When widescreen simply isn’t wide enough, LG’s 29EA93 stretches the definition still further by offering a 29in display with a 21:9 aspect ratio. It features 2560 pixels across, and 1080 pixels down within a high-quality in-plane switching (IPS) panel, along with built-in three-port USB 3.0 hub and support for hardware calibration.
So why would you want a display in this format?
Obviously, there’s the benefit of extra screen space – documents fit nicely side-by-side and spreadsheets can show many more columns. But many films are shot in an aspect ratio that approaches the format of this screen, and these can be watched without black bars top and bottom you’d find with a 16:9 display. Games can also become more immersive, due to the expanded field of view.
There are however several disadvantages. Standard HDTV material shot in 16:9 resolution will now appear with black bars at the sides of the picture. Many games are not able to run in the 21:9 format, so will suffer from the same problem when set to more popular widescreen ratios.
If you’re used to a standard 24in 16:9-format monitor, you’ll find the 29EA93 just a little shorter and a whole lot wider. Coming from a 30in display it’s about the same width, but seems cut off at the waist – either way it does take some getting used to.
Build quality is pleasantly high. The monitor is constructed mainly from plastic – it’s no Apple Cinema Display, but feels sturdy and features several subtle design touches which lend it an expensive feel with no small measure of style.
The tilting stand must be manually attached with a couple of screws and features no height adjustment whatsoever, and unfortunately it does sit too low on the desk for comfort.
Alternatively you could use the built-in VESA 100 mount to fix it to a wall or other compatible stand.
The monitor is controlled by a row of four touch sensitive buttons which sit beneath the bezel on the right. These activate at the slightest touch of an upturned fingertip.
Selecting the menu button brings up a row of large, colourful icons from which you can navigate your way through the monitor’s many functions. Although the layout is clear and helpful, the controls themselves are so sensitive that it’s too easy to accidentally activate them, making for many frustrating incorrect menu selections.
At the rear we find a total of four display inputs, comprising DVI-D, DisplayPort and a pair of HDMI ports. One of these also supports MHL for connecting Google phones. You also get an analogue audio input and a headphone socket. The display is kept slim by removing the power supply, and instead relying on an external block.
It’s important to note that, to use this display at its native resolution, you’ll need to use DisplayPort, dual-link DVI or HDMI version 1.4. Failure to do so will result in a rather unpleasant-looking picture. You’ll also require a relatively modern graphics adaptor in your PC or laptop to smoothly drive its 2.76 megapixels. See all display reviews.
Plug in the monitor and start using it without any of the advanced features, and you’ll find it excellent. The more complicated stuff gets rather tricky though. The display comes with several advanced functions designed to maximise display quality and make the most of the expansive screen size. See also Group test: what's the best 25in and bigger display?
The picture-in-picture mode, a feature we’ve seen on many premium displays, allows you to use two input sources simultaneously, for example a PC and the video output from a Freeview box. You could overlay one display inside the other in the usual way, but the extreme width of the LG 29EA93 makes it practical to display them side-by-side, each filling one half of the screen. See all 25-inch and bigger LCD reviews.
LG includes software (Windows only) such as Screen Split which sits in the Window taskbar and automatically organises your open windows into any of a selection of pre-defined layouts, designed to make efficient use of the screen space.
Dragging the corner of one window causes the others to automatically resize next to it, keeping all fully visible. We found this software to be unhelpful and confusing. The built-in help option didn’t work and the interface offered no practical explanation of how to use it.
In general, the software installation and help certainly leaves room for improvement and is more likely to put off novice users.
The LG 29EA93 performed very well in our tests. You can edit photos and video confidently on this display as it has been pre-calibrated at the factory, resulting in very accurate colour straight out of the box.
In our calibration tests, there was no visible difference before and after calibration, and measured colour errors were as good as non-existent.
Contrast measurements were not as good as many other displays we’ve tested, with a so-so 560:1 result in our tests, but in general use the display looks bright, punchy and sharp.
The LG display was measured with a 79% gamut of Adobe RGB, and 99% sRGB.
A factory calibrated monitor is great, but output colour will change over time and it won’t take long before the display is no longer as accurate as when you bought it.
The 29EA93 has built-in support for hardware calibrators, such as the Datacolor Spyder4, so you can ensure optimum output accuracy is maintained. This is a fully-automated process, LG’s software taking control of the monitor and adjusting the settings for you as it completes.
Power consumption at maximum brightness was relatively high by modern standards, at 38W. Dimmed to a more comfortable 120cd/m2, it drew just 23W.