Samsung C49J89 review

A fantastic 'super ultra-wide' monitor

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Our Verdict

The Samsung C49J89 is another monster 49-inch monitor with an aspect ratio of 32:9. It's a stunning display, but its lack of vertical resolution lets it down a bit.

For

  • Amazing aspect ratio
  • Good image quality
  • Excellent productivity tools
  • Flexible, versatile screen splitting

Against

  • Only 1080p vertically
  • Won't fit some desks

We love a good ultra-wide monitor here at TechRadar, and the Samsung C49J89, which comes with a ‘super ultra-wide’ aspect ratio, makes most of the monitors we’ve previously tried feel rather cramped and titchy by comparison.

This is thanks to its combination of a large 49-inch screen and an aspect ratio of 32:9. In comparison, standard widescreen monitors usually have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while ultra-wide monitors, like the BenQ EX3501R, have aspect ratios of 21:9.

In fact, the Samsung C49J89 has only one rival when it comes to 32:9 aspect ratio, and that’s another Samsung monitor: the Samsung CHG90, a gaming-focused monitor with the same 49-inch screen size and 32:9 aspect ratio.

The difference between the Samsung C49J89 and the Samsung CHG90 is the latter’s focus on gamers, so the C49J89 on test here has a lower maximum brightness (300cd/m2 compared to the CHG90’s 350cd/m2), and a slower response time (5ms (GT) compared to the CHG90’s 1ms (MPRT)).

There’s also a difference in price, with the Samsung C49J89 costing a fair bit less than the Samsung CHG90.

Price and availability

The Samsung C49J89 is now available to order in the US for $1,099, in the UK for £899, and in Australia for AU$1,899. While this is pretty steep for a monitor, you are getting a lot more screen than you usually would.

It’s not the most expensive monitor we’ve tried either, and is less expensive than the Samsung CHG90, although that monitor is now seeing discounts if you shop around.

So, if the gaming-centric features of the Samsung CHG90 don’t appeal but you still want that huge 32:9 aspect ratio for working on, watching movies or doing the odd bit of gaming (or all three at once – seriously, this monitor is wide), then you could save yourself some money by going for the Samsung C49J89 instead.

Design

At first glance the Samsung C49J89 looks pretty much identical to the Samsung CHG90, with the same screen size and aspect ratio, along with a pretty much identical body and stand. It’s little surprise that the design is so similar, as Samsung would hardly have a wide selection of 32:9 monitor bodies knocking around, so it makes sense to use the same chassis.

Unless you're familiar with its sibling, the Samsung C49J89 looks like no other monitor you’ve seen, with its almost ridiculous width sometimes appearing as if it were an optical illusion – it quite easily fills your horizontal field of vision. However, the wider monitors get, the more the vertical aspect seems diminished, so here you get a very wide, yet narrow, monitor. Combined with the resolution of 3840 x 1080, which gives you the same vertical resolution as a high-definition TV, you may find the aspect ratio a bit constrictive. 

In comparison, the 21:9 BenQ EX3501R has a resolution of 3440 x 1440, and that extra vertical resolution is greatly appreciated. Of course, upping the vertical resolution of the Samsung C49J89 would likely increase the asking price dramatically, and would also make it require more powerful hardware to operate, especially if you wanted to game on it.

If you are eyeing up the Samsung C49J89 you’ll need a pretty wide desk to handle its 47.36-inch span. And, sitting in front of it, you’ll likely find yourself having to turn your head to see open windows positioned at the extremities. 

Like the Samsung CHG90 it's curved, which makes it more comfortable to take in the full screen. It has a curvature of 1800R, which is pretty pronounced – 1800R is quite common in curved monitors, but some (as well as curved TVs) go for a 3000R curvature, which is subtler. But then there’s nothing subtle about this monitor.

The screen is easily attached to the arm and stand, although you will need a screwdriver to properly affix it, and when assembly is complete you can swivel and tilt the screen, as well as adjust the height. Around the back are two 7-watt speakers, and on the bottom are the various ports. Given the vast width of the Samsung C49J89 you can imagine that there’s plenty of space for ports, and Samsung hasn't passed on the opportunity – the monitor comes with two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort, two USB Type-C ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port and an audio jack. It also has a USB Type-C upstream port, enabling you to turn the monitor into a hub.

It’s a stylish, slick, but also domineering monitor, thanks to a classy design by Samsung, and of course the sheer size of the screen.

