LG 34UM88 UltraWide Monitor Review

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As the ultrawide revolution in monitors continues to gain steam, displays like the LG 34UM88 are taking over the multi-monitor setups of yesterday and showing users a whole new way to interact with their digital world. Whether you’re a creative professional, a hardcore gamer, or just a dedicated film buff the number of reasons to broaden your horizons (and your aspect ratio) are growing every day. But is this latest entry from LG the right pick for you? Learn about how your monitor works by reading our duplicating frames guide as a good start.

Read on in my LG 34UM88 UltraWide monitor review to find out!

Overview

Price: $754.40 on Amazon 
Available: Now
Model: 34UM88

Summary: The LG 34UM88 is a nicer than average ultrawide monitor in almost every category, and while it may be the best choice for multitasking at the office, its 60Hz refresh rate hinders serious gaming performance.

What We Liked

  • Stellar image quality across the board
  • Incredible sound quality from onboard speakers
  • 5-way joystick menu navigation
  • Great gaming performance

What We Didn’t

  • 60Hz refresh rate might be too slow for some gamers

LG 34UM88 Ultrawide Specs

71BQOa6iLZL._SL1500_
Size34"
Resolution3440 x 1440
Aspect Ratio21:9
Contrast Ratio (Dynamic)5,000,000:1
Refresh Rate60Hz
FreeSync/G-Sync?green-check-mark
Response Time5ms GTG
Weight18.5lbs
Device Dimensions
32.7 x 9.4 x 21.6 inches
TechnologyIPS
Ports2 HDMI 2.0, 1 DP 1.2, 1 DP-out, 2Thunderbolt 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0
Onboard Speakersgreen-check-mark
Price$754.40
Buy Now

Design

LG 34UM88 UltraWide Monitor
The design of the LG 34UM88 follows many of the lessons learned from its bigger flatscreen brothers

On their own, 21:9 ultrawide monitors are already a more imposing presence than their 16:9 cousins, if only for the extended footprint they take up on your desk. They give off the impression that you take your digital life seriously, whether it be spent at work, at home, or just a little off-time gaming. In this regard the LG 34UM88 is no different, and shares many of its design accents from LG’s stable of set-top flatscreen TVs with rounded plastic on the back, silver/black stylings on the front, and a lone “LG” logo on the front lining the bottom of the screen.

The curved base actually looks pretty cool too, even though in most scenarios I’m not a fan of that particular style choice. The bezels are thin enough to blend into the background, hitting their smallest points at the left and right edge of the screen and growing broader at the top and bottom. On the whole the LG doesn’t look too “gamery” or “business-y”, but instead hits a nice middle ground that looks good almost anywhere you want to set it up.

Hardware

LG 34UM88 UltraWide Monitor
The outward-facing ports may prove to be an issue for some users who need to fit the 34UM88 into tight spaces

The LG 34UM88 is a 34″ IPS LED ultrawide monitor that runs at a resolution of 3440 x 1440, 5,000,000: 1 dynamic contrast ratio, and sports a 5ms GTG response time with a 60Hz max refresh rate.

Unlike most other monitors, the ports of the 34UM88 all face directly outward, rather than up into the unit from the bottom. This might be a problem for users who keep their monitor against a wall, or worse yet, want to keep the monitor on a VESA wall mount without a lot of available clearance. The design is supposed to make it easier to reach the ports, which it does, but could prove more hassle than its worth depending on your specific setup. On the back of the display we found an extensive number of open slots, including two HDMI 2.0 ports, one DP 1.2, two Thunderbolt 2.0, one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports.

Underneath the front of the unit are two 7W MaxxAudio speakers, which were undoubtedly the best pair of speakers we’ve heard on a monitor to date. These could easily replace your headphones in a pinch, with textured, bold sound that rivals what you’d find on most portable speaker systems from Bose or Logitech. They aren’t window-shatteringly loud, but still plenty boomy enough to fill up a room, and could stand in for a desktop speaker system with no complaints if it came down to it.

Settings

It seems with monitors, the settings menu is one of those dividing lines where things can either go really really right, or horribly wrong with very little in between.

Luckily, the LG 34UM88 succeeds on every possible front in this category, thanks in part to the inclusion of a 5-way control stick front and center on the underside of the display. I’ve said it before and that probably won’t be the last time: navigating monitor menus with three buttons that all serve different purposes depending on the menu you’re in is the pinnacle of unintuitive design, and continues to be one of the core aggravations I have with monitors as a whole.

Read More: Best Computer Monitors 2018

Not so with the 34UM88, which has an extensive set of configurable options ranging from color and brightness calibration to setting up multiple computers to share two sides of the same screen. The LG has an upfront “hot” menu which lets you change profiles on the fly using a press of the joystick, as well as a deeper menu with the ability to customize nearly every aspect of how the monitor behaves.

Color Accuracy

LG 34UM88 Ultrawide Monitor In our tests using Datacolor’s Spyder5Elite Pro calibration tool on the LG 34UM88, we not only hit LG’s advertised color gamut of sRGB – we actually beat it by maxing out the meter at a clean 100%.

After three runs both in sRGB and stock color settings, the LG exceeded all expectations, and although its Adobe RGB ratings could be slightly better, it’s clear this is still a monitor that can carry the weight of the average or professional creative user, no matter the task.

Performance

As was the case with color accuracy, nearly every aspect of the LG’s 34UM88’s performance was just about perfect. From gaming to movies to TV, anything you watch or do on the 34UM88 feels just a little bit better than it might on another lower-res screen.

LG 34UM88 UltraWide Monitor
The LG 34UM88 looks spectacular in any light, on any task (except maybe a little laggy in the gaming department)

Of course, this is due in part to the ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio, which gives everything a more cinematic scope that can’t be matched by standard 16:9 displays. Their expanded landscape is perfect for watching movies filmed in the same aspect (Interstellar is a great example), and can even give you the advantage when playing games online with the help of the expanded field of view.

If we had to find one complaint about the LG UM3488, it would be that even though AMD’s FreeSync does help with screen tearing, the limited 60Hz refresh rate could be faster by default, or at least include some kind of “Overdrive” mode like we found on the Acer Predator X34 to help smooth out juttery animations in games.

Wrap Up

Minor gripes about the refresh rate aside, the LG 34UM88 UltraWide monitor is just about as close to perfection as they come. At only $754.40, it’s easily one of the cheapest ultrawide monitors on the market right now, all while packing in more features than many of its competitors combined.

With gorgeous image quality, intuitive menu navigation, solid gaming performance and near-perfect color accuracy, it’s hard to imagine why everyone doesn’t have one of these on their desk already. Sure, it might be pricey for the average user, but if you’re someone who takes multi-tasking seriously and needs a display that can won’t slow you down, this is the one to get.

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Chris Stobing

Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. Raised around tech from birth, he's had an interest in PC hardware and networking technology for years, and has come to Gadget Review to contribute his knowledge on both. You can follow him on Twitter here.

12 Comments

  1. People usually complain about bleeding. Any comment on that? I am thinking on purchasing it, but that serious bleeding is an issue…

    1. Hey Chris,

      For our tests on the RGB spectrum we used the factory installed “RGB” setting, available from the onboard menu.

          1. Hey Lance,

            If you read a few comments above, you’ll see I address this very question.

          2. Lance, can you justify this comment? At Gadget Review we take pride in our honesty and transparency and would never embellish a review. To that end, why wouldn’t the author of this review achieve these marks?

          3. RGB dosen’t mean anything in the menu, there’s nothing with that. Do you mean keep it the way it is out of the box?

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