For many years now, Korean electronics company LG has maintained a spot as one of the best makers of television sets and monitors. One of its latest monitors is the 38UC99, an ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio curved 38-inch IPS screen, poised at the high-end and professional market with a variety of features and a retail price of $1,499.99. In my review, I’ll go over the monitor’s features, the good and the bad, and who will really benefit from its use.
Out of the box, I immediately noticed the pleasing and modern look of 38UC99’s physical design. Around the screen is a fairly small black-colored bezel frame at about one centimeter thick – not amazingly thin by today’s standards but not thick-looking either. Outlining the black bezel is a silver accent, which matches the brushed steel look of the front of the stand. The stand features a sturdy, wide base with a curved design to match the curved screen. To adjust the monitor’s position, the stand has a telescopic shaft to move the screen up or down with a joint that allows you to tilt the view at any angle from -5° to 15°. A glossy white plastic surface covers the back of the screen and stand. The overall design aesthetic of the 38UC99 appears high-end but not luxury or futuristic, and it should fit well with contemporary desktops.
On the back of the 38UC99, you can find the various input and output ports. The monitor can accept up to two HDMI and one DisplayPort inputs. There are also two USB 3.0 Quick Charge ports to charge up your mobile devices. A single USB Type-C port allows a cable to be plugged into your computer and for data to be transferred to any devices hooked up to the two USB 3.0 ports while charging. Lastly, a standard 1/8 inch/3.5 millimeter headphone jack allows listening without disturbing those around you.
Next up is the display itself, and what a display it is. Thirty eight inches does not sound big in the realm of home TVs, but for a desk monitor, especially a ultrawide one, it’s pretty immense. The biggest benefits of the 38UC99 are when connected to a computer. I found the extra wide space is fantastic when viewing a lot of data (Excel), columns (TweetDeck), or timelines (video editing software like Adobe Premiere). Additionally, the monitor can be used like dual or multiple screen layouts, either for one PC via the free LG OnScreen Control application or using two different PCs or input devices. All of this is displayed with great color accuracy (sRGB gamut at 10-bit depth), brightness, and sharpness at a WQHD+ resolution of 3840×1600. The lack of 4K resolution is a bit disappointing, but the image here is nothing to scoff at. The easy-to-use OnScreen Control application allows for choosing the multiple-screen configurations along with various settings and some display and color settings – though the more in-depth ones still need to be accessed from the monitor’s menu, which is accessed and controlled by a directional analog-stick like button on the bottom underside of the display. Sadly, the 38UC99 does not include a remote to easily adjust all settings, volume, and power.
The sound quality on the 38UC99 proves to be better than many of your typical monitors or even some TVs nowadays. You can also rent LED screens at visual impact, so if you have a big event you can have nice screens to display anything on. In particular, there is noticeably more bass than I’m used to from monitors, even a little too much, with no way to adjust treble, bass, or any other equalizer settings (perhaps LG will be able to add audio settings in a firmware update). The only control available is volume, which can reach impressively loud levels while sitting at a desk. If your music library sits on another device such as a smartphone, you can output the audio via Bluetooth to the 38UC99’s speakers.
When it’s time to kick back and get some gaming in, the 38UC99 is a more than capable screen to transport you to other worlds. In addition to the accurate colors and splendid display, the monitor keeps the image looking good during high speed movements thanks to FreeSync and 1ms Motion Blur Reduction. FreeSync helps to rid motion of tearing or stuttering and image lag isn’t present thanks to the virtually 1ms response time. I feel both of these features are useful while playing shooters like Call of Duty and Overwatch and racing around in Need for Speed. While playing on PC, the ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio plus curved screen helps to create a slightly more immersive experience. Unfortunately, consoles like the PlayStation 4 do not output 21:9 and instead use the standard wide 16:9 aspect ratio so you will see black letterboxes on the left and right side.
So who is the ideal user for the LG’s 38UC99? Who benefits the most from its features? Data crunchers and media content creators/editors. Most people will not know what to do with such wide screen real estate nor need to use the pseudo dual or multiple layouts. The 38UC99 was most useful to me while working. I used the dual screen layout to have notes or a press release on one side while I typed or edited images on the other; doing a post on social media while also being able to see our Slack work chat or a video simultaneously. Using the entire ultrawide screen allowed me to see more of my TweetDeck Twitter dashboard, Excel spreadsheet, or video editing timeline at once. This is a mighty fine screen to play games or watch movies on, but you can find a bigger/better-suited display for those activities for less than the 38UC99’s $1,500 price tag. But if you have the money to spend and your work can benefit from more screen space and a high-quality display, purchasing the 38UC99 is a fine choice.