- Review Price: £449.00
Philips’ partnership with LG has made it a major player in the TFT flat panel market. That said, having access to the best quality panels doesn’t necessarily equate to the best monitor. There’s a lot more to a good TFT monitor than the panel and thankfully Philips has spent a lot of time and effort over the past few years trying to make its products stylish, fully featured and easy to use.
With the 150MT2 Philips has created a screen for all uses. Not only can it be used as a computer monitor, but it can also be used for TV and DVD viewing.
As the name suggests the 150MT2 sports a 15in TFT panel with a native resolution of 1,024 x 768. This is probably the most commonly used resolution, but with the drop in price of 17in TFT screens more and more users are starting to enjoy a 1,280 x 1,024 resolution with a minimal increase in physical dimensions.
As 15in panels go this is a pretty good one. The colours are vibrant and vivid and the lighting is bright and even. There’s no sign of any dead pixels, but that tends to be a rarity these days. Using the 150MT2 as a PC desktop display results in a fairly pleasing experience although the bezel is wider than most modern flat panel displays and makes the screen area appear slightly smaller than it is.
The wide bezel doesn’t result in an unattractive design though. In fact Philips has created a good-looking unit in the 150MT2 that resembles a modern TV more than a PC monitor. Silver definitely seems to be the order of the day with flat panel displays and this Philips is no exception.
Below the wide matt silver bezel is a large perforated area that houses the stereo speakers and all the controller buttons. Sound from the speakers is pretty good and more than adequate for watching the odd movie or playing games. Obviously they’re no match for a fully active set of surround speakers, but if you’re after a clean and uncluttered workspace they come as a real bonus.
As well as the power button, there are six control buttons. The most welcome control button is an independent source switch that cycles through the plethora of input options. Controlling the OSD is achieved via the Menu/OK button and the four directional buttons, two of which can also be used for fast access to the volume control.
Navigating the OSD is a very simple affair although it still has a comprehensive amount of settings.
So, the 150MT2 is a perfectly competent desktop display that’s well designed and has an intuitive and comprehensive OSD system. If that was all this screen had to offer it wouldn’t really stand out from the crowd, so it’s a good thing that it has quite a few other features hidden up its sleeve.
Bundled in the box with the monitor is a fully featured TV tuner. This device snaps into a bay at the back and sports an array of input connectors. First and foremost is the aerial connector for receiving terrestrial analogue broadcasts. For piping video feeds in you get an S-Video port with corresponding RCA stereo audio jacks, and finally a SCART connector. The US and Asian versions of this screen get component video inputs, but unfortunately us Europeans have to make do with SCART.
Firing up the TV tuner is simple, and a quick trip through the OSD will soon get the 150MT2 searching the airwaves for channels and assigning them to numbers. The bundled remote control makes using the TV tuner a breeze and the fact that it’s built into the monitor instead of the PC means that you don’t have to switch on your computer to watch TV.
The images produced by the TV tuner are pretty impressive. In fact I compared the picture quality directly to a Television using the same aerial and there was no discernable difference in image quality. You also get Teletext functionality assuming that you have good enough reception to display it.
But it’s not just TV reception that makes the 150MT2 special. The aforementioned SCART and S-Video inputs obviously make it an ideal display for a DVD player or a digital TV box, and you won’t be disappointed with the results from either medium. However, the 150MT2 has one last very impressive trick up its sleeve.
Most good DVD players these days will have component video outputs and some of the higher-end models will be able to output a progressive scan signal through those outputs. Now if you’re into home cinema you’ll know exactly what progressive scan is, but in case you don’t here’s a little explanation.
Television pictures are displayed in an interlaced format. This means that an image is created using a process of two scans, or two screen draws. So, to create a solid image your TV draws every other line on the screen and then very quickly fills in the gaps with a second screen draw. Now this is fine for still images, since the original alternate lines drawn will be in the same place by the time the second ‘fill in’ draw is done. However, when you have a fast moving image, as with an action sequence in a film, by the time the second half of the image is drawn, it’s not in the same place that it was when the first half was constructed. This can cause a blurring or streaking effect that will be more or less noticeable depending on the video content and how closely you’re watching.
However, a progressive scan image is non-interlaced and so the whole image is created in one pass, thus negating the misalignment problem with fast moving video. I looked at several DVD movies in both interlaced and progressive scan formats and the detail resolution from the progressive scan signal was superb. That said there is a perceptible drop in image brightness when using a progressive scan input, but this is a small price to pay for the improved image quality.
Now you may be wondering how I tested the progressive scan input since the 150MT2 doesn’t have component video connectors. Well Philips has carefully sidestepped this problem by incorporating a second D-SUB connector at the rear for progressive scan video input. To make this mismatch of connectors work together Philips also supplies a component video to D-SUB cable enabling you to connect any DVD player or digital TV box with component video outputs to the screen.
If there is one thing wrong with the 150MT2 it’s the lack of a DVI input. The only way of connecting the screen to a PC is via an analogue D-SUB connector, which is a bit of a shame considering the cutting edge nature of the product. It may seem like a small point, but most graphics cards these days have DVI outputs and connecting digitally means that you’ll never have to adjust the image.
Lack of DVI aside, the 150MT2 is a great little screen. If you happen to have your PC in your bedroom it makes an excellent TV complete with it’s own remote control. The inclusion of progressive scan DVD input is very welcome, especially for home cinema enthusiasts like myself. However, if you were really into DVD movies enough to want a progressive scan monitor, you’re likely to want a much bigger screen than this one. Again though, if you’re short on space or if you’re using the 150MT2 as a second TV/DVD configuration the progressive scan input is a great bonus.
If anything, the 150MT2 is proof that Philips can create great looking cutting edge products that blur the line between the consumer and IT markets. You’ve got to really want the TV and AV functionality to justify the £449 price point considering you can buy a 17in flat panel for that kind of money. If however you are looking for an all-in-one screen you’d be hard pushed to find a better example than this one.
A beautifully designed TV/monitor with some cutting edge AV features. It’s a shame that the screen isn’t larger considering the TV/movie watching bias of the product, but on the whole the 150MT2 is a great little all-in-one display device.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8
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