Two years ago, I visited NEC’s booth at Infocomm in Orlando, Florida. At the time, curved ultra-wide monitors were just starting to appear from LG and others. I asked the reps if they had plans for a similar product and got simply a cryptic “yes.” After watching the category become almost gamer-exclusive, we wondered if curved screens would ever make a splash on the business desktop. NEC believes they have, and so the company has crafted its EX341R. It’s a 34” SVA panel with 3440x1440 resolution, 8-bit sRGB color, and a thin-bezel design.
Before you dismiss this as a “me-too” product, take a closer look at the specs. Where the majority of curved ultra-wides are based on IPS panels, the EX341R employs a Samsung SVA part. That means extra contrast, and lots of it. NEC rates it at 3000:1 which is triple what you’ll see from any IPS or TN monitor. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the technology in an ultra-wide, but add 3440x1440 resolution to the mix and you have a really nice looking screen with 110ppi. That matches the 27” QHD category we consider to be the sweet spot for desktop displays.
The SVA panel offers another special item besides deep black levels: a 75Hz refresh rate. Alas, there is no FreeSync or we might be taking a different approach to the EX341R. But those extra Hertz mean smooth motion in whatever you might wish to do. Gaming isn’t one of this monitor’s intended functions, but it should provide a better experience than most 60Hz business-class displays. The other unique feature is the 1800R curvature. It’s tighter than any screen we’ve seen previously and creates a serious feeling of immersion with its wraparound.
The feature list is identical to what you’ll find on any NEC EA-series product. ControlSync is included along with a DisplayPort output to make daisy-chaining a breeze. And you can purchase the EX341R with a SpectraView kit that adds auto-calibration to the monitor’s capabilities. One thing that carries over from the premium PA-series is KVM support. An extra USB upstream port and HDMI 2.0 input allow the monitor to serve two computers. Switching back and forth is easily done in the OSD. It also includes a fully-adjustable stand which is not something commonly seen with ultra-wides. In fact, everything that makes NEC monitors into the ultimate working-person’s tool is here. The only question is, does it offer the performance to match? Let’s take a look.
Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories
Like nearly all NEC monitors, the EX341R ships fully-assembled and needs only to be lifted out of its nest of foam blocks and protective wrap. The box is large and heavy and should protect the monitor against all but the most brutal handling.
DisplayPort and HDMI cables are included along with ControlSync and USB 3.0. We were happy to see that NEC integrated the power supply into the monitor so all that’s needed to plug in is an IEC cord. Additional materials available online include the full user manual and NaviSet Administrator software, which IT departments will find super handy when installing any NEC product.
Styling is quintessential NEC with a chunky industrial look formed from heavy, textured plastic. A nod to modernism comes in the form of a thin, flush-mounted bezel that frames the image with an 8mm border. All you see at power-down is a 1.2mm plastic edge. The anti-glare layer is 3H-hardness with the clarity and artifact-free operation we’ve come to expect from NEC. You can set the EX341R up just about anywhere, although its light output is a little low for outdoor use.
The curve is 1800R, which indicates a tight radius of 1800mm. In a 34” screen that’s tighter than most, but we saw no image distortion in our sample. That wraparound helps maintain good image quality to the sides as the SVA panel in use here doesn’t quite have the off-axis quality of an IPS part. We think the choice of this curve spec is the right one.
Touch controls are not our favorite, but NEC offers by far the best in the business. They respond to an ideal amount of pressure and you’ll never have a miss or unintended double-tap. The icons denoting them are tiny, but once you touch one, helpful labels pop up on the screen.
The side profile makes no effort at slimness but since the power supply is internal, we can easily forgive. The upright features a cable-management tube that helps keep desks tidy. The side input panel includes two upstream and four downstream USB 3.0 ports along with a headphone output. The EX341R features KVM control for two connected computers.
Around back you find a 100mm VESA mount if you unbolt the upright. And there’s a handle molded into the top of the bulge that makes moving the panel easy. Ventilation extends around the top and sides, and provides a grill for the two 1W speakers. They are surprisingly loud, though maxing the volume causes audible distortion. And frequencies are limited to the upper mid-range.
The input panel includes two HDMI ports, one 1.4 and one 2.0 with HDCP 2.2. The DisplayPort input is 1.2 and adds an output for MST operation. The two tiny jacks are for the included ControlSync cable. We’ve covered this feature in the past and you can read about it in our reviews of the EA245WMi and the EA275WMi.
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