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Introduction

The ViewSonic VP3881 is a large ultra-wide format display, measuring in at 37.5" in size and offering a 24:10 aspect ratio. It has a 3840 x 1600 resolution which makes it a little larger, and with a little more desktop room than the common range of 34 - 35" ultrawide monitors on the market. This model is aimed primarily at professional uses and carries a range of high end features to enhance colour accuracy and image quality. The screen uses an IPS technology panel for all round performance, and has a factory calibration, support for hardware calibration, a massive range of modes and options and a uniformity correction mode. There are also a wide range of modern connectivity options offered with DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0 and USB Type-C offered. We've only tested one other screen of this size in the past, one of the first of its kind to appear which was the LG 38UC99, so it will be interesting to see how this ViewSonic offering compares.

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Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen as advertised:

Monitor Specifications

Size

37.5"

Panel Coating

Light AG coating

Aspect Ratio

24:10 curved 2300R

Interfaces

1x DisplayPort, 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB Type-C, 3x USB 3.0, 1x audio in, 1x audio out

Resolution

3840 x 1600

Pixel Pitch

0.229mm

Design colour

Matte black bezels with charcoal grey stand

Response Time

7ms G2G (with OD), 14ms G2G typ

Ergonomics

Tilt, 130mm height, swivel, rotate

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

20 million:1

VESA Compatible

Yes 100mm

Brightness

300 cd/m2

Accessories

DisplayPort, HDMI, USB type-C, USB and audio cables. Power cable and brick

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Panel Technology

LG.Display IPS

Weight

with stand: 12.7 Kg

Backlight Technology

W-LED

Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD) with stand
896 x 630 x 300 mm

Colour Depth

1.07b (8-bit+FRC)

Refresh Rate

60Hz

Special Features

Audio in/out, 3x USB 3.0 ports, 2x 5W speakers, hardware calibration, uniformity correction mode, PiP and PbP support

Colour Gamut

Standard gamut, sRGB
~72% NTSC

The VP3881 offers a good range of connectivity for a modern screen with 1x DisplayPort, 1x USB type-C and 2x HDMI 2.0 offered for video connections, and an additional 3 port USB 3.0 hub, with the ports located on the back of the screen. The screen has an external power supply and comes packaged with the power cable and brick you need. An audio input and output connection is provided along with integrated 2x 5W stereo speakers.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

D-sub

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB 2.0 Ports

Audio connection

USB 3.0 Ports

HDCP Support

Card Reader

MHL Support

Ambient Light Sensor

Integrated Speakers

Human Motion Sensor

PiP / PbP

Touch Screen

Blur Reduction Mode

Factory calibration

G-Sync

Hardware calibration

FreeSync

Uniformity correction

Wireless charging



Design and Ergonomics

 
Above: front views of the screen. Click for larger versions

The VP3881 comes in a mostly all black design, with matte black plastics used for the front bezels and the front of the monitor arm. There is a 3 side "borderless" design to this model with a very thin 2mm black plastic edge around the sides and top. There is then an 8.5mm black panel border before the image starts, giving a total dark edge around the sides and top of ~10.5mm. Along the bottom edge is a thicker traditional bezel measuring 20mm in thickness.

There is a a very large base to the stand which is finished in a dark charcoal grey colour with a semi-glossy finish to it. This provides a very sturdy and wide base for the large screen, but it is pretty chunky and deep. It is about 290mm deep in total, so make sure your desk can accommodate it ok and you can have the screen far enough back for a comfortable viewing position. There is a small section of glossy black plastic where the arm connects in to the base and provides the side to side swivel adjustment mechanism.


Above: rear views of the screen. Click for larger version

The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic. The stand attaches in the middle and has a quick release mechanism, being removable if you want to VESA 100 mount the screen another way. The back of the stand is finished in the same dark charcoal grey plastic as the base, and it's darker than it looks in the above product images. There's a carry handle at the top of the arm which is handy as it's a big and heavy display.


Above: side view of the screen. Click for larger version

From the side the screen itself has a reasonably thin profile although it looks thick in this image because of the curved format. With the stand attached it has a fairly deep footprint as we said earlier.

There is a good range of ergonomic adjustments offered by the stand. Tilt offers a wide range and is smooth to move, if a little stiff to operate. There is a 130mm height adjustment which is again a little stiff to move but is smooth. At the lowest setting the bottom edge of the screen is 100mm from the top of the desk, and 230mm when at maximum height extension. Side to side swivel is provided and is smooth and easy to use. There's no rotation on this model due to the large size and curved format. The stand provides a very strong and sturdy base for the large screen although there's still a bit of wobble as you move it around.

A summary of the ergonomic adjustments are shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

A little stiff

Height

130mm

Smooth

A little stiff

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Easy

Rotate

n/a

-

-

Overall

Good set of adjustments and generally all easy enough to move. A little wobble due to the large screen size

The materials were of a good standard and the build quality felt decent. There was no audible noise from the screen, even when conducting specific tests which can often identify buzzing issues. The whole screen remained cool even during prolonged use as well which was pleasing.


