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Massdrop Vast Curved Gaming Monitor review: A perfect option for $550

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Massdrop Vast ReviewMassdrop

  • The Massdrop Vast is the best way to get an ultrawide gaming experience for less than $600.
  • While a great value, it still struggles with color accuracy for professional workloads.
  • If you’re looking for a high-resolution, ultra-fast curved monitor for cheap, though, it’s the perfect option.

Massdrop is one of my favorite tech companies. While the core business is great for finding unique tech products and getting a good deal on them in the process, the ever-expanding range of “Massdrop-made” tech is excellent. Massdrop continues to deliver products that satisfy the needs of its customers with a reasonable price tag.

If you’re unaware, Massdrop allows you to vote on products you want to buy. The more people confirm they’ll buy something, the cheaper it gets. In addition to running “drops,” Massdrop also sells its own products, which aim to be high-quality, high-value alternatives to branded staples.

Perhaps the most popular of the Massdrop-made products is the Vast ultrawide monitor ($550). This monitor balances everything I want an in a display, and does so without breaking the bank. In this Massdrop Vast review, I’ll show why, despite its shortcomings, it’s worth every penny.

Overview of the Massdrop Vast

The Vast is a curved 35-inch 4K ultrawide gaming monitor with a refresh rate of up to 100Hz. If you’re unaware, ultrawide monitors use an aspect ratio of 21:9 as opposed to the more traditional 16:9. That’s the same aspect ratio as most movies, and ultrawides were originally intended for that purpose: watching movies without black borders. However, the extra screen estate in your peripheral vision helps for gaming and productivity, and the Vast captures that essence perfectly.

It’s a 4K monitor, but it doesn’t have quite as many pixels as a 4K monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Using the same corner-to-corner measuring method, ultrawides are wider, but shorter than their 16:9 counterparts. Because of that, the Vast has a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels instead of the 3,840 x 2,160 pixels seen on most UHD panels.

Massdrop Vast 1Massdrop

Setting up the Massdrop Vast

The Massdrop Vast is simple to set up. All you have to do is set the monitor on its face and screw in the the stand to the VESA mount. The spring-actuated height adjustment of the stand — where a spring in the stand helps move the display up and down — will fight against gravity, though, and it kicked me like a horse while setting up and moving the display.

The stand is something of a marvel for what you’re paying. While there’s no swivel, the stand allows 4.3 inches of spring-actuated height adjustment, 20 degrees of tilt, and a full 90 degrees of pivot. Despite its massive size, the Vast can be turned sideways for use as a second monitor or just to dig deeper into Reddit.

As far as connecting the monitor, there aren’t many options, but that’s only relevant for those looking for multiple displays. You have the option of three HDMI ports (one v2.0 and two v1.4) and a DisplayPort v1.2 port. Massdrop doesn’t have the version types printed by the ports, so you’ll need to consult the manual to ensure you’re getting the full refresh rate out of your connection.

Masdrop Vast 2Massdrop

There’s a button on the back right corner of the monitor for powering it on and accessing the menu. Put bluntly, Massdrop’s server navigation is horrible. “Down” changes the picture mode, “up” sets a crosshair in the center of the screen, “left” shows you your inputs, and, finally, “right” gives you the full menu.

While that’s easy to figure out, trying to change settings is anything but. Clicking the button will shut off the monitor, and you better believe I turned it off more than once while trying to change settings. You have to press “right” to confirm setting changes, which is very counterintuitive.

Groaning aside, the Vast is still pretty simple to set up, even if configuration goes against the grain. It’s unlikely you’ll need to dig in the settings too much, but it’s a good idea to learn the system so you don’t have to deal with the headache of constantly turning off your display.

How “going wide” can help with productivity

The selling point of the Vast is the curved, UHD display. I’m a junkie for ultrawide monitors — you can read my guide on the best ultrawide monitors to see that in action — so the Vast scratches an itch that few other displays can. The 35 inches of screen estate is perfect for having two browser windows open at a time or multi-tasking with maximum efficiency.

For my purposes as a writer, the 21:9 aspect ratio works particularly well. While researching a piece, I can use half the display to have my findings open while the other half holds my notes or research documents. The Vast makes you feel spoiled when it comes to productivity. Moving to my laptop with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the screen feels cramped as Word or Google Docs resize to fit my text on screen and webpages reduce to a near mobile size.

Massdrop Vast 3Massdrop

Other productivity tasks, such as photo and video editing, are perfectly suited for an ultrawide display, too. As a hobby photographer, the Vast provides the extra screen size to see all of my settings, presets and photos in Lightroom and provide an overview of the timeline in Premiere. While not the best display for content creation — more on that later — the size is undeniable.

