Brightness And Contrast
To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.
Today’s comparison group includes the only other curved display we’ve reviewed: LG’s 34UC97. We also have its flat ultra-wide 34UM95. Rounding out the lineup is BenQ’s 32-inch BL3200PT, ViewSonic’s VP2780-4K and NEC’s EA244UHD. All the monitors fall in the $800-$1000 price range.
Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level
It’s difficult to get torch-like brightness from a 34-inch 21:9 monitor, but the U3415W offers more output than both LG screens. If you want a display for outdoor use, the ViewSonic is one of the brightest we’ve tested.
The LG-manufactured panel used by Dell offers a decent maximum black level of .2926cd/m2. LG’s curved screen edges it out just a bit, but if you want truly deep blacks, look no further than the VA-based BenQ BL3200PT.
The U3415W tops our preferred contrast level of 1000:1. It’s using a slightly revised version of the part from LG’s 34UC97, but as you can see, performance is nearly identical. Of course if all monitors could use AMVA parts like the BL3200PT, the world would be a happier place.
Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level
Dell offers a tremendous backlight range of 286cd/m2. You’ll need a completely dark environment to take the brightness down to minimum. For 50cd/m2, set the control on level nine. 17.5739cd/m2 is really dim.
With such a low backlight setting, the U3415W posts an even lower black level than the BenQ. That’s really dark, and one of the lowest measurements we’ve ever recorded.
Contrast stays fairly consistent throughout the backlight’s entire adjustment range. We’re glad to see that more and more monitors retain their contrast levels at all output values. It’s getting pretty hard to find one that doesn’t, at any price.
After Calibration to 200cd/m2
Since the U3415W is so accurate in its Standard picture mode, we didn’t make any further calibration adjustments for this test aside from setting the output level to 200cd/m2. That’s a value that works in typical office environments. You can see how the uniformity compensation ups the black level by 33 percent.
This is reason enough for us not to recommend the U3415W’s uniformity compensation feature. Contrast is reduced by almost half. The result is a very dull flat picture. And as you’ll see later, our sample posts excellent uniformity numbers without any help.
ANSI Contrast Ratio
The ANSI contrast result drops a little from the on/off figure mainly due to a slight hotspot in our sample’s upper left corner, which raises the black level in that zone. Otherwise, this result would have been much better. Still, we can’t argue with 947.5:1 — that’s solid performance.