As a dedicated laptop user I am not used to using a separate monitor, but I got a chance to test out LG’s new 34” LCD monitor. This wide-body monitor was so impressive I felt like I have been missing something for years. So much so, it made me definitely want to add this display to my laptop, which already has a very decent built-in retina display. The LG made my laptop dance in a way it never danced before, while making its small display feel very amateurish.
This seems like the year of the curved screens, as more big-screen TVs and phones are now curved. Although curved TVs look very attractive the actual utility of the curve is questionable because of how far away you view the screen from. However, a monitor is by far the best place have a curve, especially with a wide screen like the LG 34UC97. Monitors are viewed from only a couple of feet away so a curve on a wider screen makes viewing it much more effective. The curve not only make its easier to view the screen, it also makes the monitor look a lot more elegant.
The size and shape of this monitor is pretty impressive. The 21:9 aspect ratio means that the screen is a lot wider than it is tall—in fact well over twice as wide as it is tall. When I pulled it out of the box I was a bit skeptical on what my computer display would look like on such a different aspect ratio, but it gave the monitor so much more versatility (more on that later). The curved shape looks elegant and is enhance further by a beautiful chrome stand. The monitor and the stand is substantial in terms of weight and build quality. The stand needs to be heavy to act as a counterweight in order to hold the fairly heavy display. It comes with excellent solid rubber pads to protect your furniture and the overall package comes together nicely into one of the nicest looking monitors I have seen.
Even the back of the monitor looks elegant. It comes with a chrome cap that covers where the stand attaches to the monitor, plus it has a sleek silver cover that hides all the connection ports, so the rear is one large smooth silver surface. The front has a very thin black bezel and the screen is a nice black matt finish so it doesn’t have any glaring reflection, which can be annoying.
The only real adjustment you can make with the monitor is tilt it up or down, which is a little disappointing since it would nice to adjust the height as well. It doesn’t come with a wall mount but apparently you one separately and use that to get it exactly at your preferred height.
Connections and Controls
The LG 34UC97 comes with plenty of connections, eight plus a headphone jack to be exact. Of the eight 2 are HDMI, 1 is a display port, 2 are thunderbolt, 2 are USB 3.0, and the last is a USB-UP port. As a Mac user it was great to see the thunderbolt connections as an option but I used the HDMI port, which was still the best option. My only complaint about the connections is that they are tucked up in the back so you cannot see the actual ports without craning your neck under the monitor. Fortunately, once you have it connected you won’t likely have to change it. The only real problem is the headphone jack is also in the back and hard to get at—it would be a lot better in the front.
The control for the monitor is a bit unique in that it is a joystick that is hidden underneath the monitor in the middle of it. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you use it few times it is pretty simple. You tap the joystick to turn the monitor on and off and tapping it again shows a circular menu on the screen. Moving the joystick right and left of back and forth picks the appropriate menu item and then the more detailed options show up on the screen and you can toggle through them. You can adjust the inputs, brightness, colours, energy management, etc.
The technology included with the display is engineered to deliver an impressive picture and from everything I viewed, it did not disappoint. It is an IPS panel with a resolution of 3,440 X 1,440 which is a little bit less than 4K quality, but it comes close. I found the contrast to be excellent—reading emails were easy as the type was always clear and had plenty of sharpness. I connected my Roku device to play directly on to the display and was favourably impressed with both how it looked with a 21:9 aspect ratio, and the picture quality was very good in HD. I didn’t have any available 4K devices to test the display but I am sure with 4K content the display would be even better.
Being an IPS panel the viewing angle I found to be excellent with no loss of clarity or colour when looking at it from the side. The viewing angle is probably less of a big deal because you will be typically be looking directly at it rather than from the side. The contrast is excellent but I did notice that when I was watching Homeland with fast action scenes there was a slight loss in clarity, probably due to it only being a 60Hz screen.
The extra features are what make this monitor really stand out. In addition to the headphone jack this monitor comes with a set of speakers with surround sound emulating electronics. LG markets it as MaxxAudio technology, which is supposed to provide a deeper bass and clearer high notes. My experience was less than what they market it as. I didn’t feel any surround affects and the extra bass is questionable. Having said that is very nice to have speakers built into the monitor as they are definitely a big step up from my laptop, but not as good as a decent sound bar.
The feature I really liked the most is the split screen software that comes with monitor that allows you to configure it a wide variety of ways. This monitor is like having two or three normal monitors in front of you because it is so big and wide, and this software will let you split the screen a myriad of ways so you can put multiple computer pages on it at once. This was awesome. My favorite split was three pages in portrait format side by side, but when working with spreadsheets other configurations were great to use as well.
The LG 34UC97 is a very versatile monitor that looks fantastic, is ergonomically effective due to the curved screen, with a great picture quality. The size is impressive because of the split screen versatility, but also looks fantastic when watching movies or other broadcasts. If you start using this monitor, you won’t ever want to go back to a regular one again, I almost guarantee it.
I understand that the LG 34UC97 is coming soon to Best Buy, within days or weeks at the very most, but can check out their other LG monitors here.