LG 43UN700 USB A Problems

LG’s 43″ offering is the cheapest on the market. Unfortunately it looks like they cut some corners to beat the competition. The screen is nice, crisp – not brilliant, but fine for coding. However the USB A port support is a big disappointment.

LG’s 43UN700

Some Background

I normally code on either; a desktop with 2 Samsung H850 WQHD 27″ monitors (1 portrait, 1 landscape), or a Laptop on the train as I travel to client sites. With lockdown however, my wife and I both found ourselves needing to work from home. After a brief negotiation over working arrangements, my laptop and I found ourselves in the bedroom on a 1970’s Formica table recovered from my in-law’s attic.

My first attempt to make this tenable was the purchase of an LG 24BL650C. A very well priced 24 inch HD monitor with USB C. The monitor’s USB A ports act as a Hub when the laptop is connected via USB C, so I can plug the mouse and keyboard into the monitor without the need for docking station. I really liked this setup as I could move seamlessly between desk and couch with just one cable to plug in.

This would have been fine for a few weeks. But then a few weeks suddenly started looking like a few months and 24 inches began to feel a little claustrophobic.

So a docking station and another screen – a 27″ maybe, or even a 32″? Then came my Eureka moment – how about I just buy one really big screen? If it supports USB C, no docking station required! I measured and I researched and I debated. LG’s 43″ 4K seemed like a lot of viewable code per dollar. My wife said that’s ridiculous, it’s the size of a TV. I bought it.

The Problems

You are probably reading this because, like me, you have fired up your lovely new LG 43″ monitor and have played 4K drone footage of Hawaii and gone WOW! And then plugged in your phone to charge or your mouse, or some such, and gone OH. And you’ve turned to Google and now you are here. Let me save you a week of frustration.

First I would recommend plugging in a USB desk light to understand when, and when not, the ports are working. Then you will notice:

  1. The USB A ports only provide charge if a compatible laptop is plugged into the USB C port.
  2. The USB A ports only act as a Hub with a compatible laptop plugged into the USB C port.
  3. Only a compatible laptop will charge properly over the USB C port.
  4. An HP EliteBook appears to be a compatible laptop.
  5. An Asus VivoBook appears to be a compatible laptop.
  6. A Dell XPS is not a compatible laptop. Plugging it into the USB C port will result in a brief flicker of the desk light but no more.
  7. Once you’ve plugged an incompatible laptop into the USB C port, a compatible laptop will act as if it is incompatible until you turn the monitor on and off again.
  8. A Dell XPS becomes a compatible laptop if you plug in its own power supply and wait a few seconds.

When I talk of compatible and incompatible, I do not mean in terms of running the screen over USB C. All the laptops I tried did that fine.

The other issue with this monitor is that you can’t see the edge of the screen unless you move your head! Windows displays active windows indicators under the icons on the toolbar – you can’t see them! This isn’t viewing angle – it’s bad design. I can see them fine on my 27″ in portrait mode and the angle is more acute.

Summary

The screen is actually lovely. Probably not quite good enough for graphic design or photo editing though. For coding it’s fine, not as sharp as my 27″ Samsung’s but that’s the difference between 103 and 109 pixels per inch.

I was worried a 43″ would be too big to work on, however I think I now prefer it to my 2 by 27″ arrangement. I’m sold on big is better.

My frustrating week would have resulted in a return if it weren’t for the shocking customer service of my supplier (another story). I’ve learned to live with the quirks, and while unplugging 2 cables to move from desk to couch is irritating I still have a lot beer money left as compensation.

With hindsight I would probably still buy this monitor, I just wish I could have read this first.