I got not one, but two monitors from LG for review last week. One was a specialised gaming monitor. The other was a lot more fun.
The gaming monitor, the LG 24GM77 (catchy!), made a lot of boasts, and included a lot of “gaming” features like promises to reduce response time, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice anything looking any smoother or faster. Aside from some punchier colours, I couldn’t see much difference between its performance and my own cheap-arse Asus monitor.
It had a pretty decent build quality though, and could also easily rotate 90-degrees in case you wanted a vertical monitor for a secondary display (or you have a SHMUP fetish).
The other monitor, though, is the one I want to talk about. The 34UC97, aka the Curved UltraWide, it is the most ridiculous display I have ever played a video game on, and that’s coming from someone who’s played Halo in a cinema.
It is 34-inches. That’s bigger than a lot of people’s TV sets. It’s also curved. And that real estate is stretched over a 21:9 display ratio, which on a TV set – where most content at 16:9 – is all but useless (only certain movies, like blockbuster epics, are filmed in 21:9), but on a monitor is a revelation.
The basic idea is that it allows you to perform functions normally reserved for a dual-display setup on a single screen. So during work hours, I could have Chrome open on the left hand side of the monitor, with Photoshop on the right, which made a lot of my work (especially the behind-the-scenes stuff) a lot easier to manage.
But whatever, that’s boring, and it’s the kind of stuff people who need two monitors probably already have two monitors for. Where the UltraWide shone was with media and games.
The first thing I did when I set the screen up was go to YouTube and fire up a movie trailer, see how it went. I chose the Force Awakens clip – yes, when it comes to the first look at a Star Wars movie, I am a hypocrite – and enjoyed the fact that it automatically defaulted to a fullscreen 21:9 display, with no cropping. While most 1080p content ended up a little blurry (the screen’s native resolution is 3440×1440), higher-res stuff looked incredible. It’s amazing the difference it makes seeing 21:9 video with no black bars.
The second thing I did was play some games. Games are the only thing you should consider buying this monitor for.
I’ve never bothered with a dual-monitor setup because the thought of monitor frames interrupting my vision makes my OCD burst into flames. The UltraWide, though, let me play games in 3440×1440 with no interruptions whatsoever, and it was glorious.
Far Cry 4 was cinematic (see above). Civilisation V was epic in the scale it could display. I’m not normally a fan of curved displays, because on TV sets – where you’re sat at a distance – I think they’re a stupid novelty. But here, at my standing desk, the screen was right in front of me, and the curves were wrapping around my peripheral vision.
It wasn’t all a glorious improvement, though. In action games and shooters, the monitor does nothing but make a game more immersive and attractive, but in stuff like strategy games, it introduces its own sets of headaches. If a game needs you to be clicking through menus or responding to prompts, it can take an eternity to get your mouse from one end of the screen to the other, which slows you down and makes it a bit of a hassle. UPDATE – Yes, you can increase your mouse speed. Which I did (my Mionix lets me switch on the fly). But in testing I found that having to constantly switch between desktop, FPS and strategy speeds was a huge hassle. THAT SAID, I was testing! I guess if all you do is play Civ V all day, this isn’t as big a deal!
That extended to my use of the display in more mundane tasks like using Chrome; accessing a tab at the top-left of the screen then responding to a pop-up on the bottom-right quickly became more trouble than the benefits of the screen size were providing.
Because of this, I actually found myself disconnecting the display for most of the day, and using it only for certain activities, like playing a first-person shooter or driving game.
Which at the end of the day leaves me torn on the monitor, which is very expensive (it retails for $US1300 in the US). For games, unless you prefer glass displays at this pricier end of the market (this has a regular matte coating) it’s almost unbeatable. Every time I go back and play Far Cry 4 on my regular 16:10 23-inch display, I get a little sad. But given the hassles involved in using it for other tasks (and that price), I can’t recommend it to everyone.
If you’re an independently wealthy PC gamer with a penchant for first-person shooters, though, knock yourself out.