Above: connection options on the back of the screen

The back of the screen features the connections. There are the USB type-C, 2x HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 connections for video, along with 3x USB 3.0 downstream, 1x USB upstream and an audio input and output. The power connection is on the far right hand end. It would have been nice to see some USB ports on the side of the screen for easier access perhaps as the provided ports are a bit tucked away.

The OSD is controlled through a 5 pressable buttons located on the back of the screen, in the lower right hand corner. There is also a power on/off button here. Navigation was sometimes a bit tricky, as it wasn't always obvious which button you were using at the back, and the labels in the OSD to try and tell you what action you're taking are sometimes a bit hard to line up with where your fingers are at the back. We found ourselves making the wrong selections a fair amount and sometimes even turning the screen off accidentally with the bottom power button which was annoying. There was a really wide range of settings and options though in the OSD menu, and you did get used to the navigation after a little bit of use. Not the most intuitive menu but not horrible.



Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer lists a typical usage of 155W, maximum of 170W and 0.3W in standby. We carried out our normal tests to establish its power consumption ourselves.

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Default (100%)

155.0

63.4

Calibrated (24%)

-

36.1

Maximum Brightness (100%)

170.0

63.4

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

29.8

Standby

0.3

0.5

Out of the box the screen used 63.4W at the default 100% brightness setting. The additional power draw in the spec will be related to having things connected via USB, especially the Type-C interface. Once calibrated the screen reached 36.1W consumption, and in standby it used only 0.5W. We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. The consumption (comparing the calibrated states) is pretty similar to most screens in this size range as you might expect including the similar LG 38UC99.



Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

LG.Display

Colour Palette

1.07 billion

Panel Technology

IPS

Colour Depth

8-bit + FRC

Panel Module

LM375QW1-SSA1

Colour space

Standard gamut

Backlighting Type

W-LED

Colour space coverage (%)

sRGB, 72% NTSC coverage

Panel Part and Colour Depth

The ViewSonic VP3881 features an LG.Display LM375QW1-SSA1 IPS technology panel which is capable of producing 1.07 billion colours. This is achieved through a 8-bit+FRC colour depth as detailed in the specification. Keep in mind whether this 10-bit support is practically useable and whether you're ever going to truly use that colour depth. You need to have a full 10-bit end to end workflow to take advantage of it which is still quite expensive to achieve and rare in the market, certainly for your average user. This includes relevant applications and graphics cards as well, so to many people this 10-bit support might be irrelevant. This is the first panel of this size and format we have seen. The panel part is confirmed when dismantling the screen as shown below:

Screen Coating

The screen coating is a light anti-glare (AG) offering. It isn't a semi-glossy coating, but it is light as seen on other modern IPS type panels. Thankfully it isn't a heavily grainy coating like some old IPS panels feature and is also lighter than modern TN Film panel coating. It retains its anti-glare properties to avoid too many unwanted reflections of a full glossy coating, but does not produce too grainy or dirty an image that some thicker AG coatings can.


Backlight Type and Colour Gamut

The screen uses a White-LED (W-LED) backlight unit which is standard in today's market. This helps reduce power consumption compared with older CCFL backlight units and brings about some environmental benefits as well. The W-LED unit offers a standard colour gamut which is approximately equal to the sRGB colour space. Anyone wanting to work with wider colour spaces would need to consider some of the wide gamut displays available instead. If you want to read more about colour spaces and gamut then please have a read of our detailed article.


Backlight Dimming and Flicker

We tested the screen to establish the methods used to control backlight dimming. Our in depth article talks in more details about a previously very common method used for this which is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This in itself gives cause for concern to some users who have experienced eye strain, headaches and other symptoms as a result of the flickering backlight caused by this technology. We use a photosensor + oscilloscope system to measure backlight dimming control with a high level of accuracy and ease. These tests allow us to establish

1) Whether PWM is being used to control the backlight
2) The frequency and other characteristics at which this operates, if it is used
3) Whether a flicker may be introduced or potentially noticeable at certain settings

If PWM is used for backlight dimming, the higher the frequency, the less likely you are to see artefacts and flicker. The duty cycle (the time for which the backlight is on) is also important and the shorter the duty cycle, the more potential there is that you may see flicker. The other factor which can influence flicker is the amplitude of the PWM, measuring the difference in brightness output between the 'on' and 'off' states. Please remember that not every user would notice a flicker from a backlight using PWM, but it is something to be wary of. It is also a hard thing to quantify as it is very subjective when talking about whether a user may or may not experience the side effects.


100%                                                     50%                                                     0%

 
Above scale = 1 horizontal grid = 5ms

At all brightness settings a constant Direct Current (DC) voltage is applied to the backlight, and the screen is free from the obvious off/on switching of any PWM dimming method. As a result, the screen is flicker free as advertised.

