Test Drive: HP Z34c Display

z34c

I sat in front of my first computer back in 1992 which means I’ve spent a good part of the past 23 years staring into computer displays. For many of those years I only ever worked using a single display and remember drooling over the original Apple Cinema Display released in 1999. My boss had one on his desk but the $4000 price tag put it – and the hope of any kind of widescreen display – well beyond my budget. The rest of us were on the beige 17 inch Apple CRT monitors at the time and I remember a 20 inch CRT weighing half a tonne being on my desk at some point. It wasn’t until 2007 that I bought my first widescreen display, an Apple 23 inch Aluminium cinema display. Then with the addition of an Apple 24 inch LED display in 2009 I was finally able to have dual displays.

I’ve spent a good part of
the past 23 years staring
into computer displays

Today I still have both of those displays on my 2009 Mac Pro and am impressed that the 23 inch is still going strong after almost 8 years. But having two different displays side-by-side was never ideal and it still bugs me that the heights don’t match and can only be adjusted using books or reams of office paper!

More recently I purchased my first PC – the HP Z840 – and a pair of Dell UltraSharp 27 inch monitors. The Dells are indeed sharp and cheap when compared with the 27 inch Cinema Displays – I was able to buy two for the price of one Cinema Display. With the addition of height adjustability, it made me wonder why I had stuck with Apple displays for so long.

I’d only been using the Dells for a few weeks when HP offered me their Z34c Display to test. I’d never used such wide or curved display before and frankly had no idea they even existed, so was curious to see how a 34 inch display might enhance or detract from my current workflow. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

The HP Z34c has a maximum resolution of 3440×1440 (WQHD) and 21:9 aspect ratio, a pair of MHL 2.0/HDMI 1.4 inputs, DisplayPort 1.2 and integrated 6-watt DTS Surround Sound speakers. Check out the full specs here.

One of the limitations of dual displays (even if they match) is no matter how thin the bezel of the monitors, you still have a break in the centre of the viewing area. I like to angle my displays in towards me or else the text on the far edges of each screen is just too far away to read. This isn’t an issue with the HP Z34c which has allowed me to position app workspaces right across the centre of the viewable area. The curved shape also which helps with peripheral readability, and overall I’m finding I turn my head less with this display.

It is still possible to add another display if you needed a dual setup but so far I haven’t found the need. You can also partition the screen using the HP Display Assistant, selecting from a range of layouts or by creating your own custom layout. To move a window to a partition you click on the Display icon at the top right of the window and choose the partition you want it to be positioned within.

z34c_DisplayAssistant

Here’s an example of 4 partitions working with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects and a web browser. Each app can be made full screen by hitting the Maximise button or the Windows Logo key and Up arrow. The workflow is intuitive and easy and not what I expected having been Mac only for so many years.

z34c_4partitions

Being able to maximise an app workspace across the entire screen with no bezel in the middle is great, especially when working with the After Effects, Premiere Pro and Cinema 4D timelines.

z34c_Premiere

The extra real estate has allowed me to be more creative with my workspace layouts in After Effects, and I’ve found I’m spending way less time moving panels around and zooming in and out of the Comp panel.

z34c_fullscreen

Without any current necessity for 4 or 5k in my workflow, the HP Z34c can definitely take the place of a standard dual display setup  and looks fabulous on my desk. The only issue I can see so far is having to pack it back up and return it! If I hadn’t already purchased the Dells I most likely would have grabbed one of these. It’s amazing to think that for the price of that 22 inch Cinema Display I could once only dream of, I could pick up four! Times have certainly changed.

What about you? What’s your setup? Do you work with dual or more displays? What’s important to you in a display or display setup? Any good or bad experiences? Let us know in the comments!

Discuss
  1. Aleksandar
    Reply

    Thank you John for this article!
    Yes! This HP is really nice peace of hardware, but also the price is too high for most users, even professional. It would be very nice to have one 🙂 but ….

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Aleksandar, You’re welcome! 1000 US isn’t too expensive for a professional in my opinion.

      • Aleksandar
        Reply

        Yes 1000 US$ maybe isn’t, but don’t forget that everything is much cheaper in US than in the rest of the world. I can’t buy this HP for less than 1200 EUR. Don’t get me wrong, this is great monitor, but for that money one can buy two good HP 27″ monitors, and left with few hundred euros in the pocket 🙂
        Anyway, it was a great pleasure reading this article!

  2. Robert
    Reply

    I’ve been using dual ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch (2560 x 1440 resolution each) monitors for almost 3 years now, and I love them! I can work on 1080p comps in AE at 50% very neatly and rarely need to move any windows around. The bezel through the middle from working with two monitors at this size has never been an issue. And I can turn off the secondary display when I don’t need it to save on power. I love this setup.

  3. inahut
    Reply

    John,
    Have you put this monitor to other uses besides buisness? I am very interested in this monitor. I am interested because of my gaming interests. Apart from the Dell 34inch, this monitor’s HP heritage encourages me. I have read every review of every other 34in display out available for retail purchase. Can you add to you review with some real-time personal-experience reports? Please

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Inahut, I don’t games so won’t be able to give you an opinion there 🙂

      • inahut
        Reply

        TY. I am trying to think of questions to ask you in the face of your prompt reply, things I have already heard in other reviews: I have an HPSR30w, which I mean to continue to use on my secondary PC; it has been in service since 2010-11 without a problem, a perfect display. I mean to communicate that I am enthused to find an HP version of the 34inch wide screen monitor made popular by Dell and LG. I would prefer an HP version of this kind of this newer display for gaming.

        My technical concerns are restricted to contrast ratio and corner backbleed. Any observations you may wish to offer?

        Respectfully requested. inahut.

  4. inahut
    Reply

    correction HP ZR30w

  5. Chris
    Reply

    Great review John! I’m also considering making the jump from Mac to PC (price being the major factor) Any regrets so far?

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks Chris, no regrets at all so far other than hitting the Windows key unintentionally when I’m using shortcuts 🙂

  6. Frank
    Reply

    Nice review! One of the issues I always encounter when working with a multi-monitor-setup, is that it feels quite cumbersome when navigating the screens with a wacom-tablet. Either the aspectratio doesnt match, or I can only use a portion of my tablet, or I have to press a button to switch between them…
    Have you had a tablet connected to this system while working with this screen? What’s your take on this issue?

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hey Frank, I don’t have a tablet connected to this unit yet..

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