Get your eyes ready ffor next-level vi­su­als

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STOP THAT. It’s silly. This, we wa­ger, is roughly what goes through your mind as you re­gard Sam­sung’s lat­est ubertron, the C49J89. It isn’t just phys­i­cally huge in ob­jec­tive terms, mea­sur­ing 49 inches across its out­ra­geously am­ple di­ag­o­nal. It’s also vis­ually vast, thanks to its ex­treme 32:9 as­pect ra­tio. Surely, this isn’t sen­si­ble?

But hold on. When the first superwide 21:9 as­pect mon­i­tors ap­peared, opin­ion was di­vided. Now they’re rel­a­tively main­stream and ex­tremely pop­u­lar. Could fa­mil­iar­ity nor­mal­ize the C49J89’s even wider pro­por­tions in a sim­i­lar man­ner?

Hold that thought as we run through the key speeds and feeds. Panel-wise, we’re talk­ing 49 inches of VA shiz­zle with an 1800R cur­va­ture. It’s good for a static con­trast ra­tio of 3,000:1, which is nice, and peak bright­ness of 300cd/m2, which is less stel­lar in this brave new age of HDR. In­deed, this re­veals the key dif­fer­ence be­tween the C49J89 and its oth­er­wise sim­i­lar Sam­sung sib­ling, the CHG90. The C49J89 lacks sup­port for HDR vi­su­als.

That said, it does pack a pretty nifty set of broader ca­pa­bil­i­ties. For starters, it runs up to 144Hz refresh, which isn’t nec­es­sar­ily what you’d ex­pect for a mon­i­tor mainly aimed at pro­duc­tiv­ity. Next up is a builtin KVM switch, giv­ing you lots of op­tions for hook­ing up mul­ti­ple ma­chines to drive the dis­play. USB C con­nec­tiv­ity is an­other bonus, al­low­ing a sin­gle cable to both drive the dis­play and charge a lap­top.

The C49J89 also sup­ports Sam­sung’s DeX Sta­tion in­ter­face, en­abling you to dock your Sam­sung cell phone with the mon­i­tor, mir­ror its in­ter­face, and use a key­board and mouse to con­trol the whole she­bang. But the key spec­i­fi­ca­tion, the one that re­ally de­fines this screen, is the na­tive res­o­lu­tion of 3840x1080. The hor­i­zon­tal fig­ure is the same as a stan­dard 4K or UHD dis­play, but the ver­ti­cal is just half the 4K stan­dard. In sim­ple terms, you have a pair of 1920x1080 Ful­lHD mon­i­tors sit­ting side by side.

The up­side is that you’re get­ting that with ab­so­lutely no divide, no bezels be­tween two dis­plays; just one glo­ri­ous, gen­tly curved ex­panse. The first down­side is that this is not a cheap dis­play, and those 1,080 ver­ti­cal pix­els are a ma­jor lim­i­ta­tion com­pared to, say, a pair of cheap 1440p pan­els, much less dual 4K mon­i­tors, both of which are very much doable for sim­i­lar or less cash than the C49J89. The next is that while 3,840 pix­els sounds like a lot, spread across a 49-inch di­ag­o­nal, they make for a pretty large pixel pitch. A Retina-style dis­play this most def­i­nitely ain’t.

In other re­gards, the panel qual­ity is de­cent. Granted, the view­ing an­gles are lim­ited com­pared to the best IPS mon­i­tors. And it lacks piz­zazz next to the lat­est quan­tum­dot and HDR-en­abled screens. But that 3,000:1 con­trast ra­tio makes for nice, deep blacks, and the col­ors are pleas­ing, if not punchy.

How­ever good the panel qual­ity, the form fac­tor and res­o­lu­tion are what this screen is about. For gam­ing and movies, it’s sub­op­ti­mal. There’s al­most no video con­tent this wide, and most games don’t of­fer a field of view that makes the most of the as­pect ra­tio. For pro­duc­tiv­ity, the C49J89 makes a bet­ter case for it­self as an al­ter­na­tive to a dual-mon­i­tor setup. But even there the lack of pixel den­sity and ver­ti­cal res­o­lu­tion are prob­lem­at­i­cal. The ear­li­est 21:9 mon­i­tors suf­fered from a sim­i­lar lack of pix­els, but even with more pix­els, the ap­peal of ul­tra­w­ide 32:9 mon­i­tors is likely to stay nar­row.

Sam­sung C49J89

EX­PANSE De­cent panel qual­ity; very large, very im­pres­sive.

EX­PENSE Not enough pix­els; pricey for the quan­tity of desk­top space.

$1,099, www.sam­sung.com

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