It can get a bit wobbly, but the sheer display space offered by the Philips 45B1U6900CH SuperWide is hard to beat
- Vast amounts of display real estate
- Comprehensive USB hub with KVM support
- Two USB-C upstream connectors
- Retractable webcam and headphones hook
- A bit wobbly
- No remote control
- Speakers sound harsh at maximum
If you want to look at two or more desktop spaces at once, you have two options: buy two monitors and put them side-by-side, or buy one extra-wide monitor. Of course, the first option has some fairly obvious flaws, including that you’ll need two power supplies and, no matter how thin the bezels of the monitors you choose are, you will have to contend with an unsightly join where the two butt up against each other.
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Far better to invest in something like the Philips 45B1U6900CH SuperWide, which, with its 32:9 aspect ratio, most certainly falls into the “extra wide” category – one of these can easily accommodate two 16:9 workspaces, or even three 10-and-a-bit:9 spaces, for when the multitasking manure really hits the fan.
Quality extra wides should also come with a good USB hub, ideally with a KVM (that’s keyboard, video, mouse) switch, so you can share the vast display acreage in front of you between your desktop and your laptop (or phone, assuming it supports a desktop mode) and still use the same peripherals.
Philips 45B1U6900CH SuperWide review: What do you get for your money?
The heart of the Philips 45B1U6900CH is a 5,120 x 1,440 – or Dual QHD – VA panel with a 1500R radius curvature. That 1500R number means the curvature is actually quite gentle – in layman’s terms, if you continued the curvature, you’d end up with a circle with a diameter of 3m and a circumference of nearly 9.5m.
If you think of it in terms of two 27in 1440p monitors placed side by side, but a few degrees off straight, you’ll get a sense of how it feels looking at the 45B1U6900CH. That said, this big Philips is sharper than a 2,560 x 1,440 27in display, with a pixel density of 120dpi, rather than 108dpi.
Above the centre of the display is a pop-up box that contains a 5MP webcam and a noise-cancelling microphone array. The camera can shoot video in 1080p at 30fps and supports Windows Hello facial recognition. In use, several Zoom contacts commented on the quality of the video and audio feed from the 45B1U6900CH.
For such a large monitor, the Philips 45B1U6900CH is surprisingly easy to set up and move about. The two-piece stand is easy to screw together – Philips helpfully bundles a Phillips-head screwdriver – and equally easy to then screw to the rear of the monitor. As per usual, the stand attachment covers a 100 x 100mm VESA mount.
The unit has an all-up weight of 12.96kg and measures 1085 x 515 x 238mm at the maximum height. There’s no pivot mechanism, but you do get 150mm of height adjustment, 45° of swivel to the left and right, and a tilt between -5° and +15°. At just 310 x 220mm, the stand has an impressively small footprint for something that’s over a meter wide.
The whole assembly is a little on the wobbly side though, something you notice when you lay hands on the cabinet to access the on-screen display (OSD) via the row of buttons under the right-hand side. The height adjustment mechanism is the culprit, which needs less play, given the amount of overhang on either side. If Philips bundled a remote control with the monitor, this would be less noticeable, but they don’t.
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Philips 45B1U6900CH SuperWide review: What type of connections does it have?
At this price, there are few better-connected monitors on the market than the 45B1U6900CH and, as with the significantly more expensive LG 40WP95C, you don’t need a Type-B USB cable to make full use of the USB hub and KVM functionality.
For video input, you get two HDMI 2.0, one DisplayPort 1.4 connector, and two upstream Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports that support DisplayPort Alt Mode video, data, and Power Delivery charging up to 100W. For downstream connectivity, you have four USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbits/sec) ports and a third Type-C that can charge at up to 15W.
Just to clarify: this layout means you can connect two sources to the 45B1U6900CH via Type-C and get full KVM access (either picture-by-picture or picture-in-picture) with just two cables – many KVM setups under the £1,000 mark require separate data and video feeds from one source. The KVM implementation is also pretty straightforward – you can swap between the two desktop spaces just by pushing the User button and toggling between the two USB-C upstream ports.
