Dell S2418H – 24″ HDMI/VGA “InfinityEdge” Monitor Review

With so many 4k, retina and ultra-high-resolution displays on the market, it’s easy to forget that there’s still a healthy demand for the humble 24″, 1080p monitor, which sits upon what I consider to be the intersection of price and quality and lends itself well to building multi-display setups on a budget.

Prices for 24″ 1080p displays run the gamut from less than £100 to over £400 placing the S2418H, an HDR touting, InfinityEdge sporting display which will set you back £260, slightly above the middle; read on if you want to know whether it lives up to its premium pricing.

Build Quality & Stand

The Dell S2418H in no uncertain terms bears the sort of stand that the LG 38UC99-W should have shipped with. Hewn from solid metal, it runs gracefully down to the desk, sweeps around, and climbs back up again in a robust loop unlike anything I’ve seen before on a Dell monitor.

It clips into the back of the monitor with a snap and holds securely, offering enough tilt to find a comfortable viewing angle but no rotation. The whole bottom of the stand is covered with one larger rubber foot, too, which is decidedly desk-friendly and unlikely to ever come loose. Incidentally this display, despite its mid/high end and business target audience, offers no VESA mounting capability whatsoever which is unusual for something that lends itself so well to multi display setups. This is otherwise forgivable since the stand itself is exceptional. Save for one thing- the lack of cable management.

Cable management seems to be a common omission from stands, but I appreciate it’s hard to balance a consumer obsession with minimalism with the need to have somewhere to conceal cables. I struggle to say how I would do it better and still keep the sleek stand. The monitor sits low enough that it’s not a huge deal, and if you’ve seen photos of my office desk setup you’ll know my battle with cable spaghetti is completely and totally lost.

The rest of the monitor is, as you would expect, plastic. It’s glossy and attractive with an embossed silver Dell logo emblazoned upon the back, and a subtler, tiny Dell badge adorning the bottom bezel. I feel the logo on the back is sufficient enough to omit the front badge since the display would have looked better with an even bezel and a totally minimal fascia, but it’s subtle enough that it’s not at all a problem.

The Display

Dell’s InfinityEdge has been doing the rounds of the XPS13 and 15 and making me pine for a laptop-lid that’s not got an inch of bezel around it. (The Razer Blade is infamous for it’s ugly thick, black border) The Dell S2418H bears the same InfinityEdge moniker and this means it’s got a beautifully thin bezel that fits neatly in to our modern world. A world where tablets, laptops and mobile phones are all becoming predominately giant screens with little flair or distraction from their content.

This effectively means that it looks fantastic, but it also has practical implications too. The front panel of the monitor is flush from edge-to-edge, denying dust any place to settle and making wiping away fingerprints (why do people always have to touch when they point?) just that little bit easier.

I ran a few of the less esoteric black level test. For comparison, the built-in display on my Razer Blade makes picking out #5 a challenge and anything below that just blends right into the background. Since it’s basically impossible for me to demonstrate this with a photo, you’ll have to take my word for it.

My observations in this respect seem to reinforce Dell’s image quality boasts and I’m pretty confident the S2418H delivers image quality befitting its place in the market.

The Speakers

The included speakers are actually housed in a separate unit which slots neatly- using rubberised grips at key areas around its bottom- into the metal stand. Individual volume buttons are provided on the speaker, which makes them easy and straight forward to get to (no negotiating the OSD for volume control here) although they’re of the push-button variety which (while often better than a rotary control for longevity) are a little slow to turn up/down.

The back of the monitor includes a pair of 3.5mm TRS connections, one for audio and one for a microphone, which will serve either speakers or headphones. Inserting headphones or external speakers wont interrupt the “integrated” speakers, either, so you can use them together, or leave headphones plugged in without any ill effect. The separate 3.5mm microphone connection seems like a throwback in the age of mobile headsets, but will perhaps prove useful for a conference-call style setup with a desktop microphone.

I can only guess why Dell opted to include an external speaker, which despite being called integrated is most definitely not, but it proves to be quite a compelling divergence from the norm of either no-sound, or terrible built-in audio save for one thing; I’m not sure you can buy this display without the speaker?

Interestingly if you glance over Dell’s product page for this display you’ll notice an image topping off the “Overview” section that shows off a triple-display setup. While I absolutely agree that the thin bezel makes this display great for such uses, why the heck would you want *three* speakers connected at the same time? To say nothing of the difficulty of configuring an OS to send sound output to three different HDMI devices at once, it just seems inherently wasteful. If you buy three or four of these displays, rest assured you’ll be tossing all but one of the speakers into the cupboard.

What’s that I hear you say? “No! I’ll re-use it with something else, just plug the 3.5mm audio jack into my p..” AHA! No you wont. The speaker addition to the S2418H includes an amplifier that requires power, meaning the connection for this would-be sound bar is actually a 5-pin mini DIN-5 connector which presumably carries power/ground and L/R audio channels. This means you can’t use the speakers with anything but a Dell monitor… well officially anyway!

The hacker in me suspects that an off-the-shelf mini DIN-5 socket, a multi-meter, a barrel jack adaptor, a 3.5mm TRS socket and a few wires will very quickly get the pins on the connector sniffed out, and a solution hacked together to power (I’m going to guess 5v or 12v) the speaker and run it with any audio source you fancy.

In summary, the separate speaker is good, physical volume buttons are gooderer, and the ability to connect any external speakers you like and remove it altogether if you don’t find the audio quality up to snuff is gooderist. I applaud Dell’s choice to go for a separate module, even if I’d rather it used a connector slightly more typical to the audio world and perhaps a USB->microUSB connection for power.

Features and UX

I have to tip my hat to Dell’s software engineers- assuming the OSD design is intentional it very cleverly blends with the start bar in Windows 10. I can almost picture them testing against what must be the OS of choice for a vast majority of their users, and shuffling their physical buttons around to achieve this effect. Intentional or not, I found it kinda cool.

More to the point, however, the OSD lines up with the physical buttons along the bottom-right edge of the screen and, at every stage in the UX, clearly labels the function they’ll perform. While it’s certainly not the best OSD I’ve used- that accolade has to go to LG for the 38UC99-W- it’s clear, clean and simple.

You wont find much need to play with it, either, out of the box I found the display settings to be perfect, although I did dial the brightness waaaaay down so I could use it in the bedroom as a TV.

The display has only an HDMI and VGA input, so there’s not much for the OSD to actually do. The VGA will, no doubt, go unused in most setups but is useful if you happen to have a VGA port spare alongside HDMI and want to build a multi-monitor rig.

Overall

Despite being a little confused about whether this is a consumer, prosumer or outright business monitor – I think it would fill all of those roles quite nicely – I find the S2418H to be a fantastic monitor with good looks and an outrageously over-engineered stand that puts the usual plastic junk to shame. It backs this up with a navigable OSD, exceptional picture quality and fairly decent speakers.

It’s not an exciting ultra-HD behemoth, but it’s a robust display that I’d be more than happy to run as part of a triple-monitor configuration. I find that my higher resolution multi-monitor setups tend to result in wasted space.