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?

In 2012, LG introduced the first 21:9-aspect monitor we’d ever seen, the 29EA93P. At the time, we weren’t aware of the demand for such a product. But as it turned out, the extra width showed us a new way of working and interacting with computer desktops. Our chief concerns back then were the screen’s lack of vertical resolution and physical height. After being spoiled by 16:9 displays at 27 inches, it didn’t seem worth shrinking down just to gain more width.

LG answered our concern last summer with its 34UM95. At 34 inches, that screen checks in at the exact same height as a 27-inch 16:9 panel. And the lost pixels have returned (all 1440 of them). This new form factor makes a great alternative to running two QHD monitors. You get an extra 7.75 inches of width and there are no bezel lines to interrupt the image.

Today we’re checking out the newest-generation model, the 34UC97. Always willing to think outside the box, LG keeps all of the 34UM95's good parts while adding curvature. This is a first for us.

Brand & Model
LG 34UC97
Panel Type & Backlight
AH-IPS / W-LED edge array
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio
34in / 21:9 curved
Max Resolution & Refresh Rate
3440x1440 @ 60Hz
Native Color Depth & Gamut
8-bit / sRGB
Response Time (GTG)
5ms
Brightness
300cd/m2
Speakers
2 x 7W
Video Inputs
1 x DisplayPort, 2 x Thunderbolt, 2 x HDMI
Audio
1 x 3.5mm headphone output
USB
v3.0 - 1 x up, 2 x down
Panel Dimensions
WxHxD w/base
32.6 x 18.6 x 8.8in
831 x 473 x 226mm
Panel Thickness
.7in / 18mm
Bezel Width
.47in / 12mm
Weight
19.8lbs
Warranty
Three years

Aside from its curved screen, the 34UC97 is identical to the 34UM95. The panel is AH-IPS with a white edge-array LED backlight. Even though it has some professional aspirations (like a factory calibration, for example), it’s an sRGB display with native 8-bit color depth. We would categorize it as “luxury business-class” given the somewhat lofty price tag.

We’ve commented in the past about the sense of immersion we felt when using 21:9 displays. Remember that this aspect ratio matches the one used by most Hollywood films, 2.35:1. Watching movies on any of these monitors is a completely different experience because you can eliminate those pesky black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

The screen’s curve, while obvious in a photo, is actually subtle when the monitor is in front of you. And it does mean you won’t turn your head quite as much to see content at the sides of the screen. As multi-monitor users know, that extra width is a real boon to productivity. We were smitten within minutes of unpacking it.

If your needs extend to Apple products, you’ll appreciate the two Thunderbolt inputs LG includes. You’ll also enjoy the same 1440-pixel vertical resolution as the 27-inch QHD panel we’ve become accustomed to. The extra 7.75-inch width translates to 3440 pixels horizontally, a gain of 880. And density remains at 109ppi.

We know this is an expensive piece of equipment, but there isn’t anything else like the 34UC97 out there. Is it worth the extra coin to be unique? Let’s take a look.

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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.