Review: LG UltraWide 5K USB-C display -- Too wide?

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
We've seen more than our fair share of monitors, but the 49-inch curved UltraWide LG 5K display is another thing entirely. We checked out LG's newest -- and widest -- USB-C 5K monitor yet.

LG LG49WL95C-W USB-C 5K display
LG LG49WL95C-W USB-C 5K display

Specs and ports

The LG49WL95C-W is fairly well outfitted with a smattering of ports and inputs around the back and side.






Along the side is a pair of USB-A ports alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack. Those compliment the additional ports around the back such as the power input, dual HDMI, two more USB-A ports, and a USB-C input.

LG UltraWide ports
LG UltraWide ports include USB-A, USB-C, DisplayPort, and HDMI


That USB-C is the best way to connect this display to your Mac. It allows 80W of passthrough power to your portable Mac and access to the headphone jack and USB-A ports without needing to connect additional cables. LG opted to completely integrate the power supply on the 49WL95C-W, which means there is no bulky power brick lying around under your desk.

An aluminum stand holds up the display. The stand is solid and looks great, although it does have a soft gold tint to the anodized finish. For comfort, the display can adjust up and down, tilt, and rotate. The curve helps with the rotation for it would otherwise smack into our wall with its huge size.

The 49-inch LG UltraWide and a 15-inch MacBook Pro
he 49-inch LG UltraWide and a 15-inch MacBook Pro


There are also dual 10W speakers below the display which sound definitely above average though it won't replace a set of studio monitors.

Native resolution is 5120 by 1440 and our 2016 MacBook Pro had no issues scaling to that default resolution when connected. It immediately sprang to life at full resolution and looked stunning. However, we have heard reports of some on different Macs having issues supporting that.

The display itself is categorized as 5K but with the massive horizontal size it is more akin to a dual QHD setup, each with a resolution of 2560 by 1440. For comparison sake, it is larger than two 1080P displays side to side.

LG UltraWide Resolution
LG UltraWide Resolution


We didn't encounter that issue but it should be something to be aware of. If we picked up this display and it only supported 3840 x 1080 we would certainly be utilizing the retailer's return policy. At 3840 by 1080, the pixels supplied to the monitor by the computer is just not enough to produce a crisp image.

How big is too big?

As we mentioned, we are powering our LG UltraWide 5K display with our 2016 MacBook Pro at full native resolution.

The display looks fantastic and it is absolutely amazing when dealing with linear editing apps such as Logic Pro X or Final Cut Pro X. You can fit your entire timeline in the display without having to zoom out to uncomfortable levels. It really helps the workflow process not having to scroll around the display so much.

Running Final Cut Pro X on the LG UltraWide
Running Final Cut Pro X on the LG UltraWide


One issue that presents itself is that with a monitor this wide, users could benefit by having three windows open at once instead of just the default split view macOS allows. It shows a weakness with macOS which could use some better window management. There are workarounds and third-party solutions, but those would need to be investigated by users.

This display does lack some of the pixel density we see from other 5K displays, simply because of the size. Comparing a 32-inch 5K display and a 49-inch 5K display, the former has a much higher pixel density and produces much crisper imagery than the 49-inch.

If this display was flat rather than curved we'd sit a little further back to get more of the display in our view, but since it is curved it feels very natural and we sit slightly closer. We definitely notice a difference going between a smaller 5K display and this one but for certain applications, the tradeoff is worth it.

Like Apple's own displays, an ambient light sensor is embedded in the top of the display which helps adjust the brightness based on the room you are using it in and it seemed to work well though sometimes leaned towards being on the bright side.

USB 3.1 type C has downsides compared to Thunderbolt 3, and for this price we'd have preferred the latter. But, even with the slower connection, it has enough functionality to make it still a very solid alternative. The 80W of power is almost the maximum input allowed by our MacBook Pro -- which is 87W for the record -- but we'd prefer if we had the ability to daisy-chain high bitrate devices.

