Earlier this year, a Philips-branded monitor emerged at CeBIT in Germany. The 298P4QJEB is made by MMD, a subsidiary of TP Vision and TPV Technology, one of the largest monitor display manufacturers in the world. Philips sits alongside AOC and Envision in the company’s brand portfolio.
What sets it apart from the competition is the fact that it is one of the rare 21:9 computer displays on the market but this feature comes at a significant premium. The cheapest we could get the 298P4QJEB was for just under £400 at PC World business which can buy you almost five of these Acer V223HQLCbd LED 21.5in full HD monitors (note that AOC also sells a cheaper model called the q2963Pm for £352).
Philips has been an advocate of so-called ultrawide displays for more than four years, ever since it introduced its Ambilight Spectra 56in television set, which, back then was hailed as the closest you could get to a real cinematic experience at home, thanks to the 21:9 aspect ratio that removes black bands above and below the picture.
The one thing that strikes you when you first lay your eyes on the monitor is how rectangular it is (someone in the office quipped It that it should have the slogan: “See the bigger picture”) and how thin the borders appear to be (more about that later).
The display uses AH-IPS technology and delivers a resolution of 2,560 x 1,080 pixels. That’s a full 25 per cent less than comparable WQHD displays like the Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM or the Digimate IPS-2701WPH which cost less and have a smaller display diagonal (27in rather than 29in, which translates into a higher pixel density).
This means that competing WQHD displays would take less real estate on my desk (not helped by the humongous monitor base) and still deliver 33 per cent more pixels at a lower price.
That long introduction gives us some perspective when approaching the Philips 298P4QJEB. On its own, it is a fairly sizable display peripheral. I personally hate SOBs (stickers on bezel) as they only add to the “tackiness” factor; stick to Apple’s minimalist approach and no one will complain (note that you can remove it easily by peeling off a plastic film).
Philips says that the display has a 2.5mm bezel. In reality though, that’s an outer bezel with the inner bezel adding around 7mm to it and there is a noticeable gap between the outer bezel and where the display cover edge actually starts. Check out the pictures to see the difference with an Apple iMac where the display edge is flush with the frame. In addition, we couldn’t help but notice the poor condition of the lower bezel where one can notice a gap due partly to what can only described as being flimsy build quality.
But it is all not bad news. After using the screen for a couple of weeks and having it next to a bog standard 21.5in full HD monitor, the difference is noticeable. The screen’s brightness and sharpness are much better an entry monitor display (which is expected given the price difference).
For general office use, it’s great for spreadsheets as it allows up to 39 standard cells to be displayed in Excel. When snapping a window to either side, you still get to see a decent amount of each screen and the majority of responsive websites remain in desktop mode instead of tablet mode. However a lot of responsive websites aren’t optimised for this width (which is comprehensible) and there is a lot of dead space. It is even worse for non-responsive websites.
A lot of online videos don’t fit the width because of the aspect ratio. The height of the display can be adjusted with minimal effort (one hand only) and the screen (albeit slightly awkwardly) swivels to portrait mode fairly easily. The stand overall is a bit wobbly though and includes a nice cable management feature. Note that the display does come with a standard VESA mount which means that it can be used on most monitor stands.
Connectivity options include four USB 3.0 ports, DVI (dual-link), two DisplayPort (in and out) connectors, two HDMI and audio in/out ports. As for OSD controls, they are fairly straight forward and include Philips’ SmartImage and hidden in that menu is a Picture-in-Picture option (AKA Multiview) which allows you to watch another video feed at the same time.
All in all, the Philips 298P4QJEB monitor would have probably been in my monitor shortlist had it not been for a rather unforgiving finish (I expect a much better quality from a £400 monitor) and the competitive WQHD landscape. In short, ceteris paribus, we can’t see this monitor (or this form factor) making significant dent in the monitor marketplace.
Interestingly, Philips has two 27in WQHD monitors, the 272P4 and the 272C4 priced at £520 and £505 respectively. Unfortunately, neither of these are available yet in the UK despite a recent press release that stated the opposite. Philips told us that there as been a slight delay. If money is no object, I’d gladly swap the Philips 298P4QJEB for two of the 27in series.