LG 32UD99-W Assessment | 4K Monitor with HDR

"The image quality of the LG 32UD99-W is stunning, but HDR is a swamp."

  • Attractive, adjustable design

  • Easy-to-use controls with many options

  • Strong color gamut and accuracy

  • Sharp 4K picture

  • HDR looks incredible

  • Mediocre out-of-box color accuracy

  • I can't use HDR technically optimally

  • Windows HDR support is difficult

4K monitors have gone from exotic to mainstream over the past year, and many of our favorite models are now selling for $ 400. However, 4K isn't the final frontier in image quality. High Dynamic Range (HDR) is another important innovation – and it can only be found on a few displays.

The LG 32UD99-W is one such screen. It combines HDR10 compatibility with 4K resolution, AMD FreeSync support and HDCP 2.2 compatibility, which together make it one of the most advanced 32-inch displays on the market. The main competitors are the BenQ SW320 and the Acer ET322QK, which also have 32-inch displays with HDR, but also a handful of HDR-compatible 27-inch displays.

As expected, the extended functionality of the LG 32UD99-W comes with an extended price. You have to pay $ 1,000 to open this screen. That's quite a bit, if not as expensive as it could have been – the BenQ SW320 costs at least $ 1,200. Our review will determine if LG's latest is the largest or too far ahead of its time.

Nothing but a screen

Thinning bezels have influenced the monitor design towards a more minimalist look, and the LG 32UD99-W is no exception. Indeed, it can be the standard bearer. The bezels, which are less than half an inch thick on all sides, are delimited by a thin strip of silver plastic. A similarly slim stand holds the monitor up, while the back is glossy white. The result is a subtle but futuristic look that blends easily into most homes – even if it looks a little unusual in an office.

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Although the stand is small, it does offer some ergonomic settings, including height, tilt, and rotation. The stand is not rotatable, an option that some competitors offer. The screen itself is VESA compatible, so you can swap the stand for something more flexible if necessary.

The LG 32UD99-W doesn't look sturdy, but feels well built to handle. As with most monitors, plastic is used for most exterior panels, and even the stand appears to be covered with metallic plastic instead of real metal. However, this does not affect the stability of the display. The back is reassuringly solid and gives a touch of quality when the screen is set on the stand.

A lot of connectivity, but forget about the wall bracket

LG offers two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort on the USB-C port and two USB-A ports on the 32UD99-W. This is a good range of connectivity and suggests that the display is more aimed at prosumers than office users and hardcore creatives. You can connect a laptop via USB-C and charge the laptop and transfer videos to the display.

LG 32UD99-W verification ports "data-image-id =" 1290561Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

All ports are also facing backwards, while many competitors have ports facing downwards. This makes connecting and removing devices much easier, but this configuration makes wall-mounting solutions difficult.

Enjoy the joystick

All LG menus are accessed via a joystick in the middle of the display. While we generally prefer buttons on the front, joysticks can work if done well – and the LG 32UD99-W is among the best in its class.

Tapping the stick gives you quick access to the most common options, including input selection and game mode. However, when you go to the right menu, you'll be greeted by a variety of quality adjustment options. In addition to the usual brightness and contrast options, there are options with which you can adjust the sharpness in the image settings.

Intense action – for example, an X-wing that tightens a star destroyer – is more vivid and detailed in HDR.

The image menu also includes color temperature adjustments, which offer a variety of options based on the actual color temperature – unlabelled presets – and precise color adjustments. Gamma is also adjustable, although it adapts to preset modes instead of targeting certain gamma curves. The controls available in the Image menu are impressive, and there are several calibration options available, including those that target specific color scales such as REC709. LG doesn't market the 32UD99-W as a professional display, but we believe its options will satisfy most photographers and digital artists.

However, note that almost all options are removed when HDR is turned on. This is because of how the HDR input needs to be treated. You can only change the brightness or switch between some selected modes.

The speakers are sufficient if necessary

Two five-watt speakers are hidden in the LG 32UD99-W. They provide relatively good sound for a monitor and are also acceptable for use with games. Still, the internal drivers don't match a set of $ 50 external speakers or reasonably decent headphones.

Image quality before calibration

HDR10 support is the main function of the LG 32UD99-W, so we eagerly connected it to a gaming rig and launched Star Wars Battlefront II, one of the few HDR-enabled games currently available.

LG 32UD99-W evaluation complete "data-image-id =" 1290562Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

The game is among the most attractive ever made on a "normal" display, but HDR has taken it to a new level. By supporting the high dynamic range, a display can offer a wider contrast range, usually by reaching a higher maximum brightness. This means that intense visual sequences – such as an X-Wing tightening a star destroyer – provide a more powerful and detailed picture. Explosions show more shading levels and finer details that are lost when HDR is turned off.

