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Philips Brilliance BDM3490UC review

Michael Passingham
18 Jan 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
670
inc VAT

The Philips BDM3490UC is expensive, but this curved monitor has excellent image quality

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Curved TVs have been around for over a year now, but the Philips Brilliance BDM3490UC is the first curved monitor I've had in for review. It's a 34in, 21:9 aspect ratio display with a 3,440x1,440 resolution and a very gentle curvature radius of 3800mm (so you need a monitor like this one but 38m across to make a full circle). This is about as shallow as curved screens come, as the smaller the curvature radius, the tighter the curve, so the overall effect is actually very subtle once you've got it on your desk. You'll need a fair amount of room to use the BDM3490UC, though, as its huge footprint of 53cm is one of the biggest I've seen.

In the middle of the monitor's curved, pincer-like stand sits its other headline feature: an integrated front-facing 7W pair of stereo speakers, which are hidden behind a grey metal grill. However, these isn't as good as their prominent location might suggest. They're perfectly decent, but you might expect more considering how much the monitor costs. They're loud and clear for the most part and you can also adjust the sound using the DTS Audio settings in the onscreen menus, but I was unable to find a setting that improved its out of the box performance.

Curved screens divide opinion. I happen to think they work well on very large TVs because they surround the viewer, creating a more immersive experience. However, I'm less convinced of their worth on smaller TVs, and doubly so when it comes to monitors. Fortunately, curved ultra-wide displays have an advantage in this case, as it does have the effect of drawing your eyes into the screen and making the edges of what is a very large display easier to see, regardless of how shallow the curve is. It's not a life-changing effect, but it's still appreciated.

Around the back of the monitor are four USB3 ports (one of which supports fast charging and will power larger devices such as portable hard disks), a DisplayPort connector, and three HDMI ports. One of these supports the newer HDMI 2.0 standard so can output 4K content at 60fps, but the others are only HDMI 1.4, with one providing MHL support for your smartphone (again allowing you to charge it). There are also two 3.5mm audio jacks, one input and one output. If you need any more ports than all those, then I'd be amazed and impressed.


The 3,440x1,440 resolution is very welcome, too. Split the screen down the middle and you get two pleasingly-sized 1,720x1,440 windows which are nearly as wide as a Full HD screen, not to mention significantly taller. For most productive tasks we'd rather have these slightly squarer windows anyhow, letting you see more vertically such as a document or inbox of emails. With this kind of space to work in, it's a far neater alternative to a pair of Full HD monitors.

There's also just about enough room to place three windows side-by-side, but sadly the monitor doesn't come with any supplied software that lets you go beyond Window 10's effective but simplistic window management, so you'll have to use third-party software such as DisplayFusion to get the most out of the available space if you want to organise your windows more creatively.

Unsurprisingly, image quality is this display's strongest suit. In our colour coverage tests, it covered an impressive 98.7% of the sRGB gamut and achieved a fantastic delta E score of just 1.49. Delta E translates to colour accuracy and the lower the score, the less difference there is between the ideal colour and the colour that the monitor was able to display, so a score of 1.49 puts it among very good company.

There were only a couple of colours where the BDM3490UC struggled. Reds were ever so slightly too dark and greens were a little oversaturated, but as a whole photos and videos looked bright and vibrant. Out of the box, the monitor is set to produce 309.6cd/m2 white levels, which is too high for long periods of use, but I found switching to the Office image preset lowered the brightness to a more comfortable level. If you do have your brightness settings on high, however, then bear in mind that this will affect the monitor's black levels, as I measured a reading of 0.34cd/m2 out of the box. This improved slightly to 0.31cd/m2 when I switched to the Office image preset, but it's still not as low as I would have liked given the price. 

Viewing angles are assisted by the concave design of the screen, but its extreme width does give rise to a strange effect where the bottom corners of the screen appear to be darker than the rest of the display. Fortunately, this is only visible when sitting close to the monitor, and disappears completely at around the 75cm mark, so as long as you have the monitor placed at the rear of your desk it should be perfectly fine. Its input lag reading of 10.5ms is also incredibly low for an IPS display, so it's a good screen for gaming on for both PC and console players alike. 

Looking for something cheaper? Check our Best Monitors guide

The Philips Brilliance BDM3490UC is a very expensive monitor and curved designs are divisive, but its overall image quality is excellent, and its large, high-resolution screen is great for multi-tasking. However, I'm not convinced that the curve really makes enough of a difference to justify its premium price, especially when you can still get the far more practical AOC 3477PQU for £120 less, which still has an ultra-wide 34in 3,440x1,440 resolution screen but opts for a flat, height-adjustable panel instead of a curvy, fixed-height one.

Hardware
Screen size34in
Resolution3,440x1,440
Screen technologyIPS
Claimed contrast ratio1000:1
Claimed brightness300cd/m2
Refresh rate60Hz
Claimed response time14ms
Response time typegrey-to-grey
Horizontal viewing angle172 degrees
Vertical viewing angle178 degrees
Screen depth19mm
Base (WxD)530x220mm
Screen elevation105mm
Portrait modeNo
Internal speaker (power)2x 7W
Detachable cablesYes
USB hub4-port USB3
Integrated power supplyNo
Video inputsDisplayPort, 3x HDMI (1x HDMI2.0)
Audio inputs3.5mm audio input
Buying information
Price including VAT£670
WarrantyThree years RTB
Supplierwww.laptopsdirect.co.uk
Detailsphilips.co.uk
Part codeBDM3490UC

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