AOC's Q2963PM: Usability, Performance, And Our Recommendation
Since 21:9 is a new aspect ratio on the desktop, and every other segment for that matter, I thought that a few comments on usability might be appropriate. After using AOC's Q2963PM for several days, I came to the conclusion that for entertainment, this screen shape is really cool. For productivity, not so much.
When it comes to watching cinemascope movies, the native format of most modern films, eliminating letterboxing is just awesome. We all know that flat panels can never completely black out those bars, so you’re always aware of them. Having a wide-format video completely fill a 21:9 screen greatly increases the sense of immersion, especially at the close viewing distances afforded by a high-pixel density monitor like this.
The same is true for gaming. Modern first-person shooters are a cinematic experience for sure, and the wide field of view means more of your peripheral vision is filled with the image. With the lights down low, you’re pulled into the game’s world completely. We can only speculate what it might be like with three of these things running in tandem! Add in surround sound and you’d be hard-pressed to top that experience.
On the other hand, working in typical computer applications is less satisfying. Most programs are vertically-oriented. Web browsing, email, word processing, and graphics editing are a few examples that really benefit from screen height more so than width. We continue lamenting the rarity of 16:10 monitors. For pure productivity, 21:9 seems to be a step in the wrong direction. Even when using the screen-split features, or arranging windows side-by-side, the amount of extra scrolling to get around in Word, for example, is significant. We did find an advantage in certain horizontally-oriented spreadsheets, where 21:9 allows you to see a lot more of your work. But for the majority of business software, this screen aspect would not be our first choice.
The screen-split feature is extremely cool for running a video feed on your screen while working. It’s a bit like having two small monitors or laptops in front of you. If you like to watch the news as you crunch away at a spreadsheet, the Q2963PM is in the unique position to make that possible. Likewise, let’s say wanted to side-by-side images on two different machines; the Q2963PM’s PMP feature essentially functions as a hardware-based Aero-snap.
As we’ve become accustomed to from AOC, the Q2963PM’s video performance is excellent. Aside from a little too much blue in its out-of-box grayscale measurement, this monitor measures extremely well for contrast, gamma, and especially color. In fact, its numbers are comparable to some much more expensive displays. And its screen uniformity is solid as well, despite the challenge of running a backlight through such a wide form factor.
While the unique aspect ratio might not be for everyone, those who predominantly watch movies or play games on their computer might want to consider this new AOC. At just $450, it presents the greatest bang for your buck in this new product class, which is why we’re giving the AOC Q2963PM the Tom’s Hardware 2013 Smart Buy award.