LG 29EA93—21:9 in Daily Use

With the 29EA93 unpacked and set up, there are three main usage scenarios I want to test out: Daily use, Gaming, and as a video display. For daily use my main concern is that the wider horizontal space won’t be used as well as possible because applications don’t take full advantage of it, or that the vertical space will feel cramped. To help arrange your applications on the 29EA93, LG includes a utility that will automatically re-arrange your windows to be any combination of 2 to 4 on the screen at once. You can have two windows side by side, one large window on the left and two half-height windows on the right, or four quarter-sized windows. I found the side-by-side method works the best, in effect providing me the space of dual 1280x1080 monitors. This is right around a 6:5 ratio for the two windows, and most programs do a good job of utilizing that space.

Running a web browser and MS Word at the same time worked well, or Word and Excel. The nice advantage over dual displays is that with a larger Excel worksheet to deal with I can quickly resize it to the full screen, and then shift back to a split desktop once I am done, all without having a bezel in the middle. Dual display desktops seem to be increasingly common now, but there are certain things that two smaller displays can’t do as easily as one larger display can. Similarly, Windows 8's ability to dock a Metro application to the side of the desktop works well with the 21:9 ratio. You then still have what for most people is a normal width desktop, but you have another program running at the same time on the side.

It wasn’t perfect as a desktop display though. Since it doesn’t pivot, you have no way to increase the vertical space if you want to try to fit a whole portrait page on the screen. A traditional 27” display with a 2560x1440 resolution can either fit more of the page vertically when split, or can often rotate to display it in portrait mode. There is no way to increase the vertical space past 1080 pixels on the LG and for many that isn’t enough space. Additionally, while the extra width means that your entire field of view is basically filled with the display, that isn’t always desirable when trying to work on objects at the limit of your FOV. With a narrower monitor you might not have your whole FOV filled, but you might also be more likely to see a mail notification pop up, or clearly see both applications that you are working on at once. It’s a different display format, but for daily use I probably find myself wanting the extra vertical resolution for work.

For gaming, the 21:9 format is a different story. I think of it more as an alternative to Eyefinity or other multi-panel gaming setups, where one might not be able to have multiple monitors but still want that feel. When firing up a game that uses the full screen, it really does take up my whole field of view and feel more immersive. Whether this is due to the mental similarity to a large format film or just because of the wider angle, it does a very good job of pulling me into the environment. Compared to Eyefinity or a larger 27” monitor, there are fewer pixels to render, potentially letting me get away with a less expensive or powerful graphics card than those other options would require. I personally enjoyed it for gaming, and found the different aspect ratio to be a benefit here.

Finally, movies are what a 21:9 screen is designed around. Depending on what types of films you enjoy, you may have very few cinemascope films or you may have mostly scope films. Watching these on the 29EA93 there are two ways to view them and use the whole screen offered. First, you can use the internal zoom mode on the 29EA93 to stretch the image vertically and horizontally to take up the whole screen. Second, if your Blu-ray player or other source supports an Anamorphic stretch mode that you would use with an anamorphic lens, you can apply that here and then the 29EA93 only has to stretch the material horizontally. The latter mode would likely produce the best image, as typically only high-end players and electronics support those modes, and are likely to have a better scaler in them than in the 29EA93.

Watching Drive, the film was more enjoyable when freed from black bars that distract from the film at hand. For films I had ripped to my NAS I was able to adjust the settings in VLC to get them to play back cropped correctly as well. The main issue when watching films on the 29EA93 is now the size of the display, as it is fairly short though 29” diagonal. As immersive as it becomes to not have black bars at the top and bottom, you do find yourself wishing for an even larger image to watch from a distance. If you are mostly watching your films at your desk or very close to the 29EA93 then this will be fine, but it is too small for me to enjoy from more than a few feet way for regular film watching.

LG 29EA93: Introduction, Design and OSD LG 29EA93 - Brightness and Contrast
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  • Reflex - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    Seriously, that was one of the worst movies I've seen in a while. Ryan Gosling can't act his way out of a wet paper bag, and the plot was nonsensically ridiculous with some truly idiotic characters.

    I like artsy movies but I did not get the acclaim that movie recieved.
    Reply
  • TegiriNenashi - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    Why blackbars on 16:9 screen? Just crop that ridiculous 21:9 to 16:9, which is more than enough wide already. Oh, you are afraid to loose some very important action happening on the sides?

