We have tested LG’s best UltraWide monitor in 2016 – winner of Innovation Award 2016 at CES and reddot award 2016 – 34UC98-W. When we first got news about this monitor, we thought that it is just a clone of last year’s 34UC97 but with new stand and USB 3.0 Quick Charge technology. Let us check together if those really are the only new features.
|Display technology||AH-IPS LCD with LED backlight (pixel pitch 0.2325 x 0.2325 mm)|
|Screen size||34 inch / 86.3 cm|
|Energy class||B (54 W, 79 kWh/annum)|
|Response time||5 ms grey-to-grey|
|Color gamut||sRGB over 99%|
|Screen refresh rate||max. 75 Hz|
|Color depth||10bit (8bit + A-FRC)|
|Resolution||3440 x 1440|
|DisplayPort||Yes, 2x (1x mDP)|
|VESA wall mount||Yes (100 x 100 mm)|
|Podešavanje balansa bijele boje i raspona boja||Yes|
|Picture in Picture||Yes|
|Suggested price||$1199.99 – check prices on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk|
Link: Official website >>
|Buy on Amazon.co.uk:||Buy on Amazon.com|
Unboxing, design and setup
LG 34UC98 monitor follows attractive design of its predecessor, 34UC97, but with small but welcoming changes that make design more interesting. Screen has steeper curvature – 1900R – precisely 2 times as steep as the old model. Stand follows curved design, but with even steeper curvature than the screen itself. We were a bit disappointed when we realized that stand’s brushed aluminum looks is not based on the real aluminum, but rather well a successful imitation of it.
Black bezel with silver framing is 11 mm wide, clear of any marking except for LG’s logo in the center. Backside is made of white glossy plastic and this is also where all connectors are placed.
Among inputs/outputs, there are 2x HDMI (version 2.0), 1x DisplayPort (version 1.2), 2x Thunderbolt (version 2.0), 2x USB 3.0 ports and 1x headphone jack. USB 3.0 Quick Charge is also supported on USB port no. 1.
More information about design and setup is available in the video below:
Interface & menus
34UC98 offers on-screen menus which can be accessed using joystick on the bottom side, behind LG’s logo. One short press on the joystick will open quick menu through which you can access either setup menu, Game mode or Input list. Long press will turn the monitor off.
Setup menu is displayed on the right hand side of the screen is combination of semi-transparent and non-transparent styling, with options separated in five different categories:
- Quick Settings
- PBP (Picture By Picture)
- Sound and
The last options on the list is the Reset which will turn every option back to the factory defaults.
Quick Settings lets you adjust Brightness (that is LED backlight intensity in monitor world – in TV world this option impacts Black level), Contrast, Volume of the built-in stereo speakers, Input selection and finally Aspect Ratio (Original and 1:1 pixel mapping options are available).
PBP offers several different options for displaying 2 inputs on the screen.When using DisplayPort connection, you have HDMI 1 and HDMI 2 available as second display.
Picture lets you choose between a total of 11 different picture presets (more about them in next chapter). Here you can adjust Sharpness, Black Level and DFC option in Picture Adjust submenu. DFC stands for Digital Fine Contrast as LG’s contrast-enhancing technology introduced back in 2006. It is just a fancy name for dynamic contrast option which we do not recommend to use. Game Adjust sub-menu offers Response Time, FreeSync and Black Stabilizer adjustments and Color Adjust Sub-menu Gamma, color temperature and CMS system for adjusting both primary and secondary colors.
Sound menu offers MaxxAudio sound adjustment and Midnight Mode.
In General menu you can adjust language, energy saving options, power LED on/off, auto standby time, DisplayPort 1.2 specification, Quick Charge for USB, Buzzer and OSD Lock.
Speaker volume can easily be adjusted by moving joystick left and right, which is much more practical than entering menus every time.
If for some reason you do not want to use built-in joystick (for example, if you have screen mounted on the wall), you can install LG’s software and use OnScreen Control. This will allow you to adjust a number of settings, including volume, brightness and contrast, aspect ratio, picture mode and even FreeSync. Software also allows creating per-application picture presets, so that you can use one preset for Microsoft Office and other for Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player.