Thunderbolt 3 would allow us to connect additional Thunderbolt 3 devices into the display, daisy chaining them together, still keeping one cable connected to our Mac.

LG alleviates some issues by adding ports along the back but those are still limited to USB-A, likely intended for keyboards alone. We have largely transitioned to USB-C and this display offers absolutely no additional USB-C ports.

As we continued to use the display, our workflow wound up with a USB-C Hub in between our MacBook Pro running in clamshell mode on the underside of our desk. It works well and gives us access to several ports not on the backside of this massive monitor.

Running FCPX in the LG 5K UltraWide Display
Running FCPX in the LG 5K UltraWide Display


After spending a few weeks with the LG49WL95C-W, we've started to really enjoy it. We went back to a non-curved non-UltraWide display and it felt immediately cramped. Granted, we have a workflow that meshes quite well with an ultra wide display. We deal with images, audio, video, etc and we felt bogged down as soon as we tried working on the smaller display again.

There are other hiccups than just lack of ports, such as that it wiggles if your desk shakes at all and is exacerbated when the display is at the top of its range rather than the bottom. Those issues aside, this is an encompassing, HDR-supporting, beautiful and giant display that plays well to a niche audience.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy

LG's 49-inch Curved UltraWide HDR IPS Monitor (49WL95C-W) is available at both Amazon and B&H Photo for $1,326.99. Shoppers in eligible states can also save on tax instantly at B&H with its Payboo Credit Card.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    flydogflydog Posts: 328member
    Not sure the width is the issue, as I run 3 4K monitors and it is perfectly usable.  The problem is that it’s not a true 5k monitor, it is basically two WQHD monitors, and the price is the same as 4 decent 4K monitors. 
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Based on the picture of your video editing example, it appears that the width is 20%-30% more than necessary.  Sometimes less is more?
  • Reply 3 of 18
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,398unconfirmed, member
    What's the application for these? Anamorphic movies? Even then it's wider.

    Okay, actually read the article but why not just get a bigger screen if you need more space?
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 4 of 18
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 512member
    Complaining about a monitor being too wide is the epitome of first world problems.

    At around $1,500 including tax, I’m actually kind of interested in trying this out.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,197member
    What's the application for these? Anamorphic movies? Even then it's wider.

    Okay, actually read the article but why not just get a bigger screen if you need more space?
    So much of our physical makeup screams for a landscape over portrait for larger arrangement. Going bigger wouldn't be great past a point when your eyes and neck are constantly having to tilt up and down.

    The Apple Pro Display XDR is a nice option for the few applications for having a display in portrait mode. There are too many that need to look at pages of text from top to bottom without scrolling (or will want to edit portrait images) that we'll never return to the Macintosh Portrait Display style. It makes sense to recreate a sheet of paper, but there's a reason it never became the standard.


    JWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,398unconfirmed, member
    Soli said:
    What's the application for these? Anamorphic movies? Even then it's wider.

    Okay, actually read the article but why not just get a bigger screen if you need more space?
    So much of our physical makeup screams for a landscape over portrait for larger arrangement. Going bigger wouldn't be great past a point when your eyes and neck are constantly having to tilt up and down.

    The Apple Pro Display XDR is a nice option for the few applications for having a display in portrait mode. There are too many that need to look at pages of text from top to bottom without scrolling (or will want to edit portrait images) that we'll never return to the Macintosh Portrait Display style. It makes sense to recreate a sheet of paper, but there's a reason it never became the standard.



    But bigger displays (16:9 obviously lol) offer more room for shrinking windows and still being able to read them etc. In recording studios sometimes the engineer would bring his hand-me-down 32" TV and hook it up to the Mac.

    So are you saying the reason is to reduce neck strain?

    BTW iPhone has influenced the world to (unnecessarily) adopt portrait mode. It's pretty cringe. Seen TVs tilted sideways in grocery stores and saw an insurance company that had their computer monitors in portrait also. I agree it's dumb.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,043member
    I think it will have a niche market, like as demonstrated.

