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AOC U3477PQU review

Michael Passingham
15 Feb 2015
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
591
inc VAT

With incredible colours and a versatile design, the AOC U3477PQU is the best ultra-wide monitor you can buy today

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Ultra-wide monitors have a unique place in the monitor market thanks to their striking 21:9 aspect ratios. The latest generation of these screens have 3,440 pixel horizontal resolutions and 1,440 pixels vertically; while this means they have fewer pixels overall than an ultra HD display, their gigantic, wide designs make them suitable for extreme multitasking and cinematic gaming.

We reviewed the LG 34UM95 last year and were blown away by the quality of the panel and the usefulness of such an absurdly large 34in screen. AOC's U3477PQU uses exactly the same panel as the LG (the LG-made LM340UW1-SSA1) so exceptional image quality is already guaranteed. What's more impressive is the significantly lower price of AOC's monitor. This is largely due to the omission of the two Thunderbolt ports found on the LG; these ports certainly have a place on professional products and for people using Apple devices, but for consumers without either of these, they're an expensive extra.

DESIGN AND BUILD

Physically, the U3477PQU is much more versatile than LG’s monitor. This is due to the impressive stand that has a huge 180mm of height adjustment; the ability to turn it into a comically tall skyscraper thanks to 90 degrees of rotation; and a turntable under the base for horizontal swivelling. The base is rather large, though, so you'll need plenty of desk space to swivel it regularly. The arm holding the monitor up is slightly wobbly if you happen to bump into the screen, but at this size we'd rather have some built-in flex than a completely solid structure that falls over easily.

You get the expected complement of input and outputs on the rear, with DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA and DVI. There are also two 3.5mm audio jacks at the rear for headphones and the built-in speakers. On the right, but very difficult to access without standing up and leaning over, are two USB3 ports and two USB2 ports. They point sideways but to all intents and purposes are at the rear; we would have much preferred them to be sat on the very edge of the monitor frame because accessing them is a pain. 

The U3477PQU bears similar styling to some of AOC's mid-range IPS monitors, with a black frame and metallic silver base. The frame itself has beautifully thin plastic bezels, but when you switch the monitor on there's an extra 10mm of bezel on the left, right and top edges, plus 5mm on the bottom where the panel ends but the screen coating continues.

The onscreen menus can be a bit fiddly to navigate because of the cheap-feeling buttons on the bottom of the frame. Altering settings is a bit tiresome, but unless you're obsessed with fine-tuning your screen you probably won't have to use these menus very often.

RESOLUTION AND SOFTWARE

The wide aspect ratio of this panel means you'll have to make changes to the way you work on your desktop. With so much real estate, you can comfortably fit three windows side-by-side on this display for very effective multitasking. However, Windows doesn't make it easy to arrange your applications in this way and you'll often find yourself with two gigantic windows side-by-side. AOC tries to alleviate the frustration with its own Screen+ software, which comes on a DVD in the box with the monitor. This software can't be found online, so make sure you don't lose the disc.

Screen+ lets you choose from seven preset window arrangement templates. Dragging a window will bring the template up on screen, and when you drag a window into one of the numbered sections, it will automatically expand to fill it. Only two of these templates really work on the U3477PQU though; one that lets you put three windows side-by-side and another with four equal sections. The software doesn't work properly with all applications, either. Most notably the Microsoft Office 2013 suite ignores Screen+ entirely, which is frustrating. We also found moving some programs such as Spotify caused the program to hang and we had to alt+tab away from Screen+ in order to continue working. 

^Screen+ is useful for arranging windows, but it's too unreliable 

We ended up using the much more reliable and more recently updated DisplayFusion software to arrange windows. You have to pay for it, but we'd strongly recommend making the investment and setting up some hotkeys for arranging windows to take advantage of such a wide monitor.

Most modern games will support the 3,440x1,440 resolution, and some older titles can be "hacked" to unlock it, too.  Video files, online streaming, DVDs and Blu-Rays are more complicated to set up properly, but it is possible to get these somewhat inflexible formats to look good on an ultra-wide screen when playing them from a PC.