Super-wide monitors - the next big thing?

Written by Antony Leather

July 11, 2013 | 08:24

Tags: #gaming-monitor

Companies: #apple

The whole 16:9 vs 16:10 argument is a long-raging one. However, there’s a new kid on the block which looks set to create a whole new camp in the exchange of words over which aspect ratio is best. Super-wide monitors are still pretty scarce, with just a handful available at the moment, but before 16:10 fans dismiss them as stretched heresy, take it from this Dell U2412M owner that you shouldn’t knock them till you’ve tried one.

[break]I was lucky enough to provide a home for an LG EA93 IPS-LCD for a couple of weeks recently. The box gives away its extreme aspect ratio immediately. My initial concerns were the lack of height adjustment and going back to 1080 vertical pixels from a 1,920 x 1,200 monitor, but while you do lose some vertical space, something struck me immediately about just how much you gain with one of these 29in monitors.

Having two windows side by side with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,080 looked so much better on the LG than it did on my 16:10 Dell or even compared to 16:9 monitors I've used. Each window was a much more natural ratio, and a few weeks later when I switched back to the Dell, it seemed very, very square, with two windows looking quite narrow.

Super-wide monitors - the next big thing? *The iPhone 5, IOS 6 and Jailbreaking
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From a productivity point of view, the LG won me over. I do a fair bit of photo editing but I didn’t find it as limiting as I thought I might, if at all, especially as it's a relatively capable IPS screen too. My fetish for photo merging and creating massive panoramic images meant I literally spent an entire afternoon just gaping at the desktop, finally able to see these images in their true aspect ratio except this time they filled the screen.

Super-wide monitors - the next big thing? *The iPhone 5, IOS 6 and Jailbreaking
Click to enlarge

Movies were a clearly a bit of an issue though. While many of the biggest blockbusters are shot in 21:9, plenty are also 16:9. As such black bars at the edges where 1080p dropped off were pretty evident, though no less so than black bars top and bottom for 16:10 monitors.

The biggest test of all, though, is of course gaming.

I had concerns about compatibility with the resolution, but even elderly games seemed to detect the screen resolution correctly although one or two needed some tweaking. Flight sims such as DCS: A-10C Warthog and Microsoft FSX looked fabulous, with a huge amount of extra scenery on show.

Super-wide monitors - the next big thing? *The iPhone 5, IOS 6 and Jailbreaking
Click to enlarge

World of Tanks was equally good, with the extra lateral space making a significant improvement to scenery and combat. First person shooters were okay, although with UI elements sometimes scattered right round the edges of the monitor it could leave them a bit out of eye line.

Super-wide monitors - the next big thing? *The iPhone 5, IOS 6 and Jailbreaking
Click to enlarge

Overall, the immersion you get from a 29in super-wide monitor is pretty staggering. The seamless display felt much more natural than any three-screen setup I've tried and despite the extra pixels, my GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB was more than up to the job in the games I played.

As you might expect, though, they don't come cheap. You're looking at around £400, which is twice the cost of a good 1,920 x 1,200 monitor and the same price as a 27in 2560x1440 IPS display. Most of the current models lack height adjustment too, although oddly I didn't find this a massive issue, which I normally do. If I had £400 to spend on a new monitor, for me it would be a tough choice between a 27in 2560x1440 monitor and 29in super-wide one.

What are your thoughts on super-wide monitors? Let us know in the forum.
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