Dell Ultrasharp U2421E review

Due to an increase in home working and the limited space that entails, smaller monitor designs are making something of a resurgence. Where once bigger-is-better was once the mantra, now considerations like blue-light protection, power consumption and efficient use of space are given greater weight in monitor choices.

Dell, never one to ignore a developing opportunity, has produced the stylish Dell UltraSharp 24 (U2421E) to address this market. A USB-C Hub Monitor big enough for general office work and perfect for those who use a laptop as their daily workhorse.

Did Dell get the mix of functionality and performance right with the U2421E, or could it have been better?

Out of the box

Dell deserves a gold star for the packaging alone. The tray that holds the U2421E, its support arm and all the cables uses pressure-formed cardboard and not that horrible, expanded foam so beloved by many monitor makers.

Not only is this better for the environment, but this option doesn’t coat the display with excessive amounts of static electricity that then attract all the dust from the room within hours.

Along with the display, you get a two part-support arm that can be assembled and attached to the screen without tools and a good selection of cables.

Gone is the era where an included HDMI cable impressed us, but then that isn’t included. What is are a DisplayPort cable, a Type-A to Type-C USB and a dual-ended USB Type-C cable.

There were also two power cords in my box, one for the US and one for the UK. Dell is usually very attuned to local socket differences, so I would expect at least one power cord that fits the outlets in your home or office.

Getting the U2421E out of the box and assembled is remarkably easy, as the panel only weighs 4kg, and joining it to the support is a tool-free operation.

The support arm and base are both plastic covered but have metal internal parts making them sturdy enough to support the display. They also provide plenty of adjustment with 21 degrees of tilt backwards and 5 degrees forward, 40 degrees of swivel and 90 of pivot. The pivot, or twist if you prefer that word, is combined with 15cm of vertical travel that enables the U2421E to be used for portrait mode.

Other aspects of this design that I like include an internal PSU, avoiding the annoying proprietary power brick that is usually the first point of failure. Dell also resisted the urge to put a cover over the inputs, making cabling remarkably easy if you use the pivoting feature to improve access.

Features & Design

I’ve concluded that all monitors have the designer’s thinking embedded in them intrinsically. Presumably, as a start point, each is given an archetypal customer definition and the resulting product represents an answer to that problem.

The mystery is that we never get to see the brief and only guess what it included based on how the design ended up. At the heart of the question answered by the U2421E is laptop use, specifically those that use one for both mobile computing and in the office.

Therefore, an essential aspect of this design is its ‘hub’, which performs the same role as a USB-C docking station.

Dell Ultrasharp U2421E ports

Connecting requires a USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-C port, ideally the charging port on the machine. With increasingly powerful laptops coming to market, offering 60W or even 85W might not be enough.

This one line can deliver 90W of power, enabling it to power the machine in use and charge the battery simultaneously.

But this connection also provides for downstream USB connections to peripherals, like a mouse and keyboard, another USB-C device with 15W of charging (a phone), RJ45 wired networking and can also carry the display data.

Via this single cable, the laptop is not only able to recharge but connected to everything it needs quickly and effectively, avoiding the need for a docking station or more complex wiring solutions.

But you can also connect any computers that have the most common video outputs. HDMI and DisplayPort are standard requirements and therefore expected, but the inclusion of DisplayPort out is an odd option that we don’t often see these days.

Dell makes a dual Monitor arm, the MDA20, that two U2421E might nicely fit. A single DisplayPort output can be connected to one and then chained to the second monitor via the DisplayPort out.

As neat a solution as that might be, it only works if the price of two U2421E is less than an ultrawide display that only has a single connection, has no frames dividing the middle of the image and doesn’t require a dual monitor arm.

Those economics don’t work, unfortunately, making this feature somewhat redundant.

Specs

The market for this design evidently isn’t gamers, as this is an IPS technology panel that can only achieve 8ms refresh in normal mode or 5ms in ‘fast’ mode. But other limitations such as the maximum 60Hz refresh and the lack of variable sync underline that there was no intention to make this panel a multi-purpose solution.

What IPS displays are good at is viewing angles and colour gamut, and the U2421E ticks those boxes at least on the paper specifications.

Dell Ultrasharp U2421E specs

Most flat monitors made these days have the same ratio of 16:9, but the U2421E has a ratio of 16:10 and a resolution of 1920 x 1200. That was a popular resolution in the early days of LCD panels, but I’ve not seen many supporting it recently.

