Philips 328M6FJMB – Excellence Can Be Expensive

The upcoming Philips 328M6FJMB has the same incredibly boring name of all Philips products. Thankfully, this superwide monitor is far more interesting than the name lets on.

144Hz Ultrawides Increasingly Common

This monitor uses a 144Hz refresh rate, marking an increased number of 144Hz ultrawide monitors entering the marketplace.  The 2560 x 1440 VA panel offers the full color reproduction and viewing angles you’d expect of a beautiful, high-end Philips product. The bottom bezel houses glossy plastic and some LEDs of various colors that adjust to match the content on your screen, which is a nice touch to help those buttons blend in.

As for the design of the monitor, the bezels are slender with a standard two-stage design. The hard plastic layer blends seamlessly with the border of the panel.  It’s somewhat regrettable that a display of this quality uses such standard looking black matte plastic, but then again, Philips seems to never stray from their deeply-professional design aesthetic.

Sharp Monitor Curvature (1800R)

The panel is most likely the work of AU Optronics, but this isn’t certain. The Philips 328M6FJMB uses a sharp 1800R curvature, meaning the intended viewing angle is essentially for one person sitting directly infront of the monitor. Wider 3000R angles that have proliferated the market are by no means bad, but they’re not as good as 1800R for single-person viewing. The long and short of it is, this screen will be closer to your eyes, and you’ll have a more engrossing viewing experience.

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FreeSync is included, although many people may feel the fact this display runs up to 144Hz makes FreeSync a little unnecessary. That’s technically not true if the rest of your computer isn’t up to par, FreeSync can help keep your display looking smooth even when you hit a bump in your processing power.

Other Technical Stuff

True 8-bit colors (16.7 million) are supported, as well as 100% NTSC or 120% sRGB color spectrum. This is a fairly extensive gamut of color reproduction even by professional standards.  The 4 ms response time is measured in grey-to-grey, which some people might find encouraging. 3000:1 static contrast ratio, which basically means you’ll get a great viewing experience with deep darks, even when you’re inside a well-lit room.

There’s a low-blue setting that can make the screen easier on your eyes, and it’s actually alarmingly well done. There’s very little visual difference between the low-blue setting toggled on or off, but it’s much easier for your eyes while on.

The stand is completely standard. (That’s a pun?) It includes regular ranges of height/tilt adjustment, as well as VESA mounting holes available on the backside. There’s one VGA port, two DP 1.2 ports, and HDMI 1.4/2.0 ports. The 5-watt speakers are nothing to write home about, but there are also definitely far worse monitor speakers out there as well.

The Takeaway

When this monitor hits the market, it’s going to cost a pretty penny, like most Philips products. But if you’re looking for something that’s truly top-shelf, you’ll have a hard time beating the Philips 328M6FJMB. If you’re looking for the best, whether it’s the best ultrawide monitor in general, or the best gaming ultrawide, you really can’t go wrong. 

Acer RC271U — 2017’s Best Budget Monitor?

With so much attention being driven towards displays aimed at gamers, with fancy refresh rates and other costly features that only interest a niche crowd, it’s easy to forget some people want something more simple. Fancy features are nice, but they’re not as nice when they’re rarely (or never) used, because those features can be expensive. 

So if you’re looking for something “simple”, that’s exactly what you get with the Acer RC271U. This RC1 series includes a more minimalist design than previous iterations, keeping up with the industry drive to modernize the look of monitors, particularly when it comes to the bezel. It features both 2560×1440 resolution and a 27’’ screen size, combined with an IPS-panel.

Technical Discussion

The surface of the screen blends seamlessly into the bezel, for a particularly stylish look when the screen is off.  The on screen display controls are downward-facing analog buttons, on the right hand side of the display. The OSD is extremely standard, and really nothing to write home about.

You’ll also find a standard 60 Hz refresh rate and a slightly above average 350 cd/m2 brightness. Professionals will appreciate the strong color consistency and richness of colors evenly across the screen., A matte screen surface provides an image clear of grain, with true 8-bit color in up to 16.7 million shades. What this means is that you’ll get a visual experience that looks crisp and clear to any standard consumer, but might not be up-to-snuff for media editing professionals.

