Review: 6 HD displays, from midsize to massive

We look at 6 HD displays, from 21.5 inches to 46 inches, to see whether size matters when looking for a great monitor.

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Dell SX2210

(21.5 inches)

Walk up behind Dell's SX2210 21.5-inch HD display and you'd swear you were about to encounter something Mac-ish. The truth is, the monitor will work with anything that can output to VGA, DVI-D, or HDMI ports -- it has all three -- but its white back and silver stand scream "Mac."

Highlights: The SX2210 tilts but doesn't swivel (unless you move the entire monitor and stand, of course). Like Lenovo's L215p Wide, it's a bit low when sitting in front of a standard desk on a standard height chair. A good book under the pedestal can clear that up. The monitor features four USB ports and a 2-megapixel Webcam. Dell supplies the software you need to make it work, plus facial recognition software (for Vista only) so you can log on by staring at your monitor rather than entering tedious passwords.

HD displays
Dell SX2210

The monitor's 50000:1 contrast ratio is dynamic. On the static side, it's more like 1000:1 -- which is impressive nonetheless for a display of this size. The 2ms response time, on the other hand, is praiseworthy in any size monitor. The SX2210 boasts a 1920 x 1080 native resolution and a reasonable brightness rating of 300 cd/m².

The onscreen display controls are mounted along the right side of the monitor, mostly out of sight. However, the top button of the group not only activates the menu, but it also brings up a small onscreen insert that shows you which buttons perform what functions adjacent to their location along the side, making things much easier.

Test results: Out of the box, I had to crank down the brightness and contrast to achieve acceptable detail levels on the screen. That's not uncommon for LCDs, which manufacturers often seem to believe should replicate an exploding sun. There were no problems with the SX2210 when I ran DisplayMate.

Gray, white and color levels were all within the range of acceptable norms for a good consumer-grade monitor. There was no blurring, blooming or geometric distortions, and text was readable down to 6.8 points. I noticed no color shift at extreme viewing angles.

Picture quality: Relentlessly battering the SX2210 with high-definition videos proved remarkable only to the extent that the videos themselves -- whether Chuck, the recorded TV show played back at 1080 and 720 pixels, or The Dark Knight and Serenity, both from Blu-ray discs -- were crisp and smooth, with solid colors and grays and sharp details. There wasn't a hint of blur through any of the action scenes.

Conclusion: The SX2210 is a good choice in its size category for a multi-purpose monitor that will connect to your PC, game console or Blu-ray drive.

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