Yesterday we looked at three of the best alternative ultra-widescreen monitors for designers – but do designers really need such a large piece of screen real estate? Simon Holmedal puts the LG 34UM95 through its paces to give you the answer.
I'm always interested in new hardware that can make my workflow a bit snappier, so when I was asked to try out LG's 34UM95 UltraWide monitor, I jumped at the chance. If nothing else it's a screen that stands out of from the crowd.
I've been using this enormous screen for a week now, and I'm still impressed by the wideness and size of the display, not to mention the slightly unusual aspect ratio of 21:9, compared to the 16:9 or 16:10 monitors that we've grown accustomed to.
In terms of workspace, its native resolution of 3440x1440px offers an embarrassment of riches, whether you're producing something or just surfing the web. As a 3D artist I found its main advantage was the amount of tools and panes that I could fit on the screen, without having to minimise and shuffle them around all the time.
Immediately my workflow was faster and more fluid. Not only that, the screen offers a much broader view of what I'm doing, while allowing everything to be visible at once.
It did take a while to get used to the unusual format, but after I'd tweaked my layouts inside Cinema 4D and After Effects, things fell into place and it was a blast to work on. I can't say if I actually got my work done quicker, or it just seemed like I did.
The screen offers plenty of useful functionality – the menu system is intuitive and easy to navigate, compared to a lot of other screens I've tried over the years.
Image quality is obviously important for anyone looking to buy a new display for working with graphics or doing any kind of design work.
I can confirm that the LG 34UM95 is very impressive in this regard, easily on a par with my Apple Thunderbolt display which I often use as a reference. It only took a few minutes to find the right colour balance and brightness settings that worked for me.
I actually came to prefer the LG display over Apple's since it doesn't have the glossy finish the Apple screen has (although happily it does support Thunderbolt – the first non-Apple monitor to do so). This is a big plus, especially if your desk is near a window. The bezel around the display is nice and thin, and the viewing angle is extremely difficult to criticise, especially at this size.
So is going ultra-widescreen a viable replacement for a traditional multi-screen setup? To answer this, you must first ask what you want out of a display.
For me, one display just isn't enough, regardless of its size. That's mainly because I use fullscreen applications, and I still prefer to have a different screen for previewing references or navigating the OS and other documents. But this is a luxury problem to have, and many designers would be more than happy using a screen this size as their one and only display.
One drawback I found with the LG in particular is that the stand it comes with has very limited flexibility. You can turn the screen sideways fine, but it's a lot harder to adjust the height.
There are only two settings for the latter and you need a screwdriver to switch between them. But this is a minor complaint considering the price and overall quality of this display.
However, if you were planning to use this screen for gaming, I would advise against it. Most games don't properly support the native resolution. This might change in the future, but since it's a fairly new format it will probably take a while before the game and market developers start to support the 21:9 aspect ratio.
Overall, I'm not looking forward to going back to my old screen and I'd definitely recommend this display to anyone looking to get extra workspace for fullscreen applications.
Words: Simon Holmedal
This article first appeared in Computer Arts issue 231, Self-Promo to Suit You – 100 pages on how to win more design work by playing to the strengths of your personality, and more.
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