LCD - Philips 170B4BS

The Philips 170B4BS is a quite stylish unit with a narrow bezel measuring 2cm in width along the top, 3cm along the bottom and just 1.8cm along the sides. This makes it a good choice for anyone with a requirement to place two or more displays next to each other. Like several of the other monitors in the group, the Philips has a built-in power supply, so there’s no need for a clumsy power adapter lingering around your desk.

There are no USB ports or speakers incorporated into the screen although a DVI-D port can be found at the rear of the panel along with a regular D-SUB interface. Both of these face downwards so you have to thread the cables through the large hole in the stand’s neck. Granted, this is good idea but the hole is cut a little too low, allowing the cables to fall in to view.

Given the relatively high price of the 170B4BS, we were somewhat surprised to find that Philips, like ADI, has only supplied its unit with a D-SUB lead, leaving you even more out of pocket if you want to go digital.

Build quality is of a fairly high standard, although the menu buttons on the front bezel have a plastic feel to them. A well-featured and intuitive OSD makes the 170B4BS easy to set up and use straight out of the box and also gives direct access to the brightness setting and the auto-setup facility. As well as an sRGB setting, the OSD allows you to adjust each RGB channel separately and also has two preset colour temperatures to choose from.

The stand has an integrated turntable that allows the screen to swivel through 350 degrees with relative ease, but tilting requires a fair amount of effort and a firm hold on the base. Unfortunately, there is no facility to pivot the screen through 90 degrees for a portrait view.

Image quality wasn’t as good as we had hoped for. In using either the digital or analogue connection, we found DVD playback was poor and colours were noticeably blotchy, especially when rendering skin tones. These concerns with colour seemed to be carried through to our colour tests, where we noticed some compression in the highlight ends of the colour scales, and relatively harsh transitions between colours of similar hue in our test images. That said, the Philips is quite a vibrant display considering its relatively low contrast ratio, but this may be due to the slightly higher brightness level in comparison to many of the other units.

Some signs of shimmering were also visible when using the analogue D-SUB connection in DisplayMate’s pixel-tracking and timing-lock test screen. However, you can eliminate this by adjusting the phase and clock settings in the OSD, and the supplied CD-ROM has a small program with test screens that allows you to fine tune the display. Greyscales were rendered well and there was only slight evidence of compression in the test covering 64 intensities.

Viewing angles on the 170B4BS were generally good in the horizontal plane, but much narrower in the vertical plane, especially when tilting the screen all the way back. Either way it leaves you questioning the 160 degree viewing angles quoted by Philips.

Verdict

Not a badly designed monitor by any means, but the main problem for the Philips is its relatively high price, given that it lacks some of the features sported by cheaper screens in this group. There’s also no excuse for skimping the DVI cable. You can do worse, but the competition is too stiff to recommend the Philips.

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