Philips 349X7FJEW

Philips throws a curve­ball at the dis­play mar­ket.

APC Australia - - Contents -

Philips has a new mon­i­tor. This isn’t ex­actly un­usual — but what is a lit­tle out of the or­di­nary is the shape. The clue lies in the name, which is a pot­ted de­scrip­tion: the Philips 34-inch Curved Ul­traWide LCD mon­i­tor with FreeSync. (The ‘short’ name for it is 349X7FJEW, in true unin­spir­ing prod­uct names fash­ion.)

Two things im­me­di­ately strike you about the screen. First, the curve re­ally does set it apart, and sec­ond, it’s al­most freak­ishly wide! At a na­tive pixel res­o­lu­tion of 3,440 x 1,440, it’s close to 2.4 times wider than its height, and it’s a full 81cm from side to side [About half the height of our weeny Chief-Sub and Ed... — Ed]. Our rough cal­cu­la­tions put it at about 111 pix­els per inch, so it’s not at all Reti­na­class. But you wouldn’t sit as close to such a wide screen, so it feels pleas­ingly sharp.

So why have they gone curved? A curved dis­play may seem un­usual, but as dis­plays get big­ger, we’ve been notic­ing more and more prob­lems with colour ac­cu­racy, par­tic­u­larly with cer­tain LCD tech­nolo­gies. The more ex­pen­sive IPS (in-plane switch­ing) LCD pan­els work well even when seen from sharp an­gles, but the cheaper and com­mon MVA (mul­tido­main ver­ti­cal align­ment) form of LCD panel shows large colour and con­trast shifts as your point of view moves from be­ing flat-on to the screen. Put a large flat panel on your desk and you sim­ply can’t avoid this prob­lem... un­less the screen it­self curves to help keep the whole sur­face more or less point­ing right at you.

The curve is a smooth hor­i­zon­tal seg­ment of a cir­cle roughly 3m in di­am­e­ter, so the best the­o­ret­i­cal view­ing spot is 150cm away. For ac­tive de­sign work, it felt nat­u­ral to sit half that dis­tance away (around 75cm back), but the curve still did its job well. Im­ages and even flat colours — the acid test for an­gle-of-view prob­lems — were es­sen­tially even and con­sis­tent.

The man­ual says this dis­play achieves 99.5% of sRGB. Our tests with a dataColor Spy­der col­orime­ter showed 91%, so this isn’t the ideal screen for re­ally crit­i­cal colour proof­ing. But the way the curve com­pen­sates for the MVA tech­nol­ogy’s quirks means it’s ac­tu­ally bet­ter in real-world terms than com­pa­ra­ble large, flat dis­plays con­tain­ing the same LCD panel type, re­gard­less of sRGB scores.

Other spec­i­fi­ca­tions are just as we’d like: 15cm fin­ger­tip-driven height ad­just­ment and the usual -5° to +20° tilt, two HDMI ports (one of them the 2.0 stan­dard), one Dis­playPort (not yet a core Mac con­cern, but one day...), four USB 3.0level ports, and ana­logue au­dio in and out sock­ets.

Speak­ing of au­dio, this dis­play has speak­ers that ac­tu­ally sound good in gen­eral use. They’re not floor shak­ers, of course, but they are bet­ter than the of­fer­ings in most dis­plays. Its huge width also gives a mea­sure of stereo sep­a­ra­tion that’s not at all ex­pected in mon­i­tor speak­ers.

So... yes, the curve can feel odd at first, but don’t knock it un­til you’ve tried it! What’s re­ally good about this screen is the way it al­lows for work to be shown re­ally large, yet still have acres of room for tools and other win­dows. It’s quirky, cool, and a much bet­ter dis­play than we ex­pected.


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