Anyway, the first shocker was that its resolution is so good. Too good, in fact.
In fact it's optimized at 1920 x 1200 px. On a 15.4 inch screen that makes for some very small text! Maybe I'm getting old, but it was really hurting my eyes.
I tried playing with the following settings:
- Display Properties -> Appearance -> Font size
- Display Properties -> Settings -> Screen resolution
- Display Properties -> Settings -> Advanced -> DPI setting
I called Dell tech support and the guy's advice was to leave the resolution at the native 1920 x 1200, leave the font size in 1 above as Normal, and change the DPI in 3 above to 125% or 150%. The font size in 1 is just the fonts, whereas the DPI setting changes the size of everything such as icons.
So I did so, but all the text layout everywhere still looked really sloppy. I was losing hope and was considering returning the machine. I stepped out for a bit to go to the bank and grab lunch... and it occurred to me that perhaps I should try restarting... after all the DPI setting dialog explicitly tells you that some programs won't work properly if you don't. I was just in the habit of not restarting.
So when I got back home I restarted, and lo and behold things displayed quite nicely!
Hopefully this will be of use to whoever reads this.