PC

Curved display that is great for both work and play

The Asus Designo Curve MX34VQ's semi-transparent base acts as a wireless charger for devices compatible with the Qi charging standard, such as the new iPhones and the latest Samsung flagship smartphones.
The Asus Designo Curve MX34VQ's semi-transparent base acts as a wireless charger for devices compatible with the Qi charging standard, such as the new iPhones and the latest Samsung flagship smartphones.PHOTO: ASUS

The Asus Designo Curve MX34VQ monitor is an imposing presence when planted on an office desk.

Its large, ultra-wide 34-inch curved screen takes up most of my front view. It feels immersive, thanks to a combination of its pronounced curvature (rated at 1800R or about as curved as a circle with a radius of 1,800mm) and its loud Harmon Kardon speakers.

With its sombre black and grey colours, it looks perfectly at ease in an office setting. This professional vibe extends to its stylish-looking semi-transparent base, which also acts as a wireless charger for devices compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard, such as the new iPhones and the latest Samsung flagship smartphones.

It can charge devices even when the monitor goes into standby mode. A turquoise LED indicator pulses gently when a device is being charged. This status light can be turned off in the monitor's on-screen display (OSD) settings, which are accessed via a navigation joystick on the underside of the monitor's bottom bezel.

A downside of its design is the lack of height adjustment. Instead, you'll have to adapt to it by placing it on a stack of books or adjusting the height of your chair. The lack of a VESA mount also means you cannot attach it to the wall.

The screen boasts a relatively high resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels. Its vertical alignment (VA) panel offers wide viewing angles, comparable to in-plane switching (IPS) screens. But VA panels offer better contrast ratios with darker blacks than IPS models - the Designo, for instance, has a 3000:1 contrast ratio, compared with IPS screens that are rated at 1000:1. However, I could have done with a brighter screen - 300 nits feel insufficient to me, especially in a brightly lit room.

It is an ultra-wide monitor with an aspect ratio of 21:9 - its screen is much wider than standard 16:9 movie formats, resulting in black bars at the sides during video playback. But this extra width is handy for viewing multiple office documents or windows side by side.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,598

    RESOLUTION: 3,440 x 1,440 pixels

    ASPECT RATIO: 21:9

    BRIGHTNESS: 300 cd/m2

    RESPONSE TIME: 4ms

    PANEL TYPE: Vertical alignment

    CONNECTIVITY: DisplayPort 1.2, 3 x HDMI 2.0, headphone jack

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Games, too, can adapt to the monitor's uncommon screen resolution without any issues. I was surprised that Asus seems to be downplaying the Designo's gaming capabilities. After all, buried within its OSD settings are Asus' GamePlus in-game features, which overlay the screen with things such as a crosshair, a timer and a frame rate counter.

Perhaps it is because Asus also sells a gaming line of monitors under its Republic of Gamers brand. But the Designo actually offers a maximum refresh rate of 100Hz, up from the standard 60Hz, for more fluid gameplay. It even supports AMD FreeSync, an adaptive refresh-rate technology that works with a compatible AMD graphics card to match the monitor's refresh rate with a game's current frame rates, in order to reduce stuttering and screen tearing.

To be fair, the better gaming monitors now offer a refresh rate of 144Hz, so the Designo is slightly inferior in this department. But as long as your game is running at 100 frames per second or lower, the Designo's adaptive feature should work to make games feel smoother.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: A stylish monitor with a useful wireless charging feature, the Designo is surprisingly adept in games. It is pricey, though.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Curved display that is great for both work and play'. Print Edition | Subscribe