Dell makes a lot of monitors for just about any segment you can think of, and it also helps if they look great too. By those accounts, the S2718D Ultrathin Monitor is quite stunning to behold even before you turn it on, and moreso as a entertainment display.
As a matter of fact, the appearance is arguably the defining feature of this monitor. The S2718D trades a lot of expected function and physical adjustments for a graceful body. For example, there is no height configuration, nor is there any possible way to orient the monitor to portrait for workstations. Another point is that the S2718D cannot be wall-mounted since its sexy stand houses all the necessary ports and controls, the only flexible bits are minor tilt and swivel adjustments through a two axis joint.
These aforementioned details might be a turnoff or even a potential deal breaker, but let’s be honest, the design is absolutely beautiful in a “form over function” type of way. This goes beyond the usual cheap plastics and any thought of such materials being incorporated would be blasphemous. Aluminum and glass makes up the assembly and is surprisingly heavy, with the majority of the weight being grounded to the stand for ultimate stability and no wobble to speak of. As mentioned previously, all the connectivity is found here with an HDMI (2.0), two downstream USB 3.0 Type-A, USB-C, audio line-out, and power (I/O) — legacy VGA or DVI are unceremoniously omitted.
Dell has proclaimed this as being one of the world’s thinnest monitors and I can’t disagree when it measures in at 7mm, the immediate result is an IPS panel that appears phenomenal with a bezel that’s almost nonexistent. Yes, it does sport a glossy surface which does augment colors and contrast at the cost of reflection and potential fingerprints, but the use of 3H Hard Coating does an admirable job reducing glare in most environments.
Generally speaking, this is probably be the best QHD resolution (2560×1440) I’ve seen yet. I’m not kidding in saying that the essential attributes are impeccably dialed out of the box to the naked eye, Blacks are deep and whites aren’t exaggerated in ‘standard’ or ‘multimedia’ presets, which is where casual users will happily leave it. Another trait is ‘ComfortView’, a feature that filters out harmful blue light emissions and actively protect sensitive viewers from screen flicker over extended period. Other specifications are excellent for the S2718D with 300 cd/m ² brightness, 660:1 contrast ratio, and acceptable tested sRGB gamut of 79% (compared to AdobeRGB).
But, the attempted claim to fame of the Dell S2781D has to be the inclusion of HDR — or more appropriately, embedded HDR10 metadata through HDMI — which is extremely uncommon among PC monitors. It’s impressive on paper but my god, trying to trigger it will be a frustrating experience for everything except a handful of devices.
First off, the PC ecosystem itself is unprepared for compatible HDR content and hardware. We quickly learned that switching over to the desktop mode produced an unnaturally dim image and posterized hues to jarring effect. PC gaming fared a little better but the results were inconsistent nearly to the point of irrelevance, because launching most games will have a small logo telling you that HDR (when enabled) is detected, even though that visibly wasn’t the case throughout our time testing.
Fortunately (and possibly more obvious), the pop is stunning to see for non-PC video sources but jumping through these hoops means the S2718D is limited as a boutique monitor — albeit a fantastic one. Something like the Xbox One S will benefit the most, because the added resolution (1440/60p) along with HDR make this a preferred viewing option, only if a smaller screen is not a hindrance for enjoyment. Quite frankly, the color and enriched details will be the best console setup short of an Xbox One X, you just have to temper your expectations of using HDR everywhere else. I don’t fault Dell for providing a partial HDR option, but it’s clear that the PC/laptop world has a lot of catching up to do.
Looking at the Dell S2718D Ultrathin Monitor alone is remarkable and I can’t say enough gratifying things regarding its styling, build quality, and general performance. I could gush forever but the initial price ($699.99 MSRP but cheaper now) and technical features makes a bleeding edge commodity that’s great to brag about, but its potential may (or may not) be fully realized as far as HDR is concerned. As a chic entertainment monitor though, this is undoubtedly exquisite.