I am becoming addicted to big 4K monitors. When I work, I have more windows and applications open than my operating system can typically handle, and  for working with photos there’s nothing like it (except perhaps a big 8K monitor).

When I decided to review AOC’s 40-inch curved display, it was because I mistakenly had in my notes that it cost $600 and wanted to see if it was a good deal for a big screen on a budget. The specs sounded terrific for the money: a huge 10-bit UHD (3,840×2,160) panel with a nice selection of connection options, built-in speakers and four USB ports. 

Much later I realized it actually goes for about $900. I was ambivalent about it at $600, and am even more so for the higher price. (AU$899 seems to be the price in Australia, as well; I don’t think it’s available in the UK, but for reference  the US price directly converts to about £682.)

Forty-inch, 16:9 displays tend to be for commercial uses like signage and conference rooms. There aren’t a lot at this particular size and only two I can find that are curved — and the curve generally doesn’t make sense for commercial applications. But the size is also an odd fit for personal use. (And the C4008VU8 also bears strikingly similar specifications  to the only other one I found, the Philips BDM4037UW, so basically there’s only one.)

Basic manufacturer specs

Price (MSRP) $899.99, AU$899
Panel type VA
Backlight type LED
Size (diagonal) 40
Curve radius 3000R
Resolution 4K UHD (3,840×2,160)
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch (mm) 0.23
Maximum gamut 85 percent NTSC (equal to about 84 percent Adobe RGB)
Rotates vertically No
Typical brightness (nits) 300
HDR No
Sync standard None
Maximum vertical refresh rate (at HD or higher resolution) 60Hz
Gray/gray response time (milliseconds) 5
Release date April 2017

Everything accessible

Overall, it’s pretty well designed. The monitor is easy to set up; the stand arm comes attached, and you just screw the base in with the captive thumbscrew.  Be prepared to strip off the protective plastic from every surface, which took me about 10 minutes.

The connectors are all visible and easy to get to on the back, so at least we can cross one of my pet peeves off the list — unless you care how the back looks with everything just hanging out, since there’s no cable management. I also like the single control,  a joystick that you press to power on and off and use to navigate the onscreen display (OSD) menu options. You can’t remap the direct-access right/left/up/down, however. And the menu is stretched to fit across the bottom, which is odd and annoying.

You can connect it to up to five video sources and display up to four simultaneously on the screen or a with single picture-in-picture. The flexibility is nice, especially if you want to connect sources like Blu-ray players, and there’s a VGA connector for legacy hardware. It also has a novel feature, Bright Frame, which lets you define a rectangle on the screen with different brightness settings to highlight or de-emphasize that region. However, it doesn’t work in conjunction with displaying from multiple inputs, so you can’t use it to highlight a particular source window.

Connections

HDMI 1 x 1.4, 1 x 2.0
DisplayPort 2 x 1.2
USB Type-A (out) 4 x USB 3.0
USB 3.0 (in) 1
VGA 1
Built-in speakers 2 x 5w
Headphone jack/audio in Yes/Yes

AOC markets its 3000R radius of curvature as a “deep curve,” which it’s not. But that’s a good thing: if it were as deep as depicted in the company’s marketing illustrations, it would be pretty unusable. It’s actually a pretty subtle curve. When you normalize it — adjusting for screen size and aspect ratio — the curve is roughly comparable to that of the Samsung CF791.

Aside from the PIP/PBP capability, there isn’t a ton to care about in the onscreen menus. There are a handful of presets — the Eco mode settings — but all they seem to do is change the brightness and tweak the RGB balance very slightly to varying degrees. There’s an overdrive mode to speed up refresh rate for games, but I didn’t notice much of a difference — there’s still a lot of ghosting. 

The monitor has three gamma settings, not-so-helpfully named Gamma1, Gamma2 and Gamma3. I’m not sure why — they each average at 2, 1.9 and 1.7, though gray white points vary widely across their ranges, and none of them are really useful. And the manual is pretty useless if you want to know what a particular setting does (for example, the Eco mode “Sports” is “Sports Mode.”)  There are clock, phase and controls for overclocking, though you probably want to do that via software, if at all. Clear Vision upscales low-resolution images. 

Unpacking the marketing

At least one of the marketing claims is true: tests confirm it can display 100 percent of the colors in the sRGB gamut — it extends beyond well into the greens and reds — and about 83 percent of Adobe RGB, which is more than a typical general-purpose monitor. One of the monitor’s unique modes is Dynamic Color Boost (DCB), which essentially oversaturates memory colors  — blues, greens and skin tones. I don’t find it very pleasing, but YMMV.



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