Amazon Review by rjeffb
246 people found the following review helpful
Great screen, minor quibbles
I was extremely nervous about this for two reasons.
Excessively, incredibly large number of pixels equals excessively, incredibly high likelihood of dead or stuck pixels. I hate 'em. It’s…lessee…width times height…carry the one…just shy of FIVE MILLION pixels. Well, your mileage may vary, but mine had no pixel problems whatsoever. I have to stress that: not a single bad pixel out of five million. Wow.
Excessively, incredibly large number of pixels equals excessively, incredibly high burden on graphics adapter. Now I will admit that I had not bought a computer in a long time but my brand-new Ultrabox (formerly known as Hush PC) is a completely silent model, meaning no fans; so while it is the “newest generation” it is also not running at nearly whatever speed the latest and greatest are capable of. Didn’t matter; hooked up through DisplayPort and alongside (I realize how disgusting this must sound) a partner 1920x1080P touchscreen on DVI (yes I really do use both, more on that in a moment), I’m still able to pump out full 3440x1440x60Hz and play full-screen 1080 videos without a hitch.
Having said that, there are some issues. The first is with the DisplayPort itself: I have sound piped through the Envy by default, but about one out of six times the sound instead directs through the sister monitor. Control Panel insists that the Envy is disconnected. Not disabled; disconnected. Unplugging the DisplayPort cable and plugging back in instantly solves the problem. I don’t think there is going to be a retroactive fix for that, hopefully they will at least find and fix the bug causing this going forward. By the way, you could simply use HDMI but at this resolution and this version of HDMI (1.2 I believe) it will only manage 30Hz at full resolution*. For some that may be okay but kind of defeats the purpose of such a high resolution monitor. Before you ask, yes I tried running just the Envy by itself, but still about one in six times it had no audio connection. EDIT: I’ve now tried two different DisplayPort cables with the same issue, so it does look like this is a bug inside the Envy (if it was the video card or its drivers, that wouldn’t explain why the sound still works on HDMI). UPDATE: I found a possible obscure solution on the Internet. Right-click desktop, Personalize, Screen Saver, Change Power Settings, Change plan settings (for whatever is your current setup), Change advanced power settings (look, I said it was obscure), USB settings, USB selective suspend setting, and change the setting (active > disabled or disabled > active). From what I have read, this setting that supposedly is associated with selectively sending power only to certain USB ports has its fingers in all sorts of other Windows functions, including the DisplayPort driver. The theory is that part of this routine’s job is to either remember your multi-monitor arrangement or to not remember it and figure it out each time you boot. Since the Envy sends sound over DisplayPort, there’s my culprit. I changed it to enabled and my problem has gone from one in six boots to one out of, oh, probably fifty times. Your mileage may vary, and if you don’t use the Envy alongside other monitors or you don’t use the Envy for audio, this problem may never happen to you in the first place.
*Thanks for “JMT” for inquiring about this: he explained that he was interested in connecting an XBox to an Envy. Looking at the attached screenshots, you’ll see that I start out with the Envy (by itself, so nobody might get confused thinking this is because a second monitor was connected) set to full 3440x1440 resolution. Connected via DisplayPort, I go into Advanced Settings | Monitor and you see that it is set to 60Hz refresh (that’s good). Next, you’ll see that when connected via HDMI, 30Hz (and ONLY 30Hz) appears an a refresh option (that’s bad). Finally, and in answer to JMT’s question, while still connected to HDMI I changed the resolution to 1920x1080, and the refresh is back to 60Hz. So the Envy is capable of 60Hz at full resolution and capable of 60Hz on HDMI, just not both - for that, you need DisplayPort. Supposedly you can get 60Hz at full resolution over HDMI 2.0, but your O/S, cable, video card, and drivers would all have to be 2.0 (and even then, I’ll believe it when I see it). By the way within the Envy’s menus you can select what version of DisplayPort to use, but there is no corresponding menu item for HDMI.
My video adapter cannot put out 4K (for example if you try playing House of Cards in the new 4K format) so I can’t speak to how the Envy deals with such ultrahigh resolutions, but 3440x1440 is just a tad shy of 4K anyway.
Color is generally excellent, but you get a LOT of light bleed along the bottom. Only noticeable when the entire screen is very dark; refer to attached photo and note how the light bleeds in from the bottom but only on the dark portions on either side of the color gradient graphic; this is the only situation where I see it (that photo is deliberately overexposed to emphasize the bleed). Oddly, I get a bad gamma problem when Windows is booting up (screen picture way too bright and way too little contrast) but a few seconds after displaying the desktop it fixes itself - usually. This is of course a Windows thing but it no doubt comes from Windows and the Envy handshaking and once in a great while (about 1 in 100 boots) it never does fix itself. Again, unplugging and re-plugging the DisplayPort cable does the trick.
The curve is actually really good. I thought I wanted a seriously curved monitor to get a wraparound effect. I now realize that the monitor does not appear curved at all - it looks like it is perfectly flat and straight, which of course means the curve is doing exactly what it should.
Sound is excellent, but the volume control is really annoying. It’s a physical rotating wheel under the left bezel, and you have to turn it to raise the volume. And turn. And turn some more. It should be literally ten times more sensitive than it is. I just keep it cranked (no buzzing or hissing) and use Windows to control the volume.
