bit-tech.net

Super-wide monitors - the next big thing?

Posted on 11th Jul 2013 at 08:24 by Antony Leather with 55 comments

Antony Leather
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.

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
Click to enlarge

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.

55 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
greigaitken 11th July 2013, 09:35 Quote
sure, i'd take a super wide monitor. so long as it keeps the same pixel density as my current. i can't see how many pixels were on the one you tested... pretty important
Blackshark 11th July 2013, 09:36 Quote
I remember the feeling I got when I unboxed by Dell 30 inch all those years ago when it first came out. Then running a 19 inch next to it so i could WoW on the Dell and team speak etc.. on the 19 inch.

This screen ratio looks really nice, great for coding on.
DbD 11th July 2013, 09:38 Quote
I'd buy one so long as it was 120hz - preferably with 3D vision 2 light boost.
The_Crapman 11th July 2013, 09:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by greigaitken
sure, i'd take a super wide monitor. so long as it keeps the same pixel density as my current. i can't see how many pixels were on the one you tested... pretty important
1080p@21:9 ratio
=((1080/9)*21)*1080
2721600 pixels

If you want i could waz out some pythagoras to get the area and ppi?
sakzzz 11th July 2013, 09:47 Quote
So what is the aspect ratio and resolution?
bawjaws 11th July 2013, 09:51 Quote
I assume it's 2520 x 1080, i.e. 21:9 aspect ratio, but it might have been useful to state this in the article :D
greigaitken 11th July 2013, 09:52 Quote
1080/9*21 = 2520
so this is 2520 x 1080?
that's less pixels in both directions, that is not improvement.
LG does not get my money.
Spreadie 11th July 2013, 09:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bawjaws
I assume it's 2520 x 1080, i.e. 21:9 aspect ratio, but it might have been useful to state this in the article :D

I can achieve that effect on my 2560x1600 monitor :D
Combatus 11th July 2013, 09:59 Quote
The resolution is 2,560 x 1080 - I've just added this to the article too.
The_Crapman 11th July 2013, 10:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by greigaitken
1080/9*21 = 2520
so this is 2520 x 1080?
that's less pixels in both directions, that is not improvement.
LG does not get my money.
no one said this was 'an improvement', just a different way of viewing things.
bawjaws 11th July 2013, 10:04 Quote
So it's a 64:27 aspect ratio, not 21:9 :)
wuyanxu 11th July 2013, 10:22 Quote
Ultra wide 29 inches are a marketing device. You get less screen than 27 inches and a quarter less than 30 inches. It's not a lot bigger than a 24 16:10.

The wider we go, the less actual screen panel we get, it's basic trigonometry:
3:4:5 triangle => 5 units diagonally on the product page => 12 unit^2 for the rectangle viewing area
1:5:5.1 triangle => 5.1 unit diagonally on the product page => 5 unit^2 for the rectangle viewing area

In case of monitor sizes:
30inch 16:10 monitor has viewing area of 404.5 inches square.
29inch 21:9 monitor has viewing area of 304.5 inches square.
27inch 16:9 monitor has viewing area of 311.5 inches square.
24inch 16:10 monitor has viewing area of 258.8 inches square.

So say no to those marketing monkeys and save your money for a 30 inches.
faugusztin 11th July 2013, 10:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
I'd buy one so long as it was 120hz - preferably with 3D vision 2 light boost.

Not going to happen. 120Hz = TN = 24" 1920x1080 at best. Time to choose - either a superior IPS display, or 3D Vision/120Hz. I take superior IPS display with superior resolution (2560x1440, 2560x1600, 4k monitors) over 3D Vision/120Hz any day.
technogiant 11th July 2013, 10:28 Quote
Naah, just give me Occulus Rift already
Meanmotion 11th July 2013, 10:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
Ultra wide 29 inches are a marketing device. You get less screen than 27 inches and a quarter less than 30 inches. It's not a lot bigger than a 24 16:10.

