Sharp UWQHD picture. Very good grayscale performance. Fully adjustable stand. Multi-monitor support.
Expensive. Slightly skewed colors. Lacks advanced color controls. Speakers are underpowered.
- Bottom Line
NEC's first curved-screen monitor, the MultiSync EX341R-BK, is a well-equipped 34-inch display that delivers a highly detailed picture, with good grayscale and viewing-angle performance.
It took a while, but NEC has finally released its first curved-screen monitor, the MultiSync EX341R-BK ($999). Based on a huge 34-inch Samsung Vertical Alignment (SVA) panel, the EX341R-BK is designed for professionals looking to expand their desktop workspace. It offers a generous features set, including NEC's ControlSync technology that allows you to control multiple monitors from a single host display. While colors aren't as accurate as that of Dell's UltraSharp 34 Curved Monitor U3417W, this pricey panel delivered a highly detailed UWQHD (3,440-by-1,440) picture and very good grayscale reproduction in our testing.
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Design and Features
The huge 34-inch screen is housed in a matte-black, bezel-free cabinet that weighs 16.8 pounds and is 31.8 inches wide. The cabinet is supported by a stand consisting of a round base with a Lazy Susan swivel mechanism, and a telescoping mounting arm that provides height and tilt adjustments. It comes with a VESA mounting plate that can be attached to hang the cabinet on a wall using an optional wall-mounting kit. The EX341R-BK has two embedded 1-watt speakers that are woefully underpowered for a monitor of this size. In contrast, the same-size Dell U3417W has a pair of 9-watt speakers that are loud and offer good bass response.
The 3,440-by-1,440 (UWQHD) panel has a non-reflective coating and a peak brightness of 290 cd/m2, a 3,000:1 native contrast ratio, a 21:9 aspect ratio, and a 5-millisecond (gray-to-gray) pixel response. The screen has a curvature of 1,800R (which means that if you put several of these monitors edge to edge to create a complete circle, the circle's radius would be 1,800mm). This is more pronounced than the Dell U3417W's 1,900R curvature and provides a strong sense of immersion.
At the rear of the cabinet, facing downward, are two HDMI ports (1.4 and 2.0), a DisplayPort input, and a DisplayPort output that allows you to daisy-chain up to three monitors in a multi-display configuration. Here, you'll also find two ControlSync ports (In and Out) that allow you to synchronize settings with up to 24 sub-monitors connected to the EX341R-BK by ControlSync cables. The left side of the cabinet holds two USB 3.0 upstream ports, four USB 3.0 downstream ports, and a headphone jack. The USB hub uses NEC's DisplaySync technology, which allows it to be pressed into duty as a KVM switch to control two PCs using one mouse and keyboard.
The lower edge of the cabinet is home to eight touch-sensitive buttons that are used to navigate the on-screen menus, select settings, and turn the monitor on and off. Here, you'll also find an ambient light sensor that, along with the Auto Brightness feature, adjusts screen brightness based on the current lighting environment, and a motion sensor that works with the Human Sensing feature to put the monitor into a power-saving mode if no human activity is detected.
You get a multitude of settings, including five color control presets with varying degrees of red, green, and blue saturation levels, native and sRGB presets, a DICOM (medical imaging) preset, a low blue light preset, and a programmable preset. In addition to Brightness, Contrast, and Black Level settings, there are six DV modes (picture presets) including Standard, Movie, Gaming, Photo, Text, and Dynamic, a Uniformity setting, sensitivity settings for the above-mentioned motion and light sensors, two power-saving ECO modes, and multiple Picture-in-Picture (PiP) settings. Missing are the six-color Hue and Saturation settings that you get with the Dell U3417W and the Acer XR382CQK.
As with other MultiSync models, such as the EA305WMi and the E241N-BK, the EX341R-BK has a carbon meter that tracks the monitor's carbon footprint, energy usage, and costs. NEC covers the display with a three-year warranty on parts, labor, and backlight. Inside the box are DisplayPort, USB (upstream), and ControlSync cables, and a Setup Guide.
The EX341R aced the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test, correctly displaying every shade of gray, from dark to light. Shadow and highlight detail was outstanding in my test images, and as is the case with most VA panels, blacks were nice and dark. Viewing-angle performance was also quite good; there was no noticeable color shifting or loss of luminance when viewed from an extreme top, bottom, or side angle.
Out-of-the-box color accuracy was good, but not ideal. As shown on the chromaticity chart below, red and blue colors (represented by the colored dots) are closely aligned with their deal CIE coordinates (represented by the boxes), but green is just outside of its box. However, the skewed greens did not result in tinting or oversaturated colors in testing, and will likely go unnoticed in most non-color-critical applications. Colors appeared vibrant against the panel's dark background in my test images and while streaming Marvel's Captain America: Civil War on Netflix.
While not designed for gaming, the EX341R-BK's 5-millisecond pixel response is respectable. The monitor does an adequate job of handling fast motion. There was minor screen tearing and ghosting in darker scenes in my Crysis 3 (PC) and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Sony PlayStation 4) gaming tests, but gameplay was still enjoyable. Input lag, as measured with a Leo Bodnar Video Input Lag Tester, came in at relatively high 34.3-milliseconds. Our fastest monitor, the BenQ SW2700PT delivered a low lag time of 9.5 milliseconds.
While set to the Standard picture preset with ECO mode disabled, the EX341R-BK consumed 59 watts of power in testing. With ECO mode 1 enabled, consumption dropped to 46 watts, and with ECO mode 2 enabled, the monitor used 30 watts. In comparison, the Acer Predator X34 consumed 49 watts in Standard mode and 36 watts in ECO mode, while the AOC C3583FQ consumed 49 watts, and the Dell U3417W consumed 56 watts, both while operating in Standard mode (neither offers an ECO mode).
If you're a fan of NEC's MultiSync line of desktop displays, you will appreciate the EX341R-BK's robust feature set, which includes a fully adjustable stand, a KVM switch, a DisplayPort output for daisy-chaining multiple monitors, and NEC's ControlSync technology. Its 34-inch curved screen panel offers a more immersive workspace than a traditional flat-screen panel, as well as excellent grayscale and viewing-angle performance. That said, it lacks the precise color accuracy and advanced six-color adjustments you get with our Editors' Choice for high-end, extra-large-screen monitors, the Dell UltraSharp 34 Curved Monitor U3417W, which costs only $100 more.
By John R. Delaney Contributing Editor
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, John spent six years in retail operations for… More »
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