Okay, I know you’re wondering why on Earth I need a second monitor with something as huge as the Envy, so I’ll explain: I play Flight Simulator, turn virtual cockpit off, and drag the instrument panel over to the other monitor and resize it to fit. Now I have an completely uninterrupted (and HUGE) view of my surroundings in front of me, and my instrument panel is on the smaller monitor - which is a touchscreen, so I can actually click buttons and spin wheels with my fingers. I use Megascenary’s photorealistic (actual photographs) scenery and get good refresh rates; I have read that if I was using the autogenerated scenery that comes with Flight Simulator then I would need a much more powerful computer with a screen as big as the Envy.
Like pretty much every modern monitor, you can plug this into a USB port and use it as a USB hub/extender. But the extension USB ports are in a terrible location, about dead center of the back, requiring you to crawl around to get to them. Why not near or even along the side like other monitors?
It can be set to kill the power if the screen goes blank, so you can use your power-off screensaver or a third-party program (I use the excellent little “Wizmo” and tie it to a hotkey) and the monitor will power itself off after a few seconds. You might think all monitors do this, but it’s hit and miss with some brands so I thought I’d mention it.
Running Windows 7 or 8 you can really take advantage of the “drag windows to the side and watch Windows resize window to exactly fill half the screen” feature. Looks great running two applications side-by-side and the Windows 7/8 snap-to-side feature makes it, well, a snap. One unusual use of this is if you have older programs that simply will not run in Win7 and have to run in the “Virtual XP” mode. You can drag your Windows XP Mode window over to the right side of the Envy and Windows will resize it to fill the right side of the screen - and because the Envy has so much real estate, it’s like you have a complete Windows XP system sitting side-by-side with Windows 7.
EDIT: Because it’s not a problem for me, I did not mention these items earlier, but in answering other Amazon customer’s questions I realized that this is worth bringing up. First, be aware that the Envy comes with a fixed-height stand with only about 10 degrees of angle adjustment. It also lacks the VESA screw holes on the back to put it on a universal stand (the manual references what sounds like a kludgy adapter plate that is included “with select models” but my Envy didn’t come with one so I guess it’s not a select model). The height of the stand and the height of my desk worked out perfectly for me, but potentially not for you. I don’t know if the Envy’s competitors are adjustable or can be screwed to a separate stand; but if that’s a concern for you, you might want to look into other brands. Secondly, the Envy lacks a digital audio out. This could present a (minor) problem if you have a surround sound or other audio processor. As of this writing, it appears that nobody makes a DisplayPort adapter that will divert the audio to a separate processor. Those adapters are common (and cheap) for HDMI, but as I said you only get 30Hz refresh running HDMI and at least with my ATI video card, I cannot run both DisplayPort (for the Envy) and HDMI (for sound) at the same time - my workaround for the touchscreen was to connect the second monitor through a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, but DVI doesn’t pass the sound through.*** You could of course just run audio out of your computer (if you don’t have a digital audio output, there’s lots of internal and external solutions out there) but that would mean an extra wire or optical cable. Not a showstopper for anyone, but if you need this capability and you are torn between the Envy and another monitor that has an audio out, possibly a reason to go with the other one.
***EDIT: Duh, of course it does, I already said that sometimes sound gets routed to the touchscreen through HDMI and that is via DVI on my setup. But I don’t know if Windows will recognize a sound diverter as a valid HDMI output and allow you to clone displays and send sound over the DVI (if I unplug the HDMI cable from my second monitor it disappears from control panel). There’s probably some obscure Windows setting to work around this; but if you need an audio out, why not just buy a monitor that already has one?
Finally, I get some horizontal tearing playing large or full-screen videos. I have not yet determined if that’s the Envy or a video adapter or driver issue. It’s not a showstopper in any event, only noticeable on occasion.
At this price, unless you have an older computer coupled to an older graphics adapter, you really don’t have an excuse not to buy one.
EDIT: After reading some of the recent reviews from other people, I feel compelled to add the following disclaimer:
I did NOT write this review in exchange for receiving this product for free. I paid for it just like anybody else. I am uncomfortable with how many reviewers of this product have been given one for free and I don’t see how, even with the best of intentions, the pubic can be certain that a reviewer’s opinion isn’t affected (even if subconsciously) by being given something that costs the better part of a thousand dollars. Manufacturers don’t just give things away unless they are pretty certain that by doing so they are increasing the product’s star rating, and I wish Amazon would provide a way to filter out all the paid/freebie reviews so customers can compare star ratings solely from the people who actually bought the product with their own money.
FOLLOW-UP: I see after mentioning that I don’t trust reviews posted in exchange for receiving free products, all of a sudden I have started to get negative “helpful” votes for this post - my rating went from 8 out of 8 to 10 out of 14 overnight. I guess I must have struck a nerve with some people who’d prefer nobody know about this practice. This led me to a whistle-blowing article (Amazon’s robot won’t let me post the link, search for “what shoppers don’t realize about amazon’s reviews”) on how these freebie reviews actually work, a real eye-opener and something I will bear in mind the next time I read reviews to help make a purchasing decision.