LG 29EA93 Ultrawide Display - Rev. 1.09by Chris Heinonen on December 11, 2012 1:20 AM EST
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.