The wider we go, the less actual screen panel we get, it's basic trigonometry:
3:4:5 triangle => 5 units diagonally on the product page => 12 unit^2 for the rectangle viewing area
1:5:5.1 triangle => 5.1 unit diagonally on the product page => 5 unit^2 for the rectangle viewing area

In case of monitor sizes:
30inch 16:10 monitor has viewing area of 404.5 inches square.
29inch 21:9 monitor has viewing area of 304.5 inches square.
27inch 16:9 monitor has viewing area of 311.5 inches square.
24inch 16:10 monitor has viewing area of 258.8 inches square.

So say no to those marketing monkeys and save your money for a 30 inches.

You're technically right, but the very same argument could be said for 'widescreen' monitors in general. Why not have 3:2, 4:3 or 1:1? There's a 'feel' associated with using a monitor that counts for something. Having used a 30in monitor for many years I can vouch for the fact that 2560 is a great resolution for working side-by-side, while the extra height is of limited benefit day to day. Would I actually want to drop all the way to 1080? Well, maybe not but certainly 1200 is enough.
Stanley Tweedle 11th July 2013, 10:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
I'd buy one so long as it was 120hz - preferably with 3D vision 2 light boost.

Yeah baby!

That's my requirement too. I love the super-wide but I like 3d vision 2 and also I can't go back to a 60hz desktop. 120hz is fast and flicker free.
bawjaws 11th July 2013, 10:48 Quote
Quote:
Why not have 3:2, 4:3 or 1:1?
There's a very good reason why aspect ratios aren't closer to 1:1, and that's because our field of vision is naturally wider than it is tall. 4:3 isn't too bad, but 16:10 or 16:9 is much more "natural" imo. I've not used a 21:9 (64:27 :D) screen so can't comment on how good a fit it is for our normal fov.
Gareth Halfacree 11th July 2013, 11:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meanmotion
You're technically right, but the very same argument could be said for 'widescreen' monitors in general. Why not have 3:2, 4:3 or 1:1?
I miss my 5:4. My 16:10 is okay, as it goes, but I'd prefer more vertical resolution - without going to the extent of rotating it and having a 10:16 monitor instead...
Xir 11th July 2013, 11:41 Quote
What I miss in the widesreen monitors is a gain in height.
My 24" 1920x1080 is the same (screen) height than the old 19" 4:3 monitor.
The gain in width alone doesn't do it for me.
Suppose I'll have to save for a 27"-30"
stupido 11th July 2013, 11:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by technogiant
Naah, just give me Occulus Rift already

I'm next in line...
maverik-sg1 11th July 2013, 12:19 Quote
30" super widescreen sounds appealing - price is not too bad all things considered either.
Stanley Tweedle 11th July 2013, 12:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stupido
Quote:
Originally Posted by technogiant
Naah, just give me Occulus Rift already

I'm next in line...

Whole bunch of people getting their Oculus rifts this week. Shipment had been held up by customs for ages but now customers have been receiving them. Not HD of course but still better than nothing.
sub routine 11th July 2013, 12:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanley Tweedle
Quote:
Originally Posted by stupido
Quote:
Originally Posted by technogiant
Naah, just give me Occulus Rift already

I'm next in line...

Whole bunch of people getting their Oculus rifts this week. Shipment had been held up by customs for ages but now customers have been receiving them. Not HD of course but still better than nothing.


thats what i`m saving up my pennies for.
Cei 11th July 2013, 13:06 Quote
I want to see how these stack up to the current crop of 27" 2560x1440 monitors in terms of field of view for gaming - but everybody compares them to a standard 1080p monitor :(
[-Stash-] 11th July 2013, 14:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sub routine
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanley Tweedle
Quote:
Originally Posted by stupido
Quote:
Originally Posted by technogiant
Naah, just give me Occulus Rift already

I'm next in line...

Whole bunch of people getting their Oculus rifts this week. Shipment had been held up by customs for ages but now customers have been receiving them. Not HD of course but still better than nothing.


thats what i`m saving up my pennies for.

Same here. Would love a 4k, 120Hz OR, but that's not going to happen any time soon and would take an absolute beast of a system to drive.
faugusztin 11th July 2013, 14:15 Quote
-- delete --
schmidtbag 11th July 2013, 14:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I miss my 5:4. My 16:10 is okay, as it goes, but I'd prefer more vertical resolution - without going to the extent of rotating it and having a 16:10 monitor instead...