Pulse Width Modulation Used

No

Cycling Frequency

n/a

Possible Flicker at

 

100% Brightness

No

50% Brightness

No

0% Brightness

No

 


Brightness and Contrast

We wanted to measure the luminance range available from the backlight as well as see how much variance there was in the screens contrast as we adjusted the monitor setting for brightness. In theory, brightness and contrast are two independent parameters, and good contrast is a requirement regardless of the brightness adjustment. Unfortunately, such is not always the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

327.85

0.33

993

90

300.89

0.30

1003

80

274.84

0.27

1018

70

248.43

0.25

994

60

220.36

0.22

1002

50

193.02

0.19

1016

40

165.25

0.16

1033

30

135.61

0.13

1043

20

106.69

0.10

1067

10

77.27

0.08

966

0

47.32

0.05

946

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

280.53

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.28

Average Static Contrast Ratio

1007:1

PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

24

At the top end the maximum luminance reached a high 328 cd/m2 which was a little higher even than the specified maximum brightness of 300 cd/m2 from the manufacturer. There was a good 281 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a fairly low luminance of 47 cd/m2. This should be low enough for most people including those wanting to work in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. A setting of 24 in the OSD menu should return you a luminance of around 120 cd/m2 at default settings. It should be noted that the brightness regulation is controlled without the need for Pulse Width Modulation for all brightness settings so the screen is flicker free.

    

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should in this regard, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This is a linear relationship as you can see.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was measured at 1007:1 which was good for an IPS-type panel. This remains pretty stable across the brightness adjustment range, with a small drop at the lowest settings between 20 and 0%.



Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

We restored our graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using our new X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.

Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - validates the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.



Default Performance and Setup

The VP3881 carries a factory calibration in some of the preset modes, but this does not include the out of the box setup. We will test this default setup first and then look at the factory calibration in a moment.

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

ViewSonic VP3881
Default Settings


  

 


Monitor OSD Default Settings

 

View mode

Off

Brightness

100

Contrast

70

Color Adjust

n/a (Custom mode)

Color Temperature

Native

Gamma

2.2

RGB

99, 97, 100

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

333

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.34

Contrast Ratio

993:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

105.7%

DCI-P3 coverage

77.9%

Rec.2020 coverage

55.9%

Initially out of the box the screen was set with the View mode (various presets for different uses) set to 'off' and the Color Adjust menu set to 'custom' and not in any of the factory calibrated 'Standard Color' modes. There's quite a few settings and options in the menu on this screen but basically the View modes offer settings for uses like movies, games etc, and the 'Standard Color' setting offers the factory calibrated states for sRGB, EBU, Rec 709 etc. Anyway, out of the box this custom mode had preset settings as shown above. The display was set with a very high 100% brightness which was too bright and uncomfortable to use. You will definitely need to turn that down. The colours felt decent and well balanced, and you could tell the screen was using a standard sRGB colour space backlight.

We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro 2. The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) matches the sRGB colour space reference (orange triangle) closely. We measured using ChromaPure software a 105.7% sRGB gamut coverage which corresponds to 77.9% of the DCI-P3 reference and 55.9% of the Rec.2020 reference. This screen is only designed to be a standard sRGB display, so this was expected. It was good to see a full 100% sRGB coverage with no under-coverage, and only a small amount of over-coverage.

Default gamma was recorded at 2.2 average, with a very small 1% deviance from the target which was great news. The gamma looked to be a little off in the lighter grey shades. White point was measured at a very accurate 6488k being basically spot on to our 6500k target. Luminance was recorded at a very bright 333 cd/m2 which is far too high for prolonged general use, you will need to turn that down. The screen was set at a default 100% brightness in the OSD menu but that is easy to change of course to reach a more comfortable setting without impacting any other aspect of the setup. The black depth was 0.34 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a good static contrast ratio for an IPS-type panel of 993:1. We have seen some IPS panels reach up to around 1200 - 1400:1 but somewhere around 1000:1 is still decent for this technology. Colour accuracy was very good out of the box with an average dE of 1.4 and a maximum of 5.2. Testing the screen with colour gradients showed smooth gradients with only minor gradation evident in the darker tones. There was no sign of any colour banding which was good news.

Color Temp Setting Measurements

Colour Temp setting

White point measurement

Panel Default

6413k

Bluish

9352k

Cool

7536k

Native (Default)

6488k

Warm

5051k

User

6425k

We carried out a test of the various Color Temperature modes as well out of interest and the results as shown above. The native mode was closest to our 6500k target which was good news. The other modes behaved as they should, offer various options for a cooler or warmer setup.
 


Factory Calibration

The ViewSonic website explains the factory calibration offered from the VP3881: "Each of our monitors is factory calibrated to deliver an amazing Delta E<2 value and includes a detailed calibration report for sRGB, EBU, SMPTE-C, Rec. 709, and DICOM-SIM color spaces. Whether you’re a photographer shooting in sRGB, or a video editor in need of REC 709/SMPT-C/EBU standards, rest assure that this monitor can deliver the accuracy you need to complete your best work."

