We're all familiar with the notion of monitors producing light. After all, you're likely reading this on one that emits the stuff, whether it uses CCFL or LED backlighting. Less common is the idea of elements outside of the panel producing light too, but it's an idea that Philips has long ago sold us on with its clever and beautiful Ambilight system on TVs like the Philips 40PFL9704.
However, if all you have budget or room for is a modest PC monitor, you're not totally left in the cold as you can go for a Philips Brilliance 220X1, whose Lightframe technology is derived from a similar foundation. You still pay a hefty premium for it though, as the 220X1 comes in at over £200 for a 22in 1,680 x 1,050 TN-based display. Is it worth it?
As with Ambilight, Philips claims that Lightframe is not just a pretty show but actually helps to reduce eyestrain and fatigue. Before we check out this unique system, however, let's see what the monitor itself is like.
Unlike most recent displays, Philips has gone for an all-white look that's very reminiscent of cheaper Apple products. The only exception to this is the stand's neck, which is silver. In a nice touch, even the provided DVI, VGA and power cables are white. Overall, while nothing extraordinary, the design is certainly consistent and attractive.
It's also very easy to assemble, as it's just a case of clicking the chassis and stand together. Taking it apart is equally effortless, as you simply push in a button-like section at the back. Ergonomics are as poor as on most TN-based budget displays though, as you're limited to (an admittedly generous amount of) tilt. Connectors are also slightly difficult to insert as there's little clearance room for the sockets in the curved back section.
Build quality is decent with no perceptible flex or creak. The only minor annoyance is that the monitor wobbles when using the buttons on its side. Though these buttons are hidden behind the bezel making them invisible when viewing the screen front-on, they're fairly easy to use as the main ones have distinct shapes and fall naturally under your four fingers. We only wish Philips hadn't placed the 220X1's power button so close to the others.