A few years ago I bought the Dell 2005FPW 20” widescreen LCD, the monitor famously known for having the exact same panel as the 20” Apple Cinema display, but for $600 instead of $1400. I even got an awesome deal on it, roughly $400. (Dell used to be heavily into coupon codes back then. Not so much now.)

Well, I’d been thinking about buying a second monitor for the desktop to complement the 2005FPW, and found the SP2008WFP. $300, same size, 2ms reponse, 2000:1 contrast. Oh, and a built-in webcam, and a very “Apple” feel to it. It did have a TN panel, which is not as good as the S-IPS panel in the 2005FPW, but I didn’t think it would be that bad. I whipped out the credit card, and 2 days later it arrived (Dell monitors and some other Dell stuff ship from a warehouse 5 miles away).

Boy was I disappointed. I’m no designer, but even I could tell that the blue was overpowering, and everything looked horrible as a result. The colors distorted even further when viewing at an angle (which is a characteristic of a TN panel), in this case shifting to yellow, but it was quite noticeable even when I was slouched in my chair (watching a video, etc). In comparison, an S-IPS display has mostly even color and contrast from pretty much any angle.

I bought a Spyder2PRO for work (we’ve been wanting to get one at work for awhile anyway) and took it home to try to correct the color balance. I was able to get the colors balanced, but I later found out that full-screen games (particularly Valve games) did not use ICC profiles, and one of the main reasons I bought the monitor was the 2ms response for gaming. And of course it didn’t help the viewing angle annoyance.

(By comparison, according to the Spyder, the 2005FPW was almost perfectly balanced out of the box in default settings.)

Hell, even the built-in USB had problems. Specifically, when you turn the monitor off, the built-in USB hub no longer receives power, whereas the 2005FPW’s USB hub remains on even when the monitor itself is off. Because you, you know, may actually have stuff plugged into it. I will say this though: the webcam quality was pretty good. It supported various resolutions up to 1600x1200, and supported video up to 800x600 at 30fps, and 1024x768 up to 1600x1200 at 10fps. It even included a built-in microphone, for all your cybering needs.

But ultimately, I was disappointed. The 2005FPW was an awesome deal at $400 and still worth every penny, but $300 for a new sub-par monitor that I couldn’t stand looking at was bad. I looked at their return policy, which was 21-day, 15% restocking, and you pay for shipping. Sucks a bit, but standard policy, and I called to return. I briefly thought about trading up to the $400 2007WFP, but ultimately I decided I really didn’t need a second monitor. Being nice on the phone paid off: the woman dropped the 15% restocking fee, and even e-mailed me a return UPS label. And since I got free shipping on the monitor originally, I’ve lost nothing but time.