Review of the 34" Acer B346CK Ultrawide Monitor
I value my workspace though it might not look it - my desk can get a bit .... crowded at times with work papers, trinkets, stationary and of course, that collection of "You're the greatest Dad" art & crafts from my kids.
A crowded desk is fine by me as it's a happy clutter that doesn't interfere with my work as a FileMaker developer but the desk is only half of my workspace, so what about the other half - what about my screen? Well, my desk might be a monument to my untidy, relaxed side but my screen is a testament to my desire for efficiency and order so I can assure you that my screen tells an entirely different and altogether much more ordered story.
There's a sensible saying that "they're not building land anymore" which might be true for property but not so for monitors. Screen real estate is easy to increase, presuming you have the necessary hardware, you can just plug in another monitor and whamo, more land, so to speak.
I've used a single monitor setup (obviously), dual monitors and tri monitors, all in different styles and configurations. I've had a 27" screen in the centre with two 21" screens in portrait mode to either side of it (very handy for web pages and mail in one and scripting long narrow lists of code in the other). I've had dual monitors in a V configuration and I've had screens stacked in rows and in columns. So I think it's fair to say, that if there's a monitor setup / configuration out there, I've tried it on for size.
However, I'd never had to the chance to go ultrawide, until I bought a 34" Acer B346CK 21:9 Ultrawide Monitor. My purchase went seamlessly via www.scan.co.uk and I will quietly proclaim that the monitor is a thing of understated glory.
I could happily go into its specifications but all of these can be found at the Acer website or one of the many hardware review sites - several of which I read before buying and so found very useful (if you're interested, there are links at the end of this blog). Just to cross the Ts, I will say that it has a native resolution of 3440x1440, built in speakers and numerous HDMI, USB 3.0 inputs and a display port so, it's well covered.
I develop FileMaker Databases which can be likened to writing software for small to medium businesses. For my job, the primary hardware is a 2016 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar though I also have an ageing Windows PC laptop which we shall not speak of. For software, I use FileMaker Pro Advanced and then there's the Postbox for email, Slack and iMessage for group chatting and comms and obviously a browser (Safari) for web and then Amazon Music, iTunes and few other apps which really don't need to be mentioned in any detail.
I have always used Spaces for desktop organisation which works really well for me. I have a web browser Space, a FileMaker Space, a comms Space and a music Space. Having this setup keeps everything organised, with minimal clutter. See? Not like my desk at all. I also use Display Maid to ensure that all of my windows are always exactly where they should be. Good bit of software that and I'm happy to recommend it for Mac OS users.So How Does The Acer Fit?
First off, having an ultrawide screen gets rid of the physical gaps you get between screens in a multi-monitor setup which is more than just an aesthetic boon - it means there's far less messing around with multiple Spaces (which can get to be a faff), less screen flicker when switching between Spaces, far less energy consumption and it's much much closer to an ideal ergonomic configuration. In addition to this, the Acer takes up less space so my already overcrowded desk isn't being assaulted with monitors stands and a mass of cabling.
I have an Ikea standing desk which 90 percent of the time is in standing mode and I've got the B346CK monitor positioned perfectly for that. Sure, there's a bit of a wobble when I crank the desk between sitting and standing configurations but what do you expect?
The screen is responsive, with a crisp clarity and vibrant colours. It's a delight to look at in any light, even with the afternoon sun coming in through my window which is directly to the left of the screen. The viewing angle is great but I tend to look at the screen directly head on so that really isn't an important feature for me.
For FileMaker, it's a joy. I frequently need half a dozen windows open and the 34" 21:9 viewing ratio with 3440x1440 resolution handles that so very very easily. It's really opened up how I work and has seriously decluttered the entire work experience.Any Problems?
There's only one that I have and that's not really the screen at all but rather to do with how Apple foolishly think HDMI screens should be handled. In their inimitable wisdom, Apple think when you're outputting to an HDMI connected device (such as my setup with the Acer B346CK) the device (ie the monitor in this case) should handle volume control. What this means is that I can't control the volume via my Apple Bluetooth keyboard's volume controls but have to use the fiddly Acer controls. Now, please don't misunderstand me here - Acer have done a really great job with their controls - they're easy to use and totally intuitive but they certainly won't designed for rapid, frequent use. Apple, hang your head in shame and sort it out. I tried a software fix but it didn't suit me at all so instead I bought a Bluetooth Anker Soundcore speaker and have regained my volume controls. Yes, I could use the inbuilt Acer speakers but they're a bit lifeless for music and I've got to have my music, I've just got to.... The Anker Soundcore is perfectly suited to that so that's another recommendation from me.Closing Comments
If I had a rating system, the Acer B346CK Ultrawide monitor would get five out of five of ten out of ten or two thumbs up .... whatever system you might like, I'll give it top marks.Useful Links