Outside of work, the Vast is perfect for media consumption. Gaming is great thanks to the 100Hz refresh rate and FreeSync support, and movies look fantastic without black borders. Even with those upsides, there are some concerns when using an ultrawide display.

The downsides of going wide

It comes down to platform and application support, but not all content is suitable for the 21:9 aspect ratio. YouTube, for example, will still attempt to display content in a 16:9 aspect ratio. So, instead of the black bars on top and bottom disappearing when watching an ultrawide YouTube video, you’ll have black bars all around the image.

These issues are not exclusive to the Vast, of course, but they are a consideration when going to checkout. The Vast is capable of providing an excellent media experience, but the support of certain platforms and applications has yet to catch up to the ultrawide crowd.

A true gaming monitor

For the price, the resolution, aspect ratio, and size of the Vast are more than enough. What makes this monitor special, though, is its refresh rate. The Vast operates at a 100Hz refresh rate, making it a great choice for gaming. Despite not reaching the high refresh rates of some 16:9 gaming monitors, the Vast still earned a place in our best gaming monitor guide.

Massdrop Vast 4Massdrop

If you’re unaware, refresh rate measures how often a display can refill its buffer. For gaming, a higher refresh rate is essential. If you have a game running at 120 frames per second but a display that only has a refresh rate of 60Hz, you’re effectively missing half of the frames that would display otherwise.

Higher refresh rates mean smoother and clearer motion during intense action. However, as the frame rate increases, so does the likelihood of screen tearing and stuttering. Thankfully, the Vast bypasses that issue with FreeSync integration.

It supports FreeSync from 49-100Hz. FreeSync is a variable refresh rate technology that allows the monitor to dynamically control the refresh rate based on the input its given. In the real world, that means no screen tearing, stuttering, or artifacts. While G-Sync is the arguably better variable refresh rate tech, FreeSync is a nice trade-off given the Vast’s low price tag.

Massdrop Vast 5Massdrop

Color and visual display

Massdrop uses a VA panel for the Vast, which it claims is the “best of both worlds.” While it’s true that the 100Hz refresh rate and 2-millisecond G2G response time trades blows with high-end TN panels, Massdrop’s claim that the Vast has “color performance that’s on par with first-rate IPS panels” simply isn’t true.

In short, the Vast isn’t color accurate at all. There’s way too much blue in the image, and even after calibration, it’s hard to get a professional-level result. Furthermore, the VA panel isn’t especially bright, though it should work well in environments that are fairly well lit.

It does cover 100% of the sRGB spectrum, but that’s not relevant considering the saturation on nearly all colors misses the mark. The Vast can be tweaked to provide better color accuracy, but you won’t get a high-end result. You’ll also have to contend with the infuriating menu to change any settings.

The contrast is good, though, especially for a VA panel. The Vast boasts contrast of 2,500:1 and it can ship with even better contrast out of the box.

For any content creation, the Vast is best reserved for enthusiasts. The color accuracy is totally off, and even after tweaking, it can’t contend with first-rate IPS panels. Don’t believe the marketing; the Massdrop Vast is a gaming monitor, so you shouldn’t try to mix that with any serious content creation.

The verdict

Massdrop’s marketing doesn’t help the Vast. When it’s looked at as a content creation and gaming monitor, it simply doesn’t make the cut, no matter how inexpensive it is. However, as a value-focused gaming monitor that can be tweaked for decent color accuracy, the Vast is astounding. The value simply can’t be matched by any other ultrawide on the market.

If you’re in the market for a gaming ultrawide without emptying your wallet, the Vast is the first option you should look toward.

Buy the Massdrop Vast Curved Gaming Monitor for $549.99 on Massdrop

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

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Canadian tech diversity and inclusion in the spotlight

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Diversity and inclusion are hot-button issues, but for all the attention they get, there’s still work to be done in the tech sector, according to a recent Gartner blog.

Citing a range of challenges that include pay inequity, lack of diversity in corporate management, and difficulty recruiting diverse talent, the blog suggests three possible remedies for organizations trying to become more diverse and inclusive: having a long-term plan but focusing on one aspect that will make the most benefit, setting targets and making leadership accountable, and committing resources.

The call for such strategies finds support in a report from the Brookfield Institute revealing that Canada’s technology sector has a disappointing track record when it comes to inclusion and equity, with women “four times less likely to be employed in the sector than men, and earning on average $7,300 less than men in technology jobs.”

The findings are just as grim in a January 2020 report funded by Canada’s Future Skills Centre. According to this document, despite corporate commitments to diversity, “decades of initiatives designed to advance women in technology have scarcely had an effect: The proportion of women in engineering and computer science in Canada has changed little in 25 years.”