The screen comes with a factory calibration report unique to the screen you have, showing the calibration in various modes. A copy of the report which came with our sample is included below:


Above: provided factory calibration report. Click for larger versions

We measured the screen in the sRGB factory calibration mode as an example:

ViewSonic VP3881
Factory Calibrated sRGB Mode Settings


  

 


Monitor OSD Default Settings

 

View mode

Off

Brightness

n/a

Contrast

n/a

Color Adjust

sRGB

Color Temperature

n/a

Gamma

n/a

RGB

n/a

Uniformity

On / Off

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

121 or 319

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.25 or 0.33

Contrast Ratio

485:1 or 972:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

98.3%

DCI-P3 coverage

72.5%

Rec.2020 coverage

52.0%

When you first set this mode, pretty much all of the colour adjustment settings are unavailable and greyed out. This includes the brightness control as well, but actually this is because the Uniformity Correction mode gets activated by default when you first enable this sRGB factory calibrated mode. In some of the other factory calibrated modes the brightness control can still be accessed even with uniformity correction enabled. We went ahead and measured the screen as normal.

There is a small change in the colour gamut of the screen and you can see in the CIE diagram on the left that the black triangle representing the monitors colour space is a little smaller than the out-of-the-box mode, and cuts down on some of the small over-coverage we saw before. We measured now a 98.3% sRGB gamut coverage so it had dipped a little bit under 100% coverage in this mode in green shades.

Gamma remained very close to the 2.2 target with a small 1% deviance measured, this time the gamma curve seemed to be a little off in the darker tones and better in the lighter tones. White point had drifted a little away from the target, now measured with a 3% deviance at 6678k and a little too cool. Colour accuracy was very good though with a dE average of 1.2 measured and a maximum of 3.7. Colour gradients remained smooth and banding-free.

The one issue in these settings is the low contrast ratio of only 485:1, which was a result of having the uniformity correction enabled. It's perfectly normal for those settings to have a big impact on contrast ratio, but you can also turn off this feature if you want to boost contrast ratio back up. With it enabled, the luminance actually ended up at a comfortable 121 cd/m2, but you cannot change the brightness control yourself with this feature turned on. There's a big jump in luminance up to 319 cd/m2 if you turn uniformity correction off, and the contrast ratio goes back to a much better 972:1. You'd need to turn the brightness control down if you turn that uniformity correction off in this mode.



Calibration

We used the X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

ViewSonic VP3881
Calibrated Settings


  

 

 


Monitor OSD Default Settings

 

View mode

Off

Brightness

24

Contrast

70

Color Adjust

n/a (Custom mode)

Color Temperature

User

Gamma

2.2

RGB

99, 99, 100

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

121

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.11

Contrast Ratio

1058:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

105.9%

DCI-P3 coverage

78.1%

Rec.2020 coverage

56.0%

We reverted to the custom mode in the menu which gives you access to the white point settings and full control over things like brightness, contrast and the RGB channels for calibration. Settings were adjusted as shown in the table above, as guided during the calibration process and measurements. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimal hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. We left the  LaCie software to calibrate to "max" brightness which would just retain the luminance of whatever brightness we'd set the screen to, and would not in any way try and alter the luminance at the graphics card level, which can reduce contrast ratio. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

Average gamma was measured at 2.2 average (0% deviance) which fixed the very small 1% deviance we'd seen out of the box at default settings. The accurate white point of the default mode was maintained here, and we measured a colour temperature of 6504k, spot on with our target basically. Luminance had been improved thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control and was now being measured at a far more comfortable 121 cd/m2. This left us a black depth of 0.11 cd/m2 and a static contrast ratio of 1058:1 which was good for IPS panel technology. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was excellent too, with dE average of 0.5 and maximum of 1.0. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be excellent. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed smooth transitions with only some minor gradation in darker tones. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.
 

Hardware calibration

The ViewSonic VP3881 supports hardware level calibration, allowing you to make adjustments to the 14-bit internal Look Up Table (LUT) and to store settings and calibrations within the monitor hardware itself. This is very useful for professional users to ensure consistent accuracy, without needing to rely on software profiles at an application level. Because the calibration is saved in the monitor, it is active no matter what content or application you are working with.

To hardware calibrate the screen, ViewSonic provide a calibration package (the CS-XRI1 kit) consisting of a colorimeter (an X-rite i1 Display Pro which they have re-branded as the "ViewSonic Colorbration" device) and the relevant calibration software. This calibration package is not provided with the monitor, you have to purchase it separately and it is currently listed on their website at a retail price of $301 USD. The software is available for free from the ViewSonic website and can be used with a normal X-rite i1 Display Pro or i1 Pro / i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer instead if you have one already, you don't have to buy the full calibration package from ViewSonic.

We won't go in to loads of detail about the software or process here, as we have already covered this as part of our review of the VP2768 display. Having hardware calibration support is a high end feature which is common for professional-grade screens, so it's great to see it included here for high levels of control and customisation. The screen can store up to 3 hardware calibrated modes, which are then easily accessed via the OSD menu. You can also set a reminder in the menu to prompt you to re-calibrate the screen and check it after a certain number of hours.



