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

Results: Brightness And Contrast

To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.

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Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

We’ve now reviewed four Ultra-Wide (WQHD) monitors: LG’s 34UC97 and 34UM95, AOC’s Q2963PM and NEC’s EA294WMi. To bring our comparison group up to six, we’re including two luxury business-class QHD/IPS screens with 16:9 aspect ratios, Samsung’s S27B971D and NEC’s EA274WMi. They have the same effective resolution and height, just less width.

These panels are all edge-lit and you can see how the greater width of the WQHD displays cuts maximum output. None of them can hit their claimed 300cd/m2 spec. Unless you need to use the monitor outdoors or in a brightly-lit room though, it’s not a deal-breaker. If you do need the extra light, one of the 27-inch QHD screens will work.

The 34UC97 misses the top black level spot by a mere .0025cd/m2. That’s pretty much a wash, since you can't see such a slight difference. Like its flat cousin, the 34UM95, it delivers nice deep blacks, even with the backlight maxed.

We’re always happy to see an LCD monitor exceed a 1000:1 contrast ratio. As you’ll see later, calibration isn’t an absolute necessity so you can enjoy excellent image depth and accurate color right out of the box.

Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level

Dropping the backlight to zero makes the image fairly dim, but not too far below our 50cd/m2 standard. Upping the slider to level five produces that output.

Both NEC monitors' black levels are extra-low thanks to their super dark minimum backlight levels. The numbers are impressive, but not really practical. However, the 34UC97 and Q2963PM deliver solid usable images when the lights are off. You can also see a major improvement over the 34UM95.

Minimum contrast is rock-solid at only a tiny bit less than the maximum result. Both LG monitors deliver consistent performance at all backlight levels. AOC's solution returns a great result, but it’s not even close to its maximum measurement. That means you’ll have to find a sweet spot for ultimate image quality. Bravo LG!

After Calibration to 200cd/m2

After calibration, the black level is still excellent at only .2020cd/m2. Although the gains in accuracy are small, we feel it’s worth the effort since there’s no sacrifice in image depth.

Calibrated contrast drops only about seven percent from the maximum number. It’s a tad below 1000:1, though you’re unlikely to see that difference in actual content. We think the 34UC97 looks fantastic displaying all kinds of images, from Excel spreadsheets to Hollywood movies.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

The ANSI result is a little low due to hotspots in the screen’s corners. You’ll see later how that affects the black field uniformity test. Since this is the first display of its kind (in the computer world at least), there is room for improvement that we’ll likely see in future product generations.

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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.