Philips Brilliance 234CL2SB review

11 Mar 2011

A sexy, slimline figure can't disguise the shaky construction, and the price is too high for the image quality

Philips Brilliance 234CL2SB
Price when reviewed: 
176(£176 inc VAT)
3

Finished top-to-toe in gloss black and measuring just 12mm thick, the Philips Brilliance 234CL2SB looks far dearer than its price tag would suggest.

Philips has even squeezed in some touch-sensitive controls; stroke a finger along the monitor's base and the backlit buttons glow into view. Admired from afar, it's every inch the style icon.

Up close, however, the veneer wears thin. The build of the frame is insubstantial; grab the flimsy plastic housing and it flexes with barely any effort.

Although the stand has only a few degrees of forward and back tilt adjustment, it doesn't so much glide back and forth as flop to and fro.

The Philips does do a lot right. The TN panel and LED backlight deliver brightness and contrast that matches the monitor's claimed specifications, and good black levels lend images plenty of solidity and punch. Unfortunately, further testing revealed some ugly traits.

There was noticeable banding in colour and greyscale transitions, not to mention some murky whites, and the Philips struggled to deliver neutral colours and tint-free skintones. There was some backlight leakage, too, with a distracting halo running around the panel's edge.

Philips Brilliance 234CL2SB

Then we uninstalled Philips' supplied monitor driver. The difference it made was monumental: whites became white again and skintones regained their natural hue.

Measuring the difference before and after gives some dramatic figures: the average Delta E dropped from 8.6 to 4.9, and the maximum Delta E from 18.9 to 11.9; colour temperature now measured at an almost perfect 6,369k; and only gamma remained less than ideal at 1.89.

That was easily remedied, however, by upping the Gamma setting in the onscreen menu to 2.4; a change that improved the average Delta E to 3.8.

Stay well clear of the supplied driver, then (which, to be fair, few people ever install with a new TFT) and the Philips isn't a bad monitor.

Its bigger problem is that price, which is too high for the budget crowd yet also sits only £30 or so below far superior IPS monitors such as ViewSonic's VP2365wb and the Dell UltraSharp U2311H. The three-year warranty might come as some recompense, particularly given the wobbly build, but at this level we'd spend the extra every time.

Details

Price ex VAT £147
Price inc VAT £176
Overall rating 3
Image quality 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3

Main specifications

Screen size 23.0in
Aspect ratio 16:9
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Screen brightness 250cd/m2
Pixel response time 5ms
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Dynamic contrast ratio 20,000,000:1
Pixel pitch 0.265mm
Horizontal viewing angle 170 degrees
Vertical viewing angle 160 degrees
Speaker type none
Speaker power ouput N/A
TV tuner no
TV tuner type N/A

Connections

DVI inputs 0
VGA inputs 1
HDMI inputs 1
DisplayPort inputs 0
Scart inputs 0
HDCP support yes
Upstream USB ports 0
USB ports (downstream) 0
3.5mm audio input jacks 0
Headphone output no
Other audio connectors HDMI audio passthrough

Accessories supplied

Internal power supply no

Power consumption

Peak power consumption 28W
Idle power consumption 1W

Image adjustments

Brightness control? yes
Contrast control? yes
Colour temperature settings 5000k-9300k

Ergonomics

Swivel angle 0 degrees
Height adjustment 0mm
Pivot (portrait) mode? no

Dimensions

Dimensions 547 x 175 x 408mm (WDH)
Weight 2.890kg