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I have a long history with Dell products, and generally speaking, I think those products are well-designed for the majority of users in the group to which they are marketed. It is for this reason that I often recommend them, and while they’re not the be-all end-all when it comes to computer equipment, Dell does a superb job of appealing to the majority, and covering many use cases. Dell’s monitors are no exception to this.
Dell monitors, even the budget E-series models, have a good build quality. Obviously, as you spend more on their monitors this quality goes up, but in my years of utilizing Dell monitors, I’ve never had any significant issues in terms of build quality or wear and tear. In fact, in my basement right now is an old 17-inch square Dell monitor (which was pretty awesome when it was released) that serves as the monitor for my home server. It’s rare that I need local access to that server, however, when I do, the monitor is there…and I think it always will be.
Additionally, sitting on my desk in my office upstairs, the monitor that I look at every day, is a 32” 4K Dell Ultrasharp monitor… I got a particularly good deal when I bought it, and this is by far one of the nicest displays I’ve ever used. It’s big, it’s sturdy, it looks good, and I’ve never had an issue with it.
So, not surprisingly, Dell’s S2721QS, a 27” 4K Monitor from Dell was a big hit when I first put it on my desk. Computer monitors are fun to unbox because you can start using them quickly, and while I was stepping down from a larger 32” 4K monitor during testing, I was still excited to get started. This new 27” monitor has many of the same design cues as my larger Ultrasharp, including a three-sided thin bezel design. The backside of the monitor at first glance appeared to be white, but upon further inspection was actually what I would call “grayish white,” which looks great and also helps avoid the pitfall of white office equipment turning dingy-white over time (that said, maybe you’d just consider it dingy-white to begin with). And, consistent with my experience of other Dell monitors, the S2721QS is sturdy, and hefty, and feels like a solid product.
To me, monitor specifications are one of the more annoying (and boring) topics when it comes to reviews. Reviews in general, for that matter, often times don’t do a monitor or display justice, since experiencing that display for yourself is such an important part of the process. That said, I have no intention of getting into the weeds of contrast ratios and response times and refresh rates and all the other things about displays which honestly just put me to sleep. There is a lot to picking out the right monitor (or a TV) for your specific use case, and I find that price has the highest impact on purchase decisions most often when dealing with monitors and televisions. Still, there has to be some set of guidelines, so I’ll do my best to describe things here as practically as possible.
For starters, it is a 4K monitor—and while for many people this isn’t really a big deal (yet), I think buying a monitor in 2020 without a higher resolution is a waste of money. Budgets may be limiting, and I understand that, but I’d sooner save my pennies for longer rather than buy an inexpensive, non-4K monitor if I had the option. And, while you may not use all of that resolution, the nature of a higher resolution device is such that images will be cleaner, clearer and easier on the eyes…again, generally speaking.
So, big deal, 4K monitors are a dime a dozen—and that’s true, as you may find easily in a search on Amazon—but there are other components to quality to consider, even beyond build and longevity. The S2721QS supports HDR content, which will help if you plan on doing any sort of media consumption on the device. It is an IPS panel, which without getting into a ton of detail, means this monitor has viewing angles. And, it supports AMD’s FreeSync technology, which helps in gaming applications for a smoother experience. It is this set of features that make it a great multitasking monitor, which I’ll get more into later.
One of the most important features of a monitor is its input connections, and something that I want to bring up here. The monitor comes with two cables—an HDMI cable and a power cable—and the monitor supports two HDMI connections and a DisplayPort connection; it also has a line-out port in the standard 3.5 mm size. Perhaps a couple of shortcomings here are the omission of a USB hub, which has become a pretty regular feature on many of Dell’s monitors, along with a USB-C connection. I understand that these are cost-value propositions, and perhaps for the S-series monitors these just aren’t included, but I really think any monitor of this size, and especially with its feature set, should include some additional connectivity options; in fact, it is the omission of these additional connections that might be a deal-breaker for me. As USB-C becomes ubiquitous, and port counts on computer devices drop as the years go on, I really think these are important components—and ones that I regularly make use of on my 32” Dell Ultrasharp.
As far as performance is concerned, as I said before, much of it is in the eye of the beholder, but there are still some features that shouldn’t be ignored. The included monitor stand (which is the 2nd “S” in the part number “S2712QS”) is a really, really great stand. This is an area where Dell has always excelled, and this stand supports height adjustment, tilt, swivel and rotation up to 90 degrees. The fully-featured stand is an option, though, as the S2712Q (without the 2nd “S”) comes with a standard monitor base that is not adjustable, but is $30 less.
Also included in this monitor is a PIP/PBP option, which while being a bit of a niche feature, is still nice to have. And while a 27” monitor might be a bit small for picture-in-picture, there are applications that I could see it being useful especially considering this is a multi-tasking display. These modes, however, do require the use of a Display Port connection.
The monitor’s onboard settings are accessible via four navigation buttons along the right side of the bottom edge of the screen, and they are responsive and clicky; Dell includes as a feature here (among other things) what they call “ComfortView,” which further identifies this monitor as a jack-of-all trades by providing a list of preset to adjust blue light, contrast, tint, etc., depending on the content you’re viewing. And, the volume for the onboard 3W speakers is also controlled via these buttons, although I found the volume setting to be a couple menus deep and would much prefer dedicated buttons or a remote. Still, the onboard speakers are actually pretty decent for a monitor and do the job of providing a basic audio experience if you don’t have headphones or external speakers connected to your device.
As this review comes to a close, I want to address the price tag and try to answer the question, “what is it good for?” Because at a retail price of $449, when other 27” 4K monitors are available on Amazon for half that price, it begs the question—why spend so much?
As I’ve covered a few different times in this review, it seems that the S2712QS is a monitor aimed at what I’ll call a “generic” user, who may have a mix of requirements when it comes for monitors. It’s not outstanding as a monitor in any one area, but it does a decent job in multiple, enough to maybe attract someone who is trying to find one monitor that can be used for working, gaming, and consuming media. Perhaps this could be an alternative to purchasing multiple monitors that are tailored for more specific uses cases.
As a multimedia device, HDR and the onboard speakers are good features, but they’re not the best version of those features available. For regular office or school work, ComfortView and picture-in-picture (perhaps) are important. And for gaming, while it’s not the best monitor with the highest refresh rates, FreeSync and low input lag will make it a decent solution for a more casual gamer.
So, maybe you’d see this in a dorm room, connected to a student’s laptop and their game console; or, in someone’s home office where time is spent working, playing and relaxing, depending on the day of the week. And while the $449 price tag is high, there is no denying it is a good all-around monitor that can serve many different needs, and in that sense, not unlike many other Dell products that have been successful in the past.
But at the end of the day, buying this monitor (and any Dell product, for that matter) is a matter of brand choice. Recently, when a coworker was looking for a monitor for their kid who was going off to college, the very first place I looked was Dell’s website—and for good reason. Yes, there are plenty of less expensive 27” 4K IPS 60Hz monitors out there, but Dell makes a quality product that usually lasts a very long time. That said, even for me, $449 is a little steep—although I don’t know many people who pay full retail price for Dell equipment regardless of where it’s bought; Dell direct almost always has sales, and for retailers like Best Buy or Amazon, there are usually sales there as well.
I’d be more inclined to purchase or recommend this monitor if priced in the $300-$350 range, but that’s mostly due to the omission of a couple of features that are particularly important to me. It will last though, and it has a great look and feel to it as well. It may not be for everyone, but it definitely was designed to give at least a little bit of something to everyone.
This product was provided by Best Buy and Dell in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. The opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author and have not been reviewed or approved by any sponsors prior to posting.