By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. November 29, 2017
The IT industry loves shorthand terminology, including technical jargon, complex acronyms and rules for demonstrable trends or recurring events. These can foster an understanding of the industry’s constant evolution, especially products and trends at a market’s leading edge.
However, many are applied selectively, like Moore’s Law (first and second) are to semiconductor development. Plus, second generation or mature technologies tend to be ignored or left out of discussions entirely. That may be understandable given the IT industry’s obsession with shiny new things but it’s also a pity since the benefits those products offer to consumers and business customers can be profound.
I was recently reminded of that point when Dell sent me an evaluation unit of its updated 34-inch UltraSharp Curved UltraWide Monitor (U3417W). Following are a few thoughts on my experiences in the world of “immersive” monitors.
Stealing the show at CES 2015
Dell’s prior generation 34-inch UltraSharp curved monitor was introduced at CES 2015 where it won a coveted CES Innovation Award. Other accolades followed later in the year, including PC Magazine’s Best Monitor of 2015, RedDot’s Best of the Best and Digital Trends’ Best Professional UltraWide Monitor. That helped to strengthen Dell’s market position in professional class monitors and bolstered its efforts in high-end graphics and immersive technologies.
These points aside, Dell is taking a significantly different approach to curved monitor development than other vendors. While all such products trumpet the “immersive” qualities display curvature offers, most vendors tailor their solutions for enhanced gaming, entertainment and multimedia performance via high refresh rates, quick response times and dynamic technologies, such as NVIDIA’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync.
Curved monitors and the workplace
In contrast, Dell believes the immersive effects of curved, ultra-wide (21:9 aspect ratio) monitors can enhance a wide variety of professions and business applications. In fact, the company cites research from International Data Corp (IDC) on the benefits that workers in areas, such as accounting, finance and creative tasks can capture with these devices.
Accordingly, both Dell’s latest U3417W monitor and the previous generation U3415W model offer a 60Hz refresh that’s primarily designed for the workplace. That’s a far cry from the 100Hz normal and 120Hz overclocked rates offered by Dell’s own Alienware 34 Curved GSync monitor.
In addition, the new model’s curvature is significantly more pronounced than the 2015 version (1900R in the U3417W vs. 3800R in the U3415W). According to Dell, that allows users, such as those who rely on heavy multitasking, to use just one display instead of employing two or more flat screen monitors, saving desktop space and improving power consumption and other environmental factors.
Dell’s immersive desktop experience
So how did Dell’s UltraSharp 34 measure up in my own office? Quite well in most every way. The size of the unit seemed overwhelming at first, but at 31.5 inches wide, it fits comfortably on my 42-inch-wide desk. The stand is formidable but its height adjustment mechanism is effective and simple to use. Set-up was easy, including installing Dell’s Display Manager software which allows the desktop to be sliced/diced in various configurations.
Display Manager also includes special settings, including 5ms “fast mode” response rates (compared to the 8 ms normal rate) for improved multimedia and gaming performance. Add in better than average quality audio and though Dell clearly doesn’t intend for the U3417W to compete directly with gaming-specific monitors, like the Alienware 34, you can still enjoy YouTube videos, movies, multimedia content and many games.
Between the UltraSharp 34’s size and its 3440 × 1440 native resolution, images and video can be stunning. Plus, there’s more than enough real estate to effectively support and manage day to day tasks, including keeping open multiple browser tabs while running productivity applications and files. Plus, if the UltraSharp 34 isn’t enough for your needs, it offers one DP 1.2 output with MST to for daisy-chaining to another display.
How about the point I mentioned at the beginning of this review—the ways that industry evolution impact mature technologies? Consider that when Dell introduced the UltraSharp 34 Curved UltraWide Monitor at CES 2015 it’s list price was $1,199. The updated U3417W model released in late 2016 was list priced $100.00 less or $1,099.00. Today, both models can be found online, including at dell.com for hundreds of dollars less.
Those prices are likely impacted by numerous factors, including holiday sales and CES 2018. But those issues, as along with constant technological evolution means that there’s never been a better time for consumers and businesses to investigate and invest in these solutions, including Dell’s 34” UltraSharp Curved UltraWide Monitor.
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