However, the display offers more than HDR10. It is a 4K panel with 140 pixels per inch, so it looks quite sharp for a desktop monitor. Our test devices have determined that the screen can deliver a maximum brightness of 360 nits and reaches 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut and 87 percent of the AdobeRGB. The gamma curve value was 2.0, just below the ideal target of 2.2. The contrast ratio was also strong and reached 990: 1 at maximum brightness.

We found only one point we could complain about: color accuracy. Our tests showed an average color error of 2.34. Lower is better in this test, and while this isn't a bad value, it's not particularly good for a monitor with a retail price of $ 1,000. The BenQ PD3200U, another recently tested 4K monitor, scored 1.23 points before calibration. The Acer Predator XB2 also performed better, although it is a gaming monitor that does not advertise color accuracy as a strength.

Still, the LG 32UD99-W was impressive at first sight, and using the monitor didn't bother our initial thoughts. The mediocre result of color accuracy is only important if you are doing color-critical work. As we will discuss shortly, it can be fixed.

Quality after calibration

While most users use monitors with the default settings, calibration is possible and is often required to get the best results. The LG 32UD99-W is proof of this. It offers a variety of settings and was able to successfully compensate for the errors on the screen.

First, let's talk about color accuracy. The pre-calibration result of 2.34 was fine, but we quickly reduced it to 0.96, which is excellent. This score makes the LG 32UD99-W suitable for color-critical professional work and looks beautiful in daily viewing.

This monitor looks spectacular after some attention.

We also saw an improvement in the gamma result, which changed from 2.0 to 2.1. This means that the monitor displays content with a slightly darker grayscale than intended, but not drastically. We tried to further improve the monitor using the built-in gamma presets, but found that the monitor can achieve either 2.1 or 2.3 – it was never quite perfect.

Given these results, we strongly recommend calibration for this monitor. After some attention, it looks spectacular.

HDR is a swamp on the PC

LG is proud of the 32UD99-W's HDR10 support, and technically speaking, this claim is true. This monitor supports HDR10. However, this does not mean that the standard can be used optimally. LG is only partially responsible for the reasons for this.

There are a few points in the HDR10 specification. These are the use of the Rec. 2020 color space, 10-bit color depth and a maximum brightness value of 1,000 nits. LG's 32UD99-W is an impressive monitor, but it doesn't fully support these features. The brightness value is the most noticeable problem as the monitor reaches a peak of 550 nits with a typical maximum of 350 nits. Our test devices registered a maximum of 360 nits, whereby the brightness setting was turned up completely. This is not bad for a PC monitor, but it is far less than the best that HDR10 can deliver.

Windows 10 also causes problems for the monitor. While the operating system supports HDR, the desktop (and most apps) have problems translating into HDR. Contrary to your expectations, they appear darker, less vivid and less accurate when the HDR is switched on than when the HDR is switched off.

We had to keep opening Windows settings to manually turn HDR on or off.

Movies and games that support HDR10 look brilliant, and we immediately noticed a difference between turning the HDR10 on and off. The lighting looked more natural, with less banding and far better details in bright areas of scenes. However, Windows 10 cannot discretely activate HDR only when viewing clips or playing games that support HDR. We had to keep opening Windows settings to manually flip the function when we stopped watching HDR video.

Players have it easier because games with HDR support usually include a toggle switch in the game. That means you don't have to deal with the system-wide setting of Windows 10. Star Wars Battlefront II and Forza Motorsport 7 look stunning on the LG 32UD99-W, and the Samsung CF791 is the only display we've tested that does the LG's wow factor best. However, not many games support HDR on PC, so the value depends on what you're playing.

Warranty information

LG offers a one-year parts and labor warranty on the 32UD99-W. A three-year warranty is more common, so LG's terms are not generous.

Our opinion

The LG 32UD99-W is a beautiful display with many strengths, but it is disappointed by the confusing state of HDR in Windows 10 and the general lack of HDR-compatible content on the PC.

Is there a better alternative?

The LG 32UD99-W undercuts the price of premium 32-inch displays such as the HP Dreamcolor Z32x and the Dell Ultrasharp UP3216Q. On the other hand, it's much more expensive than the Acer ET322QK, which only costs $ 500. We have not yet tested Acer's entry, so we cannot say whether the price reduction is accompanied by a reduction in quality. HDR support on this monitor might tempt you, but there are a number of other game-specific displays that can help you earn more for your money, and there are other attractive HDR monitors.

Large ultrawide monitors like the Dell Ultrasharp U3818DW are not much more expensive than this LG. While they are not 4K-capable and do not have HDR, they offer an impressive experience that a conventional monitor cannot offer.

How long it will take?

Monitors generally last a long time, and the integration of HDR with the LG 32UD99-W gives it an advantage in terms of durability. However, the short guarantee is a disappointment.

Should you buy it

You should only buy the LG 32UD99-W if you are fascinated by HDR, especially for games that you know support it. This monitor supports FreeSync and titles like Star Wars Battlefront II look great on it.

Everyone else should wait until Windows HDR support improves or HDR-compatible content becomes more common.

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