You can expect standard sRGB coverage and a modest 4ms response time, which are again fairly standard figures. What’s somewhat less standard are the BlueLightShield settings which can help make it easier to spend longer periods of time looking at a screen. 

The stand has a very standard range of tilt, and there are VESA mounting holes in the rear. While there are on-board speakers, they’re only 2 watts, meaning they can only provide basic sound and you shouldn’t expect anything spectacular. For ports, you’re looking at DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, and audio/headphone jacks. An external power brick is also used, which helps to keep the monitor extremely light and slender.

The Takeaway 

If you’re looking for a rock-solid 27’’ display without paying for all the bells and whistles, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for the imminent release of the Acer RC271U. This screen doesn’t have 144 Hz refresh rates, incredibly fast 1 ms response time, or billions of colors displayed with perfect accuracy. It’ll still be a few weeks until this display hits the market, but when it does, it will almost certainly be a staple both for Acer and for anyone in the market for a 27” budget gaming monitor. 

What this screen does have is absolutely everything you need in a professional and efficient monitor, with none of the burdensome (and costly) excess.  But if you’re looking for something on the market right now, be sure to check out these, the best Acer monitors currently available.

Philips 349X7FJEW Review – Mid-Range Excellence

The Philips 349X7FJEW is a 34-inch ultrawide monster with an intensely sharp 1800R curve. Compared to the more common 3,000R curve you see on many displays, this screen is clearly intended for a viewership of one, ideally sitting within 18 or 24 inches of the display.  While there’s a lot of “standard” figures about this model, like the brightness and response time of 4 ms, there are several stand-out points. 

One worthy note is the intensely deep dynamic contrast ratio of 50,000,000:1. Another worth note is the 1440p (3440×1440) resolution, which is the sweet-spot for picking ultrawide monitor resolutions currently. 1440p serves as a noticeable bump above 4K without entering into the extreme price increases or the visual diminishing returns of adding more and more pixels. What you end up with is a fully immersive experience ideal for watching films, working, and playing games. You’ll also get FreeSync for smooth playback without motion blue, tearing, stuttering, both in videos and in games. 

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The backside neatly houses all the wiring in accessible positions, including DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and USB 3.0.

The ultra-narrow bezel is one step closer to a completely bezel-free display that we’re all waiting for. The design is slick, professional, and stylish. But more importantly, the base is incredibly stable. You can shake your desk, even push against the top of the panel, you’ll find it remains steady and stable. 

The “low blue” mode might seem puzzling at first, but blue light disproportionately tires out the eyes quicker than other colors of the spectrum. That’s why many modern displays, like this one, utilize a low-blue mode for people who have to spend extended hours staring at a display and find their eyes are fatigued for it. 

Drawbacks

The on-board speakers are nothing to write-home about, as they’re only 5 watts. That means, like most monitor speakers, they sound similar to a cellphone playing at the bottom of a well. This is mostly forgivable, considering few people really care about on-board speakers. 

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Specifications

  • 34-inch display
  • Color gamut NTSC 99.8%, sRGB 117.3%
  • Effective viewing area 797.22 (H) x 222.72 (V) – at a 1800 R curvature*
  • Pixel Density: 109.68 PPI
  • Response time: 4 ms (gray to gray)
  • Brightness 300  cd/m²
  • Contrast ratio 3,000:1
  • SmartContrast 50,000,000 :1
  • Pixel pitch 0.232 x 0.232 mm
  • Viewing angle 178º (H) / 178º (V)
  • Flicker-free
  • Display colors 16.7 M
  • Scanning Frequency 58 – 148 kHz (H) / 40 – 100 Hz (V)

Conclusion

The base is ergonomically designed to be extremely height-adjustable, which is as feature that’s not common to many ultra wide monitors. While this display touts many “gaming” features like FreeSync, this panel is only above-average for gaming. While standard refresh rate and response time won’t concern anyone besides pro-gamers, it’s worth mentioning that they’re standard for this price range. All-in-all, the Philips 349X7FJEW is a great pick for a general use ultrawide monitor.

