By: Jonathan Kwan
February 14, 2020
What does it take to build a driving simulator at home? If you have a virtually unlimited amount of cash, having a driving rig along with three large TV screens and a steering wheel will probably grant you a world-class experience. However, even if you do not have a bottomless bank account and space in your house, you can get a pretty decent setup that can be used for other things during the day. My setup -- which is, for those who know me, is very under-utilized -- consists of a Logitech G920 and a 42" LCD HDTV my friend left behind when he moved back to Vancouver. However, while the TV offers a ridiculous amount of screen area, the resolution is not very high for use with a computer. When Philips invited me to try out their AOC 346B1C 3440x1440 21:9 34" curved widescreen monitor, I decided it would be a great chance to see how it fares for gaming and every day use. Let us read on to find out more!
Although I have tons of experience with large multi-monitor setups, this is my first time using a curved ultrawide monitor outside of demonstration units at retail stores. My first impression is the inward curve gives a unique and engaging feel; sort of like a cinema screen. It is interesting how the evolution of monitors progressed over the years. Back in the days when we had CRT monitors, screens curved outwards. For a while, flat CRT screens were the holy grail of computer displays until flat screen LCDs came along. Nowadays, we are back to curved monitors, albeit inwards rather than outwards. Oh, how times have changed.
I find it quite interesting to use a curved ultrawide monitor in normal day-to-day use. The 3440x1440 resolution is pretty decent in a desktop office setting. Other than working on ridiculously wide Excel spreadsheets, I never needed to maximize any windows. In fact, maximizing something like a web browser on pages that does not have fixed width text columns renders them pretty much impossible to follow. We can say similar things about watching videos: There will be black vertical bars on both sides for the simple reason that nothing from your favorite YouTube channels will, or will ever, have things encoded in the 21:9 aspect ratio.
Of course, since this is a gaming monitor, I decided to play Project Cars 2 on it to see how it feels compared to my 42" TV. The first picture is a screenshot of the perspective on a 16:9 TV, while the second picture is a screenshot of the perspective on the 21:9 AOC 346B1C. Games scale the aspect ratio in one of two manners: Either it gives a wider perspective on the side or it crops the top and bottom out. In the case of Project Cars 2, as you can see in our screenshots above, it crops the top and bottom out rather than adding additional perspective on the side.
I can go on more about how the experience compares, but why not demonstrate with a video first? The first 34 seconds show my amazing driving skills on the TV, while the remainder of time also shows my amazing driving skills on the AOC 346B1C.
If you want the biggest screen area for the lowest price, going for the TV is probably your best bet. However, the AOC 346B1C offers a much higher screen resolution at 3440x1440 and refresh rate of 100Hz. The 1500 R curvature also provides a more immersive feel to things compared to a flat screen. Overall, I found using the 34" curved ultrawide monitor to be a very positive experience in both gaming and office work. If you want one large monitor instead of two for a seamless picture and can game and do office work at the same time, the AOC 346B1C is an incredibly popular choice for about $480 at press time.
Philips provided this product to APH Networks on loan to facilitate this report.
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