Back in March, 4 months ago, I bought myself a Dell UltraSharp U3415W computer monitor, through Amazon. It was $992 plus tax, and I thought I had gotten a great bargain seeing as how the street price was ~$1100-1200 at the time.
Well, that monitor has recently dropped to $900 at many Dell dealers, and Amazon has discounted it further, to $810! I’ve kept this monitor in my “save for later” Amazon cart, in case the need for a second one came up, and although it hasn’t, it’s how I became aware of this new lower price.
So what’s the big deal about this monitor? It’s a 34-inch wide curved display with 21:9 aspect ratio. It’s supposed to be give you “an immersive panoramic experience.”
Update: My wife tells me that this post sounds a little too enthusiastic. What can I say, I really like the monitor. Reviewing it today made me feel better about not being able to take advantage of the great sale price.
Super-wide displays like this are supposed to be great for gaming, watching movies, and things like that, but I’ve been using it for productivity, project, test & measurement, and ToolGuyd content purposes. Its “WQHD” resolution gives me a 3440 x 1440 pixel working area.
There are other features as well, such as an adjustable stand, VESA-compatible mount, built-in speakers (which sound eh, okay), USB ports (which I don’t use), and a range of modern inputs.
You’re supposed to be able to connect multiple input sources simultaneously, but I haven’t tested this or the PIP features out yet.
Okay, so why am I telling you about a computer monitor on a tool news and review site?
In short, this monitor has changed the way I work. I had been using multi-monitor setups for over a decade now. Most of the time I’ve had 2 monitors hooked up to my desktop PC, and for a short time I worked with 3.
Working with 2 monitors provides a HUGE productivity boost. Being able to put multiple windows up at the same time allows for faster and more efficient working. This is as true for when I’m working on ToolGuyd content as when I have electronic test equipment software up and running. When working on a project nearby, I’m able to have plans up in one window, notes in another, and I don’t have to close one to access another.
But the combination of windows was never quite right. Before I bought my Dell U3415W, I had a Dell 27-inch display (previously reviewed on GearGuyd), and a 23-inch display. The colors never matched right up, the windows never aligned perfectly due to the different vertical resolutions, and going to two 27-inch displays would have taken up way too much desk real estate.
I have a nice older Samsung 24-inch display that would have worked better with the 27-inch Dell, but it doesn’t have a VESA mount and so I couldn’t mount it to an arm, a big downside. Its colors also weren’t as good as the 23-inch Dell’s.
I tried LG’s non-curved 34″ display, model 34UM95 ($916 via Amazon). The first one was defective, the second didn’t look good and I realized how poorly adjustable the mount was. 34-inches is a lot for a flat panel screen, and made things at opposite sides look too further away. It was uncomfortable to view two windows side by side.
So then I splurged on the Dell U3415W. I kept my 2-monitor setup up and on my desktop, just in case the new 34-inch curved Dell didn’t work out. A day later, the Dell was the only display on my desk.
It has now been nearly 4 months since I’ve been using this fantastic monitor, and I don’t regret my purchasing decision at all. Do I regret that I spent $992 plus tax when the display is now regularly priced at $900 and on sale at Amazon for $810? Not at all, because this display has given me 4 months of improved productivity.
The $810 price is really, REALLY good. Even the new $900 regular street price is excellent. But aside from that, this is a really, REALLY good monitor.
Dell emphasizes things like the curved display’s “wrap-around viewing experience,” but that really only applies to games and movies. For working with productivity, photography, or engineering software, the slight curvature can mess up the perspective of straight horizontal features. I’ve found this to be easily forgivable for the more comfortable viewing experience it provides compared to the non-curved LG display I tried.
I still have to shift my body at times. I typically work on the left side of the display, but shift my body to face the center when I need back-and-forth left-and-right attention.
There’s something to be said about being able to put 2 main windows up on the same display at the same time. Speaking as someone who has worked with 2 side-by-side monitors for at least 10 years, this is the best single-monitor solution I have ever used.
I really thought that this is what I would have gotten with my 27-inch Dell monitor, but what I didn’t know was that the dot pitch really requires you to zoom in on text. At its native resolution and windows at 100%, it was hard to read text in side-by-side windows on the 27-inch display. But on my new 34-inch Dell, I am able to zoom the text to 110% or 125% for 2 side-by-side windows, and there’s plenty of room to spare. I often have multiple side-by-side window pairs up, and they’re staggered to allow for quick shifting from one pair to another.
Right now, I’ve got this ToolGuyd post up on the left side of the screen, the Amazon product listing on the right. Last night I had a CAD program on the left, and realtime multimeter display on the right (I was running a battery test). Before that, I had some Adobe programs (Lightroom and Photoshop) running full-screen so that I could edit the next batch of Milwaukee NPS15 photos. And later, I’ll have a ToolGuyd coding window on the left, preview window on the right, as I try to tweak an aspect of the site look and layout.
It wasn’t easy for me to spend so much on a computer monitor, but I took a gamble, and not only am I working with greater productivity these days, but I have recovered some extra space on my desktop.
I was a multi-monitor advocate. Now that I’ve been using this Dell 34-inch display, I don’t think I’ll ever turn back.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Important Note: Not all computers can support the 3440 x 1440 pixel resolution of this monitor. My aging video card couldn’t. I bought a GeForce 750 TI ($140 via Amazon), which seems to handle it just fine. I have the display connected via DisplayPort.
My only complaint is how the turning off the monitor disconnects it from the computer, something that my computer will do with other DisplayPort monitors as well. I’ve looked into it, and none of the “remedies” worked for me. If I wake the computer from sleep but don’t turn the monitor back on until after, sometimes it’ll resize all my windows to itty-bitty size. Every now and then it’ll do this even if I turn the monitor on first.