LG 29EA93 Monitor Review - Rev. 1.25by Chris Heinonen on February 12, 2013 8:49 PM EST
Last year I reviewed the LG 29EA93 monitor before its scheduled US release date. As someone that thinks there is a good market for ultrawide displays, the 21:9 aspect ratio was very interesting to me, and something I wanted to take a look at personally. While the aspect ratio was nice and enveloping for gaming, there were aspects of the monitor that were disappointing, and in the end it was something I didn't really recommend.
I really dislike writing negative reviews. Writing one means that I’ve spent a good deal of time with a product while not enjoying the experience. It means that a team of engineers and designers has spent a lot of time working on something that didn’t make the cut, or they made a series of compromises for some reason that led to an end user experience that was unsatisfying. I’d much rather write effusive praise of a wonderful product that people should run out and buy than write something bad.
Typically when I write a negative review, I either hear a little feedback from a company, or nothing at all. Maybe they knew the product wasn’t great but released it anyway, or they didn’t care. Sometimes I hear that a company will fix something, and then I try to hold onto hardware and test that to see if they do, but I’ve never had feedback like I did from LG after I initially reviewed their 29EA93 ultra-widescreen monitor.
I had multiple emails full of detailed questions about how I test, what I was after, and what should be done to improve upon the current version. After all of these conversations, they flew out an engineer with an updated version of the 29EA93 that they said would address almost all of my issues with the first version. Did LG manage to go back and correct the problems that I found, so that the monitor now performs much better? I had to go ahead and test it to find out.
Since the exterior of the 29EA93 didn’t change, I’m going to skip over that and go straight ahead to performance. You can read more about our initial thoughts on the 29EA93 in our earlier review, and we'll just pick up from there. This is the first review that uses our new CalMAN test suite for monitor reviews. Using CalMAN gives us the ability to target sRGB or AdobeRGB gamuts, choose from more gamma choices including sRGB, and have measurements that are uniform with our tablet and smartphone reviews. It also allows for better grayscale balance and error measurements, better gamut and saturation measurements, and far improved uniformity measurements.
Because of the large change, we will be making a break from everything in the past and going with DeltaE 2000 for our measurements. Because of this the numbers from this review and going forward are not comparable with older reviews as different DeltaE formulas cannot be compared. I will write a longer article on this new measurement system soon, but this will be our first use of it for a desktop display. (Anand has been using portions of these tests for tablets for a while now.)
With the initial revision of the 29EA93, the most brightness I could coax out of it was 261 cd/m². On the updated 29EA93, the highest I could coax the contrast was 78 before I started to clip blue, and just past that it began to clip every color, leading to the top shades of white becoming uniform and not distinct. Keeping the contrast at 78 allows for the highest level of light output without any negative effects at the top of the grayscale. Finding this point is actually made easy by CalMAN as well, showing you where white begins to clip in each individual color and is yet another benefit to the new software.
Using a contrast of 78 and setting the backlight to the maximum 100 results in a light output of 325 cd/m². That is much better than our previous result with the early revision. Setting the backlight to minimum, but leaving contrast steady, results in a reading of 78 cd/m². Since our new target for low-light calibration is now 80 cd/m², this is enough range for that.
The black level with the brightness at maximum is 0.2605 cd/m², and at a minimum backlight the black level is 0.0624 cd/m². Both of these are very good results given what the corresponding white levels are.
With these white and black levels, we see contrast ratios that are over 1200:1, which is a better result than before, and one of the best results that we have seen. The LG 29EA93 already produced good contrast ratios in the early revision, but with their tighter manufacturing tolerances and adjusted electronics, the 29EA93 now produces one of the best contrast ratios out there.
While the increase in light output and contrast ratios is very good to see, it wasn’t one of the main items that I was concerned about in the early unit. Even so, we're happy to see these improved results. What we really want to see are better colors and uniformity.
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SithSolo1 - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - linkDoes the Dell UltraSharp U2913WM use this panel? I noticed Dell has pulled the product page and I'm wondering if maybe they are updating it with the new panel.
cheinonen - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkBoth revisions of LG use the exact same panel, it's the QC and firmware that have been updated. I don't believe any electronics changed, but there is a possibility, but the panel is the exact same thing. It's a good reason why you can't look at two displays, see they use the same panel, and assume they'll be anything alike.
Sabresiberian - Thursday, February 14, 2013 - linkThis is a very good point, something I wish more people would realize; end-result quality isn't just based just on the panel technology (though of course that is a major influence).
moep - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - linkSo they essentially cherry-picked a panel, customized the firmware for it and flew in an engineer to hand it to you?
Where does that leave the customers who buy their units in retail?
cheinonen - Monday, February 18, 2013 - linkThey didn't re-engineer a panel for me, they went back and redid the firmware for everyone and then provided a new model once that was complete. Anyone can buy the same version that I received, and anyone with an older revision of firmware can contact LG to get an upgrade to version 1.25 from them.
darwinosx - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkThey have?
Grok42 - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - linkI love to see someone, anyone pushing the state of the computer display industry. I'll pay a premium for anything that gives me more than 1080p which was a step back when it came out. If I recall this monitor doesn't rotate into portrait mode which is my only remaining wish. Of course, given it's dimensions, I might not want it to rotate, any thoughts on this?
cheinonen - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkThe included stand doesn't rotate, but it does have VESA mounting screws to do that. If it was rotated, it would be very, very tall on a desk. It really depends on what you'd want to do with the space for how well that works, but our field of view is typically much wider than tall, so to me, that layout might not work quite as well.
Miqunator - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkI'm not that interested in Ultra Widescreen monitors (16:10 person) but the response from LG after the initial review certainly improved my opinion of them. A cheap TV I randomly picked up before turned out to be the best I've ever used so they already had a rather high standing and it seems that one wasn't just a fluke.
Gambit2K - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkFirst comment ever on anand woopwoop! ;)
Im extremly interested in this monitor and I have the finger on the trigger but my question is will there be 2 version floating around? Will LG release the monitor with a visible "version 1.25" in the description or is it a total lottery if you get the new version or the old?