The Philips Blade 2 controls and OSD are a bit of a mixed bag. Its touch controls are well-spaced and responsive, but not particularly intuitive in their layout and therefore in the way you navigate through the menus. Some of the ‘button’ shortcuts are also not very logical, with response time overdrive adjustment getting its own dedicated one. Fingerprints will also remain to mutely accuse users on the glossy black plastic of the touch area.
On the other hand, the menus are some of the clearest and easiest we’ve ever seen. Headings are logically divided with everything exactly where you would want it to be, and labels are mostly no-nonsense. Every setting you would want to access is available, including the aforementioned response time overdrive regulation, detailed colour settings, and a generous range of presets. There’s even in-monitor volume control.
So what’s image quality like on this LED-backlit, 23in IPS monitor? The Blade 2 sports a sharp Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution that gives you plenty of virtual real estate, and a semi-matt finish that ensures minimal reflections. Despite the lack of a glossy layer, colours are bright and punchy, and blacks reasonably deep. Dark detailing is also excellent, with even the subtlest gradations easily visible, and response time should be adequate for all but the most trigger-happy gamers.
Custom settings out of the box were decent too, though as usual brightness was annoyingly set at 100 percent. From the sides and bottom, the superior viewing angles IPS offers over TN are also in evidence.
Unfortunately it’s not all good news. From the top, there’s strong contrast shift, more so than on most IPS-based displays we’ve tested. While backlighting looks even in daylight, in a darkened environment subtle inconsistencies become apparent and the purple tint that plagues blacks on many IPS screens to lesser extents is annoyingly obvious here.
Despite its viewing angle and black tingeing issues, the Philips Blade 2 is a sleek, well-connected 23in monitor with decent image quality that’s very affordable. However, the very similar IPS 23in AOC i2353Fh is currently available for around £144 and its brushed metal finish is arguably more attractive. Also, Dell’s aforementioned UltraSharp U2312HM, yet another 23in IPS monitor, offers a similar feature set but with a fully adjustable stand and built-in USB hub.
The Philips Blade 2, also known as the Brilliance 239Cqh, is a nicely designed 23in IPS monitor with good connectivity and decent image quality. However, it’s not without a few flaws - and if you’re not particularly enamoured of its design there are cheaper alternatives, while the same money will get you a fully adjustable rival. Though it’s still worth considering, this keeps the Blade 2 from a Recommended Award until its price drops.