Ease of use is given a considerable boost by having two of the USB-A ports, the 3.5mm audio jack and the downstream Type-C on the left-hand side of the monitor body, rather than tucking them all away at the back. And the cherry on this connectivity cake is a Gigabit RJ-45 port for wired networking.
Philips 45B1U6900CH SuperWide review: How good is the image quality?
All the core metrics for the Philips 45B1U6900CH are good. There’s ample brightness available with a maximum of 496cd/m2, and the colour gamut volumes are healthy at 124.9% sRGB, 86.1% Adobe RGB and 88.5% DCI-P3. This being a VA panel, you’d expect a high contrast ratio and, at 1858:1, it doesn’t disappoint.
I was impressed by the uniformity of the lighting for an ultra-wide display, with every one of the 25 measurement swatches falling within either the Recommended or Nominal levels of tolerance. Granted, the split between the two was almost 50:50, but what deviance there is can’t be detected by the naked eye.
Things get even better when it comes to colour accuracy. There may only be one colour mode on the 45B1U6900CH – a basic sRGB clamp – but measured against that, the average Delta E deviation came out at a highly commendable 1.13. While I rather doubt anybody buys a 45-inch curved VA productivity monitor for colour-critical work, with a Delta E that low you can, should the need arise. Though to get the best colour accuracy, you’ll need to remember to turn off the SmartImage display optimisation function, which tends to oversaturate the colours and pushes the Delta E to just over 4.
Restrictive viewing angles are the perennial bugbear of VA panels, but to notice any sort of chromatic shift on the 45B1U6900CH’s display, you would have to get out of your chair and quite deliberately look at it from a very acute angle. From any realistic viewing angle, it’s an issue you’ll seldom notice.
With a refresh rate of 75Hz and a GtG response time of 4ms, the 45B1U6900CH is clearly no gaming monitor but, that said, Returnal looked stunning in SuperWide mode with HDR turned on. The Blur Busters’ UFO motion test did show rather a lot of smearing, which Philips’ SmartResponse overdrive seemed powerless to reduce, but, again, this is not a gaming monitor.
The 45B1U6900CH carries a VESA DisplayHDR 400 stamp of approval, meaning HDR content looks pretty decent. It’s not OLED-good, obviously, but you can quite easily leave Windows in HDR mode to enjoy the enhanced contrast and colour saturation of HDR content when you encounter it.
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Philips 45B1U6900CH SuperWide review: Are there any other features I should know about?
Above the side ports is a spring-loaded 70mm headphones hook with a tab at the end to stop your headphones from sliding off. It’s quite a peripheral feature, but the attention that’s been paid to the design and functionality is good to see.
The built-in speakers are rated at only 2 x 5W but are capable of delivering some serious volume. Measuring a pink noise source from 1m away, the average maximum volume was 82.8dB(A), which is a lot. However, the soundscape does become somewhat harsh and strident at maximum, so I’d suggest not pushing things above 75%. There’s also a reasonable amount of bass in evidence, which makes listening to music or movie soundtracks a pleasant enough experience so long as you’re keeping the volume in check.
With an eye to saving energy, the 45B1U6900CH has what Philips calls a PowerSensor, which can detect when a user is no longer sitting in front of it and dull the screen – apparently this can save up to 80% of the lifetime running costs.
The OSD is accessed by six buttons below the right side of the monitor housing. The far-right and left just turn the display on and mute the microphone, so you only need to use the middle four to navigate the menu system, which is well laid out and easy to use.
Painted icons on the front of the housing make it clear what each button does and, beyond menu navigation, each one also has a shortcut function: SmartImage selection, Input, KVM user, and OK, from left to right. The only downside to this layout is that the cabinet wobbles quite a lot when you push the buttons.
Philips 45B1U6900CH SuperWide review: Should I buy it?
If you are the sort of person who often feels the need to have two or three work areas on the go at any given moment, then the 45B1U6900CH will be the answer to your prayers. It certainly gave a boost to my productivity since writing reviews is so much easier when you can have a document, the spec sheet, and your test results all open on the desktop at the same time. Of course, the same could be said of any super wide, but those two Type-C inputs are the killer advantage if you need to connect two laptops, or a laptop and a mobile device, to your KVM setup.