I completely agree. In a productivity perspective, 16:10 and 5:4 are better. When it comes to games and media, 16:9 and wider are better. To me, it's really counterproductive to have anything wider than 16:9, especially on a laptop, because it takes longer to get the mouse across the screen. Not much longer, but it adds up over time. Increasing mouse sensitivity is a problem because that makes it harder to click on things.

IMO, the best way to get productivity with an ultra-wide setup is by doing dual monitors. When you have a physical border, it's easier to designate tasks between screens. My favorite setup is having 1 screen in portait with the other in landscape. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes, because you basically get an ultra wide and an ultra tall display at the same time.
Gareth Halfacree 11th July 2013, 14:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
My favorite setup is having 1 screen in portait with the other in landscape. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes, because you basically get an ultra wide and an ultra tall display at the same time.
I fancy the thought of that - seen some other people with a similar setup, and it looks perfect. Need to start saving the pennies, though, if I fancy a pair of decent 1,920x1,200s (or higher) with rotatable stands.
rollo 11th July 2013, 15:36 Quote
In the tv space which is where most monitors are built from.

The battle between 4k and super wide will be interesting. Like blue ray and hd before it one will be accepted the other not so much.

For film purposes the super wide display is a better fit than 4k and more doable with available bandwidth. Wether either can achieve a price that will be accepted by the general public we shall see.

Most monitors made by lg and Samsung will come after either succeeds and since alot of panels are made by 3 companies could be interesting to see.
Gradius 11th July 2013, 17:32 Quote
Super wide?! Super normal to me and very old as well.
Gradius 11th July 2013, 17:33 Quote
This ain't the dead 21:9, is 2.37:1.
Tangster 11th July 2013, 17:42 Quote
I wouldn't be interested. A 27" 1440p screen is much more useful. A 29" super-wide screen could cause problems with placement as well.
Grimloon 11th July 2013, 17:54 Quote
On the down side it's a lower aspect ration and resolution than my current set up (24:5 @ 5,040 x 1,050) there are no bezels to get in the way. At the same time I can get two good 24" IPS panels to expand the array for the same money. I love the idea but I really want to try one for a few days before forking out the cash.

Of course, if I did get one I'd then want another one above it for everything else using the multi input function to treat each half as a separate monitor...
greigaitken 11th July 2013, 18:32 Quote
common dell, just sort it out
40" 4k x 2k £1500
take my money
Rustynutts 11th July 2013, 19:39 Quote
Yamasaki 2560x1600 are cheap'ish on ebay don't know if there any good though.
geoboy333 11th July 2013, 21:27 Quote
Read the title and instantly thought *boom tish*
Andy Mc 12th July 2013, 00:49 Quote
I'd love a super wide monitor, more so than a 4k one. I find that gaming I'm more interested in seeing more of my left and right perifferal vision than the top and bottom.
AmEv 12th July 2013, 01:37 Quote
Gareth, here's an idea I've seen done before:

Find two monitors with the exact same pixel density.

One's 2560*1600. Then get a 1600*1200 monitor.
AmEv 12th July 2013, 01:37 Quote
Gareth, here's an idea I've seen done before:

Find two monitors with the exact same pixel density.

One's 2560*1600. Then get a 1600*1200 monitor.
GravitySmacked 12th July 2013, 07:44 Quote
I've got a Dell UltraSharp U2913WM and love it to bits; the aspect ratio is great for gaming and it doesn't kill my GPU. Coupled with the fact the panel is a beauty it's all good. I still have another Dell 24" in portrait to one side, which does help with the negatives of the relative lack of height.

I totally understand that it's not for everyone but it's nigh on perfect for me.

http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=2275&pictureid=32413
DbD 12th July 2013, 10:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
I'd buy one so long as it was 120hz - preferably with 3D vision 2 light boost.

Not going to happen. 120Hz = TN = 24" 1920x1080 at best. Time to choose - either a superior IPS display, or 3D Vision/120Hz. I take superior IPS display with superior resolution (2560x1440, 2560x1600, 4k monitors) over 3D Vision/120Hz any day.

