One of the most tempting PC upgrades I’ve seen, but it doesn’t come cheap.
Philips BDM3490UC Review
The Philips BDM3490UC is a high-end monitor that combines the wow factor of a large ultra-wide and curved design with top notch image quality to make for a seriously tempting upgrade, despite its high asking price of around £650.
While that may sound like a lot of money, considering you can get flat screens of the same size for about £100 less I at least think the curve adds enough to justify the price.
What’s more Philips hasn’t skimped when it comes to design and build quality. Okay, so glossy white may not be to everyone’s taste, and the speakers being incorporated into the stand breaks up the sleek look a bit, but overall it looks superb feels well made.
The base is metal, as is the speaker grille and the slender shiny stand, while the latest ultra-slim edge-to-edge panel tech has been used to make the display look incredibly slim.
I’m not sure about the little Philips tag hanging underneath the screen, even if it is metal, but otherwise there’s not a lot to complain about.
That is unless you find the BDM3490UC’s 479mm height to be too low, or indeed too high. That’s because there’s no height adjustment, and nor is there a VESA mount for attaching this monitor to an alternative stand or monitor arm.
Neither do you get the ability to twist it into portrait mode, though that’s much more forgiveable on such a large, wide display. Instead, you do get a bit of tilt.
Connectivity is decent, if not outstanding. You get three HDMI ports, one of which supports MHL for easy connection to your phone, but you only get one DisplayPort and no legacy connectivity like VGA or DVI.
There is an extra audio input, though, as well as a headphone socket, so whichever video source you’re watching you can listen to the audio through the monitor’s speakers or your headphones.
Also included is a USB 3.0 hub with four ports. They instantly make this an even more useful addition to your desktop as that’s enough connectivity to connect just about all your other peripherals and still have room for a USB memory stick.
It’s just a shame they’re all stuck round the back where they’re not all that convenient to reach.
The speakers themselves provide the sort of clarity, volume and depth you’d hope for given their prominent position. However I still think that most people will be wanting to use separate speakers or headphones the majority of the time.
All of which brings us to the screen on this machine. Measuring 34in inches from corner to corner I do think it’s big enough to justify having a gentle curve to really bring the picture into your peripheral vision. While curved TVs are largely a gimmick because you sit too far away from them, here the effect works.
Helping is that unlike, for instance, the AOC C3583FQ, the resolution here is just right. With 3440 pixels across and 1440 pixels down you’re got around 110 pixels per inch, which is what I consider the ideal balance of sharp enough to look smooth but not so fine that everything looks too small.
Quality from the IPS LCD panel is excellent too. I measured contrast at around 1100:1 with a black level of 0.24nits and white level of 262nits at maximum brightness. Colour temperature is also spot on and you get 98.7% sRGB coverage and a Delta E of just 0.12.
All in all it’s a monitor that not only looks great to the naked eye but is also accurate enough to be used for professional use too, so long as you don’t need AdobeRGB accuracy.
Of course the main advantage of the ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio is in watching films where you get a picture that’s over 30in wide and doesn’t get any black bars above or below the image.
Likewise when gaming you get an incredibly immersive image that goes some way to providing enough of an extra peripheral view to do away with the idea of having three separate monitors.
As well as looking great this gives you a competitive advantage too as you can literally see more than players using narrower views.
Not that this is a dedicated gaming monitor. While input lag is a perfectly acceptable 10.7ms, this is only a 60Hz panel and there’s no support for G-Sync or Freesync.
I still very much enjoyed gaming on this screen but if you really want the absolute fastest smoothest experience then you’ll want a 144Hz screen.
All told, then, this is a very nice monitor that would grace almost any desk it were to sit on. However, it is expensive and you are paying quite a premium for the fact that it’s curved. So while on the money compared to other curved 34in models, it’s still a touch too pricey for a full recommendation. Plus, there are a few competitors that I’m yet to look at, such as the LG 34UC97, that have arguably even nicer designs and cost about the same.