This week Samsung launched their Odyssey OLED G9, their top-of-the-line ultrawide monitor aimed at gamers.
The curved object's promises--complete immersion and a competitive advantage—explain why the category specifically targets gamers; the thinking is they're the only ones willing to pay top dollar (this one runs $2,200) for those benefits. Thus the G9's guts deliver the lightning-quick response times and refresh rates—0.03ms and 240Hz, respectively, if that means anything to you—that competitive gamers demand.
Unsurprisingly, the press photos show the monstrous 32:9 display on large desks. This concrete one looks like it was designed to disassemble a motorcycle on.
The programmable LEDs on the back, by the way, are to cast a glow behind the monitor in whatever color will help get you "in the zone."
Press images are just press images, and I was more curious to see what this thing looks like on normal-person desks. Thankfully the monitor, which was still in the pre-order stage at press time, has already generated user reviews with user images. (The reviews are all stamped "INCENTIVIZED REVIEW," so we can assume Samsung supplied some early-release monitors for free; unsurprisingly, every review is gushing.) The object is indeed enormous:
However, it doesn't look as out-of-place as I'd expected. I'm guessing you get used to this thing and stop noticing it's unusual pretty quickly, like with seeing a 3D movie.
As a non-gamer, I was initially puzzled by this shot of someone playing a first-person shooter:
Puzzled because the image is clearly stretched to match the monitor, which I figured is not desirable. I poked around in some gaming forums and learned that not all games can support the 32:9 aspect ratio, but that stretching the image still confers an advantage in FPS games, as the larger real estate increases the chances you'll spot an enemy. (Was also surprised to learn that this is apparently not regarded as cheating.)
There are, however, games that do support the wider field of view, and it does indeed look more immersive.
At least one reviewer, upon receiving the G9, still couldn't let go of their previous ultrawide monitor. This kind of set-up doesn't look ergonomically tenable to me, but again, I'm not a gamer:
I was also interested to see people using the monitor for regular-person stuff. Like a lot of technology, this can either destroy your attention span (for instance, allowing you to shop, engage in social media and watch YouTube all at once)…
…or increase your productivity:
The increased productivity is an assumption on my part, as I don't know what the user is actually doing in the photo above. But it would obviously be quite useful to have this wide of a screen: Working on a document in the center with reference material on one side and related correspondence on the other side.
Another application would be for degenerate gamblers who need to watch two games at once. (Though I doubt Samsung's marketing team has a Post-It that says "degenerate gamblers" on their whiteboard.)
Despite all of the design and engineering resources that went into creating the G9, it is, like many of the things on our desks, not something that will be on our desks in ten years' time. Apple's Vision Pro is currently unaffordable for most and has drawn some press scorn; but I can't imagine that in 2033 we're still going to have gigantic glass rectangles on our desks. (And heck, maybe even the desks will go.)
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