Reviewed: Philips BDM3490UC

If you’re going to spend long hours at your desk, you’re going to want a good screen to stare at. Monitor-induced headaches are about as fun as a tetanus shot, so everything you can do to avoid that should be very high on your list of priorities. Philips has been at the display game for quite a while now, and there are few names out there that consistently give a great viewing experience. The trend towards larger and larger displays has been going on for as long  as displays have been around. There is, however, an upper limit to the size you can have before the edges are going to be too far from the optimal viewing point, and you’ll have to start moving back, effectively negating the size of the large screen you’d wanted in the first place. The clever solution? Curve the screen. We get to try the Philips BDM3490UC display in all its curved glory, and here’s what we think.

Design: 4/5

The screen is quite a looker. With thin bezels, an elegant metal stand, and the slightest metal accents here and there, it’s a beautiful, modern-looking monitor that would fit nicely on any desk. The massive size of the huge curved display is offset slightly by just how thin the device is, though you’re still going to need a bit of desk space to make it work. The front of the display has no controls whatsoever. In fact, the only control available is a small joystick-like button on the bottom edge of the lower bezel. Ports are all located in a cluster on the back of the display, within easy reach. It’s a little heavy, so bear that in mind when picking the table you intend to rest this on.

Hardware: 4/5

The heart of the device is a massive 34-inch curved display. It has an ultra-wide aspect ratio of 21:9, a maximum brightness of 300cd/sqm, and a contrast ratio of 1,000:1. The panel gives you a viewing angle of 178 degrees vertically and 172 horizontally, and a 4ms response time—more than fast enough for even gaming. It has an optimal resolution of 3440 x 1440 at 60 Hz. This display has connectors aplenty. Clumped together in the back are a DisplayPort, and three HDMI ports, including one MHL port for mobile devices. It also comes with 4 USB 3.0 ports for additional connectivity.

User Experience: 4.5/5

The monitor is huge. Be prepared to have people looking over your shoulder each time you fire it up, because it’s a display that’s going to attract a lot of attention given both its size and performance. When I first unpacked it, I was at an absolute loss as to where I would be putting it. I don’t have the largest desk, and I had to clear out quite a few things just to make it fit. Because of the curve on the display, it ends up taking more space than one might think, since the edges flare forward. The base on which it stands is, however, thankfully small, and as long as you have a spot roughly the area of a legal-sized sheet of paper, you should be fine.

Setting up the display couldn’t be any simpler. Just plug in the wires, both power and input, and you should be golden. Tweaking the settings to your liking is another matter though. While Philips has apparently put some effort into the interface, I can’t really say that it’s the most user-friendly, as it takes quite a bit of trial and error to accomplish something, though I’ve dealt with worse. A single button calls the menu up and tilting one way or another either accepts or changes the level of the item you’re on, so it takes some repetition to get it right.

On the plus side, the display is gorgeous. The massive screen is bright, responsive, and easy on the eyes, even at closer distances, though you’re still going to want to be a little way back to not experience eye fatigue. The curved edge really does make a difference, allowing it to be large, without a lot of parallax from having the sides significantly farther from your eyes than the center. Working with multiple documents, or large spreadsheets is exceedingly convenient with all this real-estate, and while having more windows open is by no means a guarantee of productivity, quite a few graphic artists, video editors and compulsive multitaskers will find this a godsend.

At work, it’s a lot easier to have multiple windows open, particularly if you’ll be copying and pasting across windows—a task separate tablets just can’t accomplish at the moment. Being able to clearly and easily see even small items in photos and PDFs is so much easier than having to zoom all the time, and the large screen lets full-page views actually be usable.

Colors are bright and accurate on the display. I have been doing a lot of gaming recently, and a colorful title such as Overwatch is just beautiful here. Crank it up to an appropriate resolution, and you’ll have an extremely hard time pulling yourself away from the game. The curve of the screen also pulls everything into your field of view, keeping the image in a larger area of your vision, without having to be painfully close to the screen.

I did experience an odd effect with the display. When looking at the far edges of the screen, I would notice a strange distortion at times, like I was viewing an image projected into 3D space. I thought it might have been a problem with my distance to the screen, and true enough, moving a few inches back solved the problem. Being large means you do have to be a bit of a ways away, so bear that in mind during setup.

Value: 3.5/5

It’s a little expensive at over PHP 40,000 converted, but you just can’t put a price on convenience, so if your line of work requires a larger-than-average screen, this is definitely worth looking at.

What’s Hot:

  • Large
  • Sharp, bright display

What’s Not:

  • Fiddly menu system
  • Price

 

Bottomline:

I’m a fan of large displays, and this one is reasonably high on my list.

Specifications:

  • Display: AH-IPS LCD
  • Size: 34.1 inch, Ultra-Wide
  • Aspect ratio: 21:9
  • Dimensions: 826 x 479 x 220 mm
  • Contrast: 1,000:1
  • Viewing angle: 172º (H) / 178º (V)
  • Connectivity: 4x USB 3.0,
  • Ports: DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0 x 1, HDMI 1.4 (mit MHL) x 1, HDMI 1.4 x 1

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE July 2016 Issue.

Words by Ren Alcantara

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