LG 34UC97 34-Inch Ultra-Wide Curved Monitor Review

OSD Setup And Calibration Of The LG 34UC97

OSD Tour

All monitor functions are accessed with a tiny joystick that’s out of sight beneath the bottom edge of the bezel. You can turn on a soft LED to help you find it, but it’s hard to see when the room lights are on. Just reach beneath the LG logo and you can operate it by feel.

Pulling the stick down brings up a quick-access menu. One more pull shuts off the power. Pushing up opens the audio settings and clicking right accesses the PBP options. Pressing the stick cancels the menu or selects options. A left-click reveals the full OSD.

Easy Control offers basic picture and volume adjustments. To access the commands, click the joystick right once, then up and down to choose your options. The aspect ratio settings are described below.

We did all of our testing and viewing on the Wide setting, which scales every source to 3440x1440 regardless of input resolution. Original also scales, but preserves the signal’s native aspect ratio. The Cinema modes scale 1080p content to eliminate the black bars, which is handy for watching Blu-rays. If you choose Cinema 2, it leaves room for the subtitle bar at the bottom of the image. Finally, 1:1 displays the input signal without scaling, meaning it's windowed or shown with pillar-bars left and right.

The Function menu contains the MaxxAudio options (more detail below), a Reader Mode for optimizing the image for reading news or comics, the Picture modes and the Smart Energy Saving option. The last one is turned on by default, causing visible image pumping as content changes and skewing the otherwise decent gamma. There’s more info about that on page five.

We don’t often see monitors with audio tone controls or simulated surround sound. Since LG includes seven-watt speakers in the 34UC97, it also decided to up the quality a notch with MaxxAudio. We didn’t hear much improvement from the Bass and Treble sliders, but the Dialog control does help to center voices when watching movies. And the 3D option broadens the soundstage a bit.

Here are the four picture modes. The monitor comes set to Custom and if you don’t calibrate, that's the best option. It’s also the best choice if you do make adjustments because you have access to the gamma, white balance and color management features.

With its extra width, the 34UC97 makes great use of picture-by-picture. You can view two sources at once, decide which one to listen to, swap them and adjust their aspect ratios.

The next menu is called Screen. It offers the rest of the image adjustments. Of particular note is the Black Level selector, set to High by default. You'd think that changing it to Low would crush shadow detail, but it doesn’t. In fact, to see the greatest contrast, you need to use the Low setting. It's only a factor over an HDMI connection; it has no effect on DisplayPort signals. Response time increases the pixel clock to effectively reduce motion blur.

In the Color sub-menu are the rest of the calibration controls. Gamma offers three presets, of which 1 is the best. Color Temp also has three presets, plus a user-adjustable Custom mode. Even though the RGB sliders start in the center, raising them past 50 causes clipping. It’s best to only reduce them when adjusting the white point.

LG includes a color management system in the 34UC97. It works well for tweaking the secondary colors’ hue, and the saturation sliders actually change luminance. We were able to realize small gains with it, though color accuracy is already pretty good at the default settings.

The final menu has a few ergonomic settings, including language, power LED (on/off), automatic standby (shuts down power when no signal is present) and an OSD lockout. You can also change the DisplayPort version from 1.1 to 1.2. But since the 34UC97 maxes at 60Hz, it won’t make any difference in performance. If you have an older graphics board, leave it on 1.1.

Lastly, you can return all OSD settings to their factory defaults. That includes the Smart Energy Saver, so don’t forget to turn that back off after resetting.

Calibration

The 34UC97 ships with a factory calibration that's pretty close to the mark. However, we found room for improvement in our tests. As already stated, you must turn off the Smart Energy Saving feature. We’ll show you on pages five and six how it affects the gamma and color gamut test results. We left Gamma on preset 1 after the other options caused high-level clipping and an inaccurate grayscale. After adjusting the white balance, we tweaked a few colors in the CMS. The hue controls work as expected, but the saturation sliders actually adjust luminance. It wasn’t a problem though, and we achieved good results overall.

