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

LG 34UC97, Undeniably Cool, Good Performance

We’ve reviewed several luxury business-class, as well as five ultra-wide monitors to date, and LG’s 34UC97 is a leader in both categories. It took us a couple of examples to really understand the practical uses of a 21:9 screen. But now we have no trouble seeing the appeal of well-built high-res monitors for users wanting to sport a little style and interest on their desktops.

For a monitor to truly belong in a luxury category, it needs to satisfy a few requirements. Number one is an IPS or PLS panel. While most of the TN-based gaming monitors we’ve worked with acquit themselves well in almost every performance metric, viewing angles are one place where IPS holds a significant advantage. Using TN means setting the screen height and angle in a small sweet spot to ensure maximum color saturation and image quality.

LG is obviously the main proponent of ultra-wide display tech. Though still a niche market, it’s selling enough monitors to justify the development of new models. When we looked at the 34UM95, we thought there wasn’t much that could be done to improve it besides lowering the price. A curved screen certainly didn’t occur to us as a viable feature-add.

On paper, you might wonder about the value of a curved screen. Looking at photos of the 34UC97 really doesn't do it justice. In the flesh, the monitor is quite striking and the curve enhances the use of a large desktop. On top of that, its build quality and styling scream high-end. There is no doubt in our minds it’ll be a conversation piece wherever it’s installed.

Performance-wise, it’s not as accurate as the top pro screens. But it comes pretty close. LG includes an individual calibration data sheet with each sample, and our test results only missed LG’s by a little. If you want to simply unpack it and set it up, it looks pretty good with no adjustment. And contrast performance exceeds its predecessor, the 34UM95, by a noticeable amount.

Of course, calibration delivers a level of accuracy that most professionals would accept, so long as the Adobe RGB gamut is not required. We even measured an sRGB volume of over 100 percent, which is pretty rare. Photographers would have a blast using the 34UC97 in Photoshop thanks to that ultra-wide desktop. There’s plenty of room for images and toolbars alike.

Obviously we’re impressed with this monitor. Its uniqueness is almost enough to recommend on its own, but it performs well too. Because there is truly nothing else like it and it delivers on accuracy, build quality and styling, we’re giving the 34UC97 our Tom’s Hardware Approved award.

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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.