I find it mind-boggling that Alienware launched its first gaming monitors here only last month. This is one of the biggest gaming brands around, not to mention its parent company Dell is practically a household name for monitors.
Hence, expectations are high for the 34-inch Alienware AW3418DW gaming monitor. Like many gaming displays of this size, it is curved and ultra-wide (with a 21:9 aspect ratio) for greater immersion. It sports gaming features like Nvidia's G-Sync technology to ensure a tear-free gaming experience, and has a 100Hz refresh rate.
First impression: The AW3418DW is well built and heavier than I had expected. Alienware's fetish with sharp angles is evident - the massive monitor stand looks like a large prism while the curved display has a triangular profile from the top. Its height can be adjusted and I could also swivel and tilt the screen.
The headphone jack and two of its USB 3.0 ports that support charging are placed centrally, under the front bezel. This beats having to reach behind to access these ports.
Given that it is a gaming monitor, the AW3418DW has LED light strips to jazz it up. At a corner of the back of the monitor is a glowing Alienware logo. These LEDs can be adjusted via the monitor's on-screen display (OSD) settings.
Speaking of which, I prefer using a joystick - not present on the Alienware monitor - to navigate the OSD setting. Thus, I had to make do with tiny triangular buttons at the bottom edge. Four of these buttons are shortcut keys to settings like screen brightness, but they can be reassigned, which is handy. I like that the OSD also shows the current status of gaming settings such as the monitor's response time when you press any of the OSD buttons.
With its IPS screen, the viewing angles and colour reproduction of this monitor are top notch. At 300 nits of brightness, it is not as bright as some monitors in the market. But I found it more than adequate for watching videos. Do note that its ultra-wide aspect ratio creates black bars at the sides when the monitor is displaying content formatted for standard 16:9 displays.
RESOLUTION: 3,440 x 1,440 pixels
ASPECT RATIO: 21:9
BRIGHTNESS: 300 cd/m2
RESPONSE TIME: 4ms
PANEL TYPE: In-plane switching
CONNECTIVITY: DisplayPort, HDMI, 4 x USB 3.0 downstream, audio line-out port, headphone jack
For gamers, the AW3418DW includes some useful features such as a frame rate display and a countdown timer. A Dark Stabiliser feature brightens dark in-game areas to improve visibility for gamers. Also available are preset display profiles for various game genres, from first-person shooters to strategy games. None of these gaming features are particularly innovative and are already available on competing gaming monitors.
For a first attempt, Alienware has produced an excellent gaming monitor, especially in terms of picture reproduction and build quality.
But Alienware may have misjudged the competitiveness of the market. Acer, Asus and LG all have 34-inch ultra-wide curved gaming monitors with similar features such as IPS panels, G-Sync support and high refresh rates. At $1,799, the Alienware monitor is the most expensive of the bunch.
In comparison, the LG 34UC89G has a 144Hz refresh rate and costs just $1,399. It may have a lower screen resolution than the Alienware, but it could be ideal for gamers with a less-capable computer that would not perform as well at a higher resolution.
• Verdict: Alienware's first 34-inch gaming monitor is good but too pricey compared to its competitors