When you buy an LCD monitor, one of the most important considerations after resolution and size is panel type. TN is found in the vast majority of affordable displays, and due to its poor viewing angles is probably the least desirable panel tech – though its quick response does make it the best choice for pro-level gamers.
However, arguably the best balance between speed and quality is found with IPS (and Samsung’s PLS equivalent). From once only being found in high-end professional monitors costing hundreds of pounds, IPS has moved down to very affordable price points, especially in 23in and 24in displays. The Philips Blade 2 is one such: a nicely designed, slim 23in IPS monitor offering multiple digital inputs and a 1080p resolution for around £170.
Straight off we have one niggle to get out of the way: Philips still overcomplicates its model numbers. Despite being called the Blade 2 – a nice, simple name – the monitor has Brilliance 239Cqh on its bezel and Brilliance 239C4Q on its label sticker. This shouldn’t be confused with glowing-bezel models like the Philips Brilliance 220X1, however, as the Brilliance 239Cqh/239C4Q is just an ‘ordinary’ monitor without extra LED ‘magic’.
That out of the way, it’s worth mentioning that Philips’s packaging is secure and easy, and the company provides all the cables and manuals you would want. All that’s missing is a lint-free cloth to keep the Blade 2’s shiny plastic looking its best.
Getting to the monitor itself, it comes fully assembled with a base that folds away for a slim storage profile, therefore setting it up is as easy as tilting the stand to an upright position. Unfortunately, this ease comes at a price: the Blade 2 doesn’t offer any adjustability aside from some very generous tilt. While this is the case for most sub-£200 IPS monitors, it doesn’t get less disappointing, and screens like Dell’s £175 IPS UltraSharp U2312HM offers full height adjustment and pivot.
At least the limited adjustability on the Blade 2 lets its super-slim glossy black design take centre stage. The screen is surrounded by an even bezel that looks like it’s the same width all-round, only interrupted by a subtle brushed-silver curve at its base. The slim stand transitions smoothly to an unusual wedge-shaped base which cleverly incorporates the screen’s touch controls and connectivity. We really love this feature as it makes the controls incredibly easy to access and reduces visible cable clutter.
On the back you get VGA plus the first HDMI port, while the right houses a headphone jack for outputting audio from HDMI and the second HDMI port. There’s no DVI, but most modern laptops and video cards offer the HDMI digital standard, and adapters are cheap and plentiful so it’s hardly an issue.