BenQ XR3501: When You Get What You Pay For

The BenQ XR3501 is part of the latest generation of really impressive BenQ monitors that have been reinventing the brand. This sweeping 35” panoramic has a super-wide field of view, and black eQualizer to brighten dark scenes without over-exposing lighter areas, helping gamers distinguish targets in the dark. More importantly, it features a 144hz refresh rate.  Basically, this is what a monitor looks like when it has all the bells and whistles.

This monitor was supposedly developed in collaboration with professional gamers, to reduce flickering regardless of the brightness settings. This greatly reduces eye fatigue that’s common during extended gaming sessions.

Blue light in particular is also known to lead to eye strain and fatigue, these monitors have adjustable low blue light settings that can help reduce this compared to
a conventional monitor without having a negative effect on visual acuity.

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20-level color vibrancy settings can help you choose the right color profile for the game you’re playing, whether it’s a bright and happy atmosphere or something dark and gritty. Game modes specific to car racing, CS:GO, and the Battlefield series. And like with so many other widescreen gaming monitors, this has picture in picture.

Specifications

35” Screen
LED Backlit
2560×1080 (2k) native resolution
144hz refresh rate
178/178 degree viewing angle
16.7 million display colors
300 cd/m2 brightness
2000:1 contrast ratio
4-12ms response time
21:9 aspect ratio
2000R curvature radius
2 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 miniDisplayPort
100 x100mm VESA mountable. 5-15 degree tilt
24.5 lbs
3 year warranty

Cons

No G-sync, no height adjustment, and VESA mount is sold separately.  To nitpick, it’s unfortunate the response time is 4-12ms, but those are standard values.

Conclusion

The price tag is heavy, but this is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. This is one of the few widescreen monitors that strikes a perfect balance between gaming features, like 144hz refresh rates, and a 21:9  widescreen aspect ratio. If you believe a display is an investment, then this is a worthy one to grab.

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LG 25UM56-P: Widescreen on a Budget

Affordable ultra-wide always costs something. The LG 25UM56-P is excellent for the price, is an excellent multimedia monitor for watching movies or to use as a secondary display. Great for games that are more visual-oriented, but less optimal for competitive FPS and RTS titles.

The extra horizontal space from this ultra-wide display means you can fit half a dozen apps on one screen, so you don’t have to swap around from window to window, or from display to display.  This display includes a split screen feature that can actually divide the screen into four parts — it takes some getting used to, but it can speed up how quickly you can toggle between applications efficiently.

Features & Ultrawide Gaming Ability

The dual controller lets you connect a console to the display, and picture in picture modes to help break up the screen for multiplayer viewing.  There are number of gaming modes, including FPS and RTS ones, which make use of different settings and use of the black stabilizer for optimal visual performance. These presets can be manually changed.

Unfortunately, even with these presets, the truth is a 60hz monitor isn’t ideal for FPS play. But the black stabilizer can help make objects in the dark appear bright and sharp, which makes it easier to strike enemies in the dark.

The IPS panel gives professional-quality color accuracy, with 99% of the sRGB spectrum available in the display. TUV certification means no perceptible flickering to make your eyes tired from staring at the screen. Gaming wants closer to a 1ms response time, 5ms is passable but not up to very high standards.

The OSD menu on the display uses a joystick on the bottom size of the bezel. The joystick can also help you navigate through gaming presets, volume settings, and input sources. This display runs a thin bezel that looks completely modern, the base is stable, but that also means it’s fairly large like many widescreen bases. That’s probably related to why the designers decide to make it VESA compatible.

Specifications

25” Screen
LED Backlit
2560×1080 (2k) resolution
60hz refresh rate
178/178 viewing angle
250 cd/m2 brightness
5,000,000:1 contrast ratio
5ms response time
21:9 aspect ratio
IPS panel
2 HDMI connectors
VESA mount compatible.
8.8 lbs with stand.

