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CRT - Philips Brilliance 109P40

When Philips and LG merged their CRT businesses in July 2001, this single entity became the largest supplier of CRTs. Sporting a Real Flat aperture grille tube the 109P40 appears to have benefited from this joint knowledge and although it looks much the same as the previous 109P20 model, its performance and pricing certainly raised a few eyebrows.

Once on our test bench, the first thing we realised was how compact the unit is. It has the shortest chassis depth on test measuring in at 438mm. Good news for those who want to maximise their desk space. The bezel is relatively narrow too, and frames the flat screen rather neatly. This clean look is also carried through to the OSD buttons, which consist of four silver coloured arrow keys (also doubling up as brightness and contrast shortcuts) and an ‘OK’ button. Pressing the ’OK’ button takes you straight into a clear and intuitive menu that, although rather plain looking is probably one of the easiest we’ve navigated.

Among the usual settings for shape, size and position, you also get four-corner purity adjustment, horizontal and vertical convergence and a user preset for adjusting all three RGB channels. There’s no sRGB mode and although a USB hub option exists, it’s not available for users in the UK. On the other hand, you do get a set of BNC connectors and a D-SUB port that you can easily swap between with a simultaneous press of the ‘OK’ and up arrow buttons.

What's more, there’s an embedded auto-calibrate mode that Philips says will extend the luminance life of the monitor by up to a third. It does this by firing up white and black test images just before an imminent sleep/standby signal is received. It then adjusts the gain values of the three colour guns to original factory-set levels. We also liked the CD-ROM based documentation which carries the user manual and driver file and even has its own little set of monitor test screens to help you fine-tune the display.

As far as image quality goes, we were pretty impressed. Vertical and horizontal convergence needed little adjustment, and text was rendered sharply across most of the screen, although focus did drop in the extreme corners. Vivacious colour scales and unvarying purity was noted, and on the whole our geometric tests were passed with ease, apart from an ever so slight top horizontal barrelling that we couldn’t stamp out. This niggle aside, the most striking test result was the 109B40’s power regulation. It excelled in all four tests with not a hint of movement, or expansion when those flashing white blocks were flashed on and off and up and down.

Philips also claims a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,440, but that’s at a flickery 60Hz. It’s useable at 1,600 x 1,200 at 85Hz, but best results are obtained at 1,280 x 1,024.

Verdict

When Philips informed us of the price we had to double-check it. At £191.48, the 109P40 is a lot of monitor for your cash, and remembering that no CRT is ever perfect, the virtually undetectable horizontal dip and the lack of a USB hub are small points. A worthy Editor’s Choice.

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