At $654.99, the Dell UltraSharp 27 4K USB-C Hub Monitor (U2723QE) is a bit pricey for a 27-inch productivity monitor, even one with UHD resolution. But the cash required buys you an exceptional display. The U2723QE offers a huge range of ports (even for a so-called USB hub or docking-station monitor), all the standard ergonomic features, a joystick-style menu controller, and a screen with a huge color gamut and a sky-high contrast ratio for an IPS panel. Its incorporation of LG’s new IPS Black technology gets the credit for the last items, and it’s one corker of a monitor: It earns an Editors’ Choice award among office displays for discriminating eyes..
All This, and High Contrast Too
The U2723QE, in a silver cabinet with black bezels, measures 15.2 by 24.1 by 7.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 14.6 pounds. It gains an additional 5.9 inches in height when the shaft connecting the cabinet to the base is fully extended—an unusually wide range. You can tilt its top up to 5 degrees toward or 21 degrees away from you, swivel the screen 60 degrees in either direction, and pivot the panel between landscape and portrait modes in either direction. This gives it a full complement of ergonomic features.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
The 27-inch (measured diagonally) panel sports native UHD (3,840-by-2,160-pixel), a.k.a. 4K resolution, for a pixel density of 168 pixels per inch (ppi). This is more than adequate for viewing or editing photos, videos, or intricate diagrams. All else being equal, the higher a monitor’s pixel density, the sharper its image will be.
The U2723QE, along with Dell’s UltraSharp 32 4K USB-C Hub Monitor (U3223QE), is the first display to come to market that makes use of LG’s IPS Black technology, an in-plane switching variant that promises up to 35% deeper black levels and double the contrast ratio (2,000:1) of standard IPS panels. LG’s own first IPS Black monitors aren’t expected until later this year.
Traditionally, IPS monitors are known for displaying accurate colors, making them a favorite among creative pros such as photographers and filmmakers. They also offer broad viewing angles (here, 178 degrees in both vertical and horizontal planes), meaning that you can look at the screen nearly edge-on from the side or above without a notable degradation in image quality. The main downside of IPS has been its relatively low contrast ratio. Although vertical alignment (VA) monitors generally lack the color accuracy of IPS panels and have narrower viewing angles, they have much better contrast (generally a ratio of 3,000:1). This makes them popular with gamers who need to quickly distinguish a foe from a murky background.
Although IPS Black can’t match the tremendous contrast of VA panels, its rated 2,000:1 contrast ratio is a major improvement over standard IPS. I’m glad to report that it lived up to its billing in both our formal contrast-ratio measurement and our subjective testing, which consists of viewing selected photos and video clips, as we’ll see below.
A Cabinet That’s Bristling With Ports
As befitting a premium-priced USB-C hub monitor, the UltraSharp U2723QE has one of the richest selections of ports of any display we’ve reviewed. Along with an HDMI port, it has one DisplayPort-in and one DisplayPort-out connector, the latter able to daisy-chain a second 4K panel for a dual-monitor setup. A USB-C input supports DisplayPort alternate mode with up to 90 watts of power delivery, letting you power and/or charge your laptop through the display while displaying an image to it.
You get two other USB-C ports, including a downstream port that provides up to 15 watts of power delivery, and four downstream USB 3.2 Type-A ports for connecting a mouse, a keyboard, a flash or external solid-state drive, or another peripheral. Finally, an RJ-45 Ethernet jack lets you connect to a local area network if your Wi-Fi is spotty or nonexistent. These ports provide all the features normally found on a docking station, which is why displays like this Dell are often called docking-station monitors.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
In the bottom right rear corner are two controls, a power button and a mini-joystick controller for navigating the monitor’s onscreen display (OSD). The joystick proved easy to use and is preferable to the multiple tiny OSD control buttons seen on many monitors.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
Dell covers the U2723QE with a three-year warranty, which is a typical length for a professional monitor.
Testing the Dell U2723QE: Bright Image, Wide Colors
I tested the U2723QE’s brightness, contrast ratio, and color accuracy using our standard test gear: a Klein K-10A(Opens in a new window) colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G(Opens in a new window) signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ CalMAN 5(Opens in a new window) calibration software.
Dell rates the monitor’s luminance at 400 nits (candelas per square meter), and it came in just short of that—372 nits—in my testing. That’s more than bright enough for any business use, including photo and video editing, as well as gaming. The display also lived up to its rated 2,000:1 contrast ratio with a dead-on measured score of 2,002:1. (See how we test monitors.)
According to Dell, the U2723QE covers 100% of the sRGB color space. In my tests using the default standard mode, it outdid that with 143% coverage. The panel also covered 98.6% of DCI-P3, a color space geared to digital video, slightly topping Dell’s claim of 98%, as well as 90.1% of the wider Adobe RGB gamut popular for photo imaging.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
In the subjective, ad-hoc portion of our testing, we view a select group of test-standard photos and video clips. Stills looked sharp, with rich and accurate colors and a wealth of detail in both light and dark areas. Videos also looked great; colors seemed to pop, and landscapes looked three-dimensional. The Dell handled dark scenes with aplomb.
Verdict: IPS Black Gives This Panel an Edge
The Dell UltraSharp U2723QE offers the wealth of connectivity of a USB-C hub monitor, all the ergonomic features you could want, and a high-resolution 27-inch screen. One thing it doesn’t provide is a built-in webcam. If you want to boost your Zoom presence, consider the Editors’ Choice-winning HP E27m G4 QHD USB-C Conferencing Monitor, or its smaller sibling, the HP E24m G4 FHD USB-C Conferencing Monitor.
The U2723QE is similar to the Dell UltraSharp 27 (U2722DE) monitor we awarded four stars a year ago, but it boosts resolution from QHD to 4K and has superior contrast thanks to the advent of IPS Black panel tech. No doubt, you do pay a premium for the U2723QE; you can find plenty of more affordable 27-inch monitors for workaday tasks at the office or home. But creative pros who can benefit from an IPS screen with much-improved contrast should take a close look at the Dell UltraSharp 27 4K USB-C Hub Monitor, our latest Editors’ Choice among productivity displays. It’s a winner if you need that sterling panel, plus all the extra adjustability and connectivity. Chaining two together wouldn’t be cheap, but it’ll be snap-easy and look superb.
Dell UltraSharp 27 4K USB-C Hub Monitor (U2723QE)
The Bottom Line
It isn’t cheap, but Dell’s UltraSharp 27 4K USB-C Hub Monitor delivers loads of connection and adjustment choices, amping up an extra-poppy panel with wide color gamut and superb contrast.
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