thing about the 2408wfp, when it was working, is the good viewing angle. The type of LCD panel used in the screen let you see the whole screen on one colour. A replacement 26" Asus using a cheaper type of LCD shows different colours when you move your head a slight distance form the ideal viewing angle. On the Asus, when you site at the desk in front of the screen, the colours vary across the width and height of the LCD no matter which angle you view from. The Asus LCD panel would be perfect for television where you sit back further but up close, working on the desktop, is not good for more than a 19" screen. The 2408wfp LCD panel was better for the 24" size (when it was working).
Many reviewers make their money from the advertising on their web site. To get the advertising, they have to be popular and to be popular, they have to be the first to print with articles about new hardware. They often depend on hardware manufacturers providing early samples. To get those early samples, they have to write reviews praising the products no matter how bad the products might be. Some journalists sell their words the way ladies of the night sell their bodies.
Some reviewers receive specially selected hardware. Some of those early samples from American brands are whatever was provided by the real designer in Taiwan and the samples are produced to the highest standards of the best laboratories in Taiwan. The stuff they sell to us is made in China using the cheapest parts available on the day and assembled by people who were, the day before, ploughing fields. The samples are individually subjected to hundreds of tests while the junk they ship to us might have only one out of a thousand tested.
The Dell 2408 is, according to Dell, individually tested but it appears to be tested only for pixels stuck on white, not for dead pixels that go black or a pink screen or locking on black or frequently switching into low power mode while being used or having one or both DVI sockets broken or any of the other problems people report.
Do not believe the first reviews published for a product. Look for feedback from people who use the product to make a living instead of a splashy Web page. Just say no to Dell.