Something of a rarity these days, Dell's UltraSharp U2412M is a 24in monitor featuring a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels in the classic 16:10 widescreen ratio.
Its smart, business-like appearance is an entirely appropriate one, being designed primarily for the very best image quality combined with premium ergonomics which enable strain-free use for many hours of continuous use. There's no attempt at ultra-slimness or shiny metallic details, but the Dell UltraSharp U2412M's subtle design will look professional and tidy on any desktop. See also: Group test: what's the best display?
As a business monitor, the Dell UltraSharp U2412M has all the right credentials. An ergonomic stand incorporates height, tilt, swivel and pivot adjustments. For connections, VGA, DVI and DisplayPort inputs are all provided, as well as a four-port USB hub: two ports at the rear and two mounted conveniently on the left side.
The Dell UltraSharp U2412M delivers consistently excellent display quality, thanks to its in-plane switching (IPS) panel technology. Wide viewing angles help keep colours and brightness uniform across the surface of the screen, making the display just as easy to use in portrait mode as it is in landscape.
Working with the Dell UltraSharp U2412M is an entirely stress-free experience. Everything just looks and feels right. Adjusting the display's settings is also quite effortless. Four small and entirely unmarked buttons control the on-screen menu display. Pressing any one of them will bring up a menu of options placed conveniently adjacent to each button.
There's no confusion, for example, over which button increases the brightness and which exits the menu. The button legends are also easier to read in a darker environment than printed labels.
Its 16:10 format and lack of speakers or HDMI port mean this is far from an ideal multimedia display, but Dell's optional AY511 SoundBar can be fitted to the bottom of the Dell UltraSharp U2412M's screen adding audio capabilities with virtual-surround capability.
The Dell UltraSharp U2412M display also features a dynamic contrast mode with a claimed ratio of 2,000,000:1 which can at least give film playback some extra punch. This option is enabled by selecting the movie preset, and is automatically disabled in standard and text modes to ensure predictable, consistent output while working on documents.
Dell's pixel defect policy entitles you to a replacement monitor if any bright pixel is found during the three-year warranty period. This can be extended to four or five years at additional cost.
Dell UltraSharp U2412M: Lab results
Our Spyder calibrator tests confirmed what our eyes had already told us: the Dell UltraSharp U2412M delivers exactly the kind of accurate colour response we would expect from an IPS-based display, although a small amount of calibration helps to get it spot on.
Colour reproduction encompassed 76.9% of the NTSC gamut and 108.6% of sRGB, so your images should be roughly similar to the default sRGB standard, even without calibration.
During calibration, and avoiding the dynamic contrast option, we measured a maximum brightness of 250cd/m2, with black level down to 0.37cd/m2. In our checkerboard contrast test we managed to achieve a maximum contrast ratio of 672:1, which is about average for this class of monitor.
The panel comes with a matt finish which keeps reflections down to a minimum and improves readability.
Of the many vivid colours displayable by this monitor, Dell's favourite is most certainly green, selecting ‘environmentally responsible' materials – including halogen-free laminates in the circuit boards. It also features some impressively low power-consumption figures.
At maximum brightness the monitor drew only 30W of power, while dimming to a standard 120cd/m2 reduced it to a mere 17W. This is considerably lower than many 23in panels we've reviewed.
Maximum measured brightness (calibrated): 250 cd/m2
Measured Black point luminance (calibrated): 0.37 cd/m2
Maximum measured brightness (uncalibrated): 315 cd/m2