Last year I reviewed the LG 29EA93 monitor before its scheduled US release date.  As someone that thinks there is a good market for ultrawide displays, the 21:9 aspect ratio was very interesting to me, and something I wanted to take a look at personally.  While the aspect ratio was nice and enveloping for gaming, there were aspects of the monitor that were disappointing, and in the end it was something I didn't really recommend.

I really dislike writing negative reviews. Writing one means that I’ve spent a good deal of time with a product while not enjoying the experience. It means that a team of engineers and designers has spent a lot of time working on something that didn’t make the cut, or they made a series of compromises for some reason that led to an end user experience that was unsatisfying. I’d much rather write effusive praise of a wonderful product that people should run out and buy than write something bad.

Typically when I write a negative review, I either hear a little feedback from a company, or nothing at all. Maybe they knew the product wasn’t great but released it anyway, or they didn’t care. Sometimes I hear that a company will fix something, and then I try to hold onto hardware and test that to see if they do, but I’ve never had feedback like I did from LG after I initially reviewed their 29EA93 ultra-widescreen monitor.

I had multiple emails full of detailed questions about how I test, what I was after, and what should be done to improve upon the current version. After all of these conversations, they flew out an engineer with an updated version of the 29EA93 that they said would address almost all of my issues with the first version. Did LG manage to go back and correct the problems that I found, so that the monitor now performs much better? I had to go ahead and test it to find out.

Since the exterior of the 29EA93 didn’t change, I’m going to skip over that and go straight ahead to performance. You can read more about our initial thoughts on the 29EA93 in our earlier review, and we'll just pick up from there. This is the first review that uses our new CalMAN test suite for monitor reviews. Using CalMAN gives us the ability to target sRGB or AdobeRGB gamuts, choose from more gamma choices including sRGB, and have measurements that are uniform with our tablet and smartphone reviews. It also allows for better grayscale balance and error measurements, better gamut and saturation measurements, and far improved uniformity measurements.

Because of the large change, we will be making a break from everything in the past and going with DeltaE 2000 for our measurements. Because of this the numbers from this review and going forward are not comparable with older reviews as different DeltaE formulas cannot be compared. I will write a longer article on this new measurement system soon, but this will be our first use of it for a desktop display. (Anand has been using portions of these tests for tablets for a while now.)

With the initial revision of the 29EA93, the most brightness I could coax out of it was 261 cd/m². On the updated 29EA93, the highest I could coax the contrast was 78 before I started to clip blue, and just past that it began to clip every color, leading to the top shades of white becoming uniform and not distinct. Keeping the contrast at 78 allows for the highest level of light output without any negative effects at the top of the grayscale. Finding this point is actually made easy by CalMAN as well, showing you where white begins to clip in each individual color and is yet another benefit to the new software.

Using a contrast of 78 and setting the backlight to the maximum 100 results in a light output of 325 cd/m². That is much better than our previous result with the early revision. Setting the backlight to minimum, but leaving contrast steady, results in a reading of 78 cd/m². Since our new target for low-light calibration is now 80 cd/m², this is enough range for that.

White Level -  XR Pro, C6 and XR i1DPro

The black level with the brightness at maximum is 0.2605 cd/m², and at a minimum backlight the black level is 0.0624 cd/m². Both of these are very good results given what the corresponding white levels are.

Black Level - XR Pro,C6 and XR i1DPro

With these white and black levels, we see contrast ratios that are over 1200:1, which is a better result than before, and one of the best results that we have seen. The LG 29EA93 already produced good contrast ratios in the early revision, but with their tighter manufacturing tolerances and adjusted electronics, the 29EA93 now produces one of the best contrast ratios out there.

Contrast Ratio -  XR Pro, C6 and XR i1DPro

While the increase in light output and contrast ratios is very good to see, it wasn’t one of the main items that I was concerned about in the early unit. Even so, we're happy to see these improved results. What we really want to see are better colors and uniformity.