    I’d rather have 2 separate monitors, but to each their own...
  • Reply 8 of 18
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 323member
    It's not too wide, it's just Ultrawide, duh! Curious to see how my work flow would feel in this display, I'm used to work with 2 screens for 3D work and manufacturing, so not having a division in the middle might be nice.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 512member
    I think it will have a niche market, like as demonstrated.

    I’d rather have 2 separate monitors, but to each their own...
    Just curious?  What is your use case scenario for two separate monitors?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 647member
    100dpi, nowhere close to retina grade. 💩
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,197member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    100dpi, nowhere close to retina grade. ߒ馬t;/div>
    That all depends on how far away you sit from a 49" display (and how good your eyesight is).
    edited July 23 cgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,273member
    I think it will have a niche market, like as demonstrated.
    I’d rather have 2 separate monitors, but to each their own...
    Yeah, it seems especially good for things like video editing with a huge timeline. There are probably other apps.
    But, for people who just need a lot of room for multiple apps, maybe multiple monitors is actually easier in terms of keeping things organized?

    I wonder what downsides there are? I suppose if the computer weren't powerful enough, maybe multiple displays has some advantage over one really huge one? I'm thinking of screen-recording, for example (which I do quite a bit of). I suppose you could select a portion of the screen to record, but it would be a pain recording the entire screen and then having to crop a massive file, etc.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,376member
    Based on the picture of your video editing example, it appears that the width is 20%-30% more than necessary.  Sometimes less is more?
    Maybe you should consider the manufacturer's specs instead of a pic.


    As far as too wide, yeah, for me.

    But first and foremost I want a bigger not wider display.

    So I'd like somebody (preferably Apple) to make a Prosumer Display XDRL.

    I'd add a second monitor, somewhere between 21-24", in portrait mode mainly for a browser.


    This LG will definitely be a niche product, but that's fine because there's a niche market. 

    This would be cool for a USAF drone strike type game with two players sitting side by side. 

    I guess, but I'm not really a gamer.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    There are a lot of programmers who prefer having an additional monitor in portrait display so that they can review code. I imagine that a 32" display would be the maximum size for doing this in a reasonable fashion, but it would depend on how it was positioned.
    aknabiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,124member
    Based on the picture of your video editing example, it appears that the width is 20%-30% more than necessary.  Sometimes less is more?
    You could just not run apps full screen and use the 20% to tile other apps you might want visible.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    flydog said:
    Not sure the width is the issue, as I run 3 4K monitors and it is perfectly usable.  The problem is that it’s not a true 5k monitor, it is basically two WQHD monitors, and the price is the same as 4 decent 4K monitors. 


    I agree. For people that have a 3 monitor setup, this isn't too wide. However, the 3 separate monitors can be setup at angles best suited for the individual. With this monitor, you don't have that luxury.

    And of course, the point that you mention about the (lack of) 5K is also valid.

    That said, this thing looks ridiculous, but not necessarily in a bad way.

    cgWerkswatto_cobraJWSC
  • Reply 17 of 18
    How come monitor manufacturers think it’s OK to have I/O that is literally a hole in the plastic case through which you can see ports deep inside in a super uncomfortable position, on a device that costs $1500? Could they not find a better place, or include one extra PCB only with ports in that price? Bought recently a $600 gaming monitor - same stuff :(
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    dv8ordv8or Posts: 25member
    I'm a photographer and currently use 2 monitors. Would dearly love a monitor like this but I do wonder if there is a consistancy of colour and brightness across the panel? I have NEC spectraview reference monitors that have been selected for their consistancey. Perhaps monitors are better made thesedays and this does the job? Just wondering if you guys can post a photo of the monitor square on with a white background which may give an idea as to the consistancy across the panel?
    edited July 24 watto_cobra
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