Philips 40BDM4037U – Ultrawide Features in 16:9

In most respects, the definitive feature of an ultrawide monitor is the 21:9 aspect ratio. That horizontal stretch is what facilitates the benefits of adding a curved screen, as well as gives you the extra immersion that draws people to ultrawide displays. But even though ultrawide panels are being adopted faster than ever before, many software developers are still not prioritizing support for 21:9. That’s where the Philips 40BDM4037U comes in.

4K Without (All) the Price

This 40-inch beast is basically a small television, except it retains many of the advantageous properties of a monitor. It doesn’t have next-level gaming features like G-Sync or a 144 Hz refresh rate, but it does offer a native 3840 x 2160 resolution and 3000R screen curvature on an unparalleled screen size. The 99.98% sRBG color space has become somewhat average for monitors in this price range, but the 83.5% gamut coverage makes this monitor a strong pick for many people doing work in Photoshop.

In some regard, Philips monitors are like Dell monitors in that they aim to please mid-range consumers. Gaming nuts or industry professionals might not be fully satisfied with this display, but an everyday user will love it. That attitude and targeting is continually expressed with the lack of IO buttons on the front of the screen. This is a welcome change for most every-day users, who often find these buttons burdensome, confusing, or even the cause of ire as someone accidentally bumps into them, filling their screen with menus they then ineptly scramble to un-produce.

Unfortunately, you can’t keep all the features of an ultrawide and still retail 16:9 aspect ratio. If you’re watching movies on this, your content will be letter-boxed with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, just as it probably is on your current display. However, should generally be regarded as a trade-off for the native support that most applications and games have for 16:9. Think “average consumer”, when you’re thinking Philips. If you’re a serious competitive gamer, or if you’re all about watching movies, this probably isn’t the optimal display for you. But if you’re mixing work and play more evenly, it’ll be hard to do better.

Another black mark is the shockingly weak response time for a 4k display. For an amateur, this screen will look gorgeous, but to the trained eye, you’ll find issues with darker shades updating quickly enough. The result is an inky-looking trail in the wake of your view when you pan past dark objects.  You can spot video overshoot and ghosting as well, though this is somewhat expected for a panel with these features in this price range.

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A nice change of pace from the standard black matte bezel. Plus all the connections are easily accessible and all stored on the backside.

The Take-Away Point

Since the Philips 40BDM4037U runs a 16:9 aspect ratio, it’s not truly an ultrawide monitor. But with a screen of this size, curvature, and resolution, it’s 75% of the way to being ultrawide by merit. What that means is you’ll enjoy full support from every type of application (since 16:9 is standard,) you’ll get all the productivity benefits of an ultrawide, and you’ll get the eye-care benefits of a curved display. In one word, that makes this monitor versatile. If you want a very large display but you don’t watch TV, this is probably the panel you’re looking for.

Specifications

40” Display
LED Backlit
3840 x 2160 (4k) native resolution
60 Hz refresh rate
178°/178° viewing angle
10.7 billion display colors
300 cd/m2 brightness
20,000,000:1 contrast ratio
4ms response time
16:9 aspect ratio
3000R curvature radius
VGA, DP, HDMI-MHL 1.4/2.0, USB 3.0
VESA mountable
25.5 lbs

Dell U3417W – High End Widescreen

A 34 inch widescreen is all about immersion, whether it’s in work or play. That’s exactly what the Dell U3417W offers — immense immersion paired up with an extremely high quality build for a top shelf ultra wide monitor.

Features

Uses ComfortView for eye comfort by preventing flicking, similar technology is being used by many gaming ultra wide monitor manufacturers now because it makes it easier to stare at the screen for long periods of time.

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Remarkably, this screen can work two separate PCs simultaneously on a single screen, using Dell’s Easy Arrange and picture-in-picture features you can divide up your screen real estate pretty much any way you can imagine. The anti-glare comes standard, which is important considering the curve radius of the screen is so deep.Even more impressive, the 9W speakers (almost 2-3x as much power as used by many other monitors) provide impressive, crisp sound that you really don’t expect to get from a display.

