I’ve always had a soft spot for large monitors. I’m primarily a software developer but, apart from my profession, I don’t like to struggle fitting windows into a small rectangle. I want to comfortably put windows side by side without endless scrolling or juggling with minimized/resized windows.
I was using a wonderful HP Z27n (27″, 16:9 ratio) and I’ve been happy with it for more than four years. Excellent specs and performance at a reasonable price. Outstanding colors and uniformity.
But at some point, I was in need of an extra monitor and I took the occasion of replacing the HP, getting some extra display space.
Of course, I checked what HP offered, but didn’t find a proper fit. I fell in love with a 38″ ultrawide, but it was too much, especially for the stellar cost.
Two 27″ were not an option for my desk and I’m not a fan of multi-monitor setups.
For several other reasons I discarded most monitors.
Also, I realized that going beyond 30″, ultrawide made sense.
Not being happy with the HP offer, I checked Dell. I never had a Dell monitor (always HP) but I have a fantastic Dell XPS 15 9550 laptop, so giving Dell an opportunity was more than reasonable.
Dell seemed to have a couple of models for me. A 38″ (but expensive like the HP) and a 34″. Both ultrawide.
The price of the 34″ – the Dell U3415W – was particularly attractive (€ 625).
The specs were good enough for me (I’m on the picky side, but not a professional in need of super-calibrated performance). Same vertical resolution (1440) and size of my HP but a lot of extra horizontal size (3440 vs 2560, quite 8″ / 20 cm). Decent speed and contrast ratio, in-plane switching, anti-glare, LED backlight, etc.
The reviews were good. With a few exceptions about uniformity on the entire surface and backlight bleed. But not obstacles to try a good 34″ at €625. In monitors, either you spend more than 1000 USD/EUR, or it’s all about compromises, the right balance for you.
My concern remained the 21:9 ratio, the ultrawide experience. I had already seen 21:9 monitors in use but I was not super-convinced. Would I pass my time spinning my head or taming monstrously large windows? Would I throw them left or right?
I decided to give it a try.
When the box arrived it was… huge! And heavy.
What a package. I’ve never seen a monitor so carefully packaged. You could literally sit on the box without much risks for the jewel inside.
The box alone was quite as heavy as the monitor itself.
The monitor was gorgeous. Excellent design. Premium build quality.
Put side by side to my HP, it was a lot of extra horizontal space and more modern design. My excellent HP soon seemed a small and obsolete monitor.
The first power on was a WOW. I immediately felt at home with the desktop size and shape. It didn’t feel weird or unmanageable at all.
The slight curvature was more than welcome. Eyes adapted in a few hours.
Just a wow. It seemed the perfect monitor.
Also, not bulky. You need 33″ / 86 cm on your desk, of course, but the slim design doesn’t make it seem a monster nor waste any extra space around. Quite the contrary: It’s a pleasant and professional presence.
Tilt and rotation are perfect for any need and it can go down till a couple of inches (5 cm) from the desk surface.
The touch buttons (“real” buttons would be welcome on such a monitor) are actually practical and responsive, despite what I feared.
No light sensor, but I can deal with that. You get used to handle the settings quickly.
The only “issue” that I soon noticed was colors, slightly less saturated than the previous HP, which was impeccable quality. Nothing worth considering, unless you’re a professional in graphics. Not top-notch but good quality, also perfect for amateur photography. Not a real issue, actually.
Then, looking better and playing with the setup, I noticed a lack of uniformity in brightness and colors. Not evident, but enough to be noticed.
The monitor has a setting for uniformity compensation, but when you switch to calibrated you lose control of brightness and contrast, getting a too high brightness for most contexts. Damn. Understandable, but only in part. So, that feature is simply useless.
I honestly wondered if the issue was worth considering a replacement.
You know what? By the next day, the issue was incredibly gone.
It’s not about warming up. The monitor is okay, now, even at the first power on. Did the lighting system need a few hours of work? Did my eyes adapt? Maybe or maybe not. It’s the first time that I experience that on a monitor.
Anyway, uniformity remained quite perfect (it’s six months, now). Only a professional eye could notice that it’s not perfect, and I never noticed it again, in any activity.
If you wonder, no noticeable backlight bleeding.
From the next day, my windows were already at home. I couldn’t imagine going back to a 27″ as a primary monitor. In my daily activities, browsing, and everything, it’s perfect. For software development, multiple documents, and spreadsheets it’s just super.
As I already said, I’ve never been a fan of multi-monitor settings, so I’m probably biased in my preference for the single monitor. But I don’t think that’s the case. One of my friends, a fan of multi-monitor setups, recently switched to a 34″ ultrawide himself and he’s happy with that. He still uses the laptop as extra estate, but not out of need.
Managing windows was still not perfectly comfortable. Windows offers window snapping, but it’s a poor feature, for a 34″ ultrawide.
Fortunately, a few solutions are there, both commercial and free. I settled with WinDock, an excellent free solution. With a little tuning, you can customize window snapping as you want. I couldn’t do without, now.
Honestly, if you think that 34″ is too much or that ultrawide is weird, you’d probably change your idea in minutes.
If the price is okay for you, buy it. Period.