LG’s super-wide, highres IPS LED monitor

Nearly three feet of desktop make this the ultimate gaming monitor

A Christmas surprise arrived in the Mount Tiburon Testing Labs: a new wide high-res IPS LED monitor from LG. This monitor is going to be shown at CES, and it will very likely change the way people think about gaming monitors. So what’s so special about this monitor?

  • Wide field of view—the more you can see, the more you can shoot 
  • High-contrast IPS display 
  • No-glare (not shiny) screen 
  • Input for every high-speed high-bandwidth source available, including Thunderbolt
  • Best price/PPI ratio 

HALF LIFE 2 Episode 2 full screen on Sharp PN K321 32-inch monitor.

 

HALF LIFE 2 Episode 2 full screen on LG 34UC97 34.5-inch monitor.

What is it? 

The LG 34UC97 has a 34.1-inch diagonal screen, is 32.5 inches wide (31.5 inches visible) and 14.5 inches tall (13.3 inches visible), giving it a cinematic aspect ratio of 21:10 and a display area of 419 square inches. 

The screen resolution is 3440 x 1440, which works out to a PPI of 109.4. 

For the sake of comparison, we compared this monitor to the 32-inch 4K monitors now in the market, such as the Dell UP3214Q and the Sharp 32-inch 4K Igzo. We also tried the monitor out with a Macbook Air to see what difference the Thunderbolt makes. 

The screen resolution of the new LG 34UC97, with its PPI of 109.4, is actually 75.6% of the 32-inch 4K Dell UP3214Q, which has a PPI of 144.7, a 426-square-inch display area, and costs almost twice as much; but in this case, numbers don’t tell the whole story. 

Wide field of view 

Look at the two images on the following page:one on a Sharp 32-inch 4K Igzo monitor, and the other on the LG 34-inch 60% 4K IPS monitor. You can easily see the difference IPS makes. IPS (In-Plane-Switching) is a technology for LCD displays that offers users wider viewing angles and bolder colors by allowing more light to pass through the panel. 

Now that we have 32-inch monitors like the Sharp and the Dell, I’m happy to say 4K gaming has arrived, but as it turns out, 4K may not be the perfect format for gaming. Although I appreciate every PPI I can get, in my opinion, in gaming, especially a first person shooter  (FPS), FOV is more important. 

The cinematic aspect ratio with its wider FOV really changes the feel of game play and makes it more immersive. 

Contrast 

Equally important in gaming is the contrast ratio—higher is better. The Sharp PN K321 has an 800:1 static contrast ratio, the Dell 32-inch UP3214Q has 1000:1 static (dynamic 2,000,000:1), and the LG 34UC9734 has 1,000:1 static (dynamic 5,000,000:1). Dynamic contrast (DC), also called advanced contrast ratio (ACR) and various other designations, turns down the backlight lamp while proportionately amplifying the transmission through the LCD panel. This gives the benefit of realizing the potential static contrast ratio of the LCD panel in dark scenes when the image is watched in a dark room. It could be compared to HDR (high dynamic range) approaches, and again, bigger is better.  

Gamut  

With 4K and near-4K monitors came 10-bit color. The 4K panels are na-tive 10-bit panels capable of processing a 10-bit signal from an appropriate graphics board. The Dell and Sharp 4K Igzo monitors have a native sRGB color gamut. The Dell UP3214Q, covers the wider Adobe RGB gamut. The LG 34uc97 covers 99% of sRGB but not Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB.

THE JOYSTICK is just below and behind the LG logo, and it blinks.

 

LOTS OF INPUTS including super-fast Thunderbolt.

Brightness  

The Dell UP3214Q, and Sharp PN K321 can hit 350 cd/m2 brightness, whereas the LG 34UC97 gets 300 cd/ m2. Although more is better, I don’t know anyone who runs his or her monitor at max brightness, so I’m not sure this is a negative point against the LG.   

Fast switching  

All the monitors today are capable of 5-ms switching time or better. The Dell, LG, and Sharp are 5-ms screens.  

Controls  

Monitor controls went from simple—when we had CRTs, there was a knob for each function, and there were only two or three functions. As LED monitors took over, and were digital in nature (and in fact, had to have analog-to-digital installed support VGA), digital OSDs (on screen displays), each supplier’s OSD was slightly different, the buttons were temperamental, and in general the last thing you wanted to do was have to make any adjustments.  

LG changed the interface and put a joystick at the bottom, in the middle, slightly behind the bezel. You press and hold down for a second to turn it on. Then if you press it again, a turntable like display pops up and you can choose which function category you want by pushing left-right, back-forward.  

You can easily control the functions of the monitor by pressing the joystick button or moving it left or right with your finger.  

There’s also a headphone jack and a volume control on the UI.  

Inputs 

One of the features of the monitor is that you have a selection of inputs, including two Thunderbolt inputs (20 Gb/second each), two HDMI (supporting and side-by-side viewing), and one DisplayPort 1.2 port. There are also three USB 3.0 inputs: two type A and one type B.  

When connecting both Thunderbolt ports to two separate computers, the monitor will only recognize the computer that is connected first. The second Thunderbolt port can be used as a daisy chain for external storage devices or ad-ditional monitors.  

Thunderbolt 

As mentioned, the LG 34cu97 has two Thunderbolt inputs. We connected a Macbook Air to the monitor as an extended desktop via Thunderbolt, and it was flawless. The Mac stayed at its maximum resolution (1440 x 900), and the LG ran at its maximum resolution (3440 x 1440).  

The setup was as easy as could be: plug in the cable, and Apple software did the rest. The Thunderbolt technology was wonderful: no lag, no tears, rock solid fast.  

A MACBOOK PRO with 16:9 screen driving LG monitor with 19:10 screen via Thunderbolt.

 

Split screen  

You can connect two different devices to the display. Once connected, content from each device can be viewed simultaneously and independently of one another. The monitor has a split-screen menu with eight combinations available.  

The balanced selection gives you a 1:1 ratio, which squeezes any text you look at if it’s full screen. Only if I was interested in impressing my friends and family with how up to date and cool I am, which I am interested in doing. So yes, I would pay a bit more—this year. 

Does the curve help with peripheral vision? I could not see or feel any direct benefit. But, there is a subjective quality to it. It actually does feel better, closer. It’s hard to describe the effect. 

The monitor might be a bit pricey for some at $1,299, but if you’ve got the budget for a 4K, then you can afford this. 

I love this monitor and highly recommend it.