In the TV world, curved screens were never anything more than a gimmick, but in the computer world and especially in gaming, it is different. The short distance to the screen means that you actually get a feeling of being inside the action. This is true for normal curved screens, but it is especially true for super wide curved screens.
The Philips 346P1CRH is a 34-inch computer monitor, but the screen format is extreme. With an aspect ratio of 21:9, the panel is approximately the same height as a normal 27-inch screen (37 cm), but the curved panel is a full 80 cm in width!
The curved screen surface serves two purposes: First, the curvature means that there is roughly the same distance from the eye to any point on the screen, so you do not have to make an effort to focus. Secondly, the screen fills such a large part of the field of view that it becomes easy to engage in what is going on on it. You actually have to turn your head to see anything other than the screen!
There is the range of inputs and outputs that you will expect on a modern monitor at the better end: Two HDMI inputs, DisplayPort and USB-C. And should one giant screen not be enough, you can connect several in series with either the DisplayPort output or with USB-C.
The resolution is UWQHD (3440 x 1440 pixels) and the refresh rate is 100 Hz. The panel is of the VA type, which is known for its good contrast ratio, but also for reacting relatively slowly. The reaction time of 4 milliseconds is also somewhat slower than what we would prefer for games.
Between two chairs
I’m not quite sure who Philips will reach out to with the 346P1CRH. The sleek curved screen invites to be used for gaming, but both the refresh rate of 100 Hz and the response time of 4 ms are at the bottom edge for serious gaming. Here, 144 Hz and 1 ms response time should be the minimum. And for the same or less money, you can get much faster screens in a more normal format – curved or not.
On its website, Philips is also focusing more on improving productivity by having a large screen. But here too it is so-so. The giant screen will trump any office colleague completely. But for the big creative overview, I would want to swap some of the refresh rate with higher resolution. 3440 pixels in width is not enough to squeeze enough data into the 80 cm large surface. Spreadsheet riders are also likely to prefer a flat screen rather than being surrounded by numbers.
The panel is high in contrast and bright, but not completely colorfast enough for graphic production. In dry numbers, the screen holds 88 percent of Adobe RGB and 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color space. Again, this is below what is required for serious use. Here, 98 percent of P3 and 4K resolution (in this case 2160p vertically) would be expected.
For work use, a webcam is a must and the screen has a built-in Full HD camera that pops up on command. The monitor can also charge a connected (lightweight) laptop via the USB-C port.
Covers the entire field of view
Where the ultra-wide Philips display has its justification is on engagement. With a normal viewing distance of 40-50 cm, the large, curved panel covers the entire field of view. The speed may not be good enough for ranked 3D action games, but if your idea for entertainment is to spend a few hours inside Cyberpunk 2077 or for that matter Red Dead Redemption 2, then the experience is so much stronger than on the flat 27-inch on the desktop.
The same goes for the movie experience. Movies should preferably be seen in the cinema or – as a second best alternative – on a huge television with surround sound. But in a non-ideal world, 34 ultra-wide inches right in front of you are pretty much as overwhelming as a large IMAX cinema screen in a movie theatre.
The sound is not in the same class, but the two 5 watt speakers do a pretty decent job that is beyond what you have to endure from most flat screens. You can actually enjoy watching a movie that way – and also understand the dialogue.
The Philips 346P1CRH is an overwhelming acquaintance that takes possession of the desktop in a way that few other monitors can. It’s cool to be surrounded by what you’re dealing with, whether it’s games, movies, or more serious work.
Unfortunately, the ultra-wide 34-inch screen is neither a bird nor a fish. It’s not quite fast enough for gaming, and it’s not quite sharp and colorful enough for creative work. If you are a semi-studied amateur who wants to do a little of everything, it can be an interesting option. Especially since it is also a formidable desktop cinema. But in practice, a slightly smaller and more specialized screen will be a better choice for most people.