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Get a bigger picture with an ultrawide 29-inch display

James Galbraith | July 9, 2013
Ultrawide displays are here, and Macworld Lab takes a look at offerings from AOC, Dell, and LG.

When you're multitasking like mad, a standard-aspect-ratio monitor can't provide enough real estate to display every open window without many of them overlapping and obscuring one another. For this reason alone, most Macworld editors and designers use more than one display. Constantly rearranging multiple browser, text editor, chat, and photo-editing windows as you search for the one you need saps productivity and invites frustration.

But using multiple displays isn't a panacea, either. First, you need a graphics card that can meet the demands you may have for two displays. Second, multiple video and power cables add clutter to your work environment. Third—and most important—a gap between the displays is inevitable, no matter how carefully you arrange them. Even the narrowest bezel creates a blind spot as your mouse pointer crosses from screen to screen.

The new 29-inch, ultrawide displays featured here—each delivering a resolution of 2560 by 1080 pixels on a single screen—are designed to take the place of two smaller monitors. Using one longer monitor instead of two smaller ones lets you use a single connection from your computer and removes the problem of pesky bezels that break your concentration as your eyes scan from left to right across the screen. Ultrawide displays are just the ticket for productivity apps, and they're not bad for gaming, either.

The contenders
Four ultrawide displays recently passed through our Macworld Lab: the Dell UltraSharp U2913WM, the AOC Q2963PM, the NEC MultiSync EA294WMi, and the LG 29EA93P Ultra-wide IPS Monitor. Each display measures 29 inches diagonally and has an aspect ratio of 21:9. That's much wider than the 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratios you'll find on more-conventional monitors—and of course vastly wider than the 4:3 aspect ratio that old-school displays deliver.

Each of the models I evaluated incorporates a high-quality IPS (In-Plane Switching) LCD panel that delivers a very wide range of acceptable off-axis viewing angles (an especially important feature when you're dealing with an ultrawide display). And each screen uses environmentally friendly LED backlighting, which shortens warmup time, lowers energy costs, and reduces the quantity of damaging chemicals that eventually find their way into landfills at the end of a product's useful life.

I liked all four displays, but one delivered more features and performed better than the others.

AOC Q2963PM
 
AOC Q2963PM

The Q2963PM is one of the most full-featured displays in the group, providing DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, MHL, and VGA connectivity.

Text on the Q2963PM was crisp and clean, and games and movies played smoothly; but it rendered stark whites with just a hint of yellow. You won't want to use this display for tasks such as photo editing where color fidelity is essential.

 

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