Philips Brilliance 278G4DHSD £250
13th May 2013 | 11:00
What did you say? A 27-inch IPS monitor with 3D support? What devilry is this?
What did you say? A 27-inch IPS panel with 3D support? What devilry is this? Sadly, all is not quite what it seems. At least it's not if the presence of 3D support had you thinking Philips had cracked the 120Hz refresh problem with IPS panels.
Instead, what we have here is not the high-refresh active shutter flavour of 3D screen tech, but the passive and polarised sort. Instead of switching the entire screen 120 times a second and sending alternate images to each eye, the Philips splits the image line by line. So each eye receives half the lines. That's achieved by fitting polarising filters to the screen and then having the user wear a corresponding pair of polarised glasses.
The problem is that you can tell that's how it works. In other words, in 3D mode it feels as though you're looking through some kind of fine grate. Think very thin Venetian blinds and you'll get the general idea.
Of course, that's if you can get the 3D mode working. It's not nearly as straightforward to set up as Nvidia's 3D Vision, and game support is patchier. For movies, it's a bit easier and you shouldn't have too many problems getting 3D going, but then that's a little moot as honestly we can't imagine many people wanting to put up with the mediocre image quality that polarised 3D panels provide.
Overall, the appeal of 3D technology that requires the user to wear glasses is marginal at the best of times, but in the context of the polarised 3D tech chosen by Philips, which in our view is inferior to active shutter, the argument in favour is even weaker. If you like 3D, it's active shutter à la Nvidia's 3D Vision that you want.
Then again, at a whisker over £250, this Philips would be reasonably attractive just as a 27-inch IPS panel without the pointless 3D gubbins. At least, it would be if its 2D image quality wasn't compromised by the 3D tech. Unfortunately, it is.
Even in the monitor's 2D mode, there's still a slight hint of that irritating Venetian blind effect. Put simply, you can always see the 3D polarising filters. That's a bummer because in many other regards, this is a pretty nice panel.
The IPS tech makes for great viewing angles, for instance. There's plenty of detail and extension in the test scales, too. Black levels, contrast, white balance - it's all very good.
Then there's Philips' Ambiglow technology, also used in its TVs. The shizzle here involves a set of LED lights fitted to the rear of the panel enclosure. Image processing algorithms analyse the image content and continuously adapt both the colour and brightness of the LEDs to suit.
The result, according to the good folks at Philips, is a "halo" of light projected on the wall behind the monitor, which results in a subjective enlarging of the screen. The result according to us is a waste of time and LED diodes. More useful is USB 3.0 and fast charging support via the USB hub.
This is probably the most feature-packed screen out at the moment, but it's nowhere near the best thanks to the compromises wrought by passive, polarised 3D. That experience of peering through slats to see the picture is not the ideal one for viewing, and despite a good value price tag and otherwise high picture quality, this screen just isn't all that it could be.