I’ve been hunting for a nice little (haha yeah right!) ultrawide monitor for a while now, ever since I witnessed the displays at CeBIT 2015 I loved them. Very few people I know have one and anyone I ask usually jumped on the 4K hype train, even the sales “advisor” at a local PC World even said I should spend the money on a 4K display; well that was until I ripped him to pieces saying how he shouldn’t assume everyone can afford a £500+ graphics card to adequately handle 4K gaming.
Back on track, I have finally purchased one, it’s not the model I wanted, but I did get change from £250. The LG 29UM68(-P) is one of the more budget orientated models on the market, but don’t let it’s target put you off. It features a tasty 2560x1080p IPS panel, AMD FreeSync technology, and sRGB over 99%, it has more than enough appeal for everyone.
Why did I choose 2560×1080?
The answer is simple, practicality! Firstly, I have a very small office and two monitors side by side would be too large to fit into this room. I get most of the benefits of a multi-monitor setup without the large bezel and footprint. Yes, a 1440p or even 4k monitor would have been more beneficial but that’s where point two comes in. I loved my multi-monitor setup in my old office in games, the slightly extended and natural Field of View made for a much more immersive experience.
So let’s take a look at what the monitor has to offer (specifications taken directly from LG website):
|Color Gamut (CIE1931)
||sRGB over 99%
|Colour Depth (Num of Colours)
||8bits (6bit+FRC), 16.7M
|Pixel Pitch (mm)
||0.2628(H) x 0.2628(V)
||2560 x 1080
LG never cease to impress with IPS panel implementation, 99% sRGB, 178° viewing angle and a relatively low 5ms (GTG) response time stack this to be a pretty decent offering.
And what about the monitor itself?
If you’ve never seen an ultrawide monitor in person before, the appearance may shock you on first look. For a 29″ panel, it has the overall height of a panel around 24″, but the width of a monitor around 32″.
Personally, I’d say this monitor is targeted at the entry level and it does show that with the display input options. Just a single DisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMi 1.4 ports, AUX out and DC power.
The base is disappointing, considering how small the screen is vertical, I would have liked a height adjustable stand. This stand places the bottom of the screen just 10cm off the surface.
It does have a small cable management hook…..wow.
It does have a nice profile when installed and it does allow the monitor to tilt up to 20°.
Fully assembled, you get a small shudder as you realise the space on your desk isn’t enough.
Box and accessories
The box is very non-flashy, a focus on “economic” has taken the logistical world in recent years.
It does show off the fact it has AMD FreeSync, but I think the logo should have been bigger on the front of the box to really reel in customers.
No DisplayPort cable? Really LG?
Using the monitor is near enough the same as a standard 16:9, but you may have to position yourself slightly differently if [like me] your desk was set up perfectly to look at the centre of a 16:9.
Desktop usage is simple, you might have to drag your mouse further to get to the edges so get used to falling off your mouse pad a few times. You can comfortably fit two windows on the same screen without having to compromise and sometimes have to deal with mobile mode (shudders).
So what about watching a video, surely the weird horizontal resolution would play up here? and it does.
As you can see in the images below, the top is a standard 1280×720 video window and the bottom is a standard 1920×1080 video window. If you try to watch something on YouTube, it will usually upscale to the 1080p format, but you will still have the black bars either side. There is software available to change this, but the distortion makes for an unfavourable experience.
So what about gaming?
21:9 monitors have been touted as perfect gaming monitors, giving a multi-monitor experience without the central bezel. While this is true, expect some minor compatibility issues as 21:9 isn’t a default resolution just yet.
Game #1: Need For Speed (2015): I wanted to test this game because I’ve heard mixed reviews with scaling. At 2560×1080, the in-game (driving) scales perfectly and actually just makes it look like you’ve adjusted your viewing angle. However, the videos and menus are fixed 1920×1080 and it does detract slightly; especially if you wipe out and expect to witness it in full resolution.
Game #2: Battlefield 4: Shooters are typically where wide Field of View comes in handy, you can see slightly more to your sides which give you a slight tactical advantage. Here you gain that wider viewing angle as seen by the door, radiator and wall markings.
The monitor comes with a menu joystick style navigation. A single click opens up a sort of Apple style scroll wheel choice. The menus are then very intuitive to navigate with the joystick on the bottom of the monitor.
No matter what type of technology you buy, there’s a good chance it has a Unique Selling Point (USP), obviously offering a 5ms, 2560×1080, IPS monitor with FreeSync isn’t enough for LG. Game mode is a simple menu choice which enables a few pre-determined settings to give you a competitive edge when gaming. The two key settings are FreeSync and Black Stabilizer. FreeSync tries to sync up the graphics card and monitor refresh rate to prevent screen tearing; usual stuff. However, Black Stabilizer is a little different, it is a simple brightness increaser to brighten up dark areas of a game where an emery may be hiding to jump out. I find this setting a little pointless as most games now come with a setup brightness process to ensure your brightness level is optimum for the game.
For a bargain basement 29″ ultrawide monitor that features a respectable response time, IPS panel and AMD freeSync, this monitor is bloody brilliant.
The monitor itself has brilliant out-of-box settings, the colours are deep and true to life with no washout. I love how there is no backlight bleed either, you tend to find with larger monitors that the corners tend to darken or brighten to over-compensate.
I have a NVIDIA graphics card, so the FreeSync functionality is lost on me, but the cheapest 21:9 G-Sync monitor is around £600; so that was out of the question. The addition is great though if you have an AMD graphics card and maybe I’ll test this out in the future if I can get my hands on one (hint hint). The fact that I am using a NVIDIA graphics card doesn’t impede functionality, but I did notice a small amount of tearing on Battlefield, however, that could have been due to an improper configuration (I was constantly swapping from 2560×1080 to 1920×1080 and it was resetting the settings).
To complete this review, I had to edit a few photos. I found it incredibly easy to edit them and get, what I thought, were pretty accurate colours. The IPS technology really helps with this and the factory colour settings are very good, I wish I had a calibration tool to fully test the settings.
Game mode, like I said earlier, seems rather pointless. The two main features I took note of are likely already configured before you even start playing the game.
What I liked:
- IPS panel
- Easy to navigate menus
- Strong construction
- Non-glaring LED power indicator
- Productivity potential
- Gaming FoV increase
What I disliked:
- No height adjustment
- Glossy finish
- No included DisplayPort Cable
- I would have loved this monitor to be curved
Place of Purchase: Currys PC World — £239.99
Recommended Retailer: Overclockers UK — £249.95
There’s a reason why I listed OcUK, despite it being more expensive. Finding and having a hands-on experience with a monitor is very difficult and an ultrawide monitor can be considered niche to the point where no one knows what it is in most shops. I asked the sales adviser if I could at least open the box to check it out and the firm answer was “no” with a strict no returns policy if I don’t like it (I’ll see about that). OcUK on the other hand, will allow you to return the product, it might charge a small restocking fee (usually non-refundable postage). Why did I buy it from possibly the worst customer service and experience place in the UK? Because I’m extremely impatient and I wasn’t about to drive 3 hours to get to a good stockist.