Saturday, October 13, 2018

LG UltraWide Monitor 38WK95C Review

I bought this today. It was not an impulse buy. I spent months researching and then two months of waiting for stock from LG Malaysia.

So beautiful and wide .. although I have to say it is not as sharp as a MacBook Retina display
Trust me, it is not easy to buy a modern monitor these days.

I have a few criteria:
  1. ultra wide screen regardless of size - can be 32" or 34" or even 34"
  2. it must be IPS screen, not TN or whatever the other one is called
  3. it must have USB-C to charge the MacBook Pro and also to extend the display of the MacBook
  4. it must have good speakers. Not the puny ones that some Dell monitor shipped with. Really good ones. I hate having to plug in the speaker jack from PC to monitor
  5. it should have G-Sync support
  6. bonus - it has nice legs that doesn't take up space
I have searched high and low. I looked for Asus, I looked at Dell and Alienware.. none of them ticked these checkboxes, particularly that USB-C one..

I realize that I really wanted the USB-C and good speakers. I don't really care about G-Sync because even though I still play games, I spent more time surfing, reading, watching video and listening to music on the PC.

The LG UltraWide 38WK95C Monitor met all of the criteria except the G-Sync.

Left column: USB-C (upstream), DisplayPort, HDMI x2. Right column: USB 3.0 x2 (downstream), headphone and power

About the USB-C

I will repeat this because not many YouTube videos or written reviews were very specific about the USB-C. This monitor DOES charge the 2017 MacBook Pro 13" via the USB-C cable that was provided by LG. It also extend the display of the MacBook, meaning it will be a secondary display to the Mac. In fact, it gives out 60W of power via the USB-C PD (Power Delivery). There you go. You can rest assure it works. Even the box has the words "Laptop charging" printed on it.

Photo of the back - USB C at the top for the Mac; below is DisplayPort to connect to the GTX1060 on the PC
Use the USB-C cable provided by LG. I don't think you can use the one provided by Apple
When I connect the USB-C to the Mac, even with Windows running, a dialog box pops up
The PC can be connected to the LG via DisplayPort. The moment I plug in the USB-C, a dialog box appear asking me that it detected a USB-C connection and whether I wanted to display it. If I pressed on the joystick at the bottom of the monitor, the screen will swap to macOS. If I leave it, it will time out and switch back to the PC. Even if it switched into the PC, the Mac continues to charge. I can switch to the Mac anytime by changing the Input selection in the monitor menu.

There is another interesting thing about the USB-C. If the monitor goes to sleep, for instance, you sleep the PC and so they monitor blanks out, the USB-C continues to charge the Mac. However, the USB 3.0 which has a 5V, 0.9A charge capability, will stop charging. Btw, you can connect and charge an  iPad or iPhone with the USB 3.0, strange that it couldn't charge an iPad Air.

I don't have a MacBook Pro 15", so I can't test but one video I saw in YouTube claimed that the 60W is able to charge the 15".

USB hub

There is a USB hub built into the back of the monitor - the USB-C cable served as an upstream port and the two blue-USB 3.0 port is the downstream port. What this means is that I can plug my mouse and keyboard into the USB 3.0 provided that:
1/ I plugged the USB-C into the MacBook. Then the keyboard+mouse can drive the MacBook.

2/ I attached the USB-C cable into a usb-C to usb-A adapter (that is included in the accessory box) and then plug this adapter into the PC's USB 3.0 port. Then the USB behind the monitor become a USB 3.0 hub and the keyboard+mouse can drive the PC.

This also means I must physically plug the USB-C cable into the Mac or a PC in order for the keyboard+mouse to drive the Mac or PC. My other option is to use software to simulate a KVM switch and LG does provide a software - they called it the Dual Controller. It simulates key and mouse press via tcpip. I am not a fan of this simulation as I believe there will be lag.

10Wx2 Bluetooth speakers

Shot taken from the bottom of the monitor. Notice those vents? This is just one side of the speaker. There are two of them.
There are two speakers at the bottom of the monitor, located at the air vent on the base of the screen. This is a 10W speaker and there are 2 of them! 10W speaker is loud - as loud as modern TV speakers.. if not better. LG said these speakers came with Rich Bass - the bass is really deep and strong. I am loving them very much! I also do not need additional cable to plug from the PC/Mac into the monitor. The USB-C itself does power graphics+sound from the Mac to the monitor. The DisplayPort (or HDMI) also power graphics+sound from the PC to the monitor.

Also, the speakers itself has Bluetooth capability, so I can cast sound from my iPhone or iPad into the speakers wireless across the room.


Mission Impossible from iTunes - full screen and no black bars!

This monitor is a 21:9 - meaning it is able to play wide screen video from edge to edge, without having the black bars. I played Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation from iTunes and it went edge to edge. Really, really nice.

The curve doesn't bother me much but you must sit a bit further from the monitor because it is just so huge. I do find myself having to move my head to one side if the window is there. I have to say though - if you are used to the super retina resolution from the MacBook Pro, you will find that this LG screen is not as sharp. It doesn't cramp a lot of pixels into a smaller inch. Really, it's just like any other monitor. I am just being spoiled by the MacBook Pro.


The box is nice

Another view of the box. Very nice design.
If you are looking for a UltraWide screen to improve your productivity (work with the Mac) and then yet have an option for fun (chill out with music or watch a 4k video or, even gaming with the PC), I think this is the right monitor for you. It's what I do. I connect the PC to the DisplayPort to relax. And when I need to work, I just plug the USB-C to the Mac and with a flick of the joystick, I could flip the screen to the Mac for work... well, except that I don't have a keyboard and mouse switch to connect to the Mac at this moment (I will have to look into this).. anyway, great monitor and I'd highly recommend it!

Follow up article - backlight bleeding? Thankfully, no.

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