34", 21:9, 3440x1440. Which is to say, pretty big and pretty sharp. Full name: Dell UltraSharp 34 Curved Monitor. It’s curved. I like it a lot.

Dell U3415W

That’s a 13" MacBook Pro off to the left. To avoid revealing AWS
secrets, I filled the screen with the Ingress map and parked a browser window over it for scale, and another on the laptop.

What happened was, Amazon’s got an engineering hardware refresh rolling around, which included a choice between either this beast or dual 27" monitors. The guys who deal them out tell me the choice is breaking more or less fifty-fifty.

What’s hilarious is the blank incomprehension that prevails between the 2x27 and 1x34 camps. Neither side can understand why their colleagues, who normally seem pretty smart, would foolishly make the other choice. I’m part of it; anyone who would trade this sweeping expanse of tiny pixels for, well, anything else, is just Doing It Wrong, as far as I can tell.

You want to read a review? · Go visit PC Monitors or TFT Central or Digital Trends or Tek Everything (nice video) or Tom’s Hardware or TechRadar.

Those guys will tell you about brightness and sharpness and color fidelity and latency and that stuff. The TFT Central review in particular is awesomely detailed and includes lots of graphs and charts describing things that I don’t understand at all.

Software geek with a Mac? · This part’s for you. Key points:

  1. You can plug it into the Thunderbolt or the HDMI. Depends which side you want the wires on.

  2. I can get a browser and a Terminal and an Emacs and an IntelliJ all visible at the same time.

  3. It has lots of buttons and menus and options. I can testify that the on/off button works great, dunno about any of the rest.

  4. Its resolution is advertised as WQHD. If I get my nose up close to the screen and squint then I can see pixels, so I guess this isn’t what Apple would call “Retina”. But when my head’s in my actual working position, it has that same creamy ultra-smooth look as the 15" MBP I’m typing this on.

  5. It has a ton of connectors. I have a powered USB hub on the desk (visible in the picture above), maybe I can discard that.

  6. It has “dual 9-watt speakers”. ROFL. My computer is plugged into a Schiit Modi 2 Uber DAC, driving a nice old NAD integrated driving nice old Totem speakers.

  7. The pedestal setup is really extra-good; totally effortless getting it at just the right height, pointing just the right way.

I think we are now living in the era of the big-ass screen.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Bob Monsour (Feb 24 2016, at 23:49)

I find it mind boggling that it goes for $799. I was expecting something on the order of $1,999. I had been considering getting one of the larger screen Macs, but this display with a laptop would be much less of a hassle (even with file syncing with Dropbox). Thanks for sharing.


From: JohnCowan (Feb 25 2016, at 04:53)

I guess I'm just determined to be retrograde on this one. I worked for several years solely with 17" laptop screens, and then when I had the opportunity for dual monitors, I ended up switching one of them off altogether — and later, forgoing both of them. This is mostly because when I have two or more windows on the screen, the visual clutter is intolerable, so I operate with all windows maximized and mostly switch with Alt-Tab. Maximize a window on one of these monsters and it's unreadable at normal eyeball-to-screen distances.


From: Charlie (Feb 25 2016, at 08:33)

I still have the old apple 30 inch Cinema display. For something like a decade it has served me well, and still seems better than what most people are using. Still waiting for when one or both of the below guides flip, and a suitable similarly sized 4K or 5K upgrade presents itself:




From: Tom (Feb 25 2016, at 09:58)

You probably want to clarify that the monitor does not have thunderbolt support. You are using DisplayPort. This is relevant for monitor purchases since everything I've read online says apple has not included support for DisplayPort's MST so the only way you could daisy chain from a macbook without mirroring would be through thunderbolt.


From: Sam Kington (Feb 25 2016, at 13:43)

Personally, I'd be in a third camp: "God no, I don't want or need that much monitor!" I'm happy with my laptop's 15" screen (although I'd prefer it if Apple still made a 17").

Part of it is that I have to travel occasionally, and having worked with external monitors in the past it's annoying when your windows get gathered onto the main laptop screen. You may as well work out a way of spreading those windows across your normal laptop screen instead.

But more importantly: I don't want to get distracted by windows I don't care about at the moment. Virtual desktops (or Spaces in Mac OS land) are great for that: my mail client is on one virtual desktop, RSS in another, news and general web browsing in another, etc., and I have a dedicated virtual desktop for programming. So when I'm actually coding, I don't get distracted by the last email I read, even out of the corner of my eye; it's safely hidden away.


From: Tony Fisk (Feb 25 2016, at 16:57)

Bigger! Better! Stick your head in a toroid!

Seriously, though, I think the next step in this little evolution will be a rift/glass eyepiece mapping screenspace into a fixed virtual volume (with brass fittings, the steamgeeks will love it!)

Imagine a non-existent cutscene from the Matrix that shows Agent Smith in an office, writing up a report on a manual typewriter.


From: EricH (Feb 25 2016, at 19:04)

As a fellow AWS employee, Mac user, and Emacs geek, I will take this under advisement :)


From: Jake (Feb 25 2016, at 19:49)

@Sam, for the problem of windows moving themselves around and resizing every time you plug or unplug an external monitor, I've been using an app called "Stay" that lets you store window sizes and locations for a variety of configurations, auto-triggered whenever your number or arrangement of monitors changes. Basically whenever I unplug the big monitors, everything crams into my laptop's screen. But when I plug back in, Stay moves everything back where I had it.

@Tim, thanks for the article. I'm at Amazon as well and have been wondering how people find the 34" monitor in day to day use. I currently have two monitors and am looking to reduce the clutter. Plus I like the idea of no longer having a seam in the middle of my workspace, or having to force myself to think of one monitor as my "main" monitor and one as the "second" to get around having the seam in the middle.

I think the main thing I will miss is having my monitor held up by a edge-clamped monitor arm stand that keeps everything off my desk surface. From what I hear the 34" is too heavy for most monitor arms.


From: Jason Heiss (Feb 28 2016, at 08:18)

Apple's definition of a Retina Display is one where the pixels are indistinguishable at a normal viewing distance, not that they are indistinguishable to the naked eye at any distance.


From: James C (May 08 2016, at 14:07)

Hi Tim - I'm deliberating buying this 34" beast right now...the only thing I haven't found a solid answer on yet is whether my late 2013 13" Macbook Pro retina will drive it at a satisfactory refresh rate etc?

Is the 13" in your pic driving the screen? If yes, is it of a similar age to mine and therefore 'known good' to drive the screen?


James (former AWS'er)


From: Tim (May 08 2016, at 14:43)

James, I think anything advertised as Retina-capable should be OK. My Mac says it's "early 2015" though so you might want to double check.


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