LG 29LN450W UltraWide TV Review
LG's new display suffers from identity crisis
The LG 29LN450W (MSRP $649.99) is an "ultra wide" TV/monitor hybrid, which means it supports a 21:9 aspect ratio, similar to screens used at the movie theater. Fitted with LG's ScreenSplit technology, the LN450W has the ability to fulfill multiple roles as TV and monitor both.
The LN450W may be billed as a TV, but it's definitely better as a monitor. The 21:9 aspect ratio has almost no practical use outside of providing real estate for the display's very useful ScreenSplit feature, which must be installed via driver disc. For $650, a 29-inch TV is a horrible deal—but that same price for such a flexible 29-inch monitor is very fair.
Design & Usability
"Strong Enough for a Monitor, Made for a TV"
This 29-inch hybrid display will catch your eye, if only because it looks like it's been squashed. The 21:9 aspect ratio adds width but not height, creating an elongated look—it doesn't look ridiculous, but you can tell something's different about this TV right away. In fact, the closer I look at it, the more I'm convinced that the LN450W might just be a computer monitor in disguise.
Thin black bezels line the ultrawide screen, which perches atop a circle-shaped pedestal. The neck of the stand is attached to the panel via hinge, which makes for easy tilting of the screen—unusual for a TV, but quite common amongst computer monitors.
The product's sundry accessories are in line with its dual nature. LG throws in a remote control with AAA batteries—part of the display's TV costume. And there's also a DVI-D cable—part of its monitor costume. Additionally, users will find an on-disc manual, power cable, AC adapter, cable tie, screws, and stand components. Lastly, the display's port selection swings both ways, too: HDMI, component, and coaxial for common TV connections; DisplayPort and DVI inputs for PC connections.
Whatever else it may be, the LN450W is lightweight, sleek, and rather handsome. It isn't going to win any design awards, but for a niche product, it looks just fine.
Software & Features
ScreenSplit finally makes sense!
ScreenSplit is LG's handy screen division software, meant to aid users in multi-tasking by dividing the screen into a series of larger or smaller areas—I've seen it before... on the company's monitors.
ScreenSplit lets you split the screen into an imitation of multiple displays. You could split the screen into two windows—16:9 and 5:9, for example—and watch a full 1080p movie in one while simultaneously browsing the web. This is, without a doubt, this product's best feature.
Different screen settings include an imbalanced two-screen setup (16:9 and 5:9), a balanced two-screen setup (10.5:9 each), various three-screen setups (with a larger space to the left, right, top, or bottom), and a balanced four-screen setup.
This TV's software interface changes depending on input type. When using it to receive actual broadcast signals, the LN450W's menu changes to a more traditional LG TV menu. When using it with a PC input over HDMI or DisplayPort, however, numerous changes occur. Picture, audio, and screen settings string along the bottom of the display, granting users control over Brightness, Contrast, Gamma, and LG's Six Color color management system.
Both versions of the interface provide a wide degree of control over the monitor's various functions, and both can be controlled via the included remote. Our only complaint about the LN450W's software is that it's a bit unintuitive and will definitely stump some users the first time they use it.
The LN450W's place is on a desk.
There are a number of core differences that differentiate a television from a computer monitor. The LN450W's strengths lie in its screen flexibility, response time, and color fidelity. Unfortunately, it also has a glaring weakness: contrast ratio. This hybrid display produces overly-bright black levels and rather dim white levels, making it a sub-par choice for a casual TV shopper.
That's not to say there aren't a number of places where the LN450W shines as a TV. It fosters a wider-than-average viewing angle, meaning watching with one or two other people is definitely a possibility—but it's also only a 29-inch display, so that's only so useful. Lastly, its response time and refresh rate performance mean sports fans can trust in a blur-free reproduction of their favorite pastime.
Finally, it's worth it to address the usability of the 21:9 aspect ratio. From a movie and TV standpoint, the LN450W's added width will struggle to find use—there simply aren't many 21:9 format movies to take advantage of. Determined individuals may be able to hunt down cinema-format versions of their favorite films, but this—again—is likely going to require pairing with a PC video card capable of that resolution. The 21:9 real estate makes perfect sense, however, for managing multiple windows and tabs.
The Finish Line
Hybrid is the new black.
We've seen a lot of hybrid products this year: tablet-laptops, tablet-phones, and now, television-monitors. The LG 29LN450W is an expensive TV at $649.99, but it has a few unique advantages over traditional displays that might justify its price tag, specifically for power users.
The place I see this niche display working best is on a desk—as a computer monitor.
It's strength lies in multi-tasking in tandem with the ScreenSplit software, but it's simply not a good choice for a traditional television. Samsung's 29-inch F4000 is only $249, if a TV is what you want. Keep in mind this is normal pricing for a 29-inch, 21:9 aspect monitor—that's what the LN450W is, regardless of what it says on the box.
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