Calibration Performance Comparisons

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. We have divided the table up by panel technology as well to make it easier to compare similar models. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and some (gamma especially) are not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

Default setup of the screen out of the box was very good, as you would hope for really from a professional grade screen aimed at colour critical work. The default out of the box setup actually didn't even include a specific factory calibration which was even more impressive. Gamma and white point were accurate, and the screen provided a low dE and decent default contrast ratio (for an IPS panel) of 993:1. There are a massive range of options and controls in the OSD menu to tweak the setup to your liking, so there's a lot of flexibility from the VP3881. After calibration the contrast ratio was boosted slightly to 1058:1 thanks to our changes in the OSD menu to the RGB channels, so that was positive too.

When it comes to black depth and contrast ratio the screen performed well for an IPS-type panel, with a calibrated contrast ratio of 1058:1. We have seen some modern IPS panels start to reach up to 1200 - 1400:1 or so as you can see above, but somewhere around 1000:1 is still respectable for this technology, with some others dipping under that down to the 800 - 900:1 range. You can see that IPS cannot compete with VA technology panels though which typically reach up to 2000:1 or more.



Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the screen were very good as you would expect from an IPS-type panel. Horizontally there was very little colour tone shift until wide angles past about 45°. A slight darkening of the image occurred horizontally from wider angles as you can see above as the contrast shifted slighting. Contrast shifts were slightly more noticeable in the vertical field but overall they were very good. The screen offered the wide viewing angles of IPS technology and was free from the restrictive fields of view of TN Film panels, especially in the vertical plane. It was also free of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA panels and a lot of the quite obvious gamma and colour tone shift you see from some of the modern VA panel type offerings.


Above: View of an all black screen from the side. Click for larger version

On a black image there is a characteristic pale glow introduced to the image when viewed from a wide angle, commonly referred to as IPS glow. This type of glow is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you can actually see this glow as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen. Because of the sheer horizontal size of this 37.5" panel, the glow towards the edges is more obvious than on small screens, where there isn't such a long distance from your central position to the edges. Some people may find this problematic if they are working with a lot of dark content or solid colour patterns. In normal day to day uses, office work, movies and games you couldn't really notice this unless you were viewing darker content. If you move your viewing position back, which is probably likely for movies and games, the effect reduces as you do not have such an extreme angle from your eye position to the screen edges. The glow effect was a little less than on flat ultra-wide screens as the curved nature created a smaller angle between your eyes and the edges of the screen.



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.


Uniformity of Luminance
Uniformity Correction = OFF

The VP3881 has a uniformity correction feature which is available in some of the preset modes, including the factory calibrated sRGB, EBU, SMPTE-C and Rec.709 colour space modes. This can be turned on and off in each mode and we will test that in a moment.

Testing the screen first of all with the correction mode turned OFF. Uniformity of the screen was good on this sample overall. The left and right hand edges were a little darker than the central area of the screen, where luminance dipped by -16.5% in the most extreme example (bottom left hand corner) down to 103 cd/m2. There were only thin areas along these sides where there was any significant luminance variation. There was also a bright region in the lower right hand area where luminance peaked at 129 cd/m2 (+6.98%). Overall, 97% of the screen was within a 10% deviance of the centrally calibrated point which was very good. This was without the uniformity correction active as well!


Uniformity of Luminance
Uniformity Correction = ON

The screen was switched to the factory calibrated sRGB mode and the uniformity correction turned on. The uniformity of the screen was improved nicely bringing the whole screen within a 10% deviance of the centrally calibrated point. The upper corners seems to stray the most, reaching up to around 128 cd/m2 at most (+7.94%). You do get an improved uniformity though across the panel which can be important for colour critical work. It should be noted that the static contrast ratio is reduced quite significantly down to around 485:1 when this feature is enabled, due to the digital white level adjustments being made to the panel to correct the uniformity. That's typical for any screen with this kind of correction available.



Backlight Leakage


Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. The camera showed there was no noticeable backlight bleed on this sample, only a small amount of light clouding in the upper corners captured by the camera.

Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don't just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 - 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn't over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.



General and Office Applications

One of the key selling points of ultra-wide screens like the this is it's high resolution and large screen size. The 3840 x 1600 display offers a sharp but comfortable picture. Its pixel area is about 2.2 times larger than an Ultra-Wide Full HD 21:9 monitor (2560 x 1080), and about 3 times larger than a Full HD 16:9 monitor (1920 x 1080). It provides an efficient environment for using Microsoft Office programs and internet browsing, and split screen working is a pleasure. You can comfortably have the screen split in to 3 vertical sections if you want which is very nice. Thankfully the high resolution is of a very comfortable size on the 37.5" panel, with a 0.229mm pixel pitch it is very comparable to a 27" 2560 x 1440 monitor (0.2331mm) and the popular ultra-wide 34" 3440 x 1440 displays (0.2325mm). This means you are basically getting a slightly wider and slightly higher desktop area than the 34" models, with a similar font size. If you're coming from a lower resolution / larger pixel pitch you may still find the fonts look quite small to start with, but like the 27" 1440p models out there you soon get used to it. We continue to enjoy the curved format of these displays for day to day office work. It just felt more comfortable than a flat screen on a model as wide as this, bringing the corners a bit nearer to you. You didn't really notice the curve in normal use but we liked the feel. Probably down to user taste, so if in doubt try and see one in person. The extra vertical room compared with a 34" ultrawide was useful for office uses as well, it's not much but you do notice the extra room.

