Review: Dell delivers solid but pricey monitor

Harley Ogier looks at the Dell S2340T, a quality touch monitor with a hefty price tag

The advantage of Windows 8 is touch-control, and if you don't have a setup that can take advantage of it, Dell’s S2340T might fit the bill. It has edge-to-edge glass to allow for Windows 8’s edge gestures and includes ten-point multitouch, which allows each of your fingers to be used on-screen simultaneously for touch gestures.

The S2340T connects using HDMI or DisplayPort and a single USB 2.0 or 3.0 port for touch. You don't need drivers to use the touch functionality on a Windows 8 PC – it’s truly plug-and-play. The touch experience is smooth, superbly responsive, and all of the gestures work as expected.

In monitor-terms, the S2340T has an LED-backlit IPS panel at 1920 x 1080 resolution and 60Hz. Colour gamut, contrast, colour uniformity and colour accuracy were all notably high, with tone response the only moderately-scoring area in our analysis using Spyder4Elite. Most impressively, the monitor came to us needing very little calibration, straight out of the box.

We test under ‘moderately low light’, suitable for photo editing. All the monitors we’ve tested previously benefited greatly from calibration: flipping between the pre- and post-calibration image samples has shown a huge visible difference. With the S2340T, the pre- and post-calibration results were identical to the naked eye.

There’s much more than a monitor here, though. Dell has packed a four-port USB 3.0 hub into the monitor’s base, along with a Full HD (1080p) webcam with microphone, a USB sound card and a gigabit Ethernet adapter. The latter two features require a driver. All are backwards-compatible with USB 2.0, which is great for Intel Atom-based tablets and netbooks that lack the higher-speed ports.

USB hubs are common in screens these days — it's a convenient location for easy access to USB ports. Why build in audio and Ethernet, though? Simple: it makes the S2340T a great all-purpose docking station for Windows 8 tablets and laptops. If you keep speakers, a network cable and all your USB peripherals plugged in, then you can ‘dock’ just by connecting the video cable and a single USB port.

If you have a compatible graphics card and the downloadable DisplayLink drivers, you can even run the video signal over USB 3.0, without needing to connect HDMI or DisplayPort: meaning on many systems, you can use the S2340T as a single-cable docking station.

The flipside to all this flexibility and features is price: the S2340T has a recommended retail price of $989. That’s significantly more than than average 23-inch monitor – even others with similar LED-backlit IPS panels and equally great image quality. The Dell Ultrasharp 2312HM, for example, retails around $369.

If you simply want to add touch to an existing Windows 8 desktop, the price is off-putting, especially if you're not likely to use any of it's features beyond the easily-accessible USB ports. The quality is good, and the out-of-box (before calibration) test results are impressive. However, you’ll still pay a hefty premium for touch and USB docking-station features.

If you want to set up a larger screen for your Windows 8 laptop or tablet without losing touch, Dell's S2340T could be a brilliant solution for you. It particularly suits those with tablets or ultraportable laptops, which often lack features like Ethernet or multiple USB ports that the monitor can provide.

If you can justify the price, Dell’s S2340T touch monitor is not going to disappoint you. It’s a solid monitor, with great touch support, and some truly useful ‘docking station’-style features. If it sounds like overkill for your needs, though, it most probably is.

3 and a half stars

SPECS

23-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display

LED-backlit IPS panel

10-point multitouch

HDMI and DisplayPort inputs

4-port USB 3.0 hub

USB Ethernet and audio features

RRP incl GST: $989

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