Following my review of the impressive AOC 27” AGON gaming monitor, I have been sent the Philips Brilliance 34” ultra wide to review.
This is the flagship model from Philips and is visually stunning. The 34-inch screen is ultra wide giving you a 21:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 3440 x 1440 using and IPA LCD panel. Philips claims 99% sRGB colour coverage, so it should be a good option for colour-sensitive work.
Priced at around £679.99 it is in the middle in terms of pricing compared to other 34” ultra wides.
This screen is both massive and beautiful. Its size means it will likely dominate even the largest of desks, and Philips have opted for a glossy white back accompanied with an attractive half oval base which includes the integrated 7w speakers. It is nice to see a monitor that doesn’t rely on an all-black design and it would certainly stand out in an office environment.
The curve of the screen isn’t as aggressive as I thought it would be, and when you are looking straight at it, it feels very natural. Philips have also kept the bezel down to a minimum around the upper and side edges, which helps maintain its clean and professional look.
Its attractive design does come with compromises though, there is no Vesa mount on the monitor which meant I couldn’t actually fit the monitor on my work desk.
Another issue with the design choices is that there are no height adjustments, you just get some tilt options. This is less of an issue to me than the VESA mount, but it is something a lot of users expect from an expensive monitor.
One positive about the design choices regarding the stand and VESA is that the whole unit comes fully assembled.
On the rear, there are three HDMI ports, one of which supports MHL for easily connecting your phone or tablet. There’s also a DisplayPort as well as an Audio in and headphone out. There are also 4 USB ports on the side.
The monitor is powered by an external brick, which seems to be the case for most screens nowadays. I guess their size requires more power, and the reduced thickness means they can’t accommodate the PSU. The power brick is white to match the monitor, but the included kettle lead is black. Not really an issue but it did stand out when I was setting it up.
Initial impressions of the image were excellent, albeit the brightness was at max which made it impossible to use with any light backgrounds without blinding myself. This again seems to be the case for all screens nowadays.
Philips have gone a different direction than normal for the OSD controls. At the base of the screen is a little 4 directional controller, I thought it was just the power switch at first, but it actually controls all the settings. It was very strange to start off with and I hated it, but when I realised what direction to push things I realised it was a great alternative to the usual choices. Up and down navigates the current menu/changes the setting, right navigates into the selected item, and left goes back. It is super simple once you get to grips with it.
Once I managed to tone down the brightness I was able to enjoy the excellent screen quality more. I am not a graphic design nor do I have any fancy calibration software, so my opinion is entirely subjective, but the colours and overall image quality are superb. Other reviews online appear to agree with this.
Unfortunately, the high resolution of the screen means it is only capable of 60Hz which some gamers may not approve of. At the moment, there are not really any other ultrawide screens offering greater refresh rates except the Acer Predator X34A, but that only does 100Hz via overclocking, and costs over £1k.
I personally found the screen to be excellent at gaming regardless of the standard refresh rate, I experience no obvious lag during fast paced games and the slightly reduced screen resolution vs 4K allowed my PC to handle games better.
While curved TVs thankfully appear to be falling out of fashion, curved screens, on the other hand, are a bit of a revelation. Being sat so close to the screen seems to really help with the wraparound effect, and it felt quite natural. I feel like a 34” flat screen would require more eye movement from left to right.
The speakers are a nice additional to the screen, and they are adequate for day to day office use, but for me, I would never use build in speakers for extended periods of time, so I switched to my normal speakers almost immediately.
Overall, this is a very nice display, due to its overall size, and lack of VESA I think it is more suited to a single monitor setup. Its design means it will look nice in any setting from the living room to the office it will always look great. The high resolution also means that most people probably don’t need a multi-monitor setup, you can happily edit documents side by side with this.
It appears you pay a small premium for the attractive design, there is a similarly specced screen out there from AOC which come in a little cheaper, but if you want a good looking high performing screen then this appears to be one of the best options out there.