CRT like response times and refresh rates that lightboost in 2D gives you beat slightly better colours or silly high resolutions hands down every day of the week for any fast paced game. 3D is just a bonus for some games.
[USRF]Obiwan 12th July 2013, 12:13 Quote
Not impressed, I take the Sony KD-55X9005A55 and play some tanks on that at 3840x2160...
Spreadie 12th July 2013, 12:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
Not impressed, I take the Sony KD-55X9005A55 and play some tanks on that at 3840x2160...
Isn't that a bit like saying the VW Golf is a crap car, I'd have the Bugatti Veyron?
SchizoFrog 13th July 2013, 06:30 Quote
Not so interested in a single flat superwide monitor as I am about 3 bezel-less monitors with the middle one centered in front. Either that or a curved monitor that would have the same effect.
fluxtatic 13th July 2013, 06:53 Quote
The old IT contractors at work railed against 16:9 monitors for the height you lose...but they didn't understand a bunch of us work in spreadsheets where width often trumps height...but 21:9 is too much. I'd prefer something more than the dual 1440x900 I've got, but it's way better than a single 2560x1080. Given my druthers, I'd like triple 1920x1080s, but they won't shell out for it (given that I'm in a "working showroom" and the total would be likely better than $1100, $700 of which would be an unnecessarily fancy monitor arm, which can't be seen anyway).
Spreadie 13th July 2013, 10:41 Quote
I've just dropped my res to 2650x1080 try it out. I couldn't deal with the lack of height on a daily basis - 1200p is a little more bearable, but I'm not sure I could live with it.

The real problem with the Dell U2913WM is that the U2713HM costs about the same.
GeorgeStorm 13th July 2013, 10:49 Quote
Strikes me that one of the best uses would be watching films etc, since it's closer to what a lot of media is recorded at these days.

I can see games being good as well (maybe not strategy).

Desk space would be even more of an issue though compared to a 27"
bawjaws 13th July 2013, 11:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
The old IT contractors at work railed against 16:9 monitors for the height you lose...but they didn't understand a bunch of us work in spreadsheets where width often trumps height...but 21:9 is too much. I'd prefer something more than the dual 1440x900 I've got, but it's way better than a single 2560x1080. Given my druthers, I'd like triple 1920x1080s, but they won't shell out for it (given that I'm in a "working showroom" and the total would be likely better than $1100, $700 of which would be an unnecessarily fancy monitor arm, which can't be seen anyway).

Our IT department have recently moved to pairs of 1600 x 900 monitors as standard issue kit for us, whereas previously 2 1600 x 1200 screens was the norm. Surprisingly, absolutely no-one wants the new monitors :D IT can't seem to understand why - they say "Surely you guys want widescreen monitors rather than 4:3?", and they might have a point if said widescreen monitors weren't sacrificing 25% of the vertical resolution :D
Elton 13th July 2013, 21:33 Quote
the vert resolution means I still use 4:3.

Although I am getting a 16:10 monitor soon hopefully. Just because I can. And because 20" seeimgly is small now.
hamza_tm 14th July 2013, 16:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
I'd buy one so long as it was 120hz - preferably with 3D vision 2 light boost.

Same here, but DVI dual link will probably have problems pushing those sort of pixels officially.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
Ultra wide 29 inches are a marketing device. You get less screen than 27 inches and a quarter less than 30 inches. It's not a lot bigger than a 24 16:10.

The wider we go, the less actual screen panel we get, it's basic trigonometry:
3:4:5 triangle => 5 units diagonally on the product page => 12 unit^2 for the rectangle viewing area
1:5:5.1 triangle => 5.1 unit diagonally on the product page => 5 unit^2 for the rectangle viewing area

In case of monitor sizes:
30inch 16:10 monitor has viewing area of 404.5 inches square.
29inch 21:9 monitor has viewing area of 304.5 inches square.
27inch 16:9 monitor has viewing area of 311.5 inches square.
24inch 16:10 monitor has viewing area of 258.8 inches square.

So say no to those marketing monkeys and save your money for a 30 inches.

You missed the point of a 21:9 monitor, some people want a wider aspect ratio over more pixels. It's innovative in a different direction to what the norm is these days. And they cost far, far less than a 30 inch model would.

