Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/8057/lg-34um95-monitor-review
LG 34UM95 Monitor Reviewby Chris Heinonen on June 18, 2014 7:00 AM EST
21:9 monitors have done a good job of filling a couple niche positions in the marketplace. For someone that wants a single display to watch movies and use with the PC, the aspect ratio can work well. With many games, the wider field-of-view enhances games with more information on screen at once and a more immersive experience. Where they have fallen short is with their vertical resolution of 1080 pixels. Running two applications side-by-side makes everything feel cramped. For regular office work a 27” display for the same price has provided a better user experience.
Now we have the first 21:9 aspect ratio monitor with 1440 pixels of vertical resolution, the LG 34UM95. That provides the same vertical area as a 27” display but 3440 horizontal pixels instead of 2560. The larger size makes running two programs side-by-side equivalent to dual 20” displays at 1720x1440, or a 6:5 aspect ratio. Furthermore, the additional real estate makes it much easier to use for non-gaming or movie use. From spreadsheets to word processing, image editors to web browsers, the additional vertical space makes a large difference.
The LG 34UM95 is also the first non-Apple display to include Thunderbolt support. With three integrated USB ports you can use a single cable to drive the 34UM95 display and connected devices from a Thunderbolt equipped computer. An additional Thunderbolt connection allows you to connect another device directly to the 34UM95 as well. Unlike the Apple display there isn’t an Ethernet port, but there is integrated audio.
For traditional video cards the display includes a DisplayPort input and two HDMI ports. The HDMI ports are still revision 1.4a so they cannot support 60Hz refresh rates at the monitor's native resolution, but DisplayPort will run at 3440x1440 at 60Hz without any issues, including audio support. The monitor includes a full color management system with a 1-point white balance. As with previous LG displays, I have found that the CMS doesn’t work well and should be avoided. It improves the 100% readings but makes everything below that worse.
The 34UM95 includes two “Reader Modes” designed to make reading documents on-screen easier. In use what they do is pump up the red in the white balance. Since most displays ship with an overly-blue image by default, and people are used to that, this will help those people. If you have the display calibrated correctly, you wind up with an image that is very red and large errors in gamma and grayscale. Since these are easy to enable and disable in the menu system, if you like them it is easy to utilize it.
|Video Inputs||2x HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort|
|Response Time||5ms GtG|
|Viewing Angle (H/V)||178 / 178|
|Power Consumption (operation)||56W|
|Power Consumption (standby)||1.2W|
|Tilt||Yes, -5 to 15 degrees|
|VESA Wall Mounting||Yes, 100mm VESA|
|Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD)||32.7" x 18.5" x 6.8"|
|Additional Features||3.5mm stereo out, 2x Thunderbolt, 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 2x7W speakers|
|Limited Warranty||1 year|
|Accessories||DisplayPort Cable, HDMI Cable|
The On-Screen Display of the LG 34UM95 is controlled using a push-button joystick on the bottom of the display. The OSD itself takes up the full right-third of the display and cannot be moved. This likely isn’t an issue for most people, but if you prefer it to be on a different side or to be semi-transparent you cannot adjust it.
WIth the larger size of the 34UM95 you can better take advantage of the Split-Screen feature. The 1720x1440 resolution will hold 90% of a 1080p image on half of the display (with black borders on the top and bottom). For those who want to watch TV or a movie or play video games on half the display while using the rest for work (or other information), it is very possible to do so. However, in practice this isn’t as flexible as it could be. Video cards do not detect a proper 1720x1440 mode to use for split screen use. Even if you select something close to a 6:5 ratio, like the 4:3 1600x1200 resolution, it only uses up a small section of the screen. So while the feature works, it likely works best using both HDMI inputs, not with an HDMI input and the DisplayPort input.
The included stand with the 34UM95 is clean and sleek but lacks adjustments. You have tilt adjustments available but no height, pivot, or swivel. There are integrated mounting screws for a 100mm VESA mount if you need more flexibility. This is an improvement over the smaller LG 21:9 monitor that lacked mounting holes for a more flexible stand.
As I mentioned in the Thunderbolt discussion there are USB ports on the rear of the 34UM95. There are two USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port with a USB 3.0 Type B connector. Why they are not all USB 3.0 I am unsure, but most people don’t have a current need for multiple USB 3.0 connections. That is certain to change in the future so only having one might be a drawback. There is a headphone jack on the rear as well.
During multiple weeks of use, the 34UM95 and it’s wider aspect ratio grew on me. While I have liked the 21:9 monitors in the past for gaming, I usually felt a single 27” display wound up being better for a general purpose display. The extra vertical resolution is far more important than the extra bit of width that those displays offer. With the 34UM95 it now offers that same vertical resolution, but with far more horizontal space for running two applications side-by-side.
