When Dell announced a slew of new monitors at the beginning of this year, I was quite excited to see the Ultrasharp designation for one of their line-up of monitors: The Dell U2722DE; given that they’re generally pretty good from my personal experience. Interestingly, it wasn’t a 4k resolution monitor that I’d have expected, given the rising popularity of high-resolution displays.
Instead, it’s a QHD monitor which is a bit of a saturated market these days in 2021 with many options out there. Though I have to admit, a sleek and accurate 27” monitor at QHD resolution is still the preferred workhorse of choice for many professionals and a good monitor in this category certainly wouldn’t hurt for consumer choice.
But is it a stinker or winner? Let’s find out.
Our package comes in as a huge hefty chonker just like the Alienware monitor I’ve reviewed last year but being much easier to carry due to the built-in handle at the top.
As usual, there is a fair amount of foam within the package that keeps it from moving too much and doesn’t seem too flimsy looking for shipping purposes.
Design & Aesthetics
Our model comes with a sleek and smooth silver finish with predominantly white accents and design that’ll make it pretty discrete to have on any office table. It keeps the same minimalistic aesthetics at the back with only a few ventilation grooves at the bottom of the monitor, neat.
The frame of the monitor also features the signature thin bezels of the U series monitors, making it a great plus for people like me that are running multiple monitors without black bars obtruding from the edge.
In terms of adjustments, this monitor has all bases covered. Tilt, swivel, rotate and height adjustments are all there and par for course. As with Dell’s recent arm design, there’s a little hollow nook in the middle of the monitor for better cable management that comes in nice and handy. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t compromise on the stability or rigidity as it withstood me shaking on the stand with some effort.
The provided mount is easy and quick to release. The monitor also comes with standard VESA mounts if custom monitor arms are more of your thing.
It seems like Dell doesn’t call this the “USB-C Hub Monitor” for nothing on their brochure. As you can see from the ports below, they’re pulling out all the stops to include just about everything you’d want from a hub for a true dongle-less experience.
You’ll get the following ports on the monitor:
- 1x Power connector
- 1x. HDMI port
- 1x DisplayPort
- 1x USB-C upstream port
- 1x DisplayPort (out)
- 1x USB-C upstream port (data only)
- 1x Type-A downstream port
- 1x Audio line-out port
- 1x RJ45 port
- 1x Type-A downstream port (power charging)
- 1x USB-C downstream port
Dell has even included a god damn Ethernet port on this thing, just in case there is a conceivable reason that a configuration like this would be better for cable management.
At this rate, I’d expect some sort of built-in mid-range DAC/Amp combo to truly round up the all-in-one experience in the near future. Just kidding… or am i?
The OSD experience, just like the Alienware Ultrawide, is excellent and spares no expense in keeping everything minimalistic. All interactions are made by the tactile and clicky buttons at the back of the monitor together with a simple UI that keeps the options tiny and intuitive.
A standout feature in this flavour of firmware is definitely the built-in Picture-in-Picture mode, where, if you wish, you could use the monitor for another source that is also plugged in to the input, making it very handy for users who tend to need that multitasking screen space working on multiple projects.
The display quality, as you would expect, is top notch with 100% sRGB and 95% DCI-P3 coverage; any higher and you’re creeping into pro-grade territory that can have monitors easily costing more than 1.5x the price in comparison. The colors and contrast are great out of the box and don’t look too saturated or vibrant. Being pre-calibrated with a DeltaE of <2 from the factory, there is no need for calibration tools; perfect for content creators that may not want to invest in one.
The brightness can also be cranked all the way up to blinding if you wish. According to my eyes, it seems to spec a bit higher than the 350nits listed in the specifications.
At a 8ms GtG response, it’s pretty much par for course when it comes to higher-than-HD resolutions; not abysmal enough to get smearing or ghosting while using the monitor to game, but also not great either now that even certain QHD panels can reach 120Hz and beyond with a faster response time to boot.
Unfortunately, even at a technically less challenging QHD resolution, Dell has been unable to fit freesync into panels like this and with the unimpressive 60Hz refresh rate, there just isn’t much incentive for pure gamers to consider this one.
Another oddly missing feature is HDR support, which shouldn’t be difficult to certify and achieve, given the good color accuracy of this monitor.
At the MSRP of $968 SGD, it fits right in competitively with the other monitors in this category – that’s to say not a budget option but it isn’t breaking the bank either. Interestingly, the price position of the monitor makes it a fair alternative for consideration against Dell’s own U2720Q, which is what this monitor would be but in 4k (minus the hub, ofcourse).
