LG UltraWide 34UM95

LG: The LG UltraWide 34UM95. The high tech industry seems to love attaching the word ‘ultra’ in front of everything: Ultra HD, UltraWide, Ultrabook. (Don’t forget Ultraman!) UltraWide is LG’s marketing-speak for 21:9, which is the aspect ratio a lot of feature films use. Have you noticed black bars on the top and bottom when you watch movies on your 16:9 smartphone? That’s because feature films are ultra wide.

A typical high end 16:9 monitor sports 2560×1440. Stretch it out to 21:9 and you get 3440×1440, and that’s what the 34UM95 has. The 21:9 aspect ratio will undoubtedly be great for watching 21:9 feature films and games, but I think ultra wide monitors can be a great replacement for multiple monitor setups too. Instead of having three 1280×1024 monitors you can have almost the same display area with three 1146×1440 windows on the 34UM95. Or instead of having two 1600×1200 monitors you can have two 1720×1440 windows. Having a single large monitor also means no thick bezels in between monitors, less power cables, less DVI/VGA/HDMI cables, less visual clutter, and less power consumption.

Other specifications include a terrific viewing angle (178/178 left-right/up-down degrees) thanks to it being an IPS LCD, 8-bit pixels for 16 million colors, and the surface is treated with anti-glare and a 3H hard coating. The last bit of good is the color gamut of 99% of sRGB. sRGB is the color space most cameras use, what’s generally used for printing, and most of what you see on the Internet. The 2009 17-inch MacBook Pro, which was touted as having 60% more color space than the previous generation, is what I’m using to type this post; it sports 72% NTSC or about 100% sRGB. Just because a display supports 100% Adobe RGB, a much larger color space, does not mean the graphics on the Internet, your smartphone, your point-and-shoot, your printouts at CostCo, Target or Walgreens will.

LG also claims the 34UM95 can display 1 billion colors. That’s partially true. The sub-pixels are not 10 bit; they are 8 bit: 256 (2^8) levels of gray multiplied by itself three times for each of the three sub-pixels equals about 16 million colors. LG uses FRC or Frame Rate Control to dither the grays to make each sub-pixel act like it is 10 bit, for a grand total of over 1 billion levels of gray (2^10 is 1024 and then to get all the grayscale combinations: 1024x1024x1024). Add in a color filter on top of those gray levels and you get color.

The LG UltraWide 34UM95 is a fantastic monitor for watching feature films, gaming, and work, if you can afford it. The 34UM95 will be released on April 30, 2014 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for US$1484.65. (Amazon affiliate link.)

PS: This 34-inch display is marketed as a monitor, which sounds crazy to me because the largest display we have in our home is a 34-inch Sony XBR CRT TV. Yes, it is ancient technology and millions throughout the world are kicking their CRT TVs to the curb and replacing them with LCDs, but I must tell you: there is not much out there that can compete with the picture quality of a Sony XBR CRT TV. I digress. The reason why a 34-inch display can be marketed as a monitor is because our visual system looks for height to figure out if it is big or not. A 21:9 34-inch monitor doesn’t look any bigger than a 27-inch 16:9 to us because both the 34-inch and 27-inch is about 13 inches tall. Big, but not really.