It’s hard to truly understand how enveloping one of the new breed of ultrawide 21:9 curved monitors can be until you’ve actually plonked yourself down in front of one. Productivity immediately increases – you find yourself zeroed in on a given task, with everything else on screen still there, but fading off into your peripheral vision. Then, when you do need to multi-task, you simply have to adjust your focus to a different part of the screen and suddenly, your next objective is right there waiting for you. In short, it’s like working on two monitors, but way better.
This is the reaction that LG’s new 34UC88 monitor inspires, with its vision-engulfing 34-inch curved screen offering an immense amount of desktop real estate – perfect for simultaneously working across multiple large windows in splitscreen or picture-in-picture mode.
Displaying at a native resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels, this IPS monitor is remarkably crisp, with a rich level of detail and colour that also makes it great for gaming. Those with AMD graphics cards will be able to take advantage of FreeSync capability, which allows the GPU to adjust its frame rate on the fly to eliminate tearing and deliver smooth motion in the 55-75Hz range. (Nvidia cards can still get some benefit, but will have to perform at a locked frame rate at up to that 75Hz refresh.)
You will, of course, need a fairly beefy graphics card to run games at that native ‘3K’ resolution -- something like a GeForce GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 480 is what we’d consider the bare minimum if you want to run with all the bells and whistles. If that’s within you budget though, then you’ll find that playing a first-person shooter like Doom with an extremely-wide view of the level is a literal game-changer — in some ways we reckon this is better than VR, as you can get an immediate benefit to your existing games. For the most part, games from the last couple of years will support 21:9 aspect ratios out of the box -- barring a few oddities like Blizzard’s Overwatch, where the developers have decided (wrongly, from our perspective) that ‘proper’ 21:9 support with the requisite expanded field of view (FOV) allows too much of a competitive advantage, so you get a narrower FOV instead.
The 34UC88 provides a number of genre-specific game modes which can be implemented to optimise gaming visuals and display-performance, plus a there’s a ‘Dynamic Action Sync’ option that helps reduce input lag.
In terms of comparative screens, last year’s XR341CK from Acer offers very similar specs (it too is a 34-inch curved display with a gaming focus and FreeSync support) and can be picked up for roughly the same price. But with Acer’s XR341CK nearly end-of-life, this LG is the clear winner if you’re looking to pick up a 34-inch ultrawide in today’s market. That said, for those who’re willing pay the premium for G-Sync support, the ASUS ROG Swift Curved PG348Q gaming monitor will give users with Nvidia cards proper adaptive-sync support (at refresh rates up to 100Hz) for around $1,779.
In sum though, the LG 34UC88 is wonderful for both productivity and gaming, offering a high quality ultra-wide experience at a price competitive for its size.