The stand is 115mm height-adjustable, which isn’t radical motion, but isn’t bad for such an unwieldy and large display.  The fact this display offers over a billion collars makes it an excellent option for industry professionals and enthusiasts alike. With a billion collars, you can achieve more vivid colors and images than you’ll ever get on a more traditional monitor, enabling you to see your favorite  movies and games like you’ve never seen them before. And standard VESA mounting works.

Specifications

  • Available with b oth 1900R and 3800R curvature.
  • 34 inch screen
  • 3440×1440 (2k) resolution
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 178/178 degree viewing angle
  • 0.233mm pixel pitch
  • 1.07 billion Display colors
  • 300 cd/m2 brightness
  • 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 5ms response
  • 21:9 aspect ratio
  • HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort, 1 Mini-DP, USB 3.0

Conclusion

If you’re not shy about spending on your monitor, you probably recognize that a display is an investment that can (and should) last you 5-8 years. In the case of this ultra wide display, the investment is worthwhile. The build is solid, and you’ve probably never seen a billion colors on screen until you’ve seen this display.

Viotek NB32C: Ultrawide on a Budget

Anytime you’re buying something on a smaller budget, you’re going to have to sacrifice some features. In the case of the Viotek NB32C, the sacrifice is small.  The 60 Hz refresh rate is nothing to write home about, but its real weakness you have to consider  about this monitor is the 1080p resolution stretched out over 32 inches. That means lower pixel density in your display.

It’s not all bad, though. This display has a 1800R curvature, which means you’ll get good colors and viewing angles even if you’re not sitting literally directly in front of the screen. The dynamic contrast ratio is a sturdy 20k:1, meaning you’ll get deep blacks and white whites. There’s a thick layer of anti-glare treatment on the screen, so the curvature won’t catch the light and blind you. And the on-screen-display is sensibly designed and intuitive to use.

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The colors and brightness are vivid, giving you that gorgeous widescreen look, but the fact you’re on a 1920x1080p resolution is frankly limiting. It’s also strange the screen technically measures 31.5 inches when 32 is literally in the name — but given the price this screen is still worth consideration for anyone in the market for a 32 inch widescreen.

Specs

  • 31.5’’ screen (curved)
  • 1920×1080 resolution
  • VGA/DVI/HDMI input
  • 60hz refresh rate
  • 20,000:1 contrast ratio

Drawbacks

Bezel assembly can’t be adjusted for height. 1080p resolution  is lackluster for this resolution, but shouldn’t bother someone just looking for a casual viewing experience.

Conclusion

Perhaps this isn’t the sexiest monitor on the market, but for the price, it’s worth a look. As long as you’re not going to be using this screen mostly for competitive gaming, it’ll serve you well for just about any other type of activity.

ASUS MX299Q: 29 Inch Frameless Dream

Some monitors just look different from others. This ASUS MX299Q is the end-game of years of accumulating generations of bezel recession, until we’re at a frameless wonder here today. But the neat design isn’t all ASUS has to offer, as anyone familiar with the brand can tell you.

Features

The 21:9 ratio gives you all the usual advantages of a widescreen, linear workflow by having more side-by-side applications.  The IPS panel means you get flawless color fidelity.

ASUS EyeCare reduces flicker, making it easier to use your monitor or hours at a time. Another thing you’ll notice is images are sharp, and even off-axis viewing gives you a fairly full panoramic view. A0SUS has also developed a multi-frame software that can help you to organize your desktop, and the flurry of windows you might keep open.

Drawbacks

Unfortunately the refresh rate is 60hz and 5mm response time, which are completely standard figures, but they’re not impressive.