The advantage of this resolution over more conventionally 1080p, is that it leaves additional vertical room for the taskbar without covering up any 1080p content being shown above it. The extra slice of screen real estate can be useful, although if you play a 1080p movie in full-screen mode it will end up being relegated to black bars at the top and bottom of the image.

To avoid predictable confusion, Dell placed an orange plastic plug in the DP-out port, so users wouldn’t insert a DisplayPort cable in there from the computer and then wonder why they got no picture.

There is also an irritating downside to this feature. Under the rules of HDCP, ‘repeaters’ are not allowed as you might be stealing that content away. As dumb as this might all seem in a streaming world, and it is, some HDCP compliant applications may refuse to play with this screen connected.

The on-screen menu is accessible with a button joystick on the back right of the panel that’s more intuitive than a line of buttons and faster to make changes. Basic pre-sets include Game, Movie and Standard, and you can adjust the colour temperature, aspect ratio, input colour format and numerous other features that relate to the USB hub.

Top marks here for ease of use and making things you might often change, like input source, quicker to access, but offering many adjustments deeper in the menu for those that need them.

One potential issue that I experienced is that this monitor appears as an audio device, and Windows will typically make it the default output when you connect it to the computer. That device is the audio jack for headphones, as it has no integrated speakers.

I mention this for those who might wonder what happened to sound after hooking the U2421E up to a system.

Performance

Dell very kindly includes a factory generated colour calibration report in the box, showing how the monitor performed before it was shipped.

My sample had three graphics that covered sRGB Delta E over the spectrum, Gray-Scale tracking of colour temperature and finally Gamma against brightness per cd/m2 (nits).

What is odd is that on Dell’s graph, the U2421E failed to reach the 350 nits quoted on the specifications. Not that makers don’t exaggerate about their products, but in my testing this design not only reached that level but exceeded it.

Peak brightness was 365 cd/m2, above the quoted 350cm/m2, and static contrast was 980:1, just a tiny bit short of the 1000:1 that Dell quotes. The uniformity of brightness is also good, with an average deviation of less than 4% from the centre, although for whatever reason, it is noticeably darker in the middle top.

However, when you push the brightness up from the 75% default setting on the OSD, you are asked if you are sure you want to do that. If operating above this level is an issue, why provide the option to select it?

More positively, the colour representation is good, but not at a level that would impress those considered to be colourists. The screen managed 99% of sRGB and 83% of P3, but only 76% of the AdobeRGB gamut. The spectrum weakness is almost exclusively on the green side, with the blue and red scope being first-rate.

For a business-orientated panel, these are solid numbers and could sway some to spend more on this design for the high quality of the representation.

Price

Dell initially gave a price of £328 for the U2421E but the official site shows an RRP of £408.59 in the UK. However, both are a little irrelevant and Dell now sells the monitor for £279.02. You can also get it from Amazon for £259.

It’s a similar story in the US where pricing has gone from $469.99 to $374.99, with a $50 Dell Promo eGift card included.

These prices are more attractive than the RRPs but there’s tough competition out there for similar monitors.

The Philips 243B1 is 1080p, similar docking station features and costs just £227.99 in the UK.

An almost identical panel to that in the Dell appears in the HP Z24n G2, which also has the USB-C features and costs just £222.97 in the UK, and in the USA, it can be bought in pairs for $499, making it less than $250 for each screen.

It might be much cheaper now, but the U2421E still isn’t an inexpensive option. Find out what other options you have in our best monitor chart.

Verdict

The U2421E has strengths but also a few weaknesses.

On the plus side, it looks professional, and the support arm allows it to pivot and tilt extensively. It’s also got decent colour representation with close to 100% sRGB coverage and 83% of the P3 colour space.

The USB-C features are also a successful enhancement as they could easily remove an expensive USB-C docking station from a system purchasing budget. However, I can’t accept the notion that it makes economic sense to buy two of these and chain them via DisplayPort, even if it is technically possible.

It is possible to source an Ultrawide screen for less than the combined cost of two of these, and that hints at the significant problem the U2421E fails to confront, cost. A short surfing session on many large online retailers will reveal several similar designs with a remarkably close specification, and most are generally less expensive.

While it doesn’t need to match or better the very cheapest alternatives, it needs to be closer to them than it currently is to make this a worthwhile investment.

