If you’re really looking to make an impression – and have a great visual experience – with your next computer monitor, the new wave of curved ultrawidescreen panels like the Philips BDM3490UC is a great way to do it.
Sporting a 3440 x 1440 pixels resolution, this 21:9 ratio monitor has an IPS LCD panel that should make for good viewing angles, and Philips claims 99% sRGB colour coverage, so it should be a good option for colour-sensitive work.
All this costs a fairly hefty £650, but considering a roughly equivalent 27-inch, non curved, 2560 x 1440 monitor will set you back around £500, it’s certainly not too pricey. And boy does it look the part.
This is one impressive looking bit of kit. The 21:9, curved screen is imposing enough but when matched with a striking glossy white back, slender metal base and chromed stand it makes for quite the sight.
Much of the competition is similarly elegant looking and in fact the LG 34UC97, is arguably even snazzier looking, but regardless I’m very taken with the look of this thing.
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The display has a very thin frame, with the front pane of plastic overlapping the bezel behind. The resulting ‘edge-to-edge’ appearance is largely a trick of the eye – the display underneath doesn’t actually stretch to the edges of the plastic pane – but it does work to make the display appear more slim and elegant than one with a traditional proud frame.
The main area of contention regarding its looks will likely be the stand, which with its integrated pair of 7W speakers arguably breaks up the elegant look. Plus, of course, if you plan to use separate speakers the extra bulk is also completely redundant.
The way it rests on the tips at the front of the stand also makes it potentially more prone to falling over if one of the tips happens to find a gap in between desks or the edge of a table. A stand with a greater area of flat contact will be more secure in this regard.
Measuring 826 x 479 x 220 mm, you’ll clearly need a fair amount of space to accommodate a monitor this large. In comparison, a 27-inch monitor like the Viewsonic VP2780-4K will be around 20cm narrower.
It isn’t, though, all that much higher than other large monitors, and for some that may be an issue as there is no height adjustment. Instead the stand only offers a few degrees of tilt. Fairly obviously there’s no rotation either – this monitor in portrait would be… interesting.
While this is typical of all the 34-inch curved display, the likes of the AOC U3477PQU offers a 34-inch, 3440 x 1440 panel with height adjustment for around £500, rather bringing the premium you're paying for the curve into light.
Connectivity is an area this monitor isn't left wanting. Round the back are three HDMI ports, one of which supports MHL for easily connecting your phone or tablet. There’s also a DisplayPort as well as an Audio in and headphone out.
On the other side there’s also a four port USB 3.0 hub. It might’ve been a tad more convenient to have some of those ports on the edge of the monitor where they’re a bit more accessible but it’s not the end of the world.
With it being such a hefty beast it’s a relief that the BDM3490UC arrives fully assembled so you can pull it straight out its box by its stand and plonk it on your desk. There’s no VESA mount option, though, so you can't use it with a monitor arm. This seems like a reasonable compromise, considering this isn’t the sort of monitor most users will use in a multi-screen array but is still one more feature you're giving up while still paying a high price.
In the box you get a DisplayPort cable and matching grey USB 3.0 cable for connecting up the USB hub. The mains cable uses an inline power supply so you’ll have to find somewhere to hide away the power brick – I’m actually genuinely surprised Philips couldn’t fit an internal power supply into such a large monitor.
Once physically setup the next challenge is navigating the onscreen display (OSD) in order to set the monitor up to your liking, and the control system is an intriguing one.
It’s completely controlled by a single four-way joystick on the underside of the screen’s frame. For each direction you push it – front, back, left or right – a different menu will appear. Once you’re in a menu it’s then a case of tapping right to select an item, up or down to navigate the lists, and left to go back a level in the menu or close it altogether.
It’s okay once you get the hang of it but even after a few goes it’s still quite easy to make a mistake. Thankfully the menus themselves are clear enough and it shouldn’t take too long to have things setup as you need.