I recently upgraded from my crap-tastic and ageing Samsung Syncmaster T220HD monitor, which after years of use and abuse was really beginning to show its problems. I was fine when my previous and even current smartphone had better colour accuracy, but what started grinding my gears was the crap-tastic Chinese tablet (review coming soon™) that I snagged for
free €100 having a better display. It was so old it wasn’t even Full HD; that should tell you something. So when the backlight finally started flickering and it looked like it was on its last legs, I bit the bullet and got myself a proper ultrawide Chad monitor to get into the productivity meme. This isn’t my first encounter with this display, as I have suggested it for a friend and he liked it, but I found it at the unbeatable price of €139 and couldn’t resist any longer. If you can find it at a similar price, I strongly suggest it; ultrawide isn’t a meme.
Some words about the display first. Colour accuracy and display angles are godlike. I don’t have any professional calibration equipment with me at home, but unless you are willing to spend significantly more money for a monitor, you’ll be hard pressed to find better. I found it very bright—remember, I live in Greece—so much that it hurts my eyes at the default, but it’s possible to reduce the backlight brightness; I’m pointing this out because it wasn’t possible with the Samsung monitor. You can adjust colour settings as well, but I use a bland default.
The construction is plastic and the bezels aren’t the smallest I’ve ever seen. Granted, they’re smaller than what I’m used to, but they won’t win any design awards. There is a single logo into the front, and it’s printed on, so you should be able to rub it off if it’s bothersome. The display stand can adjust tilt, but not height, which is a little disappointing, but not a deal breaker. You can keep it elevated with a book or something, and if rotating the display exactly how you want to is very important for you, you should probably already own a VESA mount bracket; this display can be can be mounted.
It doesn’t have speakers, but it does have a DAC and an amplifier, so you can drive speakers or headphones with them. I’ve stopped using speakers because I wanted to try the display’s audio output, and I am very satisfied; unless you have a very expensive motherboard, the display’s amplifier will be superior and louder. It connects through HDMI, so PulseAudio will recognise it right away; just make sure that you set things up properly with
pavucontrol. You could make do with just headphones to be honest; it’s unlikely you’ll notice you’re missing out on anything.
So, how is life in ultrawide mode? The media that supports the aspect ratio looks amazing of course. For me personally, black bars in the sides are much more pleasant aesthetically than the ones top and bottom. Gaming, too, can be very fun, so long as the game supports the resolution properly. First person games work the best due to the increased field of view; you have more peripheral vision to work with. MOBAs and RTS games will admittedly feel weird at first, specifically due to the minimap placement, but it’s easy to get used to, and of course you can run games in a more standard 16:9 resolution if it bothers you a lot.
For productivity, what you will notice immediately is that everything is much wider, of course. If you thought normal wide monitors were a bit too wide for editing text and browsing the web, prepare to have your mind blown away. Many websites aren’t optimised for these kinds of monitors and just look stupid. Gonna be blunt, unless you know how to work your window manager, you are going to have a bad time. I strongly suggest that you figure out how to centre your window and assign it to a shortcut that you like, because you’re going to press that button a lot, and I mean a lot.
I’ve installed the centeredmaster dwm patch and it’s become my new favourite layout. Usually I like master and stack, split about half and half, or fullscreen, but this display is so wide that keeping windows permanently on one side means I have to keep my head tilted in that direction, which gets tiring very fast. It isn’t bad for background tasks and things you look at every so often, but it’s much better if your main work area is centred. The ultrawide workflow in general favours having many windows open, as in three or more. I used to be a fullscreen person, maybe three windows max per virtual desktop, but I’ve had to change that because otherwise I’m wasting space. If you’re the type of guy who literally has 20 windows open all the time and you refuse to close them, if you never shut down your computer, this is the monitor for you.
It’s wide enough that it can replace a multi-monitor setup, depending on what you’re doing with it. Of course, two monitors have more total screen real estate, but if you’re okay with a little less, one ultrawide monitor is more convenient, less expensive, and takes less space on your desk. If you use applications with lots of toolbars and widgets, you can push them all to the side and still be left with a sizeable working area. Photoshop and Premiere come to mind in particular. Personally, I only use one toolbar, dwm’s built-in panel, so that I know what workspace I’m on, but mostly to tell the time. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have a couple browsers behind my text editor with references or a dictionary or a thesaurus or something, or API documentation if I’m programming.
If you like this monitor, you can still find it well under €200, its original price, especially if you buy used. They’re flying off the shelves like hot cakes, so grab yours while you can.
Final verdict: 9/10