 

Specifications

29” Screen
LED Backlit
2560×1080 (2k) native resolution
178/178 viewing angle
300 cd/m2 brightness
80,000,000:1 contrast ratio
5ms response time
AH-IPS
DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort (1 each)
5-20 degree tilt
Not VESA mountable
12 lbs

Conclusion

This ASUS has design that Apple products would be envious of. The Sonic Master audio setup and 3-watt speakers and 5-watt amplifier fits nicely in the frameless edge. The buttons on the bezel are touch sensitive to the smallest tap. Ports are available on the back, including audio in-lines, making this a pretty well-rounded monitor for anyone.

BenQ XR3501: When You Get What You Pay For

The BenQ XR3501 is part of the latest generation of really impressive BenQ monitors that have been reinventing the brand. This sweeping 35” panoramic has a super-wide field of view, and black eQualizer to brighten dark scenes without over-exposing lighter areas, helping gamers distinguish targets in the dark. More importantly, it features a 144hz refresh rate.  Basically, this is what a monitor looks like when it has all the bells and whistles.

This monitor was supposedly developed in collaboration with professional gamers, to reduce flickering regardless of the brightness settings. This greatly reduces eye fatigue that’s common during extended gaming sessions.

Blue light in particular is also known to lead to eye strain and fatigue, these monitors have adjustable low blue light settings that can help reduce this compared to
a conventional monitor without having a negative effect on visual acuity.

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20-level color vibrancy settings can help you choose the right color profile for the game you’re playing, whether it’s a bright and happy atmosphere or something dark and gritty. Game modes specific to car racing, CS:GO, and the Battlefield series. And like with so many other widescreen gaming monitors, this has picture in picture.

Specifications

35” Screen
LED Backlit
2560×1080 (2k) native resolution
144hz refresh rate
178/178 degree viewing angle
16.7 million display colors
300 cd/m2 brightness
2000:1 contrast ratio
4-12ms response time
21:9 aspect ratio
2000R curvature radius
2 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 miniDisplayPort
100 x100mm VESA mountable. 5-15 degree tilt
24.5 lbs
3 year warranty

Cons

No G-sync, no height adjustment, and VESA mount is sold separately.  To nitpick, it’s unfortunate the response time is 4-12ms, but those are standard values.

Conclusion

The price tag is heavy, but this is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. This is one of the few widescreen monitors that strikes a perfect balance between gaming features, like 144hz refresh rates, and a 21:9  widescreen aspect ratio. If you believe a display is an investment, then this is a worthy one to grab.

LG 25UM56-P: Widescreen on a Budget

Affordable ultra-wide always costs something. The LG 25UM56-P is excellent for the price, is an excellent multimedia monitor for watching movies or to use as a secondary display. Great for games that are more visual-oriented, but less optimal for competitive FPS and RTS titles.

The extra horizontal space from this ultra-wide display means you can fit half a dozen apps on one screen, so you don’t have to swap around from window to window, or from display to display.  This display includes a split screen feature that can actually divide the screen into four parts — it takes some getting used to, but it can speed up how quickly you can toggle between applications efficiently.

Features & Ultrawide Gaming Ability

The dual controller lets you connect a console to the display, and picture in picture modes to help break up the screen for multiplayer viewing.  There are number of gaming modes, including FPS and RTS ones, which make use of different settings and use of the black stabilizer for optimal visual performance. These presets can be manually changed.

Unfortunately, even with these presets, the truth is a 60hz monitor isn’t ideal for FPS play. But the black stabilizer can help make objects in the dark appear bright and sharp, which makes it easier to strike enemies in the dark.

The IPS panel gives professional-quality color accuracy, with 99% of the sRGB spectrum available in the display. TUV certification means no perceptible flickering to make your eyes tired from staring at the screen. Gaming wants closer to a 1ms response time, 5ms is passable but not up to very high standards.

The OSD menu on the display uses a joystick on the bottom size of the bezel. The joystick can also help you navigate through gaming presets, volume settings, and input sources. This display runs a thin bezel that looks completely modern, the base is stable, but that also means it’s fairly large like many widescreen bases. That’s probably related to why the designers decide to make it VESA compatible.

Specifications

25” Screen
LED Backlit
2560×1080 (2k) resolution
60hz refresh rate
178/178 viewing angle
250 cd/m2 brightness
5,000,000:1 contrast ratio
5ms response time
21:9 aspect ratio
IPS panel
2 HDMI connectors
VESA mount compatible.
8.8 lbs with stand.

