Pretty much everyone who has used a PC—whether that’s for work, playing video games or just casual web browsing—can agree that the bigger the monitor, the better. Who wouldn’t want to see content on a bigger screen, or to be able to fit more content on at a time? The arguments start with the age-old question of two monitors, or one really big monitor (a topic explored recently by Steven Hill). A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to test out the LG 29WK500 29-inch UltraWide monitor, a model that makes a strong case for going with the “one really big” monitor option.
Unboxing and setup
This was an extremely easy monitor to unbox and set up, especially considering the fact that there’s a 29-inch panel involved. I’m still scarred from the days of unpacking 20-inch Apple ColorSync displays that weighed 78 pounds (yeah that dates me), so I’m constantly surprised by how light the current generation of displays can be. In this case, the display is packed flat for easy access and weighs just over 10 pounds (4.7 kg).
The ArcEdge stand lends a very modern and minimalist look, while providing plenty of stability. Assembly is a matter of connecting the base to the stand with an integrated thumbscrew, then sliding the panel into a notch in the stand and securing it with two screws. Set a plastic cap on top to hide the screws and you’re good to go. It took a Phillips screwdriver and all of two or three minutes to assemble.
From there, plug in the power and connect to your PC or laptop using the HDMI cable. LG includes a DVD with software for split screen and picture-in-picture capabilities, but you can use the monitor without installing those extras.
When it came time to power it up, I was stumped for a few minutes. There was no obvious power button anywhere. I finally figured out it’s housed on the bottom of the monitor and it’s not just a simple on/off switch. Instead, there’s a nub (kind of like a ThinkPad TrackPoint) that you move to navigate through onscreen menus, as well as turning the monitor on and off.
An affordable, ultra wide IPS display means a few compromises
The LG 29WK500 uses a high quality IPS panel that offers advantages like 99% coverage of the sRBG colour spectrum, wide viewing angles, 5ms response times and 2560 x 1080 resolution. Plus it’s really big, at 29-inches.
To keep the cost affordable with such a high quality picture, that means a few compromises had to made.
Inputs are limited to a pair of HDMI ports, although LG does include an HDMI cable in the box (which is a nice touch). Most computers and laptops these days have HDMI output but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need an adapter. There are no USB ports and no integrated USB hub. If you want more ports, you’ll have to buy a USB hub … There is also no fancy cable management, although with most setups having just two cables—power and HDMI—it doesn’t take much effort to hide them. The bigger issue for some people may be that the monitor also lacks built-in speakers. If you’re looking for a monitor that offers an upgrade to the tinny speakers in your PC, this isn’t it. That being said, there is a 3.5mm audio out port and you can use that to plug in headphones or a powered speaker system.
Finally, adjustment is limited. No rotating to portrait mode, no height adjust and no swivel, just tilt with about 10-degrees of motion. For most setups, this will be sufficient to get the job done.
That’s it on potential “gotchas,” it’s all good from here on in.
LG 29WK500 29-inch UltraWide monitor key specs
A huge boost in productivity
For casual computer use, an ultra wide monitor like this one is overkill. Unless you want to check in on Facebook while also playing a YouTube video, without having to shrink both down to small windows.
But when it comes to getting work done, the form factor is a huge productivity boost. The ability have two full-sized windows side-by-side is a big win. In my case, I can easily compare two documents. Or, I can be writing in Word, with source material open beside it without having to flip back and forth between windows. It’s like having two monitors, but with a single base and a single connection so there’s less desk space and fewer wires involved.
Built-in modes (controlled onscreen using that power nub) include photo and reading, so the display can automatically be optimized for those activities. It’s flicker-free and has impressive colour reproduction, making it suitable for photo and video editing.
Ready for gaming
This monitor also includes modes for gaming. There’s one for FPS, one for RTS and a custom version. It also features black stabilization (helping to boost visibility in dark scenes) and a Crosshair option that makes targeting enemies in FPS games easier. Then there’s the 5ms response time, the vast expanse of pixels available for games that support the resolution and top it all off, support for AMD’s FreeSync technology to eliminate screen tears and stuttering.
My kids hooked up a gaming laptop and used the LG 29WK500 to play Fortnite, and it was a huge upgrade compared to the experience on a (relatively) tiny 15-inch laptop screen.
Verdict: a lot of computer monitor for the price
Not sure if the LG 29WK500 is the right choice for you? No worries, Best Buy carries hundreds of alternatives including UltraWide, curved, 4K and gaming option from all the top names in computer monitors.