3D World




An artist’s digital desktop is their unique personal space – and its layout, physical size and resolution is an integral part of any workflow. So the width and shape of the screen an individual chooses to use should be what feels comfortabl­e to them and works in their environmen­t.

It follows that we can’t say which screen size is ‘best’ for any given user. At times working on the 49-inch Philips 498P9 was an amazing experience with so much visual informatio­n available, but at sitting distance you do need to turn your head to use it. At other times we preferred using one of the slimmer panels that meant the whole display could still fit into our peripheral vision.

Besides screen size, the displays on test differ with their mix of VA and IPS panel technology. While VA is considerab­ly less expensive, we found the image quality of IPS is better. Both the Asus and Dell displays that come with IPS panels exhibited better viewing angles, brightness uniformity and colour accuracy when tested with a Spyder5 colorimete­r.

But that’s not the whole story. VA can offer deeper contrast, and the VA displays on test offered higher brightness levels, but on some VA displays fast-moving black images can occasional­ly result in artefacts on screen that you never see on IPS panels. But that’s rare, and without forensic analysis, we think you’ll find it hard to spot the difference between VA and IPS screens when viewing content normally.

That’s why we think the real stand-out model in this test is the AOC CU34P2A. For under £400, you get a 34inch wide display that offers great results for most usage scenarios and is very well built.

We advise to choose a display that makes it easy to navigate through menus with a well-designed OSD, a stand that allows you to tilt, raise and rotate a screen and easily accessible ports. At the high prices some displays carry, you should look for extras such as KVM functional­ity, charging over Thunderbol­t and USB, maybe an SD card slot and crucially, the use of a standard kettle lead for power rather than a proprietar­y external power adapter. They stink.

All of these convenienc­es of a display make it easier to adjust settings and integrate with your computer. Displays are something most people hold on to for years and form the hub of their environmen­t, so frustratin­g issues become highly irritating over time.

On this front, Dell deserves an award for ensuring these aspects of its £2,000 U4021QW are well polished, and in some cases unique. But on the Dell, the most crucial feature for artists is the support for 2,160 pixel height, enabling a 4K image to be displayed at native resolution. That has been a weakness of ultra-wide displays until now, and is something we’re glad to see Dell has solved.

It’s a shame the Dell has a few flaws. The lack of 60Hz at native resolution over HDMI is annoying, and brightness levels are far from HDR levels. For the same, or less, money you can get better, brighter image quality from a 16:9 4K screen. Right now it seems no manufactur­er offers that highly accurate, extremely bright image quality in an IPS ultra-wide – the perfect ultrawide display remains elusive.

Perfection is the enemy of the good though, and despite the niggles we’ve loved testing all four displays here, and enjoyed working with an ultra-wide desktop. We highly recommend this upgrade – as long as you’re aware there may be some limitation­s.

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