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.
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.