Another cool feature is Screen Split, which allows 13 different windows layouts that will suit your needs. For us this was not necessary since Windows 10 resizing to left and right part of the screen was enough, but for more advanced options this is the way to go.
Just like 34UC97, so does 34UC98 monitor arrive factory calibrated. LG’s Display Quality Assurance Report shows measurements for Gamma, Color Temperature and Color Difference, all within spec for HDMI input. As with previously tested LG’s monitors that come factory calibrated, the only unknown item is which of available picture presets is actually calibrated, since none carries a name that would indicate such state.
Compared to 34UC97 monitor, which offered only 4 different picture presets, the new 34UC98 offers a total of 11 different ones:
- Custom (active by default)
- Dark Room 1
- Dark Room 2
- Color Weakness
- FPS Game 1
- FPS Game 2
- RTS Game and
- Custom (Game)
- Custom (active by default)
- Dark Room 1 and
- Dark Room 2
This is actually a very good news since this means that the very first picture user will see is already very accurate out-of-the-box, no further adjustments are necessarily needed. On the other hand, there are different very accurate presets available, so user is not limited to use only one preset and forget about the others. For example, user can stick with Custom for daytime viewing and Dark Room 1/2 for nighttime.
Below is how Custom picture preset looks like when measured using CalMAN software (DisplayPort connection):
As you can see, overall result is very accurate and inline with LG’s report – this result is only not fully acceptable for professional users who rely completely on faithful colors and ideally balanced greyscale. For those users, further adjustments are needed – below you can see comparison between default and calibrated Custom picture preset:
Calibrated ICC profile can be downloaded from HD Televizija website here >>
If you want to learn more about picture presets on LG 34UC98, calibration and picture analysis video is available:
Below are listed all conducted tests including On/Off contrast, panel and backlight uniformity, screen reflections, viewing angles, etc. At the end is score average that summarizes performance of tested monitor.
|On/off contrast||2||Custom – 886:1
Reader – 669:1
Photo – 811:1
Cinema – 881:1
Dark Room 1 – 894:1
Dark Room 2 – 900:1
Color Weakness – 882:1
FPS Game 1 – 740:1
FPS Game 2 – 508:1
RTS Game – 653:1
Custom Game – 736:1
|sRGB coverage||4||99.6% (acceptable is 100% +/-3%)|
|Grayscale average deltaE2000||4||2.25 (Custom factory preset, acceptable is below 3)|
|Color average deltaE2000||4||2.07 (Custom factory preset, acceptable is below 3)|
|Backlight uniformity||2||overall good result, but visible backlight bleed observed in corners in dark room environment|
|Screen reflections||3||matte finish successfully reduced reflections of light and bright objects on the screen|
|Dirty Screen Effect||3||not noticeable|
|Screen reflections||3||matte screen|
|Viewing angles||4||wide viewing angles|
|Dead/stuck pixels||4||no dead/stuck pixels detected|
|IPS glow||2||IPS glow visible, same level as on other IPS screens tested to date|
|Motion resolution||2||300 lines on FPD Benchmark Blu-ray disc|
|Input lag||4||with DAS enabled, lowest measured 10.6 ms (DAS disabled: 26.7 ms in Custom (Game) and 27.8 ms in Custom preset)|
* – scores 1-4, more is better, 1 = poor, 2 = average, 3 = good, 4 = excellent
As shown in table above, LG’s 34UC98 monitor delivers good performance all around, with several excellent points on the list. Contrast is as expected for monitor based on IPS panel, though last year’s 34UC97 was better – reaching over 1000:1. Perhaps this is caused by more gentle curve of the 2015 model or simply a variation between the sets – it is hard to confirm without assessment done on more samples.
When we dimmed lights in the room and displayed black test image, we could see backlight bleed along the bezel and especially in the corners. Good thing is that this never bothered us during actual usage, but it surely would if this was a TV and we wanted to watch a movie like Gravity or The Dark Knight.
Dirty Screen Effect (DSE) is non-existant, which is still a major plus for PC monitors compared to modern TVs – from our experience DSE effect is more visible on TVs with IPS panels and direct LED backlight.
Viewing angles are within expected for IPS, wide and with good saturation of colors from different angles. The only disadvantage is so-called IPS glow effect which makes dark areas of the screen appear to be glowing when viewed under angle.
