A hybrid is often touted as providing the best of both worlds — in the case of the LG 29LN450W 21:9 29″ Ultrawide TV, a widescreen HDTV shares identity with a high-definition computer monitor. That the two work effectively combined is not surprising, although as can be seen, the 21:9 aspect ratio presents more difficulties on the TV side of things than it does dealing with computer signals. The question is, when do TVs go on sale?
The base must be put on first and this can be done by a single person without incident. The 29LN450W has a solid feel to it, although it will tip a little from side-to-side when pressure is applied towards the edges (due to it being so wide relative to the base). The trick is to hold the bottom bezel with one hand while accessing the touch-sensitive buttons along the bottom edge to play it safe.
The 29LN450W is advertised as a TV with capabilities that let it be used as a computer monitor; however it looks and acts much more like a monitor with TV capabilities than the other way round. One big factor that contributes to this is its 21:9 aspect ratio. High-definition TV’s aspect ratio is 16:9, so watching any HD signal on this TV means either getting black bars on each side of the screen, or “stretching” the image to have it fit all of the “real estate” available. This gives a similar effect to watching standard-definition on an HD display. 21:9 TV content isn’t around the corner, but on computers there are plenty of uses for the aspect ratio.
For use as a TV you need to use the coaxial input for an over-the-air antenna or HDMI or Component+Audio input with a cable box/satellite receiver (other inputs are more “computer” oriented, such as Display Port in, headphone out, etc.). Accessing the menus is made easy through the remote — it’s a bit largish in size but has a little texture on the back to keep it in the hand. The important controls are in the center, with a TV/PC button throwing you into the appropriate menu set (i.e., TV versus PC). The Settings button adjusts the settings for TV or PC depending on mode, with on-screen help having its own button as well. There is also a “Quick Menu” (called Q.Menu on the remote) for quickly setting up the TV. The Sound menu includes simulated surround and other adjustments such as equalization and AV sync corrections, with the speakers built into the bottom bezel. The audio volume is that of “desktop” quality and unless you’re right on top of it watching TV, or even if your face is right up against the screen in a video game, a sound bar is going to be the next purchase made.
The 29LN450W provides good image quality with many adjustable features (Gamma, Black level, six color settings, Sports vs. Movies settings) and other useful capabilities such as picture-in-picture. The default settings will find the blacks looking a bit washed out (I found this to be the case watching broadcast television news shows but it extended pretty much to everything onscreen) so it’s best to go in and work through the various image settings until it suits your personal taste. The viewing angle is very wide — I could stand at the side and still see a bright screen without any of the colors being washed out. This makes it easy to watch TV off-axis or to look over someone’s shoulder when playing games on the PC. There’s also a TV “Extra View” bar that pushes the 16:9 TV picture to the left and uses the remaining 5:9 space for information on the TV channel: telling you what you’re watching and other commentary as provided by DTV over-the-air carriers for certain DTV stations.
As a 29″ computer monitor this display really shows off its quality, partly thanks to the 2560 x 1080 resolution. Image appearance seems crisp even on high-speed racing games — no smearing or ghost trails being visible. I played the Blu-ray disc of Disney’s Mary Poppins and found the restored film looking magnificent with the film-grain look not disconcerting but in fact attractive. The overall view onscreen was clear and tack sharp and with excellent color rendition. Granted I had to sit closer to watch than would have been the case on a 50” TV, but other than that, when used as a computer monitor for one-person, the 29LN450W gives you one heck of a picture.
Bottom line: The LG 29LN450W 21:9 29″ Ultrawide TV comes in at an attractive $649.99 retail price. For that you get a quality 29” HDTV and a quality 29″ computer monitor. The 21:9 aspect format won’t appeal to everyone, but for those looking to use this aspect ratio within its restrictions, it can be considered the ‘icing” of this display.
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