The LG 29LN450W is a curious bit of kit; LG touts it as an "UltraWide LED TV" that can also perform as a desktop monitor, but when you use a multi-function device, compromises generally must be made. So what's the deal with the 29LN450W? Can it be both a cinematic LED TV and powerful desktop monitor it so longs to be?
LG isn't kidding when it uses the phrase "UltraWide" in their description of the 29LN450W. The monitor is 29-inches and has a 21:9 aspect ratio, meaning you're looking at a miniature-by-comparison movie screen on your desk (21:9 is the same ratio you'll see at many movie theaters). The screen has a very thin bezel, which is a nice feature we appreciated more than we realized we would; overall, the design of the 29LN450W is perfectly average.
As for ports, this hybrid offers a variety of input and output options for both TV and PC use: DisplayPort and DVI hookups for PC display, and coaxial, component, and HDMI for TV display. LG made an odd decision to feature just 2 HDMI out ports on this TV — if it was mostly meant for media consumption, then it should have 4 HDMI ports available (especially considering many of us have a variety of HDMI-connected products like set-top boxes, game consoles, and the like to connect at any given time). This is where the 29LN450W's identity crisis comes into play; for every TV port, there's a PC port, and you may not ever feel fully satisfied with your options one way or another if you decide to use this screen for just TV or just PC.
There are standard picture adjustment options on the bottom right underside of the screen, and depending on whether you're using the 29LN450W as a TV or a monitor, the user interface will change to more closely resemble what you're used to for each format; i.e., the TV interface looks like a full-screen LG TV menu, while the PC interface pops up on the bottom left of the screen in a more subtle fashion, and with different options available.
Performance – PC
The 29LN450W comes with a disc that contains software enabling Screen Split. While the initial software installation is a little bit of a pain, once it's up and running, Screen Split really shows off what the 29LN450W can do (and also wordlessly explains why you'd want a 29-inch UltraWide PC monitor).
It's dead simple to change the size and way the screen gets split up with Screen Split software. Just click on the picture that shows you the way you want your screen to be divided, and Screen Split will do just that.
If you're a heavy multi-tasker, or you like having multiple apps open and within a glance, Screen Split is where it's at. It's a lot of fun playing around and seeing what option works best for your particular needs, and LG did a great job making it easy to change your preference on the fly. If we wanted to use the 29LN450W as a single monitor for our computer, the screen's UltraWide format and Screen Split would give it an edge over the competition, but for us, where the 29LN450W really shined was as a secondary monitor for our office Mac Pro.
Unfortunately, using the 29LN450W as a single screen monitor proved difficult, since it's not specifically tuned to be a monitor. There's a distinct lack of USB ports on the back of the device, which makes it a tough sell when compared to other monitors in its price range, especially LG's own 29EA97P, which is almost identical to this TV/monitor hybrid (it's also a 29-inch UltraWide), but made specifically to be a monitor, and without the compromises the 29LN450W has.
Performance – TV / Movie
Plainly put, it's not easy finding movies (and especially television) suited to the 29LN450W's 21:9 cinema format, which means you'll be seeing a lot of letterboxing and crop issues with standard media. Of course, with Screen Split, you can easily create a 16:9 screen within the TV's real estate to watch your content while simultaneously surfing the web… but it's a tough trade, especially when you want that full-screen experience.
The 60hz refresh rate on the 29LN450W isn't particularly impressive compared to LED televisions sporting 240hz rates, but combined with the response time, the screen performs admirably when displaying fast moving content, such as sports and action films.
I hesitated a bit to specifically mention this particular use case, since it's pretty niche — but then I realized how many designers and other creative folks might want to know how this particular monitor performs for their needs, so I felt like it was important to include in my review.
I do a LOT of video editing for TechnoBuffalo, and few things made me happier than editing on this monitor. Sometimes, going back and forth between two screens for timelines, bins, and other frames in Adobe Premiere Pro gets annoying. The 29LN450W completely alleviated any and all of those annoyances by providing an insane amount of screen real estate to dedicate to my workspace in Premiere, and as a creator, I can honestly say it's been a genuine pleasure to use it in my day-to-day editing. There were still some minor complaints, though.
First, and I'm not 100 percent sure if this is software- or hardware-based, is that when I would double-click a folder in my bin to open it, the new window would show up on my first monitor instead of the 29LN450W. A minor issue, but something I figured I should mention. Other than that, colors generally displayed beautifully (blacks and whites were a little over and underexposed, respectively, but not so much that it was jarring or inhibited my ability to color correct footage), and the UltraWide format of the screen was spectacular.
Second, and this is speaking as someone who believes a graphic designer might enjoy the 29LN450W, it doesn't rotate to a vertical orientation, which is a real bummer for anyone hoping to use the monitor to edit layouts in that format. But, I suppose that's a big portion of the compromise when it comes to having a hybrid TV/monitor.
It's pretty obvious that the LG 29LN450W has a crisis of identity.
It's a PC monitor wearing a homemade TV costume, but that means that in the end, it's not really hitting a home run on either front. Unfortunately for this screen, LG already has an UltraWide monitor specifically designed for the desktop in their 29EA73P, and it has more USB ports and PC features than the 29LN450W does. As a working monitor, we're crazy about the screen real estate this TV-slash-monitor offers; but as a primarily media-driven device (and considering it's marketed as an LED TV with added PC utility), it's tough to recommend, especially when you take into account the scarcity of cinema formatted content.
If you're looking for a great LED TV, skip the 29LN450W and grab something a little larger with more HDMI ports at a similar price. If you're thinking about this screen as a main monitor for your PC, spend a little extra cash and pick up the LG 29EA73P instead. If you're looking for a secondary monitor, we highly recommend the LG 29LN450W, as it hits a lot of high notes as a supporting player.