LG 34UC97 Calibration Settings
Brightness
71
Contrast
70
Sharpness
5
Black Level
Low
Smart Energy Saving
Off
Picture Mode
Custom
Gamma
1
Color Temp Custom
Red 49, Green 48, Blue 50
Six Color
Red Saturation
52
Blue Saturation
46
Magente Hue
54
All Others
50

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44 comments
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  • Grognak
    I sure wish I could afford a screen like that, or the rig to go with it. Still, it's interesting how 21:9 just feels more natural when human FOV is about 4:3. It makes for great gameplay experiences, especially in first person games.
  • spp85
    Is this a FreeSync display?? Love to see the review here :)
  • loki1944
    Too bad it's not $1300 cool. Even the ROG Swift is cheaper than this.
  • Sanjirox
    Maybe it's 120 degrees per eye in which case 4:3 is a perfect match if you can only use one eye.
  • arossetti
    Waiting to see the new gaming model -u67. I'm sure the price on that one U.S. gonna suck too! But it is like buying two monitors.
  • Merry_Blind
    @Grognak Interesting! I've always wondered what was the actual aspect ratio of our vision. That 4:3 you talk about, is it per eye individually? or the two combined together?
  • Fokissed
    Human FOV, according to wikipedia:
    "The approximate field of view of an individual human eye is 95° away from the nose, 75° downward, 60° toward the nose, and 60° upward."
    "With eyeball rotation of about 90° (head rotation excluded, peripheral vision included), horizontal field of view is as high as 270°."
    This means 155°:135°(31:27, very squarish) for nonmoving eyes, and 270°:135°(2:1) for moving eyes.
  • RedJaron
    I think it's unforgivable that they didn't pack the USB cable. A USB3 A-to-B cable is not something most people have just have sitting on a shelf. You could argue that someone spending $1300 on a monitor has the money to pick one up, but I say for $1300 LG could have included a $5 cable in the box. Just ridiculous.
  • teahsr
    We know this is an expensive piece of equipment, but there isn’t anything else like the 34UC97 out there.

    ^^Except my Dell U3415W that is.....which is awesome..

    Now that 3440x1440 is around and more manufacturers are making this resolution, can we get it included in reviews?
  • moogleslam
    Needs 120Hz+ and G-Sync/FreeSync.
  • tegiri nenashi
    Widescreen propagandists logic is bizarre. 4:3 aspect ratio per _one_ eye? What do you have square eyes?
  • hardcore_player
    its a good monitor for productivity ..but not gaming ..it has a slow response time that increases the overall lag of the monitor , not to mention the input lag ....
    above all its way too expensive where i live .....huh.... 9,990 ILS = 2,552 USD
    DAMN...
  • CaptainTom
    Make it 5K with FreeSync and you have yourself a buyer LG!
  • flaxx
    Why not go to a 40" UHD TV (wrongly advertised as 4K), which has 1 PPI greater density, is larger with more screen real-estate and available everywhere at less than half the price!
  • aaab
    Would having two of these work? Or would having the curved screen muck that up?
  • steve4king
    I'm a little bit annoyed that the curve is so subtle. The purpose of curving a display shouldn't be just for the purpose of the marketing "Curved!" but should place the edges of the screen, relatively equidistant to your eyes as the center of the screen.

    This is an older display and the image is distorted, but shows a correctly designed parabolic arc.

    http://theawesomer.com/photos/2010/08/083010_ostendotech_43_curved_display_3.jpg

    How far does the focal point (my nose) have to be for the 34UC97 to be a reasonable parabola? From the pictures, I would guess nearly four feet.
  • HideOut
    the curve is prefect, if you sit at the perfect distance away. Thats all you gotta do, is either move forward or back to adjust...
  • morerice
    I'm curious who exactly these high-end monitors are designed for? It's not really optimized for serious pc gamers with the 5ms response time and 60 Hz refresh rate. At that price point, it may be more worthwhile to invest in a tv for console gamers. It's not really optimized for professional work either with only support for 8-bit color. It seems to have a target a rather niche market.
  • steve4king
    @HideOut Do you want the curve of the monitor to dictate how close you should sit to your monitor?

