Introduction and design
The UltraWide 21:9 form factor has started to gain traction in the monitor market with Acer, AOC, ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, LG, NEC, Philips and Samsung all offering numerous variations that consumers can buy at the present moment. Despite the extensive participation of most large monitor vendors in this market one vendor has continued to dominate the display marketplace with its 21:9 panels, LG Display. The company has led the 21:9 revolution since the introduction of the new aspect ratio and the most recent IDC reports suggest that one in three 21:9 monitors sold globally were LG branded.
In for review today is the LG 34UC97 21:9 monitor which makes use of a 3,440x,1,440 UWQHD IPS panel with a subtle curve. At its core the LG 34UC97 is targeting professional users with the promise of 99 per cent sRGB coverage, 10-bit colour over DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 2 and Mac compatibility as well as support for a 100mm VESA mount. The versatile UWQHD resolution offers 20 per cent more pixels than a pair of 1,920x1,080 FHD displays, albeit at a notably higher cost.
There's no getting away from the fact the LG 34UC97 targets a premium user with an RRP of £799.99 ($1,149.99) but, despite the seemingly hefty price, the monitor has already proven popular with prosumers and gamers alike. While multi-monitor setups can offer more pixels and desktop real-estate for significantly less money there is something convenient and charming about the UltraWide package, especially at the higher resolution of UWQHD. The outcome of our review of the LG 34UM67, a 2,560x1,080 UltraWide FreeSync monitor, was that the premium price was potentially problematic without a higher resolution, this is something the LG 34UC97 fixes, albeit at nearly twice the price and without FreeSync compatibility.
Design and Connectivity
Like the LG 34UM67 the 34UC97 is a beautifully crafted display. The slight curve in the panel gives it a sleeker aesthetiic while the solid metal stand is almost designer in nature, this represents an upgrade over the plastic stand used on the 34UM67. The 34UC97 uses the same bezel trickery as the 34UM67 whereby the extruded plastic bezel is ultra-thin, only a few millimetres, but there is a thin black stripe around the panel which is not part of the viewable area but appears to be when the screen is off. This implementation does look a lot classier than the traditional chunky plastic bezel.
The back of the monitor has a slight bulge to accommodate for the subtle curve in the display. LG provides a removable plastic cover to tidy up the appearance of the rear, with a small hole at the bottom to route cables in and out. The cover improves the aesthetics but hinders accessibility so users should consider carefully whether they need it or not. The stand is lacking in most adjustments with only vertical tilt but LG ships the 34UC97 with a 100mm VESA bracket which can be attached instead of the supplied stand and used with a custom monitor arm, if required. The finish used on the rear of the 34UC97 is a little disappointing - it's a thin plastic coating that is surprisingly vulnerable to scratches.
The input and output options are fairly generous with a USB 3.0 hub and two USB ports, a pair of HDMI ports, a headphone/speaker jack, a DisplayPort and a duo of Thunderbolt 2.0 ports to facilitate daisy-chaining with compatible systems. If the user so desires these ports can be hidden away using the supplied plastic cover.
A side-on view reveals that the LG 34UC97 bulges out towards the lower-centre. This is mainly to account for the input-output area and dual 7-watt speakers, the power supply is handled externally with a 140-watt laptop-style power brick.