The 3007WFP's backlight uniformity was as bad as in this picture
Backlighting issues plagued the initial shipments of 3007WFPs, but not anymore

Dell, being the number one shipper of LCD panels in 2005 worldwide, was not about to be outdone by Apple. Over a year ago, Apple unleashed its flagship 30-inch Cinema Display, the largest LCD panel it had ever launched. Previously standing at 23-inches, the Apple Cinema displays gained exceptional praise from both the press and users alike. The new 30-inch from Apple only increased the excitement over Apple products and the company did not disappoint.

A year later, Dell launched its own 30-inch display, the 3007WFP. With its new display, Dell also introduced a much sleeker and more refined form for its LCD display. While it's debatable and up to the taste of the user about which display looks better, there's no doubt that Dell's 3007WFP is one of its best looking displays. Unfortunately, upon review and inspection, all was not well with the 3007WFP.

Arguably, it's advisable to stay away from first generation hardware as they often come with bugs that need to be worked out, but Dell's 3007WFP priced at $400 cheaper than Apple's display was too hot to pass for many. Besides the pricing advantage, Dell's 3007WFP was technically superior to Apple's 30-inch Cinema Display. Apple has since updated its 30-inch flagship to match Dell's specifications -- presumably using the same panel -- but still falls slightly short in features. Dell's 3007WFP however, was noted to suffer from a bad case of backlight uniformity. Because LCD panels are powered by fluorescent tubes behind the color panel, a diffuser is used to create a unified lighting area so that color and brightness is consistent across the screen. Interestingly, many 3007WFP reviews, indicated that there were severe hot-spots and brightness problems with the 3007WFP.

I purchased Dell's 3007WFP back in February, when Dell launched a 1-day special for Canadians, selling the unit at roughly $1400 USD. When I received the display and put it through some tests, I confirmed that the 3007WFP did indeed have a backlight uniformity problem -- a serious one. It was so serious in fact, that 40% of the right side of the display was significantly brighter than the left side of the screen. The problem actually becomes more noticeable as I turned down the brightness on the display.

I contacted Dell and explained to them the situation and they immediately shipped me a replacement display. I later found out that the new display I received was manufactured a month earlier than the one I currently had. While the Dell technician I spoke to informed me of my replacement's manufactured date, he was unable to tell me exactly how to tell so by serial number even though the revision number of the one I purchased was the same as the replacement Dell sent: A00. Of course, the replacement had the same issues as the one I purchased. Even worst, the controls at the front of the display (brightness up/down, power) were faulty and only worked 65% of the time when pressed.

Two weeks ago, Dell contacted me again -- which actually surprised me since I thought that all hope was lost -- and told me that they would able to ship me a brand new unit that they would confirm to be from an entirely new batch of panels. I was surprised because Dell CustomerCare had informed me that they were instructed to not ship out brand new units of the 3007WFP, and instead ship out refurbished units because "it would frustrate the customer." I instructed to check the panel prior to shipping it out to me because honestly, it's costly to ship these mammoth displays and I didn't want to waste time on another unit that didn't solve the problem. The reason was that replacement units did not fix the backlight problem -- until now.

Dell has a new revision of its 3007WFP, called A01. I now have both a A00 and A01 unit and can confirm that the new A01 unit significantly improves backlight uniformity. The severe hotspots that were noticeable on A00 units are now gone with the A01 unit. Customers who purchased Dell's 3007WFP when it was first introduced at the beginner of this year are slightly out of luck, as Dell will not be able to ship brand new units.
  • 3007WFP A00 - Backlight uniformity problem
  • 3007WFP A01 - Backlight uniformity excellent
Despite all the troubles however, I'm pleased to say that Dell has updated its display and the severe problem that existed before is now gone.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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