    I haven't found any numbers to describe the actual curve, but another review suggested that the focal point is actually closer to 10ft away. Do you want to pay a premium for this monitor, only to sit 10ft away because that is "the purfect distance"? This arc would be great if this were a 60"+ screen. But at 34" the curvature is unimpressive.

    Personally, I like to sit with my eyes about 24" from my monitor. I would pay $1500 for a 34" monitor with an arc that has a 26"-32" focal point. Sitting more than 32" from a 34" monitor greatly reduces the effect of the curve and also reduces the immersion (since 34" no longer fills your FoV at that distance.)

    If a manufacturer is going to take the time to make a curved monitor, I would want them to design it with a focal point, just slightly longer than the expected viewing distance. Is that unreasonable?
  • uber_national
    As an early adopter of the 34um95, I STRONGLY SUGGEST people stay away from ordering ultrawide monitors from LG until they have read personal reviews and anecdotes about the manufacturing dates and backlight bleed from the 34uc97.
    I dropped $1400 CAD in april on the 34um95 that has major backlight bleed splotches (re: ones that don't go away if you look at it from another angle) rendering the monitor useless for movie viewing in the dark (when it's the most annoying and obvious). Gaming suffers considerably too, as playing something like Alien: Isolation is difficult when you can't make out the shadows due to a giant grey splotch in your view that won't go away.
    My experience isn't alone: dozens of testimonials here: http://www.overclock.net/t/1476919/lg-34um95-and-lg-34um65-owners-club/410 show that not only does LG have poor build quality but also terrible service, often packing up the same monitor that was shipped back and sending it back out. You can imagine what the shipping costs would be on that alone.

    As far as I know the 34um95 manufacturing process still introduces terrible backlight bleed, and LG has done nothing about it -- so buy beware on this new, undoubtedly expensive model.
  • iam2thecrowe
    curved monitors just dont look right. As has been said, you really need to sit the perfect distance away. At this stage gsync and freesync should be at the top of any gamers list, you will need lower end PC hardware and can have lower framerates and still get smooth gameplay.
  • Skypine27
    I own both the flat LG 34 AND the curved LG 34 (flat model is for sale on ebay) using a 2 x GTX 980's in SLI. To me, they were both great screens and I don't notice any of this BLB complaint stuff. (but I game with the lights ON normal levels, not in a pitch black room.)

    But to the reviewer:
    Did you REALLY write this review via HDMI @ 50hz!??!?

    Both the flat and curved LG are limited to 50hz when using the HDMI input (unless doing the clever un official custom resolution creation work around with a GTX 970/980 HDMI 2.0 but you did NOT mention anything about this)

    So I have to assume you are reviewing this with normal HDMI, thereby limiting yourself to 50hz. The Black Level option is "grey-ed out" and non selectable with a DP connection, I can confirm this on my monitors. So if you have changed this setting, it means you are running HDMI @ 50 hz. Which would be a travesty when 60 hz via DP is available....

    Did I miss something?
  • Skypine27
    Some answers to peoples questions:
    1. This monitor (nor the flat one) does not support Free/G Sync.
    2. The new LG 34" coming out, the -67, does support Free Sync BUT it is NOT 3440 x 1440. I repeat, it is 2560 x 1080. Some early leak sites got the specs wrong and assumed the 34um67 would be 3440 x 1440 like the um95 and c97, but its sadly not:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hGpR7ziHvQ
    3. I am exclusively a gamer and 'general' windows 8.1 user, and I loved the flat screen 34um95-9 as well as my 34uc97. I use high end hardware (2 x GTX 980s in SLI and obviously use the DP cable, not HDMI, to get 60hz). Games look amazing. I also owned the 144 hz Asus PG278Q with the same video card setup. Yes, the Asus at 144hz and g-sync on was AMAZING when it came to speed and the liquid like fluidity of motion. But the picture, colors, and size of the LG's won out (for me) and I sold the Asus on ebay.
    4. Yes, it was lame that the curved LG did not come with the USB 3.0 Type B cable whereas the flat screen model DID come with this cable.
  • milkod2001
    @Skypine27

    From your personal experience which would you recommend curved of flat and why?

    give us some CONS/PROS. Could curved screen be used for productivity?(graphic Design)

    Thanks