As someone that is used to dual display configurations, I find myself working just fine with the single 34UM95. Keeping a web browser up on one side while I work on the other side of the display works well. On a 27” display you often run into the issue where running an application full screen is too wide to be useful, and half the screen can be too narrow. The 34UM95 does a good job of splitting the difference. Running on half the screen with a web browser, word processor, or other application is a very good size. Very few things feel crowded when shrunk down to fit. And if you need to use the full screen, say with a very large spreadsheet, then you easily can.
Having a single monitor that can function as a dual display replacement is useful. If desk space is low, or you have a laptop with a single video output, running dual 27” monitors may not be an option. In this case the LG 34UM95 proves to be very useful. I have been using as a single display and have not felt the need to hook another one up. The largest downside has been games that don’t support 21:9 aspect ratios and have pillarboxing on the sides.
Of course, it also would be good if the display can out-perform a pair of 27” monitors on the bench test. The smaller 21:9 displays have done well so far, but things might change once the vertical size is the same as a 27” display.
All measurements are done using CalMAN 5.3 from SpectraCal and a custom workflow. An i1Pro and C6 meters are used to measure accurate colors and low light levels. For all test patterns I use APL 50% when possible to prevent backlight tricks and other things from skewing the results. Full field test patterns are used with the display uniformity testing.
With the backlight set to minimum the LG 34UM95 puts out 55 cd/m2 of light. That is a good number that is low enough to work for any dark environment, but not so low that you can’t use it. The brightness control operates in 1% steps giving you lots of room for adjustment. The maximum light level is 270 cd/m2. This is a bit lower than I would like to see, as direct sunlight will still wash things out, but it is decent. Most people likely will pick a setting in the middle of these and the brightness adjustment makes it easy to get the level you want.
Black levels are also very good. The minimum black level achieved is 0.0586 cd/m2 and the maximum level is 0.2724 cd/m2. The 21:9 monitors have been very good so far at getting low black levels and the 34UM95 is no exception.
These combine to give us a contrast ratio very close to 1,000:1. As this is now what I consider to be acceptable in a good IPS display, the LG 34UM95 does not disappoint.
So far, so good for the 34UM95. Let's move on to the color accuracy.
Pre-calibration I used the Warm color temperature preset and the Gamma 1 setting. This provided results closest to our targets of 200 cd/m2, sRGB color gamut, and a gamma of 2.2. The RGB balance is good overall and the largest issue is the gamma. Yellow and Green are slightly over-saturated but most of the color gamut is good overall.
|White Level (cd/m^2)||207.8||198.8||81.3|
|Black Level (cd/m^2)||0.2023||0.205||0.085|
|Color Checker dE2000||2.08||1.30||1.34|
Post-calibration the RGB Balance is nearly perfect and the gamma is ideal as well. Color errors are improved due to the more accurate gamma but the 100% yellow and green colors are still overly saturated. Our contrast ratio drops slightly but is still good. With our 80 cd/m2 target and sRGB gamma the 100% issues at Green and Yellow remain but other colors are much better.
With a white LED backlight system, the LG is limited to the sRGB gamut. Using the internal color management system you can correct the over-saturation in the yellow and green colors but I would advise against it. I did this and while 100% improved, every saturation below 100% is worse and and the color checker test is worse as well. It is nice of LG to include a CMS system, but it does not function correctly in my testing. I would much rather see a multi-point white balance, which does work correctly, to help correct for the RGB balance and gamma inside the display instead of in the video card LUT.
Post-calibration the LG 34UM95 is good but not excellent. For most people it should be just fine, but for graphics professionals the extra saturation will pose a problem. LG also provides their own calibration software but I was unable to get it to run correctly on my MacBook Pro or PC. Even when it detected the display correctly it is unable to use my i1Pro or i1DisplayPro meters to calibrate itself. Assuming this performs similar to my last experience using it, CalMAN will still provide superior results as the LG display lacks an internal LUT.
Another area where 21:9 displays have shined is in their uniformity. They have had some of the most uniform screens of anything I have tested to date. The LG 34UM95 proves to be a good performer here, but with a couple issues.
As soon as we look at white uniformity we see what the issue is going to be. The upper corners of the display are very dim in comparison to the rest of the screen. If you leave those corners out the rest of the display is very uniform with an all-white screen. The middle 60% of the display is within 3% and even the lower-corners are within 5%. It's those upper corners that are dim that cause a problem with the uniformity.
Black Uniformity is also good except for a bit of brightness in the lower-right corner. The upper corners are darker, which isn’t as much of an issue with black as compared to white. The lower-right corner has a significant rise in black level but very little change in white level. Excluding that point the rest of the display is quite good.
Other than the lower-right corner, the whole display has a contrast ratio of close to 1000:1 with a median of 979:1. The average is dragged down by the lower-right corner as you’d expect but overall the whole screen is good here.