Cons

The most serious drawback is probably having only two HDMI ports. No Displayport, and no DVI/VGA ports, is no walk in the park. Additionally, the brightness is somewhat low — but isn’t a very perceptible difference.

Like with all glossy finish, this monitor is a big of a glare-magnet. Direct sunlight and this display do not mix.  The fact this monitor is only 60hz may bother some people, but it’s worth mentioning it can be easily overclocked to 75hz. The lack of freesync and built-in speakers is more reflective of the price than anything — you get what you pay for.

Conclusion

If you’re a professional gamer playing competitive RTS/FPS, this isn’t a monitor for you. But for just about everyone else, this is one of the best widescreens you can find in its price-range. If you’re looking to invest heavily in a monitor, this probably isn’t your pick. But it’s on the lower-end of things, it’s an excellent choice.

 

LG 34UM68-P 34-Inch: Bang for the Buck

The first thing worth noticing about the LG 34UM68-P is the crisp 2k image. The combination of an IPS panel and a 2k resolution provides rich colors without having to calibrate or tweak OSD settings. Having said that, if you do like to refine your image, there is an expansive menu that can help you view and apply settings to your screen with minimal hassle.

Ultrawide Curved Monitors For Movies

Like with most widescreens, the 178 degree viewing angle means if you lie down to watch a movie, you’ll need to move this baby so you’re sitting directly in-front of it. If five people were on a crowded couch watching a movie on this display, the two friends on the furthest ends would be getting a fairly mediocre view.

The 5ms response time is nothing to write home about — you won’t have ghosting with fast objects in any form of media, with one exception. Fast paced video games may provide faint traces of ghosting, but they should be imperceptible to all but the finely trained eye. The 21:9 Ultra-wide resolution provides fluid motion without stuttering or tearing, and a non-glossy surface means no glare.

There’s not much to say about the glossy black cabinet, it feels completely standard. However, there is a relatively thin bezel that makes the monitor feel broader and more immersive than some of the thicker bezels used by other displays. Once you’ve figured out the assembly, the base is relatively easy to remove, but the weight of the screen can make removal unwieldy. The  base has a broad range of adjustability, as much has 20 degrees, which is useful for maintaining the direct line of sight you need to ensure color quality.

Features

There’s a notable “game mode” that you can use to toggle between RTS, FPS, and customized setting that can help enhance the visual acuity of your gaming experience. It’s easy to toggle between these genre-appropriate presets, and switch between modes as you toggle between games. You can even save various ‘picture modes’ and bring them up with basically two taps of your finger.

Four types of picture-in-picture modes enabling you to turn your monitor in to several monitors.  The on-screen controls can help you load presets and change settings in only a few clicks, making it optimal for work efficiency. This display also runs a black stabilizer, which paired with the higher contrast ratio of this device, makes this a great monitor for distinguishing dark objects, like players hiding in a dark corridor of a game. It’s also worth noting that LG guarantees the color accuracy as part of its rigid calibration tests.

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It used to be the case that few games used 21:9, but an increasing number of AAA titles are starting to use this field of view. Giants like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty, have begun to make 21:9 an increasingly common standard.

Drawbacks

The assembly is frankly confusing. The instructions that come on the box aren’t clear, and you have to access the LG website to get more detailed instructions.

Specifications

34” Screen
LED Backlit
2560×1080 (2k) Resolution
75Hz Refresh Rate
178/178 Degree Viewing Angle

0.312 mm x 0.310 mm Pixel Pitch
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio 5,000,000:1
Response Time 5ms
Panel: IPS

Stand Adjustments 5-20 Degree Range (120mm)
Build-in Speakers 2x7W
17.6 lbs (including stand)
Connectors: HDMI, DisplayPort
1 Year Warranty

Conclusion

The range of features and size of the display are a significant value compared to many competitors on the market right now.  The appearance of this display is modest for what’s really inside — a finely tuned ultrawide gaming monitor.