The thin bezel design mean that the VP3881 could be integrated into a multi-screen set up if you wanted, although with the screen as big as it is, you'd need a very big desk! The light AG coating of the panel is welcome, and much better than the grainy and 'dirty' appearance of older IPS AG coatings. The wide viewing angles provided by this panel technology on both horizontal and vertical planes, helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles, making colour work and photo viewing a pleasure. The default factory setup of the screen was very good as well, offering an accurate gamma curve, accurate white point, good contrast ratio and low dE. There's a massive range of settings and options to play with as well if you want to customise the appearance or calibrate to different settings. The support for hardware calibration is very useful as well if you're doing any colour critical work or photo editing as you can store the calibration in the screen itself, and forget about ICC profiles and getting them working correctly in different applications.

There are preset modes available for 'web' and 'text' in the OSD menu, along with loads of different presets for designer and photographer uses. Too many to really cover in detail here, but certainly plenty to experiment with and for different unique uses.

The brightness range of the screen was also very good, with the ability to offer a luminance between 328 and 47 cd/m2. This should mean the screen is perfectly useable in a wide variety of ambient light conditions, including darkened rooms. A setting of ~24 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2 out of the box. On another positive note, the brightness regulation is controlled without the need for the use of Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM), and so those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need not worry. There was no audible noise or buzzing from the screen, even when specifically looking for it using test images with a large amount of text at once. The screen also remains cool even during prolonged use.

The screen offers 3x USB 3.0 ports which is very handy, although they are on the back of the screen with the input connections so not really that easy access. There are 2x 5W integrated stereo speakers on this model, and there is also an audio input and output connection available. There aren't any other extras like card readers or ambient light sensors offered though which can sometimes be useful in office environments. The stand offers a wide range of adjustments which is great news, allowing you to obtain comfortable viewing positions.


 
Responsiveness and Gaming

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

LG.Display

Panel Part

LM375QW1-SSA1

Quoted G2G Response Time

7ms G2G (with OD), 14ms G2G typ

Quoted ISO Response Time

n/a

Overdrive Used

Yes

Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting

Response Time

Overdrive OSD Settings

Standard, Advanced, Ultra Fast

Maximum Refresh Rate

60Hz

Variable Refresh Rate technology

n/a

Variable Refresh Rate Range

n/a

Blur Reduction Backlight

n/a

The VP3881 is rated by ViewSonic as having a 14ms G2G typical response time, reduced down to 7ms G2G with Overdrive apparently. The screen uses overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes as with nearly all modern displays. There is a user control in the OSD menu for the overdrive under the 'Response Time' setting with 3 options available - Standard, Advanced and Ultra Fast. The part being used is an LG.Display LM375QW1-SSA1 IPS technology panel.  Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.



We carried out some initial response time measurements in each of the overdrive settings, along with some visual tests in order to identify what the optimal setting was. In the standard mode, response times were pretty slow, with an average of 15.4ms G2G measured and several of them creeping up above 20ms. The overdrive impulse was basically turned off here, although that did mean there was no overshoot at all which was good. This mode produces some fairly obvious blurring on moving content though.

Pushing up to the 'Advanced' mode brought about some noticeable improvements in our measurements and in visual tested. Moving objects became a bit sharper and clearer, and motion clarity improved. You can see that the average G2G had dropped now to 10.8ms which was still fairly slow, and some low levels of overshoot were starting to creep in here as well. The 'Ultra Fast' mode didn't seem to offer any real improvements in response times, only knocking the average down to 10.5ms G2G, but high levels of overshoot were now a problem and dark trails became noticeable in practice. Stick to the 'Advanced' response time setting on this screen for optimal performance.

 


Detailed Response Time Measurements
Response Time mode = Advanced

 

Having settled on the 'Advanced' response time mode in our earlier measurements and visual tests we carried out a more thorough set of measurements across a wider range of pixel transitions. The average G2G figure was measured at 10.8ms now which was fairly slow even for an IPS-type panel at 60Hz. In the best cases, a 60Hz IPS panel can get down to around 8.5ms G2G without overshoot becoming a problem, and so the VP3881 was a bit behind that. There was some low levels of overshoot evident here as well, although not at any level you should see in practice. This was an indication that you probably couldn't improve the response times much more without the overshoot becoming a significant problem.

Remember, this screen is not aimed at gaming really at all, and is aimed at more colour critical work and professional uses. It is limited to 60Hz refresh rate as well, so can't offer the high frame rates and improved motion clarity that high refresh rate panels can deliver. The response times here are adequate for some light and moderate gaming, and certainly for movies and multimedia. You probably wouldn't want to do any competitive or FPS gaming on this screen though, but you probably wouldn't be looking at a model like this if that was your intended usage anyway.
 


