Philips BDM4037UW

It’s big, but it ain’t beau­ti­ful


PC TECH­NOL­OGY is pretty ma­ture th­ese days. That par­tic­u­larly ap­plies to mon­i­tors. Usu­ally, even a cur­sory pe­rusal of the spec list gives you a good idea of what to ex­pect. So, it’s not all that of­ten a screen comes along and blows apart your ex­pec­ta­tions, but that’s ex­actly what the new Philips BDM4037UW pulls off. Un­for­tu­nately, it does so for all the wrong rea­sons.

On pa­per, it looks sim­i­lar to its sib­ling, the BDM4065UC. That screen has been knock­ing around for a few years, but of­fers the same 40-inch di­ag­o­nal and 3840x2160 UHD na­tive res­o­lu­tion. Both pan­els also lever­age VA tech­nol­ogy, and Philips claims sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tions for ev­ery­thing from con­trast to pixel re­sponse. Indeed, the only re­ally sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in­volve the BDM4037UW’s gen­tle panel cur­va­ture, and the fact that it’s a cou­ple of years newer.

The for­mer can be an ac­quired taste, but is at least a known quan­tity; that known quan­tity be­ing a cur­va­ture of 3000R, and thus far less ag­gres­sive than most curved pan­els. The lat­ter, you’d think, would, if any­thing, be­queath the BDM4037UW with a newer, more ad­vanced panel, and per­haps some more re­fined elec­tron­ics. That would be no bad thing, given the old BDM4065UC had its fair share of im­age qual­ity quirks.

Alas, no. The new BDM4037UW is a bit of a dis­as­ter. The main prob­lem is what, in this day and age, can only be classified as ap­palling pixel re­sponse. Philips rates the panel at 4ms, ver­sus 3ms for its more el­derly sib­ling. But the gap feels more like a minute than a mil­lisec­ond. The blur­ring and ghost­ing is ab­so­lutely grim. Un­for­tu­nately, ramp­ing up the pixel over­drive set­ting in the on-screen menu barely puts a dent in the prob­lem. Of course, VA pan­els have long suf­fered from the worst re­sponse of any of the ma­jor panel types, but it’s a while since we’ve seen any­thing this bad, and the older, flat­ter 40-inch Philips has per­fectly ad­e­quate re­sponse.

An­other throw­back to the bad old days of VA pan­els is the overly warm color tem­per­a­ture. It’s the kind of thing you can mit­i­gate to some de­gree via cal­i­bra­tion. But this is far from the most ac­cu­rate LCD panel on earth, and you’re never go­ing to achieve any­thing re­ally neu­tral when it comes to tem­per­a­ture and over­all gamut. While we’re stick­ing the boot in, the back­light­ing isn’t par­tic­u­larly strong, ei­ther.

What’s more, that shal­low­ness of the cur­va­ture is such that it feels more like a gim­mick than a prac­ti­cal fea­ture. It’s a big old screen, so if you’re go­ing to buy into the curved panel propo­si­tion, why not re­ally go for it? The fi­nal im­age qual­ity de­merit in­volves the view­ing an­gles, which are merely medi­ocre. To all that, you can add a chas­sis and stand that look a lit­tle cheap and chintzy, at which point you’re prob­a­bly think­ing the BDM4037UW has no re­deem­ing fea­tures. That isn’t quite right.

It boasts im­pres­sive con­trast, with plenty of detail in black and white scales. It also ren­ders vir­tu­ally per­fect, smooth gra­di­ents. More­over, it’s still a 40-inch UHD panel, and that means it’s ab­so­lutely huge, and has lit­er­ally mil­lions of pix­els. Just over eight mil­lion, in fact. That means oo­dles of desk­top real es­tate, tons of detail, and an epic over­all vis­ual im­pact. What’s more, most of the time, that slug­gish pixel re­sponse isn’t ac­tu­ally a huge draw­back. It’s of­ten not even that no­tice­able in games.

For those who want a very large screen and lots of pix­els above all else, the Philips BDM4037UW holds a cer­tain ap­peal. It’s just not a ter­ri­bly ro­bust ap­peal in the con­text of its $750 price tag. To take one ex­am­ple, Philips’ sis­ter brand AOC of­fers the C4008VU8 with vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal specs for $250 less. Put sim­ply, there are bet­ter op­tions at this price point.

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