HP Envy 34c Monitor Review

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We’ve managed to review five curved displays to-date, and it seems each one offers a little something different and unique that separates it from the others.

First we saw LG’s 34UC97. It’s a solid all-around performer and works well for general tasks and business applications. It also has decent color and contrast and a slick stylish appearance. Then we reviewed Dell’s U3415W. With a factory calibration it posted the best out-of-box numbers we’ve recorded to date. It’s ideal for professionals looking for the ultra-wide aspect ratio and even without calibration, it’s ready for color-critical work.

Third out of the gate was BenQ’s XR3501. It’s an impressive 35-inches diagonal but only offers 2560x1080 pixels of resolution. But it also boasts a 144Hz refresh rate and an AMVA panel that hits nearly 2000:1 in our contrast tests. We found it superb for gaming and once involved in our favorite shooters, the lower pixel density was forgotten.

For gamers looking for signal-rate matching and WQHD resolution, we were able to test Acer’s XR341CK. It only ups the refresh rate to 75Hz but coupled with FreeSync, it delivered superb motion processing and a bright saturated picture from its IPS panel. We look forward to reviewing its G-Sync counterpart, the Predator X34 in the near future.

It’s obvious that all four of these screens offer at least one unique feature and the HP Envy 34c follows that modus operandi. By using an amazing-looking SVA panel and great-sounding DTS speakers, the Envy is a package few would not like. Our calibrated contrast ratio test resulted in an excellent 1985.8:1 figure with an almost three-dimensional picture to match. Color is pretty accurate with just a hint of extra saturation in reds; though our tests showed the error to be a minor one.

And we can’t wrap up without mentioning the speakers. Very few monitors come with a sound system that merits more than a “sounds OK.” The Envy 34c has forward-firing transducers which already gives them a huge edge in quality over the tiny down-firing units found in most monitors. They do add to the display’s width but we think it’s worth taking up a little extra space. You get a wider soundstage, greater depth and more transparency with these and the DTS-tuning enhances both videos and gaming.

The only thing that will hold back curved displays for now is the price although we’re starting to see a little progress there. At this writing the U3415W has dropped below $800 so there is hope. We know that’s still a lot for any computer monitor but screens this large will probably remain in the high-end realm for the foreseeable future.

For its fantastic contrast, beautiful picture, excellent sound and premium build quality we’re giving the HP Envy 34c our Tom’s Editor Approved Award.

MORE: Best Computer MonitorsMORE: Display Calibration 101
MORE: The Science Behind Tuning Your Monitor
MORE: All Monitor Content

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Monitors and TVs.

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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.

  • vic20
    I was considering a 40" 4K TV for my PC, but this may be a better option. Looks slick.
  • vic20
    Looks really a really slick display. Will be on my short list for sure.
  • HideOut
    I'd like a 2K version of one of these things. Speakers not needed. I have a DTS 5.1 in the office already. But my GPU isn't going to drive a 4k well. Even 2K will be hard but its cheaper to upgrade to a 2K capable card.
  • monsta
    still waiting for ASUS to release theirs!
  • Shankovich
    Guys for this price, if you're not going to go above 60 Hz, as I see this is a more a workstation thing, 10-bit colour at least ;-;
  • cknobman
    This is not worth a penny more than $500.
  • picture_perfect
    I'd like a 2K version of one of these things. my GPU isn't going to drive a 4k well.

    Yea. It's less than 4K but it's still too much. Lower frame rates are innately blurry on LCD, which makes spending money on quick pixel response times pointless. Also throw those low input lag numbers out the window when frame rendering takes this long. And of course enjoy some low frame rate jitters (with or without G-sync). I would spend another grand on dual gtx980s to get this monitor working like expected...well no, actually I wouldn't.
  • zthomas
    I agree this is a work monitor.. and not yet a gaming option..
  • MetzMan007
    Free Sync, Almost makes me want to switch from Nvidia to ATI. Very Good looking screen, Almost Sexy in its own way.
  • Merry_Blind
    I'd really like to see a VA panel designed for gaming, with lowest input lag and response time possible. To me it's the technology that looks the best between it, TN, and IPS, but it seems to be the worst in terms of speed... which isn't good for gaming.