There is no question in our minds that playing games is more fun on a big monitor than on a small one. We've thoroughly enjoyed playing our favorite shooters on all the 34-inch ultra-wide screens and 32-inch jumbo screens we've reviewed. Filling your peripheral vision with a large image makes the experience far more compelling and engaging.
Gaming enthusiasts today are focused on two things: resolution and refresh rate. And we've seen plenty of screens that push the envelope in both areas. But we still maintain that the most important component of image quality is dynamic range; specifically the distance between the deepest blacks and the brightest whites -- otherwise known as contrast.
We're always pleased to see an IPS or TN screen top 1000:1 in our tests. That's a decent ratio but the more rarely-seen VA panels can deliver far better blacks, and the examples we've tested have measured closer to 2000:1. Today we're looking at Philips' 40-inch Ultra HD model, the BDM4065UC. Not only is it the largest desktop monitor we've ever tested, it boasts the highest contrast too -- on the order of 5000:1.
Nearly every LCD panel on the planet is made by either Samsung, LG or AU Optronics. A few are also made by Innolux (formerly Chi Mei). But the Philips BDM4065UC is made by TP Vision, which is the actual owner of the Philips brand.
VA stands for Vertical Alignment and it's a distant cousin to the much more common IPS (In-Plane Switching). The main advantage it has over other technologies is greater contrast. In most applications you'll see at least twice the ratio of a similar TN or IPS screen, usually around 2000:1. Many HDTVs however, have achieved native contrast of 3000:1 and more.
It's all in how adjacent pixels, and their crystal lattices are aligned. You've heard us use the term "light valve" to describe LCD technology. VA simply provides a better valve, one that can almost completely shutter out the backlight.
Of course there are always tradeoffs but in this case, they are minor. VA panels are a little less bright than their TN or IPS counterparts. And in the monitors we've reviewed, off-angle image quality isn't quite as good.
But none of these things can distract us from the spectacular image displayed by the BDM4065UC. And its price tag is a nice bonus as well at around $800 at the time of this writing. If you're considering using an inexpensive UHD television as your monitor let me point out two things. This Philips has a DisplayPort input and it will accept a 3840x2160 signal at 60Hz. Many TVs can run at 120Hz but they'll only accept a 60Hz signal. And unless a display has HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2, it will only allow a max input refresh rate of 30Hz at UHD resolution.
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Correction: This article was updated at 3:00 pm PT to clarify that the BDM4065UC is made and marketed by TPV under the Philips brand through a worldwide licensing agreement. Neither TPVision nor TPV own the Philips brand. Rather it is licensed by TPV.