Affordable Super-Wide AOC Monitor Goes for Width over Height to Pack Extra Pixels

Pining for some extra pixels? This is a great monitor for the price.

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The AOC Q2963PM has a 29-inch screen with a 2560x1080 resolution.

The AOC Q2963PM (just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?) is a monitor that’s more than twice as wide as it is tall. The screen itself measures about 29 inches diagonally, while the monitor housing measures about 28 inches wide by 12.5 inches high. It’s got a resolution of 2560×1080, which is wider than many reasonably-priced 1920×1080 monitors, but it doesn’t feature any additional vertical real estate for scrolling through long web pages (unless you mount it in portrait mode, of course).

It’s priced at $500 from most places – Amazon has it for $450 as of 07/17/13, as does Best Buy – which puts it somewhere in between the high-end of standard-resolution monitors and the types of ultra-resolution (2560×1440) monitors that sell for around $700 and upwards.

In other words, this is a nice monitor, but it’s not too expensive given that you could conceivably use it instead of two standard monitors. It features an IPS (in-plane switching) panel, which is one of the latter developments in LCD screen technology, promising better color reproduction and viewing angles than older screens. The image quality of this monitor is very good given its price tag; no complaints there.

AOC hasn’t skimped too much on the inputs here, offering VGA, DisplayPort input and DVI connections on the right side of the monitor’s neck, and HDMI (it’s MHL-equipped), DisplayPort output, audio input, audio output and power connections on the monitor’s backside. There are three-watt speakers, too, which are forgettable but serviceable if you can’t route audio elsewhere.

Contrast AOC’s offering with super-wide 29-inch monitors from Dell ($550) and LG ($700) and you’ll find similar specs, minus a few ports here and there (the AOC has no USB ports, for instance). The AOC comes with a standard three-year parts and labor warranty, too, though the IPS panel is only covered for one year.

The 2560×1080 resolution is good for movie geeks who like to watch movies in a 21:9 aspect ratio, and productivity geeks like me who keep a bunch of windows open all day. My normal setup is a 15.6-inch laptop with a 1920×1080 display extended to a vertically mounted 22-inch monitor at 1080×1920 pixels for reading and a 20-inch 1600×900-resolution monitor for e-mail and file windows. While testing this AOC, I missed having the vertical scrolling space, but aside from that, it was nice having everything consolidated down to one extra screen instead of two.

This monitor lets you use a picture-in-picture mode with two computers at once, planting the extra desktop in a corner of your choice and sizing it between a small, medium or large box.


Doug Aamoth / TIME

AOC’s picture-in-picture mode lets you run two computers through the same monitor.

In theory, it’s a cool idea. In practice, it takes just long enough to call up the box using the monitor’s settings that I only found it useful for keeping my eye on something running on a secondary computer for long spans at a time.

There’s also a split-screen mode, where you can dock two computers’ displays right next to each other. I can see the value in that for long-term use, but I had to readjust each computer’s screen resolution manually, which made it somewhat of a non-starter for trying to flip between various machines during the day.

The split-screen and picture-in-picture stuff depends on your usage, of course, so don’t count what I say as knocks unless you have visions of yourself flipping back and forth between various modes all day. I’ll also add that the software provided by AOC isn’t available online. You’ll have to have an optical drive to load it up initially, and there’s one program called Screen+ that’s actually somewhat useful: It lets you virtually carve the screen into several smaller boxes to make it easy to work with multiple windows.



Now for a real knock: The monitor’s adjustability is pretty pitiful. It’ll only angle down to –5% and up to 20%. There’s no side-to-side adjustability, either. The monitor’s base is a simple backwards “L” shape. The package’s entire build quality is plasticky, which is eased somewhat by the price, but the lack of adjustability and the rickety casing hurts the monitor’s appeal a bit.

Despite those couple issues, though, this is a great monitor for the price and is worth the outlay if you find yourself pining for extra pixels.

Q2963PM Monitor []