HP Brings Curved Screens To The Desktop

With the advent of curved LCD panels from LG, others have jumped on the bandwagon and are now offering curved panels in both ultra-wide 21:9 formats and now 16:9 aspect ratios, too. We've already tested the LG 34UC97 and found it to be a great way to make room for more open application windows without resorting to multiple screens.

HP is using the same panel part in its new Z34c and Envy 34c ultra-wide monitors. Specs are the same for both models, as is the $999 price. The resolution is 3440 x 2160, and you get a pair of 6 Watt DTS-certified speakers built into the bezel. It makes for an impressive-looking package on any desktop.

The panel is a high-contrast VA part rated at 3000:1. We're anxious to check this out for ourselves, because the only other monitor we know of using VA technology is BenQ's BL3200PT, a 32-inch jumbo screen. A variation of IPS, it offers smooth uniformity and good viewing angles and a two- to three times higher contrast ratio.

Inputs include two HDMI, one of which is MHL-compatible, and a single DisplayPort. Unfortunately, the Thunderbolt ports found on LG's ultra-wide monitors are absent here. Brightness is high at 300cd/m2, and panel response is 8 milliseconds, which is fast enough for most action-oriented gaming. You'll also see reasonably low motion blur, which makes these super-wide panels great for watching movies. With most films presented in 2.35 or 2.40:1 these days, a monitor like this can show them without those annoying black bars. Both models will be available in April for $999.

We haven't seen 16:9 curved screens before now, but HP may be the first with its EliteDisplay S270c and Pavilion 27c 27-inch monitors. We might have to file these in the "we're building these because we can" category, but we'll wait and see when the press samples arrive in our lab.

At $399 you won't have to lay out much cash to try one, but if you're also looking for more resolution than 1920 x 1080, you won't find it here. What you will find is a VA panel with a claimed 3000:1 native contrast ratio, 300cd/m2 brightness and an 8 MS panel response. Inputs include two HDMI (one with MHL) and a VGA port. Like the ultra-wide models above, you also get a pair of DTS-certified speakers built into the bezel sides. They are slightly smaller and are driven with 4 Watts of amp power. Both the S270c and Pavilion 27c are available now.

If you're at all intrigued by photos of curved monitors, we urge you to check them out in person. Our initial impression was, "Why?" Once we got the LG 34UC97 in for review, however, the answer became clear. The sense of immersion in the image, especially at a typical 24- to 36-inch viewing distance, is palpable. We think the curve is better suited to ultra-wide screens, but users of the 16:9 models may see a benefit, too. Regardless, all four of these new curved HPs represent a new choice in monitors. And aren't more choices a good thing?

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Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.