And women are not the only disadvantaged group, says the report. “The under-employment of skilled immigrants and under-representation of women and other groups in the ICT industry suggests that recruitment and retention policies and practices of the very firms complaining about this [skills] gap may be contributing to the problem.”

Until we do a better job of addressing inclusion and diversity, career opportunities will continue to be limited for women, internationally educated professionals, racialized minorities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. In addition to being a very human issue, this is also one that perpetuates the ICT skills gap by failing to tap into a supply of well-qualified labour.

On the bright side, there are technology companies and organizations across Canada that are truly determined to create opportunities for those who are under-represented in the digital talent pool. There is also an opportunity to recognize their efforts during Channel Innovation 2021: Adapting to the New Customer Experience, a 2.5-hour, virtual event on April 28, 2021.

A showcase for independent software vendors (ISVs) and Canadian channel innovators, the Channel Innovation 2021 celebration will take place on CIA-TV, a unique ITWC platform that allows the audience to take in the show, download related content and videos, and network in live breakout rooms. There are six award categories, including the C4 Award for Diversity and Inclusion. Nominating is simple. Whether a self- or third-party nomination, there are only two main questions to answer and an opportunity to include a supporting document or image.

Winning entries will be announced during the celebration and profiled in the Channel Daily News Magazine and in Direction Informatique, ITWC’s French-language publication devoted to the Quebec marketplace. They will also receive a digital badge for use on their websites and on social media to help gain industry-wide recognition and end-user exposure.

The media attention and recognition are reason enough to vie for this honour, and we always need things to celebrate during a global pandemic, but the real value in awards for diversity and inclusion is in setting an example for others to follow. The news is full of the ways we are falling down when it comes to equity in the IT sector. Let’s take some time to highlight the success stories and encourage other tech innovators to step up.

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Leading Canadian tech entrepreneur Saadia Muzaffar to give virtual keynote in Peterborough on March 9

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In celebration of International Women’s Day, one of Canada’s leading female tech entrepreneurs will be giving a virtual keynote for residents of Peterborough and the Kawarthas on Tuesday, March 9th at 7 p.m.

The Innovation Cluster is hosting Saadia Muzaffar as part of its ‘Electric City Talks’ series.

Muzaffar is a tech entrepreneur, author, and passionate advocate of responsible innovation, decent work for everyone, and prosperity of immigrant talent in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She is the founder of TechGirls Canada, a hub for Canadian women in STEM, and co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, a group of business people, technologists, and other residents advocating for innovation that is focused on the public good.

In 2017, Muzaffar was featured in Canada 150 Women, a book about 150 of the most influential and groundbreaking women in Canada. Her work has been featured in CNNMoney, BBC World, Fortune Magazine, The Globe and Mail, VICE, CBC, TVO, and Chatelaine.

Muzaffar’s March 9th talk, entitled ‘Redefining Term Sheets: Success, Solidarity, & The Future We Want’, will inspire women to achieve success in all areas of life, including in business by providing strategies for obtaining funding.

“It is impossible to explain how women only get 2.2 per cent of funding for their ventures while we constitute a majority of the population, without acknowledging long-standing structural and systemic bias,” Muzaffar says, describing her talk. “Women know these odds in our bones because we feel them in too many boardrooms, banks, media advertisements, and venture competitions — yet women are the fastest-growing demographic in new businesses.”

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ARK’s Cathie Wood joins board of Canadian tech firm mimik

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ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood is joining the board of Canadian technology company mimik.

Vancouver-based mimik is an edge computing company that effectively turns devices like phones into private cloud servers. It has already teamed up with Amazon Web Services and IBM on edge computing – two of the bigger players in the space.

The AWS partnership gives software developers access to mimik’s cloud platform. Together, edge devices including smart phones, tablets, and Internet of Things (IoT) products can act as extensions of the AWS cloud. With the IBM partnership, mimik’s technology will be included in automation and digital transformation across manufacturing, retail, IoT and healthcare.

All of mimik’s business lines fit in with Wood’s broad ‘next generation internet’ thesis, one of her big five investment themes. The company itself is private and Wood is not an investor. 

However, as Citywire noted in January, Wood has hinted in interviews that ARK is exploring the launch of a private markets strategy. 

Wood joins a relatively high profile board at mimik. Other members include  Allen Salmasi, a pioneer in mobile technology who was previously with Qualcomm, and Ori Sasson, managing director of Primera Capital, who was an investor in VMWare and other technology companies.

‘I’ve always believed in backing founders who are at the forefront of innovation,’ Wood said in a statement on her decision to join mimik. ‘At mimik, [they] have built a foundation for the next generation of cloud computing.’ 

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