If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
One of the first tech accessories you should consider when setting up a home office is an external display. Having a monitor will give you a larger canvas for your work, whether you’re taking notes while watching a lecture, copying data between spreadsheets, or editing photos and videos. If you’re using a laptop, and keep its lid open, having an external monitor lets you keep two screens on at the same time.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right external monitor to use, but one of the most important is whether you’d like it to have a flat or curved panel. There’s no wrong answer, but we’ve broken down the differences between both types of external monitors below, so you can make the right decision for your needs. We’ve also recommended one monitor from each category, so you know the right one to get.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Curved Monitors?
The biggest reason curved displays are popular is that they fill up more of your peripheral vision, which allows you to focus on your work instead of being distracted by what’s happening around you. If you’re watching or playing a game, this engrossing experience can be hard to beat. The downside to this style of monitor is that its curved display can catch light from more angles. The glare, which can make part of the screen more difficult to look at, negates the biggest advantage curved displays have over flat panel monitors. To be clear, flat-screen monitors can still be susceptible to glare, but it’s easier to set them up in an area where that will be less of an issue.
How to Find the Best Computer Monitor
Both flat and curved monitors are available in an array of sizes, but their shape changes as they get bigger. Flat panel displays generally have an aspect ratio of 16:9 or 16:10, which means their height and width grow at a pretty proportionate rate. The 16:9 aspect ratio is the standard for TVs, so you’ll be familiar with how a flat panel monitor looks regardless of its size. Curved monitors can have up to a 32:9 aspect ratio, which means they’re significantly wider than they are tall. This proportion allows you to spread more information on the screen, but also means it’ll likely take up the entire length of your desk.
Flat panel displays have the ergonomic advantage over curved ones because you may have to turn your neck more frequently to focus on different parts of a large, curved monitor’s display, which can cause strain. The alternative is to sit further away from the monitor, which may not be possible if you’ve got a small desk or room. Flat panels also have the advantage when it comes to flexibility. Both flat and curved monitors can be height and tilt-adjustable, but some flat panels give you the option to turn their display vertically, which makes it easier to work on writing assignments (from articles to legal drafts) or to edit vertical video (say, for Instagram).
Flat Monitors vs. Curved Monitors: Which One is Better?
Despite their differences, both curved and flat panel monitors share a lot of similar features. Both styles are outfitted with the same types of inputs (commonly known as ports), which allow you to connect your computer to them without an adapter. Each can have a very high resolution to ensure you get an ultra-clear image, which will make everything from viewing photos to reading text easier.
If you have a large enough room, the right lighting conditions, and spend a lot of time editing horizontal video or playing games, getting a curved display is probably the way to go. The ultra-wide form factor may take some time to get used to, but you’ll end up with a larger area to view your documents, images, videos, and browser tabs.
If you’re more space-constrained, don’t have very much control over your room’s lighting, and stick to more general computing tasks like web browsing, writing, shopping, and watching video, it’s probably better to get a flat panel display. That’s especially true if you want an external display with a more familiar physical design.
1. Samsung 49-inch Odyssey G9 Monitor
Samsung designed the Odyssey G9 to match the natural curve of the human eye. This means you’ll get maximum immersion and minimal eye strain — even as you game over multiple hours.
The screen itself is a full 49-inches featuring QLED technology which leads to bright, more vivid visuals as you game, stream or work. It’s also specially designed with gamers in mind. You’ve got NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync for high-res graphics as well as a tear-free gaming experience — face little to no lag time on this gaming monitor.
Refresh rates run as high as 240ghz for smooth performance, even on the most combat-heavy games. There’s also HDR functionality, which means you’ll see every detail, down to the specks of dirt as you drift in Forza Horizon 5.
Like the rest of your gaming setup, you can even customize the lighting of your new monitor through Infinity Core lighting. Plus, you can adjust this curved monitor’s height via the stand, although since it’s pretty wide you won’t be able to modify tilt.
It’s not a feature you’ll miss though and since the aspect ratio is 32:9, you can have multiple tabs and windows open, allowing you to multitask seamlessly.
2. LG 34WN80C-B 34-Inch Curved UltraWide Monitor
LG 34WN80C-B is the perfect example of what a curved monitor has to offer. The 34-inch WQHD (wide quad high definition) display supports 99% of the sRGB color gamut and HDR (high dynamic range). If you’re watching videos or playing games that support HDR, you’ll immediately notice a big improvement in color accuracy.
This monitor’s standout feature is its array of inputs, which include two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, a USB-C port, two USB-A ports, and a headphone jack. If you connect your computer to the monitor with a USB-C cable, you can use the monitor’s USB ports to connect your accessories. If you’re using a laptop, the monitor’s USB-C port will also supply your computer with power. The ability to use an external display as a USB hub to save space is great and necessary with a monitor this big. Unfortunately, the 34WN80C-B does not have built-in speakers.
Thanks to a technology called Split Screen 2.0, you can virtually break the monitor up into two smaller monitors, which makes managing windows a little bit easier. You can disable this setting at any time, which you’ll want to do if you’re playing PC games.
Although curved displays aren’t as flexible as flat panels, LG designed the 34WN80C-B to be height and tilt-adjustable, so you can find a position for it that’s comfortable to use. That said, this monitor is 32.7 inches long, so you’re going to need a large desk and a lot of space to prevent neck strain.
If you have the room and have been curious about curved monitors, LG’s 34WN80C-B is a good choice. Its hardware features and physical design maximize the advantages of using this type of display while minimizing the downsides.
3. Dell 32 4K P3222QE Hub Monitor
If you’re leaning more towards flat-screen monitors, go with this Dell 32-inch 4K monitor which delivers strong performance and hard-to-beat visuals.
This 4K monitor is packed with more than eight million pixels according to Dell, which should provide brighter more balanced visuals, no matter what angle you’re viewing this monitor at. You’ll also be able to tilt, swivel or adjust the height of your flat monitor to your liking.
This monitor even comes equipped with IPS technology for accurate color pictures, even during hours of streaming or working. And, with Dell Display Manager, you can have multiple tabs open with ease, restore your work the second you log on and quickly access your data through shortcut keys.
There’s a wide array of ports too, including a USB-C port, a display port, an HDMI port and regular USB ports as well. This way you can connect your monitor to your existing work-from-home set up easily.
This monitor is also easy on the eyes, featuring thin bezels and Comfort View Pus, Dell’s technology for reducing blue light emissions.
4. ASUS ProArt Display 27-Inch Monitor
The Asus 27-inch monitor also features a 4K display as well as HDR for detailed color visuals and crystal clear images when you stream, game or create presentations for work. (Note you can also grab this monitor in the 2K version if you’re looking to save a little cash).
Like the Dell monitor, you can tilt, swivel or adjust the height to your liking. There’s also eye care for reduced strain on your eyes during long workdays.
The ASUS ProArt was also designed with graphic artists and creators in mind. It’s Calman Verified which means it’s great for video editing and is probably one of the most color-accurate monitors you can find. You can even adjust the color configuration to your liking on this monitor.
Not sure what’s the best color configuration for you? Use the preset ProArt modes for automatic color-gamut adjustments for both photo and video editing.
As for the ports, you’ve got an HDMI port, a display port, a USB-C port and a generic USB hub for added connectivity.