Every month, Engadget features what our editors are currently into, whether it be video games, podcasts or gadgets. These are not official reviews; they’re simply our first-hand experiences. This week, Senior Editor Nicole Lee tells the tale of one of her latest pandemic purchases: a Dell UltraSharp 4K monitor.
The last time I had a monitor of my own was probably around two decades ago. I bought it when I was a college freshman, where the only computer I could afford was an entry-level Dell desktop tower. The monitor was a clunky CRT model whose brand I can’t even remember. All I can recall is that it was hellish to lug around, which proved especially painful when I moved from a dorm room to my first apartment a few years later.
Since then, pretty much all of my computers have been laptops, and therefore there was no real need for a standalone monitor. I would usually just prop my MacBook Air/Pro up on a stand, hooked up an external keyboard and mouse, and I was good to go. One of the reasons I was never that concerned with screen size is that if I ever did feel like I needed more space for work, I could just go to the office where there was usually a 24-inch monitor I could use. A larger screen for home use seemed like a luxury I didn’t need.
That all changed in 2020, when my 15-inch laptop screen was all I had. Plus, my new work desk meant putting my laptop a little bit further away from me than I was accustomed. That 15-inch screen suddenly seemed a lot smaller than it used to be. I knew then that I needed to get a new monitor eventually, if only for the sake of my aging eyes.
After doing some research (which includes checking out our own How to buy a monitor in 2020 guide), I decided on Dell’s 27-inch UltraSharp 4K U2720Q IPS monitor. It seemed to fit my every criteria. I knew I wanted a 27-inch model, and I knew it needed to be height-adjustable. I also knew I wanted a monitor with a USB-C port that can receive a display and data signal plus deliver enough power (up to 90W) to my laptop over a single cable to minimize cable clutter. The fact that the U2720Q also offers 4K HDR support was also comforting, as I knew it would be compatible with a wide array of media. It can even rotate 90 degrees and swivel on its base. Once I saw the price dip to around $500 on Amazon, I leapt at the chance to buy it.
I’ve had the monitor for a few weeks now, and I have to say I’m in love with it. I never fully realized how much of a difference a bigger display would make. For one thing, I find my productivity has actually increased as I find myself looking forward to staring at this monitor every day. It makes “full-screen” writing apps feel a lot more immersive than before and it’s great for editing photos in Photoshop. Thanks to its size, I also find it an absolute godsend for viewing multiple feeds on Tweetdeck.
I also love that it has multiple connections (though to be fair, that’s standard on most monitors these days), which include one HDMI port, one DisplayPort, two USB-A ports, and two USB-C ports. Those extra USB ports make it possible for me to charge multiple items as well as plug in my Blue Yeti and SD card reader without having to find an appropriate dongle.
Last but not least, I have finally come to admit that I do actually just love having a big ol’ screen on which to watch videos. Sure, I’m mostly using it to watch YouTube videos of board game reviews and cooking shows, but I still enjoy it a lot more on a bigger, brighter screen. I especially like that I can also use it to watch exercise videos, as I often use my office as my home workout space. With all of the above features and then some, I don’t think I could ever go back to using just my 15-inch laptop screen again, at least not while I’m at home.