Gaming Comparisons

We have provided a comparison of the VP3881 against many other screens that we have tested. The overall responsiveness was unsurprisingly pretty close to the LG 38UC99 which features the same LG.Display IPS panel. On the ViewSonic we measured 10.8ms G2G average response time with very low levels of overshoot evident at the optimal settings. On the LG model we measured 10.6ms G2G, and some transitions pushed to even faster speeds, but at the cost or higher levels of overshoot which were more noticeable in practice. This 37.5" IPS panel obviously isn't the fastest, although the ViewSonic is not aimed at gaming at all. There are faster IPS panels around if you're looking for an ultrawide gaming screen, particularly those with high refresh rate support as well like the Dell Alienware AW3418DW and Acer Predator X34 for instance. They offer faster response times and also show better motion clarity and lower blurring thanks to the higher refresh rate. They are completely different markets though.



Additional Gaming Features

  • Aspect Ratio Control - the screen has 3 options for hardware level aspect ratio control options, with settings for 'full screen', 4:3 and 1:1 pixel mapping offered. The 1:1 mode is useful as there's settings to match the input aspect if it is different to the native 24:10 of this screen, although we would have liked to have seen an "aspect" mode as well to fill as much of the screen as possible while keeping the source aspect ratio. That could have been useful for external inputs which often operate at 16:9.

  • Preset Modes - There are a few preset modes in the 'ViewMode' menu designed for gaming, including FPS1, FPS2, RTS and MODA modes. This might be useful if you want to set the screen up for different uses and save different settings for gaming.
     


Lag

We have written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. It's important to first of all understand the different methods available and also what this lag means to you as an end-user.

Input Lag vs. Display Lag vs. Signal Processing

To avoid confusion with different terminology we will refer to this section of our reviews as just "lag" from now on, as there are a few different aspects to consider, and different interpretations of the term "input lag". We will consider the following points here as much as possible. The overall "display lag" is the first, that being the delay between the image being shown on the TFT display and that being shown on a CRT. This is what many people will know as input lag and originally was the measure made to explain why the image is a little behind when using a CRT. The older stopwatch based methods were the common way to measure this in the past, but through advanced studies have been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result, more advanced tools like SMTT provide a method to measure that delay between a TFT and CRT while removing the inaccuracies of older stopwatch methods.

In reality that lag / delay is caused by a combination of two things - the signal processing delay caused by the TFT electronics / scaler, and the response time of the pixels themselves. Most "input lag" measurements over the years have always been based on the overall display lag (signal processing + response time) and indeed the SMTT tool is based on this visual difference between a CRT and TFT and so measures the overall display lag. In practice the signal processing is the element which gives the feel of lag to the user, and the response time of course can impact blurring, and overall image quality in moving scenes. As people become more aware of lag as a possible issue, we are of course keen to try and understand the split between the two as much as possible to give a complete picture.

The signal processing element within that is quite hard to identify without extremely high end equipment and very complicated methods. In fact the studies by Thomas Thiemann which really kicked this whole thing off were based on equipment worth >100,1000 Euro, requiring extremely high bandwidths and very complicated methods to trigger the correct behaviour and accurately measure the signal processing on its own. Other techniques which are being used since are not conducted by Thomas (he is a freelance writer) or based on this equipment or technique, and may also be subject to other errors or inaccuracies based on our conversations with him since. It's very hard as a result to produce a technique which will measure just the signal processing on its own unfortunately. Many measurement techniques are also not explained and so it is important to try and get a picture from various sources if possible to make an informed judgement about a display overall.

For our tests we will continue to use the SMTT tool to measure the overall "display lag". From there we can use our oscilloscope system to measure the response time across a wide range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions as recorded in our response time tests. Since SMTT will not include the full response time within its measurements, after speaking with Thomas further about the situation we will subtract half of the average G2G response time from the total display lag. This should allow us to give a good estimation of how much of the overall lag is attributable to the signal processing element on its own.

Lag Classification


To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels:

  • Class 1) Less than 16ms / 1 frame lag at 60Hz - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 16 - 32ms / One to two frames at 60Hz - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 32ms / more than 2 frames at 60Hz - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming


For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

 

Low Input Lag Mode

(Measurements in ms)

Off

Advanced

Ultra Fast

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

17.00

14.40

15.57

Pixel Response Time Element

5.40

5.40

5.40

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

11.60

9.00

10.17

Lag Classification

1

1

1


 Class 1

We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests (using SMTT) and half the average G2G response time, as measured by the oscilloscope. The response time is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation.

We measured the lag in each of the 3 'Low Input Lag' modes. The 'Advanced' mode seemed to be optimal, and offered a slightly lower lag than the 'Off' mode, and actually slightly lower than the higher 'Ultra Fast' setting oddly. A total display lag of  14.40ms was measured in 'Advanced' mode. With approximately 5.40ms of that accounted for by pixel response times we had an estimated signal processing of just 9.0ms, which was pretty good for a 60Hz screen and just over half a frame of delay. This was a good result from a screen which is not really aimed at gaming at all and in keeping with the other ViewSonic screens we've included in the comparison here (27" sized models again not aimed at gaming really).



Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance for videos and movie viewing:

Category

Display Specs / Measurements

Comments

Size

37.5" widescreen

Large for desktop display

Aspect Ratio

24:10

Can support wider screen content than common 16:9 which is useful for movies

Resolution

3840 x 1600

Can support native 1080p content, but not quite Ultra HD natively which requires a higher vertical resolution of 2160.