Grayscale and Gamma
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  • cheinonen - Monday, February 18, 2013 - link

    You really don't want this, as while content above 235 is technically not support to exist, some does in the form of specular highlights and other very bright items. Displays or sources that automatically clip this WTW material are possibly losing some image information and shouldn't work that way. Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, February 14, 2013 - link

    I don't want to be a dick, but the colors used in the bar charts are truly horrible --- the kind of colors that look like they are bleeding out of the bars.

    Please revert to the colors you used to use, or ask a designer to choose new colors (or just copy them from any piece of software that has already thought about this issue, eg the default colors used in bar graphs by Mathematica or Numbers).
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Friday, February 15, 2013 - link

    Something must be wrong with your monitor, they look fine to me Reply
  • bjevers - Friday, February 15, 2013 - link

    I see Fry's has this monitor listed on their website. Is this the US version 1.25?

    http://www.frys.com/product/7511746
    Reply
  • mcfrumpy - Friday, February 15, 2013 - link

    I saw the same thing so I went to the Fry's by my place that said that had it in stock. The display model had a manufacturing date of Dec 2012 and Rev00 so I'm guessing it's the old one. My bet is the ones they are selling are older since no one else seems to have it in stock.

    I'll admit looking at the display model I was surprised how small it looked. For as long as it is, the height of the monitor reminds me a 21 or 22 inch monitor.
    Reply
  • SpartanGR - Friday, February 15, 2013 - link

    LG must find a way to fix this. I mean everyone will want the 1.25 version now. Reply
  • Dracusis - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - link

    "Disabling the game mode only introduced another 1-2ms of lag, but at the expense of image quality, so I would leave it disabled."

    Hmm...

    I'm guessing you meant something like:

    "Enabling the game mode shaved off another 1-2ms of lag, but at the expense of image quality, so I would leave it disabled."

    Regardless, what is this "Game mode" what what exactly does it do to the image quality?

    The rest of the article was brilliant, so much detail and careful measurement. Then in one line you toss in this randomly subjective opinion and don't even qualify it when an explanation - I feel totally trolled right now.
    Reply
  • SpartanGR - Monday, February 18, 2013 - link

    I've spoken to a local seller in Korea and asked him which version they have. Had my hopes up guys but here 's his answer.

    Hello. Thank you for your interests
    I contacted to LG, there was no official firmware update.
    And the product we have in stock is the early released version.

    Please feel free to ask if you have any further questions.

    Thank you. Have a good day!
    Best regards,

    - dream-seller

    Damn! i guess this is going to take a while
    Reply
  • Wesley - Monday, February 18, 2013 - link

    As others here have probably pointed out, a monitor like this has the potential to vastly improve the field of view in games, especially with some titles that may already have widescreen or multi-monitor enhancements. The images posted up comparing in-game screenshots were nice (thanks for going into that trouble), but perhaps a video demonstrating how things change on a monitor of this size would be better?

    For example, playing third-person games would enable a larger field of view but how does this affect the first-person perspective? Racing games all too often stretch the sides of the car when you're playing in cockpit view and the image becomes warped when playing in a multi-monitor environment. Would this screen give RTS players some advantage? Starcraft 2 can run on a MBP with the Retina display at native resolution. As a gamer myself, resolution becomes pretty important and I'm tired of 1920x1080. My only options are sinking cash into a 27" Korean monitor, a 30" monster, or something like this, which isn't that much larger but may be more beneficial.
    Reply
  • macin - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    It's 4 am and I am half asleep so bare with me here.

    So LG is so bothered by a review of a $700 monitor that they revise it. Great.
    I am happy to hear that a company actually cares enough to seek feedback to make something better.

    Why is it that the only company that line calibrates monitors is Apple?

    If LG wants to stand out among other panels, why not do this for the customer as well?

    Once spoiled to 2650 x 1440 and the color accuracy of Apple monitors, I can't find anything else I like.

    I don't own $2k worth of calibration equip and I can't "eye" anything and get it accurate, but I know it when it see it.

    I can see the difference between an out of the box pic and a calibrated pic, but I have to have someone tell me what settings they used to get there.

    Maybe since you guys test so many monitors, you could add a Calibrated settings to your display page?
    Reply

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