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

Yes, curved monitors are a thing now. We got our hands on LG's 34UC97 sporting a 34-inch width, 21:9 aspect ratio and 3440x1440 native resolution. It's pricey; is worth the premium you'll pay to be the first one on your block with this screen, though?

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.

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.