The point where the marketing is wrong is if they start claiming you get more screen space for the price (because if we go by paying for pixels, it's horribly overpriced). Even then, if you want a super wide aspect ratio monitor for whatever reason, are you not going to buy this just because it's been marketed wrong? You're buying it for the aspect ratio not the pixels.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
CRT like response times and refresh rates that lightboost in 2D gives you beat slightly better colours or silly high resolutions hands down every day of the week for any fast paced game. 3D is just a bonus for some games.

Agree totally. There's a user base that wants CRT-like motion quality and response times.
Xir 14th July 2013, 18:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bawjaws
Our IT department have recently moved to pairs of 1600 x 900 monitors as standard issue kit for us.
Why1600x900? 1920x1080 are cheap as chips these days?
r3loaded 26th July 2013, 14:50 Quote
The choice is between the £400 U2713HM 2560x1440 monitor and the £400 U2913WM 2560x1080 monitor. I know which one I'd pick given that choice.
maverik-sg1 2nd August 2013, 10:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
The choice is between the £400 U2713HM 2560x1440 monitor and the £400 U2913WM 2560x1080 monitor. I know which one I'd pick given that choice.

Which?
Elton 2nd August 2013, 13:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
Why1600x900? 1920x1080 are cheap as chips these days?

Some OEMs are still trolling offices?

To be entirely honest, the extra pixel density is nice. Although I can only really do an aspect ratio upgrade as my 4:3 NECs are still surprisingly good.

I don't really care for eyefinity. Mainly because my gaming is more about high settings and framerates rather than just eye candy.
Sylvester20007 9th October 2013, 11:34 Quote
Guys, I ready through all this and there seems to be some people who missed the point of this article. Its not always about more pixels. In this world, everything has a trade off.

The 21:9 aspect is a good screen concept for 2 reasons, 1, It matches some movie formats that seems to becoming more and more the norm. and 2, having 2 windows open side by side is far more productive.

I use my Dell 29" 21:9 in my office, I ordered it as I work a lot with ESXi Servers and this allows me to have to VM consoles open side by side and still end up with having a useable res in the VM of 1263x923 (as they have some window boardsers with buttons for controlling parts of the VM) in each VM. You can far more comfortably work in 2 Windows or Linux Server with this Res than you would with 2 screens side by side assuming an upgrade from 2 Dell 19" 1440x900 panels. Two 1920x1080 side by side with a small Bessel would be a different question all together.

I run my laptop with the following setup for screens.

I have a Dell 4:3 19" 1600x1200 on an Arm hanging over the side of my small desk connected via a USB to DVI device, to the right of this is a Dell 29" 21:9 2560x1080 connected using DP and screen pressed against the right hand side of the 4:3 as to avoid a gap, next is my Laptops 15.3" 1920x1080 built in and then next to that is another 19" Dell at 1600x1200 one again, connected via USB to HDMI.

The Two USB screens are based on using the EVGA USB3.0 UV Plus+39 as it has dual output and have a beefy image processor backed by 256MB of DDR3 RAM. It gets warm but I could not care less about the heat as its always been stable.

Previously I used two 19" Dells at 1440x900 and it gave me some headaches when working with the fat Bessel in the middle between the two screens plus the lower res made work in VM painful.

So, 21:9 is not a gimmic but it's place in the market might not always be a gaming one.

Only thing I dont like is that YouTube is not a center alligned website (it is aligned to the left of the screen so you do find that some webpages will not use the full screen res unless you zoom in and thats not always the best look.

Lastly, if anyone wounders what I use so many screen for.....
Far left screen is used for vSphere Client and is suited to a 4:3 aspect, the centre is great for 2 SBS VM's and web browsers, laptop screen for Outlook which is rather indifferent between 4:3 or 16:9 but I would probably avoid 21:9 as it seems a little wasted. The far right screen is a little more than half Windows Explorer (usally music files) and the other half is WMP or another audio player.

I read this review some time ago before I bought the screen, it pushed me to go 21:9 and I am tempted to take it home one weekend to have a little fun on my gaming rig with Crysis 3 , BF4 and some WarThunder.....
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