Performance

The Samsung C49J89 has a VA (vertical alignment) panel. On paper VA panels should deliver excellent blacks, but they can suffer from having a rather narrow viewing angle, which means VA screens can sometimes appear washed out if you’re viewing them from an angle, rather than straight-on.

Due to the sheer length and size of the C49J89 there’s a good chance that you’ll be viewing at least some of the screen at an angle, but in our time with it we didn’t notice any deterioration in image quality at the extremities when sitting in front of it at a desk – the curvature of the screen certainly helps here.

The Samsung C49J89 is designed more for productivity use than for gaming, and Windows 10 does a good job of scaling the desktop to the super-ultra-wide aspect ratio. You really do get a lot of screen space to play with, and we were able to work quite comfortably with a large number of programs, apps and websites all open at once. 

However, the 1080-pixel vertical resolution does mean there’s not a lot of vertical screen space, and if you’re coming from a monitor with a WQHD resolution (2560 x 1440) you may actually find the Samsung C49J89 a bit too narrow.

However, being able to have so many windows open while only having one monitor on your desk is a fantastic feature, and image quality out of the box is pretty good. The buttons on the bottom of the bezel are shortcuts for certain features, with the first switching between input sources. The second turns on the monitor's Picture-In-Picture mode – this is an excellent feature that allows you to plug in a second source, such as a laptop, and display that screen within the main screen connected to your PC. Because of the sheer size of this monitor this is a very handy addition, and it works well.

The third button enables you to use the Samsung C49J89 as a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch, so you can have one keyboard and mouse plugged into the monitor, and the button will let you switch the peripherals to other devices you have plugged into the monitor without having to physically unplug and move the mouse and keyboard. It’s another useful feature for business users.

Behind the power button is a joystick-like button that's used to bring up and control the onscreen menu. It’s hidden away a bit, but once located it can be used to go through some of the pre-set display modes, which you can tweak to your liking.

Samsung also has a piece of software, EasySettingBox, that works with the Samsung C49J89. This software lets you quickly split the screen into multiple areas, either using one of the ready-made templates or one that you’ve created yourself. Then, when you drag a window you can place it in an area (they're highlighted in blue) and the window will expand or shrink to fit in that area. The idea with this is to make it quick and easy to arrange multiple windows, and it’s quite a handy tool, and worth having a play around with.

While unlike the Samsung CHG90 the Samsung C49J89 isn't designed primarily as a gaming monitor, there will be people who want to use it as one, with the super ultra-wide aspect ratio and 144Hz refresh rate being two compelling reasons. So we fired up a couple of games to see how it performed.

Most modern games can cope with the unusual resolution and aspect ratio of the C49J89, but you may have to tweak a few settings to get them displaying properly. We did with Wolfenstein II, and when we fired up a level the results were really impressive. The field-of-vision-spanning aspect ratio really is immersive, and if you sit in the right spot it’s almost like wearing a VR headset, as your entire vision is filled with the game. The view is so wide that you can physically move your head to look around you, rather than using the mouse, which takes a bit of getting used to but could end up giving you a real advantage in certain games, as enemies will have a harder time sneaking up on you.

The slower response time of the Samsung C49J89 compared to gaming monitors does make the gameplay feel a little more sluggish. We’ve recently been spoiled by gaming monitors with G-Sync and Free-Sync technology that combines high refresh rates with low response times for incredibly smooth gameplay, although none of them can match the sheer spectacle of the Samsung C49J89’s 32:9 aspect ratio.

If you often work over multiple monitors, and you’d like to do a bit of gaming as well, then you’ll be very happy with the Samsung C49J89’s performance. We’d love to see a version with a higher resolution (and there are now rumors that Samsung is working on one) and if you’re a competitive gamer who's conscious of input lag then a gaming-orientated monitor would be more to your liking.

Verdict

If the gaming-orientated Samsung CHG90 was a bit too expensive for your tastes, the Samsung C49J89 is a very good alternative, offering the same rare 32:9 aspect ratio for a lower price, and without sacrificing too many features.

It’s not quite as good for gaming as the CHG90, but it still puts on a good show – that super ultra-wide aspect ratio really can be breathtaking when you're playing games. It’s also got some great productivity tools that make it a good choice for business use, especially if you often work over numerous monitors, as you can now swap out those for a single Samsung C49J89.

Our only major complaint is the lack of vertical resolution – at 1080 pixels it does make things a little tight, but if you’re used to 1080p monitors you’ll love the extra horizontal space.