Otherwise, you can also pick yourself up a cool $150 discount ($819 SGD MSRP) by buying the U2722D SKU without the fancy USB-C hub.
Dell SB521A Soundbar
Since our monitor supports the Soundbar add-on, Dell has kindly lent us a review copy of their Soundbar which I’ll do a short review of, to the tune of what you’d expect from my other laptop reviews.
Design & Connectivity
In terms of design, Dell’s slim Soundbar is a sleek looker that is just about as compact as it gets. On monitors that support the clip-on function of the soundbar, there isn’t any wasted space to speak of as the soundbar clicks snugly to the underside of the table without any fuss at all.
USB3 has been utilized for the soundbar’s only connectivity option and Dell didn’t see a need to implement any kind of Bluetooth connectivity that might increase the cost of the product – A move I agree with though as always, wouldn’t hurt to include a separate SKU for those that might want it.
Soundstage & Volume
For a person that is pretty much used to stereo speakers and the way they sound, the soundstage of the soundbar definitely takes some time getting used to.
Sitting at about arm’s length from the soundbar itself, things are usually ok in terms of it feeling like stereo sound, thanks to each driver being at the far end length of the speaker itself. However, it starts to break down if one were to move towards the speaker a little, as the soundstage is not as wide as two separate satellite speakers would be, causing it to narrow it to something more mono-sounding; a heads up for interested parties to sit further away to get the best experience.
In terms of volume, these are
pretty really loud speakers given that they’re usb-powered and can fill the typical room at about 60 volume no problem and that’s not even at its pull power, nice. You’ll definitely have no issues here.
Surprisingly, there isn’t any distortion as far as I could hear. That said, it does start to make its weaknesses more obvious in terms of the level balance within the mids and lows, where the base can be overpowering the mids without a nuanced transition on certain songs.
Now, how about the quality? Once again, I’m taking the soundbar through its paces with a variety of music from different genres. Below is a sample list of what I’d be listening to and the kinds of things I’ll be looking out for (Let me know if you like this change, I’ll keep it for my later reviews!)
- Careless Whisper, George Michael – Listening to vocal performance and saxophone solo
- Stereo Hearts, Maroon 5 – Listening for the vocals, drums and base during the chorus
- Time’s Scar, Chrono Cross – Listening for the highs of the flute and the transition to high-mids from the viola, general instrumental
Feeling a little heart broken, I tried Stereo Hearts by Maroon 5 first. The starting vocals and melody on the piano are a pretty good start with decent vocals and nice rendition on the piano. By the bass-heavy rap, it’s not much of a surprise that there isn’t much of a kick given the small speakers, though they still sound acceptable and decently pronounced as it should. The only weakness here was towards the end where the mixing of the vocals and the string instruments wasn’t as good in terms of the blending.
Well, that seems great from the onset, do we have a gem on our hands? What’s the catch? Well…
On more challenging songs such as the extremely bass-heavy intro of Metallica’s Enter Sandman, the bass simply sounds muted from what you’d expect and isn’t a good experience, the same can be said with George Michael’s Careless Whisper where the Saxophone solo just isn’t as nuanced when from note to note.
Overall, think of them as a pair of decent laptop speakers that does its job adequately without any fuss on your end. Don’t come in expecting audiophile quality sound and you’ll be surprised at what these speakers can deliver.
At a retail price of $69 SGD, the sound quality certainly isn’t going to blow anyone away in terms of value for money. Generally, you can get pretty compact and better sounding 2.0 satellite speakers for the price point from brands such as Creative or Logitech… provided that space isn’t a concern.
Still, they’re a decent offering at this size and price and I wouldn’t knock these speakers off for casual listening or general office work.
The Dell U2722DE and the slim soundbar is a surprisingly decent pairing for productivity work and I have no qualms recommending it that way, though the sound fidelity might not satisfy some. The monitor by itself is excellent with good color coverage though having freesync and/or HDR support would make it a better all-rounder for people looking at both sides of the spectrum.
Dell Slim Soundbar
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Compact and slim, fits on certain Dell monitors||– A bit pricey compared to similar sounding satellite speakers|
|+ USB powered, but still gets quite loud||– No option for bluetooth|
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Unique USB-C Hub||– Lack of HDR/freesync is a bummer|
|++ Great color accuracy and DCI-P3 coverage |
for video production
|– 60 Hz refresh|
|+ Slim bezel with sleek design|