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.
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.
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.
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.
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!