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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Friso - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - linkSo when are you going to update your review? This is turning into a bit of a joke here, with you raving about a version 1.25 and nobody having the means to verify what version they're actually buying. I have a box standing in front of me. How can I verify whether it's the 'good' version? Without this info, this is a legendary bit of PR by LG, allowing them to sell off all their old stock.
GeoffMorris - Monday, April 1, 2013 - linkI agree with Friso.
LG needs to know that many find this situation unacceptable and all this doubt is no doubt putting people off buying the monitor. I tried to contact them myself but couldn't seem to find an email address for my country (Japan).
If they were so willing to work with you to iron out the issues product surely you have some way of letting them know that the situation as it stands is probably doing more harm than the 1.09 review.
newsama - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - linkHey, did you manage to get that image? I'm really scared of shelling out 700 bucks only to get the crappy version =/
jjj - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - linkThis is nice but in cases like this the review should be done on a retail unit just to be sure about what is in stores.
The pricing is also way high , i imagine the AOC will retail at 500$ and that's still high but at least it's not 700$.
I do wish you would have more screenshots (gaming included) and a video wouldn't hurt, the AR is new , would help to see it in action.
cheinonen - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkI will try to get some screenshots of games if I can, though the site someone linked earlier does provide a good example of showing the differences in aspect ratios. As far as the AOC, it makes no sense to compared the LG against something that isn't released yet. Look at the large difference in how this updated version performed against the original version. We have no way of knowing which one the AOC will perform like, or if it will be better or worse. It will use the same panel I imagine, but that's only one element as we've seen here.
As far as retail samples go, the initial sample was the foreign model as it wasn't out in the USA, and then the USA launch was delayed until the issues were fixed, so there was no possible way to get a review unit at a store. It also is cost prohibitive to impossible to buy samples, and with as many issues as every reviewer manages to find with the review samples, believe me, if there's an issue in the product, we're almost certainly going to find it no matter what sample we get.
KLC - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkI agree with jjj, it's more than a little concerning that LG hand carried a new monitor to you for a special review. How will a retail version compare to this hand picked one? Nobody knows.
cheinonen - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkThey hand carried the initial model to me as well, if that makes you feel better about it, so I don't think that has any effect on the performance or what I find in testing.
KLC - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - linkOf course it doesn't have any effect on performance or what you found, I'm not impugning either you or your results. But let's face it, corporations exist to generate revenue, LG wants to sell monitors. What better way to sell them than to get positive reviews? Why is it startling to suggest that they may tweak a piece of hardware in order to get one?
cheinonen - Thursday, February 14, 2013 - linkMy question is how this review would be different than any other review then? Every display I've reviewed for AnandTech, aside from the iPhone 5 I bought myself, has been shipped from a company or a PR firm.
I'm well aware of the fact that monitors could be sent that are ideal units, and so I attempt to read feedback from people that already own them on forums often to see what issues might exist to look for. To me, this unit is no more likely to be extra special than any other unit that comes in for review.
Look at every other review that I've written, positive or negative, and see how many other companies have followed up to find out what they can do to improve their performance and then attempted to do so. Even when I've received feedback, it's been nothing close to this, and typically more defensive than actually inquisitive about how to improve performance.
I'm certain someone else out there will buy a unit and test it and see if they match up. If they have a huge variance between them, then we can start to look into it more.
Lifted - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - linkReading the title I had no idea if you like the product.
Not realizing or remembering that this is a followup article, and then reading the first few sentences, I was sooo close to just moving along and not waste my time reading a review of what I assumed was an absolutely horrible product.
I believe Anand usually puts some clue in the title of the review if there has been a major change in the product. This is not just a good idea for your readers, but also for yourself after spending so much time on this (you want people to read it, yes?), and LG for going above and beyond in getting this monitor right, which is extremely rare these days.