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October 12, 2017

The Hunt for a Useful 21:9 Monitor

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

As people keep setting two widescreen monitors side-by-side as a common computer configuration, the question arises: Why not just make one, big, wide, monitor?

To answer the question, I did some research.

The widest widescreen format I’m able to find is the 21:9 aspect ratio monitor. It doesn’t have an official designation beyond that; each manufacturer has their own marketing term. My favorite is “ultrawide,” which is a registered trademark of LG.

Superlatives are one thing computer marketing people suck at creating. They use over-the-top adjectives on technology that’s obsolete in 5 years, which weakens the terms. Today’s “ultra wide” will be quaint in 2030.

The 21:9 aspect ratio is geometrically wider than the popular 16:9 widescreen used today. I won’t do the math. And I think the diagonal screen measurements become pointless as a monitor grows wider. Therefore, I’ll just rely upon the monitor’s physical dimensions: How wide is it?

As an example, my current setup uses two widescreen monitors, which is most common in business settings today. The monitors don’t sit cheek-by-jowl; there’s about three inches of space between them. Yet, far-edge to far-edge, they measure about 54-inches across. This measurement accounts for the angle, as both monitors aren’t flat. So if I measure their separation flatly, it’s just a bit above 50-inches. Figure 1 helps illustrate what the hell I’m referring to.

Figure 1. Measuring how my two monitors sit on my desktop.

If I wanted a single replacement monitor that roughly approximates my two monitors do today, I would need a monitor about 50+ inches wide.

First thought: That sucker would be heavy.

Second thought: The monitor would also be a bit unwieldy. It must have a stable support system as well as a decent way to move it hither when the time comes.

Keeping my very-wide-screen monitor desires in mind, I gingerly approached Amazon to browse for their widest monitor. Yes, I’m fully aware that I’ll be bombarded with widescreen monitor advertisements on the web for the new few weeks. I will endure the onslaught.

You can’t search on Amazon based on a monitor’s physical width, only the diagonal measurement. At 50+ inches, the site lists plenty of widescreen monitors, but the bulk are 16:9 ratio, not 21:9. That means they’re pretty big monitors, about the size of a full living room HDTV. That would be fun to have, but it’s not what I want. Also, it’s not something the business users would eagerly accept to replace their current dual-monitor setups.

LG does have its UltraWide® series of monitors. These support the 21:9 aspect ratio and many have a curved screen, which I think will be popular (and expected) for this size monitor. The diagonal rating on these monitors varies, but one I found showed 34-inches. It’s physical measurement, side-to-side, is 32-inches. That’s still shy of my current monitor configuration, which is 54-inches.

My guess is that wider monitors will arrive eventually, and they’ll be desireable. Still, I’ll need to see the thing before I buy it. Computer monitors are one piece of technology I strongly recommend that you see in person before you make the purchase decision.

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