Everyone knows Philips, the Dutch electronics brand that co-invented the Compact Disc with Sony in the late ‘70s. The pre-MP3 generation may even remember the Philips that invented the Compact Cassette almost 20 years earlier. But few people will have heard of MMD or of TPV Technology.
What’s that got to do with the price of screens? Simply that Philips as a brand of LCD displays has returned to these shores, even if there’s little to link the new wave of screens to the Netherlands brand, other than MMD’s European office in Rotterdam and a Philips logo on the box.
Philips sold its consumer display division to TPV six years ago, and not much has been heard of Philips monitors in the UK since.
Until now, with the arrival of a range of Philips-badged models from MultiMedia Displays (MMD), itself a division of TPV Technology. TPV is better known by its house-brand name of AOC.
The Philips 273E3LH is a 27in LCD monitor of conservative looks but high performance. Note that contrary to the legend printed on the top-left corner of the screen bezel, Philips is calling this model the 273E3LH, and not 273ELH.
Bucking the prevailing fashion in consumer electronics to buff up black plastic into an impractical high sheen, the bezel and stand are finished in a sober but effective matt dark grey colour.
Or as the press release amusingly describes it, carbonite-coloured, in defiance of carbonite’s mythical status, an imaginary alloy for preserving errant starship smugglers.
What we can’t deny though is the quality of the panel, in particular the images seen on it. In contrast to most twisted-nematic (TN) panels – ubiquitous on budget displays – that have lousy viewing angles, this screen still looks good from oblique viewpoints.
Colours remain surprisingly faithful off-axis to the left, right and above, if murky from below. Poor below-axis fidelity is of less practical consequence though.
It has a matt anti-glare finish to keep it easy on the eyes in a variety of lighting environments.
At its default ‘100%’ setting, it’s also incredibly bright, a clear white luminosity brought out by white Edge-LED back lighting.
Colour accuracy was judged very good out of the box, and there’s some scope to tweak this through the panel’s OSD menu, specifically color [sic] temperature (6500K or 9300K); an sRGB setting; and a User Define area where red, green and blue can be adjusted on a 0–100 nominal scale.
The LCD panel itself is smoothly and evenly lit, with no sign of light bleed, nor darker stains visible through our range of solid-colour test screens. Nor did we see any stuck pixels.
The on-screen menu is reasonably easy to navigate, relying on four touch-sensitive buttons on the lower bezel edge. These are on a concave-curved area, well-suited to the downward press of a finger from above.
Also here is SmartImage, a shortcut into three quick-fix modes of Standard, Internet and Movie. In practice, we preferred Standard; Internet made for trippy colours while Movie over-egged contrast and colour. Meanwhile SmartControl Lite is Windows-only software included on a CD-ROM to help optimise picture.
Build quality of the panel is reasonably good, a small step up from the budget screens we see bundled with Windows PCs in our monthly PC charts. Stand adjustment runs to a modicum of fore and aft tilt on a stunted pedestal stand.
On the back are three video inputs: digital HDMI and DVI-D, and analogue VGA. Two mini jacks handle audio – headphone-out, and audio-in for built-in speakers. The tinny sound from two top-firing baby speakers is just sufficient to play low-grade music, or for webchatting.
For such a large panel, it’s also very economical to run. At a more than adequate 50% brightness setting, it consumed just 19W of mains power.