Choosing the perfect monitor these days poses something of a challenge, especially with the growing number manufacturers on the market, each with their own set of models to choose from. Even if you think you have all down with a list of requirements, along comes a new feature you hadn’t factored in to start with and you’re back at the beginning. For many casual users, the use of a modest R600-R800 monitor will measuring between 19” and 21”. In such cases, a budget monitor doesn’t feature the latest and best display panel, and there are those where nothing short of the best quality and host of features will suffice. This market segment is what Philips aimed at when producing its 29” Ultra-Widescreen 298P4QJEB; a screen size where very few leading manufacturers venture.
Build and Design
The 298P4 has a design representative of its recent motif, as seen on both the 27” G-Line 272G5 and P-Line 272P4, previously reviewed. While the stand remains almost identical to the other two, the screen section is slightly modified to adapt to the 29” ultra-widescreen panel fitted on the unit. Although it appears somewhat bulky, the unit has a stylish and premium finish. The unit is a plastic, matte black finish, with silver trimming beneath the panel displaying the logo. The panel is surrounded by a thin, 2.5mm bezel, apart from the bottom, which has a larger, 9mm bezel. This larger bezel, however, houses the control panel on the bottom right of the unit, providing controls and settings support.
In terms of its physical dimensions, the unit measures 700x538x273mm with its stand at maximum height, and 700x330x59mm for the screen alone. The unit also has some hefty bulk to it, weighing 8.46KG with the stand, and 5.67KG without. That being said, once the unit has been placed into position, it is extremely sturdy, and with the additional screen rotations at its disposal, you may not have to consider moving it again. Mounted to the stand, unit is able to swivel 65° in either direction, tilt back by 20° and forward by 5°, in addition to the 150mm vertical adjustment, a mere few millimetres off the base. The unit is also capable of pivoting into landscape mode, and is capable of rotating 90° in either direction as well.
In terms of the connectivity options available, the 298P4 includes 4x USB 3.0 ports, 1x DisplayPort, 1x DVI-Dual Link (digital,HDCP), 2x HDMI, PC audio-in/headphone out, as well as Separate Sync and Sync on Green. Although the unit does provide some sync options, I was unable to fully test this feature.
Display and Performance
An easy method to define the “ultra-widescreen” is to compare the display resolution’s width compared to normal, as opposed to its physical dimensions. Standard 1080p displays have a resolution of 1920x1080px, while the 298P4 has 2,560x1080p, a full 640px wider and an aspect ratio of 21:9. Simply watching videos and viewing photos on such a resolution doesn’t do it justice, as it is either cropped to retain its 1920x1080px image, or stretch it to 2,560, which ends up distorting your view. Instead, the unit is best utilised for multitasking, by means of dividing your workstation. Thankfully, the 2560x1080px native resolution is supported by Windows 7 upward, as well as on both the PS4 and Xbox One, although for the latter, there are some instances of image stretching. Thankfully, for most movies that are cropped, which on conventional displays would yield a black border on the top and bottom of the display, will now almost perfectly fit the ultra-widescreen mode on the 298P4.
The AH-IPS panel, or Advanced High Performance In-Plane Switching, with its white LED blacklighting, produces clear, accurate and bright images. The display provides clear and crisp text output, even when windows are split as suggested. Viewing angles are also more than reasonable, 178° from either side. Philips’ factory specifications suggest that the unit is capable of 99% sRGB colour space. Colours, then, are vibrant and accurate under all conditions. Often when viewing photos snapped from a smartphone, it’s the limited colour depth on the camera that often fails to deliver. The unit has some form of usability build into the firmware, which comes as some relief for those who don’t have the software to support it on their end.
While all signs are there that the unit provides an almost flawless performance, there are a few lurking deterrents. The first of these is unit’s native audio output. While having built-in speakers does simplify things slightly, its performance means that you’ll be searching for a stand-alone set of speakers to replace it. The quality is tinny, while it never reaches a volume high enough to listen to without complete silence in the dead of night. The second gripe occurs when browsing the Web. Pages are often spanned across the entire screen, and without some optimisation from developers, makes for some sluggish design and strained viewing. This can be avoided by splitting the browser into two views, which provide a more streamlined view.
The Philips 298P4QJEB/00 29” Ultra-Widescreen Monitor is easily one of the best monitors I’ve had the privilege of using. In addition to its list of features and flexibility in design, the unit display great results and makes multitasking a breeze. Apart from the few negative aspects already discussed, the price also comes under a bit of scrutiny. At an RRP of R7,899, the unit is more in line with a Television set than computer monitor. Be that as it may, the 29” display means that you could easily migrate from a standard TV to using the monitor for everyday use. And with a much better pixel density than most TVs, the unit is capable of bridging the gap between the two.