ThinkVision P44w hands-on review
The ThinkVision P44w is a wide 32:10 44″ curved display. It has the size of two 16:10 displays in one continuous glass. And it is awesome to work on or game with.
Multiple monitors are often used at many workplaces. I have been using a dual display setup for years, both at home and at the office. My problem is usually, that I cannot center content when I have two monitors: one monitor is always to the side. Well, no more, since the ThinkVision P44w offers the display area of two monitors, but on one continuous glass surface. And what a wonderful screen that is, vibrant and sharp.
- Big display surface
- Great colors and refresh rate
- Lots of connectivity options
- Works as a USB3 hub
- Optional speaker has bad microphone
- Huge and heavy
How to use the P44w?
I was very excited when the P44w was announced. Although I was not sure if this will be the answer for me, I have long been looking for a solution to my dual-monitor setup. Namely, I found it troublesome, that when I have two displays, one of them is always to the side. I cannot but the content I am working with straight ahead, and have side content on both sides. Well, unless I get 3 displays of course 🙂
The 32:10 panel is big enough to have many things visible at once, but because it is a continuous glass surface, I can finally put the content in the center, and have other things to the side. But this is not the only way this display helps. Sometimes it is useful to have very wide display of data: spreadsheets or database tables often have much information, as do logs that our applications create. As a developer, I have found many use cases, when an extremely wide display helps.
The display comes in a huuuuge box. Calling it anything else is an understatement. It is bulky and heavy, carrying it alone is not recommended!
Needless to say, the display is very well packed and protected from transport.
The panel seems excellent with great colour reproduction and superb refresh rates. I opted to use 100 Hz refresh rate using the USB Type-C connection.
The resolution of the panel is 3840×1200. It is basically the same as a 4K resolutions width, but the height is halved (or almost halved). Basically this means two 1920×1200 display areas side by side – just like two 16:10 displays.
The panel is very bright and also supports HDR when connected to a source that supports it (like Windows 10).
The display can be connected with multiple types of cables to your computer. However, not all connections will allow you to enjoy 100, 120 or 144 Hz. The connection options are:
- 2 x HDMI 2.0
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
- USB-C (Gen1, DP 1.2 Alt Mode)
- USB-C (Gen2, DP 1.4 Alt Mode)
- 2 x USB 3.0
In addition to the ports on the back, there is also a small hidden port compartment at the front of the display.
Luckily, the display ships with all sorts of cables, so you can be sure you get the proper one 🙂 The display also supports USB-C Power Delivery with a maximum output of 90W (total). This also means, that you can use it to power your notebook if it is satisfied with 90W or power. ThinkPad P series users are out of luck here, but if you have something like the X1 Carbon or X1 Yoga, you can connect a single cable to the notebook to use the display and have power.
In this sense, the display can function as a USB Hub!
Using as a USB Hub
I have some big problems with my ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Workstation Dock at my workplace – more on that in another article. In the end, I decided to retire the dock for the time being. Instead, I use the P44w as my “dock”. It is not perfect, because I still need to connect power to my P52, and ethernet as well.
What I did is I took a USB 3.0 hub that was laying around, plugged that into the P44w and plugged my USB devices into this hub. Now the USB-C display cable carries display signals and USB signals as well.
I then tied the power, ethernet and USB-C cable from the display together. It is still three connections, but they are nearby at the back of the notebook.
If you use wireless networks and a less power hungry notebook however, you can live off the single USB Type-C connection from the display.
The included monitor stand works really great. It is spring loaded for height adjustments, and allows for easy adjustment of tilt and swivel.
Refresh rates and HDR
The display is using HDR as well. In addition, it supports refresh rates up to 144Hz. However, the type of port, the type of cable and the HDR option together determine your maximum refresh rate, and it is not immediately obvious, what you want to use. I include this handy little table from the User’s Guide below.
The full User’s Guide can be found at on the Lenovo Support page for the display: https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/solutions/pd500278
Picture in picture
The monitor supports picture in picture modes. You can for example set it up, so only half of the screen is used to show one input, and another input is shown on the other half of the screen. This way you can view two computers at once on the display.
There is a P44w package that comes with a Harman-Kardon speaker that attaches to the base. This also has a built in microphone for conferencing. And it lights up in different colors.
The speaker is decent, but not excellent. The microphone inside is horrible IMHO, barely audible by the other side. I would recommend not getting the speaker. A stand alone Jabra Speaker will serve this purpose much better.
The price difference is about 100€, which would also get you the afformentioned stand alone conference speaker.
The P44w comes with a separate piece of software. The ThinkColor software is rebranded from the panel manufacturer to have Lenovo’s ThinkVision trademark. It works great in adjusting all of the parameters of the display – most of which you can also adjust using the buttons on the screen / from the OSD of the screen, but it is faster in the software.
What really makes this software useful is the ability to partition your screen into logical areas that you would want to stick windows to. For example, I partitioned the screen into three parts: a left side, middle, and right side, with the size ratios about 1:2:1. Left and right side are narrower, the middle is wider.
When you now move windows around the screen, the display software shows an overlay of the parts you have configured. If you drop the window into this overlay, it will maximize the window into that screen part. This allows you quickly arrange the appication windows into their desired positions.
It is also possible to update the firmware on the display, however, the files needed to do this is pretty well hidden on Lenovo’s Support site. I would advice updating unless you have some problems with the display.
I tried the display with games. It works great, with some caveats.
For games where the viewport is helping you see more, the display works really great. A good example would be some sort of simulation game (I tried the latest Microsoft’s Flight Simulator Alpha version on it). It allows you to view more of the world, because the game adapts to showing you more.
But on the other hand, in some games this does not work so well, because of the 32:10 viewport you will actually see less than you would on 16:10. Your best bet here is to adjust the game to still use a 16:10 resolution that you would then center on the large screen (and not stretch it).
YouTube has many videos that are wider than the usual 16:9 resolution. On a 16:9 or 16:10 screen there is a black bar on these videos. Unfortunately the browsers playing YouTube videos cannot properly stretch the videos to remove these black bars and take advantage of the wider screen surface. Maybe I am just unaware of any players that could do this.
Sibling: the Y44w
The P44w has a sibling in the Legion product line, the Legion Y44w. This has the exact same panel, but does not come with software support from Lenovo. My tip: if you want to save a little money, go for the Y44w.
The ThinkVision P44w is an excellent display. You can do work or play games, and the picture is always great and vibrant. If you have the budget for this display, it certainly exceeds expectations.
Who is it for then? If you already find that you need more than a single display in your work, then the P44w might be for you. Developers, artists, basically anyone that requires lots of screen real estate will find this display useful.
If you are a gamer, you will also find it useful, but as I mentioned above, you might want to look at the Legion Y44w in this case. It uses the exact same display panel, but is in a cheaper package.