HDCP

Yes v2.2

Suitable for encrypted content across all ports

Connectivity

DisplayPort 1.2, USB Type-C and 2x HDMI 2.0

Useful additional HDMI input for external Blu-ray players or games consoles. Capable of supporting the high resolution as well

Cables

USB type-C, DisplayPort and HDMI

All three provided in the box which is good news

Ergonomics

Tilt, height, swivel

Good range of adjustments with most being easy to use. You should be able to position the screen for multiple viewing positions.

Coating

Light Anti-glare

Provides clear, non-grainy image and avoids unwanted reflections of full glossy solutions

Brightness range

47 - 328 cd/m2

Good adjustment range offered. Flicker free backlight operation with no PWM

Contrast

1058:1 after calibration

Strong contrast ratio for an IPS panel, helping provide good clarity in shadow detail and darker content. Cannot compete with VA technology though in this area.

Preset modes

Movie

There is a specific movie preset mode in the menu, so you can set this up to your liking for movie viewing if you want

Response times

10.8ms G2G, low overshoot

Decent enough overall and adequate for movie viewing certainly. Stick with the 'Advanced' response time setting.

Viewing angles

Very good

Thanks to the IPS panel technology, suitable for viewing from a wide range of positions. IPS glow on dark content could present a problem from some wider angles especially in darker room conditions.

Backlight bleed

Very good

No backlight bleed on our sample (may vary) which is good, as that can be particularly problematic on movies with black borders.

Audio

Audio in/out and 2x 5W speakers

Basic integrated speakers could handle the odd YouTube video or mp3. Audio input and output provided also for external connectivity.

Aspect Ratio Controls

Full, 4:3 and 1:1

Good options to account for non-native format inputs if needed which is probably useful for the wide range of 16:9 aspect ratio devices out there.

PiP / PbP

Both supported

May be useful given the very large screen size here

HDR support

No

HDR10 support is talked about in the product specifications and on ViewSonic's website but as far as we can tell this is nothing more than "support" for HDR10 input over the video interfaces. The screen does not offer any HDR display capability as it has no local dimming from the backlight, no increased peak brightness and therefore no improvements in the dynamic range. It is also an sRGB gamut screen so there is also no boost in the colour space here. It's not an HDR screen.

 



Conclusion

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The VP3881 offered a very good performance if you are looking for a large format screen for more general or professional uses. The large screen size and resolution is a pleasure to work with for split screen multi-tasking and gives you a huge area in which to work. The extra resolution compared with common 34 - 35" ultrawide models was noticeable, in a similar way as some people prefer 16:10 1920 x 1200 format models to 16:9 1920 x 1080. The screen offers a very good range of options and features for colour critical work as well. We were pleased with the default out of the box setup, as well as the wide range of factory calibrated colour modes. There's a huge range of options in the OSD to tweak, and support for hardware calibration brings that extra high-end control and accuracy to the screen which was great to see. The display can support 10-bit colour depth if you've got the relevant workflow and hardware to support it, but the only 'missing' thing here for a colour critical display is support for wider colour spaces beyond sRGB. That will only be an issue if you actually want to work with wide gamut content of course, but just one to keep in mind. The additional uniformity correction mode works very well and is a feature normally reserved for professional grade screens, so it was good to see it included here.

The IPS technology panel offers solid all round performance with a stable image and consistent viewing angles. The contrast ratio was good at around 1058:1 after calibration although this technology can't compete with VA panels in this area. IPS is still the preferred choice for colour critical work thanks to the viewing angles though. You may notice the IPS glow on dark content when viewed from an angle in darker room conditions a little more because of the large horizontal size of the display, but the level of glow is fairly typical for this technology. Response times were only moderate but certainly capable of some light gaming, and fine for multimedia and movies. This isn't a gaming screen at all, so that's not a major issue although on the flip side it did offer a low lag which was perhaps surprising. Our only real gripes with the VP3881 were the fiddly OSD control buttons which were not that intuitive to use. A small joystick would make life easier we felt. The screen can handle HDR10 content, but does not offer any technologies like local dimming to actually display HDR properly or provide a boosted dynamic range so that's an area missing on this screen. We are only really picking up on this because the marketing specifically talks about HDR and we wanted to help avoid any confusion.

All in all it's a great all round display and if you're looking for a large format display for more general or colour critical work (as opposed to lots of gaming) then it's a great option.

Pros

Cons

Large screen size and resolution well suited to office and colour work Response times are moderate, although this is not a gaming screen
Good factory setup, loads of settings and preset modes and hardware calibration support No 'real' HDR support from the display
Added professional grade features like uniformity correction OSD controls are a bit fiddly


 

TFT Central Awards Explained

We have two award classifications as part of our reviews. There's the top 'Recommended' award, where a monitor is excellent and highly recommended by us. There is also an 'Approved' award for a very good screen which may not be perfect, but is still a very good display. These awards won't be given out every time, but look out for the logo at the bottom of the conclusion. A list of monitors which have won our awards is available here.

 

 

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