Specs

Dell Ultrasharp U2421E: Specs

  • Model No.: U2421E
  • Panel Size: 24.1in (61.13cm)
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1200
  • Display Technology: IPS
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:10
  • Response Time (GtG): 8ms normal, 5ms fast
  • Viewing Angle: 178°(H)/178°(V)
  • Maximum Refresh: 60Hz
  • HDR: N/A
  • Video Ports: 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB Type-C (Alternate mode with DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.2 Gen1 upstream port, Power delivery up to 90W4), 1 x DP (Out) with MST
  • USB ports: 1x USB Type-C downstream (15W), USB 3.2 Gen1 (5 Gbps), 2x SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen1), 1x SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen1) with BC1.2 charging capability at 2A (max)
  • Other Ports: 1x Analog 2.0 audio line out (3.5mm jack), 1x RJ45
  • Webcam: N/A
  • Typical Brightness: 350 nits
  • Static Contrast: 1000:1
  • Variable Sync: N/A
  • Weight: 6.1kg (with stand), 4kg (without stand)
  • Warranty: 3 years

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Oppo Band Review

Oppo is still a relatively unknown brand in the UK, though its good-value phones are helping to change that. The Band is the company’s first wearable, alongside the Oppo Watch.

Both devices were launched almost a year ago in China, but are now available in the UK. Technically, the Band we have here is the ‘Sport’ model, as opposed to the Style which you’ll also find for sale on Amazon and other retailers. That’s not officially available from Oppo yet, but it’s essentially the same tracker with a more stylish band.

As you’d guess from the design, this is a fitness tracker that’s similar to a Fitbit and many other rivals, including the Xiaomi Mi Band 5, Honor Band 5 and Amazfit Band 5 (no, that’s not a copy & paste error – they all have the same name, such is the lack of imagination from these companies.)

Oppo’s wearable has a couple of highlights including SpO2 (or blood oxygen) monitoring, which the Mi Band 5 lacks, but the other two also have.

Given that Apple made this the headline feature of the Apple Watch 6, it’s quite surprising to find it on a fitness tracker that costs this little.

Design and features

Available in any colour you like (as long as it’s black), the Oppo Band doesn’t do much to stand out from the crowd. It has a nice, bright 1.1in touchscreen, which can show the time, your steps, the date and other basic information.

Oppo Band review UK

You swipe in different directions to navigate the menus and to change between five different clock faces. There are lots more – which you can pick in the HeyTap app for Android – but only five can be stored on the Band at any one time. (Note that the Band only works with Android, not iPhones.)

If there’s a niggle, it’s that – unlike the Mi Band 5 – you have no control over the information shown: you have to pick a face that has the data you want, such as heart rate (which isn’t a continuous readout, by the way) or your step count. There are none that I could find with the current temperature or forecast, for example.

Oppo Band review UK

The rubbery strap should fit all but the very largest or smallest wrists, but it’s a bit frustrating that you have to remove the tracker from it for charging as the strap stops the proprietary charger from attaching. That doesn’t happen with the Mi Band 5.

Oppo says the 100mAh battery will last up to 12 days, but it could be less if you receive a lot of notifications on it or have the screen on a lot. I found the claim to be accurate, however.

Oppo Band review UK

By default the screen only turns on when you tap it. You can change this by enabling the Raise to Wake option in the app so it lights up when you turn your wrist to look at it.

Fitness tracking

Just by wearing the Band, it will track your steps, calories burned and your sleep. But you can also get it to track specific workouts (there are 12 total), including running, cycling, walking, rowing, swimming, yoga, free training, and, unusually, cricket and badminton.

You have to start and stop these manually though, as there’s no automatic workout detection onboard.

Oppo Band review UK

Using sensors on the back of the device, it can also measure your heart rate on demand and blood oxygen levels but will only do these continuously when you start a workout mode or when you’re sleeping (something which, usefully, is detected automatically; you don’t have to start and stop sleep tracking).

While working out – depending upon the exercise type you’ve chosen -you can check stats such as your distance, current intensity, pace and more.

Although the Band doesn’t have GPS, it uses an accelerometer to measure steps and can track your route if you carry your phone with you by using its GPS (i.e. connected GPS.)

Smart features

Beyond fitness, the Band can do other things for you too, including waking you up in the morning, timing your pasta while it’s cooking, giving you a weather forecast for today and tomorrow, controlling music playback and more.

By default, the playback controls will appear on the Band whenever you use your phone’s music player (whichever app that happens to be.)

Oppo Band review UK

There’s also a tool to make your phone ring when you’ve misplaced it, but this could be better. For a start, it’s buried in the Tools menu, which takes five swipes and a tap to get to, then another tap to use the feature. It would be better if it was a shortcut displayed when you tap on the clock face. What you actually see when you do that is the battery percentage, step and calorie counts, and the date – you can’t even enable Do Not Disturb here, that’s awkwardly in the Settings menu.