    It is Hollywood, not display industry, that is desperately behind the times clinging to that ancient 2.37,2.40,2:35 (they can't even make their mind themselves for the exact figure). Lately, there is some sanity coming back, and many blockbuster movies shot in 16:9 OAR. They have to: to achieve maximum 3D effect it's better to fill in the entire field of view, and this is not possible with embrasure view. To summarize, we'll see slow and agonizing death of 21:9 in next 5 years.
    Reply
  • cheinonen - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    The ratio for CinemaScope has changed over time, for a number of reasons, but it's not a random number:

    2.55:1 - Original size with magnetic stripe for audio
    2.35:1 - Switch to analog optical audio track that takes up space on film
    2.39:1 - Switch in 1970 to smaller gate size to hid splices in the negative

    2.40:1 is what many 2.39:1 films are cropped to for home video releases (a difference of 3 pixels vertically). 2.37:1 is what 21:9 monitors wind up being as they use common sizes from other displays (1080 pixels high, 2560 wide like 27" and 30" displays).

    Cinemascope ratios aren't close to dying, and will be around just as much in 10 years as they are now as they still offer something that most people can't get at home.
    Reply
  • TegiriNenashi - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    I must give LG a credit: take some defective 30" 2560x1600 panels, cut top and bottom and resell it as "new" "innovative" product...

    The industry moves in bizarre ways. Take that crippled 21:9 58" Vizio. It is passive 3D, so it's half of the resolution vertically. That's right, they have 540 vertical pixels, and 5(!) times more pixels horizontally.
    Reply
  • ReaM - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    No movie will ever be shot in 16:9, because 16:9 is aesthetically bad. It looks bad. It does not have that "magic" movie feel, which is basically 24 frames per second and 2.39:1.

    I for example don't watch cropped movies. It is for aesthetical reason that they use a format that wide. The frame looks different, there is more story told in each frame and there is a lot of useless detail missing that otherwise would be there (like a lamp overhead). You can do a lot more in 2.39:1 than in 16:9.
    Reply
  • radbeard - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    I recently started using a 29'' 21:9 display from the Dell Ultrasharp series. Some of my experience differs for this reason (minimal light bleeding and a stand that does allow the screen to move vertically), but it is largely a similar experience to this LG display.

    This monitor, and aspect ratio, are near-perfect for a specific set of functions and entirely wrong for most mainstream home usage.

    For movie watching, you are probably better off with a cheap and large 1080p 27'' panel. Most content is this, or nearly this, aspect ratio and the screens are less expensive.

    For games a true 2560x1440 monitor offers a larger display area, and is preferable.

    For web browsing a 21:9 monitor gives you an enormous quantity of dead space, and the same experience as a 23'' 1080p monitor.

    Where the 21:9 shines, and is quickly becoming indispensable for me is at-work productivity. As someone that is always working with 2-4 different files (pdfs, excel, email) I need to be able to see items side by side. Looking at a financial report and then updating the bits relevant, this is the perfect set of compromises.

    16:9 is NOT a work-friendly format. I do not need to see all those additional rows in excel normally (although 21:9 allows for more of that vision if necessary), I also don't need the extra width on PDFs (which are scanned from typical A4 letters), or emails, which scale.

    What I really need are 4:3 monitors, but a couple of then. The 21:9 format is very practically 2 of these monitors combined in one. You take different documents and give them each half a screen.

    It is for this use that the review should be directed. I strongly encourage offices that use multi-screen setups, or ask their employees to work with multiple pieces of data at once to consider these as replacements.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    Have you been able to test the DisplayPort chaining this with that Dell? First monitor I've seen commonly available to have that feature. Reply
  • radbeard - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    afraid not. I have this at my desk at work. Reply
  • CharonPDX - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    Yes, I could do math, but I'm busy at work and too lazy to figure it out:

    How does this compare in vertical size to a 27" 16:9 display? Is it the same height, only wider? Or is it shorter in height?

    Did you compare input lag on different interfaces? DP vs. HDMI vs. DVI? It's possible that one input is "native" and the others go through conversion internally, adding lag that wouldn't be present on a different input.
    Reply
  • radbeard - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    i have the dell version. its about the same height as a 23'' 16:9 display but wider.

    Its awesome for productivity, not media.
    Reply

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