Philips 298X4QJAB UltraWide 21:9 monitor review

First Look
30 Aug 2012
Philips 21:9 monitor

Ultra widescreen 2,560x1,080 display looks perfect for gaming

Philips may have been talking about TVs on the main stage at IFA this week, but that doesn’t mean the company has forgotten about PC users. Three of its flagship monitors were hidden away at the back of the stand, so we went in for a closer look. Star of the show is the UltraWide 21:9 monitor, a WQHD resolution display with the same aspect ratio as a cinema screen.

Philips 21:9 monitor

Available as both a consumer model, with basic tilt-only stand, and as a professional grade display with fully tilt, height and swivel adjustability, the UltraWide 21:9 is a great looking display however you look at it. Both models have matt panels with 2,560x1,080 resolutions, as well as DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI video inputs. The professional model can even be rotated into portrait view, if you felt the impulse, although it looks mighty strange sat on a desk.

All that screen space can be tough to manage, but Philips thinks it has a solution. MultiView is a display mode designed to help professionals keep on top of their work load – we couldn’t see it in action, but were told it would quickly let you set up several applications to take over specific parts of the screen, rather than maximise to cover the whole thing. From what we saw, the matt panel helped keep light reflections to a bare minimum, even in the brightly lit show floor, and colours were vibrant.

Philips 21:9 monitor

It might be the same aspect ratio as a cinema screen, but that doesn’t mean that it's is perfect for films – as was the problem with the 21:9 TV Philips has only just decided to discontinue, Blu-ray discs aren’t encoded for the format, so you’ll have to crop and stretch content to make it fit.

However, where the TV fell down, the monitor has an ace in the hole. PC games can be set to render at specific resolutions, so you’ll get a much more immersive experience as the display envelopes your field of view. It could be the next best thing to a multi-monitor Nvidia Surround or AMD EyeFinity setup, without the unwanted gaps and bezels between each display.

Philips 21:9 monitor

It certainly looked impressive from what we saw, and if Philips gets the price right it could be a fantastic monitor, but the company wasn’t alone in revealing a 21:9 display – LG did the same thing this morning, and its spangly looking screen might just edge it in the looks department. We’ll naturally be taking a closer look at both as soon as we can.

As well as the flagship 21:9 display, Philips also showed us its WQHD professional display and an Ambilight-enabled 3D screen. The 27in Professional Crystal Clear display has a matte PLS panel with a 2,560x1,440 resolution – it does an excellent job of diffusing light reflections, and viewing angles are fantastic. It has the same multi-function stand as the Professional 21:9 display, so you can tilt it, adjust the height and rotate the screen into portrait mode. There are two DisplayPorts, two HDMIs and a dual-link DVI port at the back, plus a three-port USB3 hub. It should be on shelves around November.

Philips 21:9 monitor

Finally, the 27in, passive 3D Ambiglow display is the first monitor designed with integrated Ambilight background lighting. It changes dynamically to match the content on-screen, giving the impression of a larger display and adding to the sense of immersion in games and films. From what we saw it was quick to react to the colours on-screen, although sometimes the colour choice was a bit off so we’ll wait until we’ve seen one working with fast-paced action games before we give a verdict.

Philips 21:9 monitor

It has a Full HD display and uses IPS technology, so viewing angles were understandably great. As well as DVI, Displayport and two HDMI video inputs, you also get a 4-port USB3 hub and a pair of 3D glasses. Expect to see this one on sale in November, although there’s no indication of price.

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