Getting back to the Find function, it relies on your phone’s volume being turned up fairly high. If it’s quiet, you’re unlikely to hear the ringing, and it’s completely useless if your phone is set to silent. At least, that’s how it worked on the Huawei P30 Pro I used to test the Band.

Finally, there’s a Breathe app that works just like the Apple Watch’s; guiding you to inhale and exhale, and reporting your heart rate at the end.

There’s no way to use it to pay for things, which is a shame considering it works with Alipay in China.

HeyTap app

Quite a few settings, such as choosing a time for the morning alarm, are only found in the HeyTap app: you can’t set them on the Band itself.

While you can see some data on the screen, such as how long you slept last night, you’ll need the app for more details.

Oppo Band review UK

HeyTap has a clean interface but is relatively basic. It’ll give you an overview of your progress towards your step, calorie and workout goals for the day (using the ‘X’ graphic, which is also one of the Band’s faces), and you can also view historical data, by week, month and year.

In the Preferences, you can disable any of the main menu items you don’t want to have to scroll through on the Band, such as Breathe or Weather.

It’s in HeyTap where you choose whether or not to see notifications from each of the installed apps on your phone. You can’t reply to messages on the Band – or take phone calls – but you’ll know when someone’s calling you and you get a preview of messages.

Of course, getting notifications means you need to be in Bluetooth range of your phone, and thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, that range is pretty sizeable.

As well as enabling the raise-to-wake setting in the app, you’ll probably also want to turn on the Night mode, to stop the screen lighting up every time you move. That’s because screen brightness doesn’t adjust automatically: it’s either the brightness you set or it’s in Night mode.

Price and availability

As mentioned at the start, the Oppo Band costs £39.99 from Amazon. That’s a great price for a fitness tracker with a good OLED screen and the ability to monitor SpO2 levels.

But it’s £10 more expensive than the Mi Band 5, so unless you specifically want to monitor blood oxygen levels, Xiaomi’s tracker is the obvious choice. And even if you do want that feature, the Honor Band 5 costs £39.99 with support for this type of tracking, as does the Amazfit Band 5.

You’ll find other options in our roundup of the best fitness trackers.

Verdict

Aside from the few foibles mentioned above, the Oppo Band is a perfectly decent fitness tracker. The problem is that its rivals have offered the same features (and in some cases a few more) for a long while now, and Oppo hasn’t done anything to elevate its Band above all the others.

Part of the issue could be that it’s not actually new: it’s been available from Chinese retailers since June 2020. The Oppo Watch – a smartwatch based on Google’s Wear OS – is arguably the better of the company’s two wearables, so it’s well worth taking a look at that instead, if you’re after a piece of Oppo tech on your wrist, specifically.

Specs

Oppo Band: Specs

  • Fitness tracker
  • 1.1in colour AMOLED (126×294 pixels)
  • 5ATM water-resistant
  • heart-rate monitor
  • SpO2 monitor
  • 100mAh battery – up to 12 days battery life
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Black band, adjustable 130-205mm
  • Compatible with Android 6.0 or later

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Start gaming in style with $400 off this luxurious Razer Blade laptop

It’s hard not to look at Razer’s luxurious Blade laptops and not be a little bit envious of their sleek design, excellent keyboard, RGB lighting, and solid specs. But today, you can score a Razer Blade 15 at a good price after a deep discount. Amazon is selling a version of the Razer Blade 15 for $1,100 with a Core i7 processor, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics, and a blazing-fast display. That’s a massive $400 off the MSRP, and another $200 off the laptop’s recent $1,300 sale price. This is the lowest price it’s ever sold for by far.

We haven’t reviewed this specific notebook, but we generally like the Razer Blade lineup. This PC features a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate. The processor is an Intel “Comet Lake” six-core, twelve thread Core i7-10750H. The GPU is not an RTX model, meaning it lacks more advanced features like real-time ray tracing and Nvidia’s DLSS technology, which require specialized hardware built-i. Nevertheless, pairing the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with a 120Hz 1080p display should provide an excellent triple-A gaming experience.

This configuration of the Razer Blade 15 also includes 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an empty slot for an M.2 “gumstick” SSD. (Our guide to the best SSDs can help you find a good model if you want to expand the storage.) Since this is a Razer laptop, it offers customizable Chroma RGB back lighting for the keyboard, and a CNC anodized aluminum unibody frame.

Overall this is an excellent laptop that looks great and promises fantastic performance, for hundreds less than it usually costs.

[Today’s deal: Razer Blade 15 Base Model for $1,100 on Amazon.]

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

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