Cons

The most serious drawback is probably having only two HDMI ports. No Displayport, and no DVI/VGA ports, is no walk in the park. Additionally, the brightness is somewhat low — but isn’t a very perceptible difference.

Like with all glossy finish, this monitor is a big of a glare-magnet. Direct sunlight and this display do not mix.  The fact this monitor is only 60hz may bother some people, but it’s worth mentioning it can be easily overclocked to 75hz. The lack of freesync and built-in speakers is more reflective of the price than anything — you get what you pay for.

Conclusion

If you’re a professional gamer playing competitive RTS/FPS, this isn’t a monitor for you. But for just about everyone else, this is one of the best widescreens you can find in its price-range. If you’re looking to invest heavily in a monitor, this probably isn’t your pick. But it’s on the lower-end of things, it’s an excellent choice.

 

LG 34UM68-P 34-Inch: Bang for the Buck

The first thing worth noticing about the LG 34UM68-P is the crisp 2k image. The combination of an IPS panel and a 2k resolution provides rich colors without having to calibrate or tweak OSD settings. Having said that, if you do like to refine your image, there is an expansive menu that can help you view and apply settings to your screen with minimal hassle.

Ultrawide Curved Monitors For Movies

Like with most widescreens, the 178 degree viewing angle means if you lie down to watch a movie, you’ll need to move this baby so you’re sitting directly in-front of it. If five people were on a crowded couch watching a movie on this display, the two friends on the furthest ends would be getting a fairly mediocre view.

The 5ms response time is nothing to write home about — you won’t have ghosting with fast objects in any form of media, with one exception. Fast paced video games may provide faint traces of ghosting, but they should be imperceptible to all but the finely trained eye. The 21:9 Ultra-wide resolution provides fluid motion without stuttering or tearing, and a non-glossy surface means no glare.

There’s not much to say about the glossy black cabinet, it feels completely standard. However, there is a relatively thin bezel that makes the monitor feel broader and more immersive than some of the thicker bezels used by other displays. Once you’ve figured out the assembly, the base is relatively easy to remove, but the weight of the screen can make removal unwieldy. The  base has a broad range of adjustability, as much has 20 degrees, which is useful for maintaining the direct line of sight you need to ensure color quality.

Features

There’s a notable “game mode” that you can use to toggle between RTS, FPS, and customized setting that can help enhance the visual acuity of your gaming experience. It’s easy to toggle between these genre-appropriate presets, and switch between modes as you toggle between games. You can even save various ‘picture modes’ and bring them up with basically two taps of your finger.

Four types of picture-in-picture modes enabling you to turn your monitor in to several monitors.  The on-screen controls can help you load presets and change settings in only a few clicks, making it optimal for work efficiency. This display also runs a black stabilizer, which paired with the higher contrast ratio of this device, makes this a great monitor for distinguishing dark objects, like players hiding in a dark corridor of a game. It’s also worth noting that LG guarantees the color accuracy as part of its rigid calibration tests.

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It used to be the case that few games used 21:9, but an increasing number of AAA titles are starting to use this field of view. Giants like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty, have begun to make 21:9 an increasingly common standard.

Drawbacks

The assembly is frankly confusing. The instructions that come on the box aren’t clear, and you have to access the LG website to get more detailed instructions.

Specifications

34” Screen
LED Backlit
2560×1080 (2k) Resolution
75Hz Refresh Rate
178/178 Degree Viewing Angle

0.312 mm x 0.310 mm Pixel Pitch
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio 5,000,000:1
Response Time 5ms
Panel: IPS

Stand Adjustments 5-20 Degree Range (120mm)
Build-in Speakers 2x7W
17.6 lbs (including stand)
Connectors: HDMI, DisplayPort
1 Year Warranty

Conclusion

The range of features and size of the display are a significant value compared to many competitors on the market right now.  The appearance of this display is modest for what’s really inside — a finely tuned ultrawide gaming monitor.