Any LG 27UL850 review would have to start off by saying that this 27-inch, 4K monitor ticks a lot of boxes.
You'll not only get UHD resolution and HDR but you can also expect a fast response time, decent brightness, an anti-glare screen for eye comfort, a heigh-adjustable stand and even bundled software to help tune the display to your exact needs. It's one of the best 4K monitors for your home office.
When it comes to connectivity, it will definitely have you covered because it takes both HDMI and USB-C.
For those who are worried about aesthetics, you can mount this sleek, smart screen on your wall without it being too much of an eye-sore and it has thin bezels on three sizes with a super discreet joystick for controlling the various inputs and settings.
If you’re looking for 4K, HDR10 and a range of ports to connect to computers, streaming devices and all sorts of other devices, this could be the screen for you. And because it's a couple of years old, you'll be able to find some stellar deals on it too. What more could you want?
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LG 27UL850 review: design and setup
The LG 27UL850’s design is about as simple as it gets. The bezel is nice and slim on the sides and top edge, but is thicker at the bottom edge. The screen sits on a silver-coloured metal stand that is height and tilt adjustable, as well as being rotatable if you want to use the monitor as a portrait display instead of landscape.
The stand uses a wide arched foot that provides enough desk space immediately in front of the monitor to accommodate your keyboard when not in use, or make space for other desk items.
Some users may well prefer this design to a central foot that takes up precious desk space directly in front of the screen itself. Alternatively, the monitor can be mounted to a wall bracket or desk arm, thanks to its compatibility with industry-standard 100x100mm display mounts.
Setting up the monitor is very simple. All of its ports are easily accessible on the rear. These include a pair of HDMI 2.0 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4 connection, and one 65W USB-C port, plus a 3.5mm audio socket for connecting headphones or speakers.
There is also a pair of USB-A ports for powering devices like smartphones and acting as chargers.
For most users, these ports should give them everything they need. We connected a MacMini using the USB-C port and a couple of game consoles via HDMI. And because the USB-C port carries power as well as video and audio, the monitor can be used to charge a MacBook (or other USB-C laptop) while also acting as an external screen.
Switching between the inputs and controlling the monitor’s settings and features is all done via a small joystick fitted to the underneath of the screen bezel. This can be tricky to use at first, but is intuitive and it quickly becomes second nature without looking. A press of the joystick opens a menu, then it’s just a case of nudging and pressing it to navigate around.
A press, a nudge and another press is all it takes to switch from one input to another, while the volume can be adjusted by simply nudging the joystick left or right. It’s a very simple menu and this is absolutely to LG’s credit. A separate power button would be welcome, but a quick press of the centrally-mounted joystick to switch the monitor on is easy enough.
One downside to the design is the lack of cable management. They can’t be fed into the stand or hidden in any other way, so you’ll just have to live with them hanging down from their ports, which are located relatively high up on the rear of the monitor, making them easily accessible.
LG 27UL850 review: features and picture
The monitor has a pair of 5W speakers, and while LG boasts of its MAXX Audio technology, sound really isn’t the strong point here. It’s acceptable for general computer notifications and occasional radio and podcast listening, but if you want to play music or watch movies and TV you are much better off connecting the monitor, or your computer, to a separate speaker or audio system.
This monitor has a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160, making it 4K. It also has a refresh rate of 60Hz via all of its inputs, offers HDR 10, and is compliant with the VESA DisplayHDR 400 standard. This isn’t the greatest version of HDR, and you can certainly find greater dynamic range and higher peak brightness on higher-priced monitors, but if this is a monitor used mostly for regular computer work you won’t be using HDR much anyway.
When given HDR content, the display automatically shifts into the right mode and cranks up the brightness to deliver a more immersive experience. The monitor’s HDR capabilities are most often seen when watching compatible content on streaming services like Netflix, or when gaming with a compatible console.
It can also upscale regular SDR (standard dynamic range) content into HDR, using an algorithm to improve tone mapping and luminance. It’s not true HDR, but a nice feature to have nonetheless.
This LG monitor has an IPS display panel with a colour accuracy covering 99 percent of the sRGB colour spectrum, and a wide viewing angle means multiple viewers sitting across a room can enjoy the same great picture quality and colour reproduction.
Although the dual HDMI ports mean this is a good monitor for connecting to streaming devices and games consoles, the matte finish of the screen is focused on productivity. It may lack the visual appeal of a glossy finish, but the matte screen dramatically cuts down on glare and reflections, helping you to concentrate on your work while improving colour accuracy and reducing eye stream and headaches too.
The LG has a 5ms response time, which is quicker than some other monitors but isn’t the 1ms gamers crave. So while it’s perfectly respectable for a multi-purpose display, those looking for a gaming-centric screen will be able to find faster response times (and double the 60Hz refresh rate) elsewhere.
During our time with the LG 27UL850 we enjoyed the breadth of its capabilities. The IPS panel means colour and contrast remain consistent when viewed from any angle, while the resolution, HDR, brightness, response time and refresh rate are all good for working, gaming and watching video. The display doesn’t particularly excel in any one of those use cases, but in a world where we are all working at home more than ever, a do-it-all display is of more value than one that is superb at gaming but is overkill for spreadsheets and Zoom calls.
For those who want to tweak this monitor beyond what its simple menu is capable of, LG includes the True Color Pro software. This can be used to optimise colour performance to make more use of the display panel’s wide colour spectrum. However, this software requires a physical calibrator and one isn’t included in the box so you’ll have to source that separately.
Another piece of bundled software is Radeon FreeSync, which helps to eliminate tearing and stuttering to improve screen performance while gaming. Speaking of gaming, the screen’s Game Mode lets you pick between pre-configured modes specifically designed for first-person shooters and real-time strategy games.
LG 27UL850 review: price and verdict
We have owned this monitor for around a year and have used it for work, gaming and TV/movie-streaming. Our working-from-home situation required a 27-inch display that would work with a MacBook (and latterly a Mac Mini) in a bedroom desk setup, but also provide a good gaming experience with a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X, and stream 4K content from the likes of Netflix and Prime Video.
We found the LG does a great job across these three distinct use cases. While it might not excel at any one task, and hardcore gamers will want to look for faster response times and higher refresh rates elsewhere, more casual games will be impressed with the 4K resolution, wide viewing angle and reflection-killed matte display.
LG’s user interface is also one of the easiest to use, being intuitive, simple and controlled via a completely hidden yet easily accessible miniature joystick.
If you are looking for a great all-rounder of a 4K, 27-inch display that can work with a USB-C computer during the day and an HDMI game console or streamer in the evening, you should certainly have the LG 27UL850 in your shortlist.
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