One of the first tech accessories you should consider when setting up a home office is an external display. Having a monitor will give you a larger canvas for your work, whether you’re taking notes while watching a lecture, copying data between spreadsheets, or editing photos and videos. If you’re using a laptop, and keep its lid open, having an external monitor lets you keep two screens on at the same time.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right external monitor to use, but one of the most important is whether you’d like it to have a flat or curved panel. There’s no wrong answer, but we’ve broken down the differences between both types of external monitors below, so you can make the right decision for your needs. We’ve also recommended one monitor from each category, so you know the right one to get.
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The biggest reason curved displays are popular is that they fill up more of your peripheral vision, which allows you to focus on your work instead of being distracted by what’s happening around you. If you’re watching or playing a game, this engrossing experience can be hard to beat. The downside to this style of monitor is that its curved display can catch light from more angles. The glare, which can make part of the screen more difficult to look at, negates the biggest advantage curved displays have over flat panel monitors. To be clear, flat screen monitors can still be susceptible to glare, but it’s easier to set them up in an area where that will be less of an issue.
Both flat and curved monitors are available in an array of sizes, but their shape changes as they get bigger. Flat panel displays generally have an aspect ratio of 16:9 or 16:10, which means their height and width grow at a pretty proportionate rate. The 16:9 aspect ratio is the standard for TVs, so you’ll be familiar with how a flat panel monitor looks regardless of its size. Curved monitors can have a 21:9 aspect ratio, which means they’re significantly wider than they are tall. This proportion allows you to spread more information on the screen, but also means it’ll likely take up the entire length of your desk.
Flat panel displays have the ergonomic advantage over curved ones because you may have to turn your neck more frequently to focus on different parts of a large, curved monitor’s display, which can cause strain. The alternative is to sit further away from the monitor, which may not be possible if you’ve got a small desk or room. Flat panels also have the advantage when it comes to flexibility. Both flat and curved monitors can be height and tilt-adjustable, but some flat panels give you the option to turn their display vertically, which makes it easier to work on writing assignments (from articles to legal drafts) or to edit vertical video (say, for Instagram).
Despite their differences, both curved and flat panel monitors share a lot of similar features. Both styles are outfitted with the same types of inputs (commonly known as ports), which allow you to connect your computer to them without an adapter. Each can have a very high resolution to ensure you get an ultra clear image, which will make everything from viewing photos to reading text easier.
If you have a large enough room, the right lighting conditions, and spend a lot of time editing horizontal video or playing games, getting a curved display is probably the way to go. The ultra-wide form factor may take some time to get used to, but you’ll end up with a larger area to view your documents, images, videos, and browser tabs.
If you’re more space-constrained, don’t have very much control over your room’s lighting, and stick to more general computing tasks like web browsing, writing, shopping, and watching video, it’s probably better to get a flat panel display. That’s especially true if you want an external display with a more familiar physical design.
Acer’s CB241HYK is a great external monitor that highlights the advantages of flat panel monitors over curved ones. The 23.8-inch display is 4K, which means it has twice as many pixels as a 1080P (full HD) monitor, but won’t take up a lot of desk space. It supports 100% of the sRGB spectrum, so colors will look extremely accurate, and it has a pair of built-in speakers, so you don’t need to hook up an external pair if you’re watching a movie or playing a game. External speakers will definitely sound better, but it’s still nice to have an internal pair.
This monitor has one HDMI port, one DisplayPort, and one DVI port, so you’ll have no trouble plugging in any type of PC desktop or laptop . If you’re on a newer MacBook, you’ll need to get a USB-C to HDMI adapter. The CB241HYK supports height and tilt adjustment, and can be turned 90-degrees for vertical use. Acer says this monitor has an anti-glare coating, which makes it an even better pick if you’re in a room with intense overheat lighting, or occasionally open a window for natural light.
This monitor’s high resolution, built-in speakers, array of ports, color accurate panel, and impressive ergonomic features make it a great pick for anyone who wants a flat panel display with a manageable size.
LG 34WN80C-B is the perfect example of what a curved monitor has to offer. The 34-inch WQHD (wide quad high definition) display supports 99% of the sRGB color gamut and HDR (high dynamic range). If you’re watching videos or playing games that support HDR, you’ll immediately notice a big improvement in color accuracy.
This monitor’s standout feature is its array of inputs, which include two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, a USB-C port, two USB-A ports, and a headphone jack. If you connect your computer to the monitor with a USB-C cable, you can use the monitor’s USB ports to connect your accessories. If you’re using a laptop, the monitor’s USB-C port will also supply your computer with power. The ability to use an external display as a USB hub to save space is great, and necessary with a monitor this big. Unfortunately, the 34WN80C-B does not have built-in speakers.
Thanks to a technology called Split Screen 2.0, you can virtually break the monitor up into two smaller monitors, which makes managing windows a little bit easier. You can disable this setting at any time, which you’ll want to do if you’re playing PC games.
Although curved displays aren’t as flexible as flat panels, LG designed the 34WN80C-B to be height and tilt-adjustable, so you can find a position for it that’s comfortable to use. That said, this monitor is 32.7 inches long, so you’re going to need a large desk and a lot of space to prevent neck strain.
If you have the room, and have been curious about curved monitors, LG’s 34WN80C-B is a good choice. Its hardware features and physical design maximize the advantages of using this type of display while minimizing the downsides.
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