The Philips 346B1C monitor is the latest in a growing number of ultrawide monitors to reach the test desk here at T3, and it's not hard to see the appeal of these super-sized screens – who wouldn't want all that display real estate for applications and games?
Of course not everyone has the budget or the space to get an ultrawide monitor installed, but if you are in the market, then the Philips 346B1C is worth shortlisting. It's designed primarily for business and creative use, but you can really use it for just about anything.
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The key specs that you need to know are that this is a 34-inch LCD panel running at a resolution of 3440 x 1440 pixels (a 21:9 aspect ratio and 110 pixels-per-inch). It offers a 1500 R curvature, typical response times of 4 ms, and a 300 cd/m2 brightness rating.
The refresh rate tops out at 100 Hz, and the monitor covers 90 percent of the AdobeRGB colour gamut. These are all respectable if not groundbreaking specs, but if you dig deeper into what the Philips 346B1C offers then you start to see why it might be worth your while.
Philips 346B1C review: design and setup
Setting up an ultrawide monitor is never a particularly joyous process, what with the heavy weight and the cables and the slots, but we didn't have any serious problems getting the Philips 346B1C ultrawide display up and running. It only took five or ten minutes, and it's very obvious where everything goes and should be fixed – even identifying the location of the power button is straightforward, which isn't always the case.
It's what you could describe as very business-like in terms of its aesthetics, the Philips 346B1C: sturdy and solemn and solid. Not for this monitor the fancy lighting flourishes or the jaunty angles of gaming monitors – just thin bezels across the top and down the sides, and a more substantial chin bearing the Philips logo at the bottom. It's plain, but not ugly, and it should fit into most desk setups.
Getting the monitor tilted, swivelled, and raised up (or down) to the right height is also straightforward, and it feels like a solid and well-built piece of kit while you're getting it into position. We're pleased to see a full set of cables – USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort – inside the box, besides the power cable that you need for actually turning it on.
The monitor includes a KVM (keyboard video mouse) switch so you can easily use the screen with two computers and share a keyboard and mouse. If you've got more than one computer that you want to set up (a laptop and a desktop for example), then it's a hugely useful feature to have, so the Philips 346B1C gets extra marks from us for including it.
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Philips 346B1C review: features and picture
As well as DisplayPort and HDMI ports around the back of the unit, and the KVM switch that we've already mentioned you also get a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 x 1 socket that's capable of 90W of power output – in other words, you can charge your laptop from it without another power cable. While it might not be the biggest, fastest or highest resolution screen around, the Philips 346B1C is certainly packed with features.
Ethernet and audio out ports are included as well, and at the side you get four additional USB-A ports and one USB-B port for connecting up extra peripherals – you can see why this monitor has a very obvious productivity angle. There's picture-in-picture support too (as long as one input uses DisplayPort), and a sensor that detects whether anyone is in front of the monitor, so it can put itself into standby mode when you're not there.
As for the all-important picture quality, we were very impressed by what the Philips 346B1C has to offer in terms of visual output: strong contrast between dark and light areas, minimal ghosting and backlight glow, and colours that are mostly vibrant and rich (brightness could be a little better, but we can live with it). While the resolution isn't 4K, it's certainly sharp enough on a monitor this size to make games, websites and spreadsheets look clear and sharp.
While professionals and creatives might be looking for more coverage in the DCI-P3 and AdobeRGB colour spaces, this isn't a monitor that's trying to push the boundaries in terms of top-end specs – and it's priced accordingly. For everyday uses on a big, ultrawide, curved scale, the Philips 346B1C performs very well – it would represent a serious and substantial display upgrade for most users, we think.
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Philips 346B1C review: price and verdict
The Philips 346B1C monitor has a lot to offer and packs it all in for a very reasonable price. You are going to be able to find monitors that beat it in terms of the raw specs, and monitors that are perhaps flashier in the looks department, but if what you want is a reliable, no-nonsense, ultrawide monitor for all your computing needs then this Philips model is difficult to beat at the moment.
Of course there's the overall question of whether you actually need an ultrawide monitor, and specifically a curved ultrawide monitor – they're great for games, movies and productivity (getting three programs up side-by-side certain saves a lot of window-hopping time), but they are big and need a lot of room. Have a look at smaller and non-curved alternatives before making a choice.
We like just about everything about the Philips 346B1C, from the ease with which you can set it up, to the sturdiness of the design, to the picture you get for enjoying your movies (or indeed your business reports). The extras like a USB-C hub and a KVM switcher are really appreciated if you're like us and spend a lot of time working with a lot of devices.
As always, shop around to see the sort of prices you can get online, but this monitor should be available at a fairly affordable price. It shows that sometimes you don't need to stand out in any particular area to be a product that a lot of people will be happy with – by being good at just about everything rather than great in one or two areas, the Philips 346B1C makes a compelling case.
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