Desktop monitors have certainly evolved over the years. From bulky CRT monsters they have slimmed down to near wafer-thin displays that are capable of showcasing some truly brilliant screen quality. But for some enthusiasts, one desktop display is not enough, and thus the multi-monitor setup was born. Two, three, and sometimes even four screens arranged side by side to produce a vast desktop space for multiple purposes and supposedly to increase productivity. And it seems that LG is targeting those multi-monitor enthusiasts with its latest product, the LG 29EA93. It’s a massive 21:9 widescreen display that has a number of rather unique features, which makes it perfect for anyone looking for more screen real estate without the room for multiple monitors on their desk.
The LG 29EA93 is an interesting piece of kit, simply because its design requires a bit of assembly to appreciate. The silver base stand comes detached from the main display, and needs to be fitted and secured with the supplied two screws. There’s a small plate that then covers the screws, so that your display keeps its sleek and stylish look. The base unit allows you to tilt the display slightly upwards or down depending on your preference, but it won’t let you adjust the height, which means that this display will by default be lower than your eye level. You can of course prop it up on something so that it’s more comfortable, but I wish that it came with a more adjustable base that offered either height or swivel adjustments, or even the possibility to rotate the display into portrait mode.
The LG 29EA93 is a matte display, which means that if you work near bright sources of light, you won’t have to worry so much about glare from your screen. Even when the brightness is cranked up to maximum, the screen had a softer look to it while still remaining bright and crisp, thanks to the IPS panel with LED backlighting.
At the bottom right you have small buttons that let you bring up the OSD controls as well as the power button. The buttons are more like little dots under the screen, and at times can be a bit fiddly to adjust. I also hit the power button by mistake on several occasions when trying to adjust some settings, so it would be nice if LG moved the power button to maybe the side of the monitor or spaced it a bit better.
The On Screen Display is well laid out, which each option being clearly labeled and small folder icons indicating that further options are available for particular selections. Audio, picture, source, and other options are all just a few clicks away, instead of being buried in menus like on so many other displays. There are also options to stretch the display for scenarios such as viewing movies, so that you get rid of any visible black bars if they persist.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to connectivity options on the LG 29EA93. At the back are 3.5mm ports for audio in and out, DisplayPort, DVI, and two HDMI ports. There’s also a USB 3.0 hub with three ports available.
I initially connected my computer to the display using a DVI cable, but found that though I was able to get the correct resolution, I couldn’t use the display because the text and icons were very jagged. No amount of driver updates, fiddling with the OSD or searching online forums could come up with a solution, and this happened on two separate machines. But once I connected via HDMI, the display came to life and everything appeared correctly.
Connecting the screen via HDMI instantly gave me the full desktop resolution of 2,560 x 1,080, which was at first very awkward to look at, given I wasn’t used to having that much screen real-estate on one display. But I was quickly able to adjust and enjoy the benefits of having such a wide display. TweetDeck was a joy to use, display all of my columns easily without the need to scroll horizontally. Pulling up our editorial Excel sheet was also very easy, with the wide display allowing me to see may more rows that on my previous monitor.
The LG 29EA93 has a particular software that you can download which then sits in your system tray and allows you to quickly resize open windows to better fill the screen size. For example, you can resize certain applications to sit side by side, or horizontally, or even split the screen into quarters. There is also a utility for True Color Finder to make more accurate hardware calibrations.
After being ‘productive’ for a few hours, I decided to see how games would run on the LG 29EA93. the first game I fired up was Diablo III, and I was pleased to see that while most dungeons would usually appear very murky and dark on my old monitor, the LG 29EA93 was able to deliver deeper blacks, which meant that I didn’t have to adjust the gamma levels in my game in order to see certain creatures or items. The only downside is that the game didn’t support the display’s native resolution, so there were black vertical bars on the screen. However Guild Wars 2 did support the full resolution, and it was really nice to roam around with such a stunning and wide field of view.
My pitfall was when I connected my PlayStation 3 to see how the console gaming would look on the LG 29EA93. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of 1080p, the display was heavily cropped and looked awful if I stretched it to fit (not to mention hiding parts of the game). If I switched it to the ‘Original’ ratio, the game was centered to fit the screen vertically, but not horizontally, so once again there were wide black bars to the side of the screen. Clearly console gaming isn’t what the LG 29EA93 is designed for. Another point to note is that when a friend of mine was playing Tekken on the PlayStation 3, he noted that there was definitely a very noticeable input lag on the display, which is another indication that maybe LG wasn’t thinking of hardcore gamers when they dreamt up this model.
Another gripe with the LG 29EA93 is the speakers. While I don’t expect most displays to have stellar speakers on them, the ones on the LG 29EA93 are very harsh and really awful. I highly recommend using headphones or connecting another set of speakers, unless you don’t care about the quality of the audio you’re listening to.
A handy feature that’s included though is Picture in Picture, although in the case of the LG 29EA93 it’s more like side-by-side. You can display inputs from both HDMI or DisplayPort side by side, and also toggle which input’s audio takes preference. It’s a handy feature to have, even if you might not use it all the time. Watching movies on the LG 29EA93 was fantastic, as the screen’s size meant that you could appreciate a film without black bars at the top and bottom distracting you. But what I did notice is that even though the display is fairly large, you can only appreciate movies if you’re watching them from a fairly close distance. If you’ve set up the LG 29EA93 in your bedroom for example and want to watch films from a distance, then you’ll find the screen looks surprisingly small from a distance.
The LG 29EA93 is certainly an eye-turning display, with plenty of space to display almost anything and everything. Spreadsheets, webpages and design work just seem to flow naturally, and it’s fine-tuning color adjustments are great for accurate color representation. But despite being a great display there are some noticeable flaws, such as the fixed base, input lag, and zero console compatibility. But as a desktop monitor only, the LG 29EA93 is a great investment that will make you seriously consider ditching your dual-monitor setup.