Motion resolution is typical for 60/75 Hz LCD monitor, reaching 300 out of 1080 lines on FPD Benchmark monoscope test. There are different response options, but none can further improve this result – highest value will introduce reverse ghosting and even slightly decrease motion resolution. Good thing is that there are no long trails behind moving objects as is the case with modern LED LCD TVs with blinking backlight or Black Frame Insertion (BFI) techniques.
Finally, input lag with DAS enabled is excellent 10.6 ms, which is a great result that even the most demanding gamers will accept. When DAS is disabled result is 26 – 27 ms – typical for standard monitor and also acceptable. The only thing which we did not fully understand is why DAS is no longer available as an option in user menus, but you can only see its status in Game mode window and without any option to toggle it.
Gaming, office use and user experience
Ever since we started testing 1440p 21:9 monitors, we are hoping to see one on our desktop not just for testing but for permanent use. After test of LG’s 34UC98, we want UltraWide monitor even more since this is the first one that combines excellent picture quality and gaming potential. As being the first UltraWide monitor that supports FreeSync, 34UC98 also keeps same very low input lag which is the same as on pure gaming monitors like LG 24GM77. When all this is combined it is hard not to be drawn deep into digital worlds that so many games offer.
LG knew that gaming would be an important part of the review, so together with monitor they supplied us with full version of Tom Clancy’s: The Division game. The game has native support for 3440 x 1440 21:9 resolution, so we jumped right into the action in the dystopian New York City that this game so realistically presents. Wide field of view reveals so many details on the streets filled with destroyed cars, trash and dazed people that from time to time you simply have to stop and observe all that information. When first “shock” ends and you actually start playing, more benefits of tear-free, wide FOV start to reveal themselves. You simply have better overview of the situation and can more effectively deal with enemies and finish missions.
The only downside of The Division is that is requires a very powerful PC to run smoothly in 3440×1440 resolution. With our AMD R9 270 GPU and Intel i5 750 @2.67 GHz CPU, we were between 20 and 30 fps on average, so we can only imagine how much better and more immersive experience would be to play with constant 60 Hz on this monitor.
Still, we tried also a little older games that run more smoothly on our PC – Mafia II and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Both games are excellent by definition and we already have spent many fun hours playing them on 24″ 1920×1200 16:10 monitor. But to try them on 34″ UltraWide, this is such an improvement in the experience that you simply need to witness to fully appreciate. Simply, you feel as if you are closer to actually being in the game, rather than watching it. Gorgeous mountains in Skyrim, cityscapes in Mafia II – it is hard to think of any other single-monitor setup that would give such an amazing experience.
Apart from gaming, which was truly remarkable on 34UC98, we spend a lot of time working in Windows environment, writing articles and editing videos. This particular review was written on this monitor, with Google Chrome window on the left part of the screen and CalMAN calibration software on the right. When we were not checking graphs and measurements in CalMAN, we had LG’s official website or our own videos which made us more productive.
We also got better overview of the timeline in Sony Vegas Movie Studio video editing software, which allowed us to more easily arrange clips, lower thirds and other media that form the final video. High resolution of the screen combined with excellent colors and wide viewing angle help a lot in getting sharpness and colors right where we want them to be.
It is also worth noting that 21:9 screen gives a great viewing experience for movies in Cinemascope format since there are no black bars above and below image, as is the case with 16:9 screens. Even though contrast of the screen is not among the best we’ve seen with in LCD world, it was still a great pleasure to watch movies on this monitor.
LG 34UC98 has 2 built-in down-firing speakers, 7 W each. Speakers feature MaxxAudio technology for better sound quality coming from compact cabinets and small speakers. As a result sound coming from this monitor is loud and has clear high frequencies. There are no obvious distortions in sound, though low frequencies are lacking. Our biggest complaint is in “flat screen sound”, which makes music, dialog and everything else reproduced as if it is coming from space between two walls. Even when we tilted the screen to look at the speakers and avoid sound reflections from the table, the same effect remained.
To conclude, for not demanding use like in the office to check once in a while a video or sound file, it will be fine. For everything else and especially for gaming, separate speakers are a must.
Info about price/availability
|Buy on Amazon.co.uk:||Buy on Amazon.com|
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