Color Uniformity suffers as a result of the dim corners at the top of the screen. This causes all the color checker samples to miss their target luminance levels and dE2000 errors are higher as a result. As you can see in the center of the screen, uniformity is excellent, but those corners are just not good. The Median color error is only 1.27 but the average falls to 1.65 due to the poor performance in the corners. If you are doing photo work, you can use the center of the screen and be safe, which is basically a 27” display at that point, but avoid the edges due to the light issue.
It is a shame the two upper corners on the LG are so dim. Had they been closer to the rest of the display it would be an excellent performer for uniformity. As it is it only comes in as a very good display. The uniform area is still close to a full 27” QHD display in size, but that is making an excuse for those two corners.
Input Lag is still measured using the Leo Bodnar lag tester at 1080p. The LG supports 1:1 scaling modes as well as aspect and wide. In all these modes I had the exact same results so whatever scaler LG is using for this is very quick. If you run a game at native resolution or scaled you will likely see similar results.
I measure lag at a scant 18ms. For almost all gamers this should be fast enough, and with the extra wide view you’ll potentially see more of the environment when playing games. Of course, this is dependent on the game, and some games will simply crop the top and bottom rather than expanding your field of view.
Gamutvision reports that 73% of the AdobeRGB gamut is covered by the LG 34UM95. This is right by the 99% of sRGB coverage that LG specifies for the display, and what you should expect with White LEDs and an IPS panel.
The power draw is comparable to a 27" LCD despite the larger size of the LG monitor. Even with a USB hub and Thunderbolt ports, the power draw is good here considering the size and resolution.
On prior 21:9 monitors I always felt they had a niche where they worked well, but they weren't a product for everyone. Perhaps it is just using too many 27' monitors at this point, but only having 1080 vertical pixels with such a wide screen feels very limiting. With menu bars and everything else that occupies program windows, you are left with very little vertical space and a plethora of horizontal space. For gaming and movies it works very well, but for a regular monitor it leaves me wanting.
With 1440 vertical pixels, the LG 34UM95 frees me of that problem. Using the 34UM95 as my only monitor for two weeks I never feel cramped or that I am lacking the space for work. On the contrary, it does a very good job of providing space for two programs side-by-side and allows me to actually be productive in both of them. While editing this article I almost have the space to run three programs at once since they need very little horizontal space but the vertical space is far more important.
When I started using dual monitors ages ago, like most I started with a pair of 17" or 19" CRTs. Having those two screens opened up productivity but dominated space on the desk. The LG 34UM95 is a very similar design to having two of those old 4:3 or 5:4 CRTs on your desk again. The resolution is higher, and the depth is much slimmer, but the overall experience is similar. Make no mistake: 34 inches is a lot of display for a desk, but if you're used to dual monitors already that shouldn't be a problem.
The little gaming that I do on the LG 34UM95 is also very enjoyable. I have covered this more in my prior 21:9 reviews, but the extra field of view makes for a more immersive environment than 16:9. The larger screen size of the 34UM95 compared to prior 21:9 monitors only increases that. It also has a very low input lag, making it a useful choice for those that are competitive at FPS and other games.
A direct competitor here is the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It is the only other Thunderbolt display on the market but it's a few years old now. It is lower resolution and lacks the HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, USB 3.0 support, and cannot use a VESA mount without an adapter. The Apple display includes a (now outdated) MagSafe adapter, webcam, Firewire 800, and Gigabit Ethernet Ports. Given the choice of the two, I would pick the extra resolution of the LG. The contrast ratio of the LG, and the uncalibrated numbers, are superior as well.
At $1,000 you have a number of display choices. The 24" Dell UP2414Q is a 4K panel available for the same price right now that offers even higher resolution. It has the 4K limitations involving DisplayPort 1.2 and MST that I mentioned in my other 4K reviews, so it won't work quite as easily. You will also need DPI scaling on it which can lead to some OS or Application appearance issues, but those should work out over time. The main thing is you're still in the 16:9 aspect ratio, so running two apps side-by-side isn't as easy as it is with the 21:9 ratio. Dual 27" monitors will provide more space for even less money than the LG 34UM95, but they also take up far more of your desk.
If I sound like I've come away liking the LG 34UM95 a lot, I really have. It has surprised me at what a difference the extra vertical resolution makes with 21:9. It does a wonderful job as a single monitor while not impacting my ability to multitask at all. Even though I don't play many games that would utilize the extra field-of-view I would still strongly consider the LG 34UM95 as my only monitor. It performs very well on the bench, it looks very good in use, and most importantly it helps me get things done. If you've previously discarded 21:9 as a niche, obscure format, you should try out the 34UM95. It has managed to convince me that 21:9 isn't so much of a niche anymore.