Philips 328P6AUBREB review: A colour-accurate HDR monitor with some key problems

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Packs in a lot of features, from HDR10 support to full sRGB and Adobe RGB calibration but there are a fair few flaws, too

Pros
  • Incredible colour accuracy
  • HDR 10 compatibility
  • USB-C port for laptops
Cons
  • Poor brightness uniformity
  • Below-par sRGB gamut coverage (in sRGB mode)
  • HDR 10 over HDMI-only

HDR or High Dynamic Range, has been a hot topic in TVs for a while now, but it’s only just beginning to gain momentum elsewhere. These days, however, everyone is looking to use HDR to enhance the viewing experience.

From phones and laptops with HDR-capable screens, to streaming service providers such as Netflix and Amazon – HDR is everywhere, including the Philips 328P6AUBREB, which joins the Samsung CHG70 as one of only two HDR-capable PC monitors we’ve tested so far.

*** Note : £1 = $1.42 (correct at time of post)

What you need to know

I’ll go into the 328P6AUBREB’s HDR capabilities further down, but suffice it to say this is an impressive beast of a monitor. It measures 31.5in across the diagonal, has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, it’s precalibrated to Adobe RGB and sRGB has impressive colour accuracy, fantastic build quality handy USB Type-C connectivity and comes in at just £439.

Sound like the perfect monitor? Well, almost. It suffers from poor brightness uniformity, which means designers it won’t be the ideal screen for everyone, and Windows 10’s HDR support isn’t universal just yet, either.

Price and competition

The Philips 328P6AUBREB costs around £440 and it doesn’t have many direct competitors. Dell has the S2718D for around £425 and the U2718Q at around £600, which are QHD and 4K HDR monitors respectively.

If you’re looking to game, there’s the £600 Samsung CHG70, which comes with a 144Hz QHD HDR panel, and if HDR isn’t of interest, the £335 QHD BenQ PD2700Q is a fantastic choice for designers.

Design, features and build quality

Most Philips monitors I’ve seen recently have been fantastically well made and attractive to look at and the 328P6AUBREB is no exception. Its “SmartErgoBase” stand provides -5 to 20 degrees of tilt adjustment, 180mm of height adjustment, and 340 degrees of total swivel, which is about as flexible as monitor stands get. Oh, and it’s also possible to spin the screen 90 degrees and view it in portrait mode if that’s the way you roll.

As for connectivity, Philips gives you a host of options to choose from here as well. There’s a Type-C input supporting USB 3.1, meaning it will carry data, video and power to and from your laptop, tablet or phone. There’s also an old-school VGA input, plus DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2, and 3.5mm headphone and aux in jacks. An Ethernet port and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports round off the physical connections.

The OSD (onscreen display) is as comprehensive as the monitor’s connections and provides a flurry of options to choose from, including the pre-calibrated Adobe RGB and sRGB colour profiles and LowBlue Mode, which is used to reduce eye strain.

If you want the monitor to display HDR content, though, you’ll have to use the HDMI 2 port, as the other sockets on this particular monitor don’t carry an HDR signal. This is a limitation if you want to watch HDR content on both your games console and Windows 10 PC.

Image quality

The monitor has a 31.5in, 2,560 x 1,440 IPS panel that runs at a refresh rate of 60Hz. Since it’s an HDR monitor the panel is 10-bit as well, which means you should see a richer, more vibrant range of colour with HDR-compatible content such as 4K Blu-rays and some Netflix movies and TV shows.

It’s also one of the most colour-accurate consumer-grade monitors I’ve seen. Tested with our in-house i1 DisplayPro colour calibrator, the Philips returned an average Delta E score of 1.09 and has a decent contrast ratio of 1,271:1 as well. By comparison, the Samsung CHG70, which has a VA panel, achieved a Delta E of 1.75 and a contrast ratio of 2,524:1.

I was disappointed with the sRGB gamut coverage, though, which I measured at a lowly 89.7%. The monitor’s Adobe RGB gamut coverage is far more impressive at 91.1% and colour accuracy improves a touch in Adobe RGB mode, too, with the average Delta E dropping to an even more impressive 0.87. Just shy of 500cd/m² at peak brightness, the monitor is plenty bright in SDR, too.

The monitor’s biggest flaw, however, is its brightness uniformity. With a variance of up to -20% in corners from the centre of the display, the Philips isn’t particularly consistent. The variance is so great, that I even noticed its ill effects whilst looking at my desktop wallpaper. If you’re a professional photo or video editor, this is a dealbreaker.

HDR

The key selling point for this monitor, however, isn’t its photo-editing capabilities, but its HDR support. You turn this on by setting it to Auto in the onscreen display and it worked flawlessly with HDR-enabled Windows 10 games and the apps I tried with HDR support.

As ever, though, by enabling HDR within the Windows display settings the OS then misinterprets the colours in everything non-HDR related, resulting in washed-out colours on the desktop and any app that doesn’t support the standard.

It’s important to note that this has nothing to do with the monitor but rather Microsoft’s implementation of HDR. As it’s still relatively new on Windows 10, HDR is still hit and miss. Amazon Video and YouTube, for example, don’t support HDR content through the browser, meaning the only way to watch their HDR content is via your TV, a streaming stick or a console.

Netflix does support HDR through the browser, but there’s a specific set of requirementsto get it working. You’ll need a seventh-gen Intel processor and a Nvidia GTX 1050 or above so, my third-gen Intel Core i7-3770K and Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti combo aren’t supported.

As for gaming, Shadow Warrior 2 is my go-to game to test a monitor’s HDR gaming capabilities. Here, the benefits of HDR are obvious: with HDR enabled the sun is visible in the sky and if it’s disabled it just blends into the horizon.

As for gaming, I found the monitor a little sluggish and, with overdrive enabled, there’s some inverse ghosting, too, but this is to be expected from a 60Hz non-gaming panel.

Verdict

There aren’t many monitors around with the same blend of features offered by the Philips 328P6AUBREB and with HDR, a colour-accurate QHD panel and a stunning build quality, the Philips 328P6AUBREB is a top quality monitor. If you want a do-it-all screen that will cope with games, HDR movies and a little creative work on the side, it’s worth considering.

It is, however, quite pricey, and with Windows 10 still in its infancy when it comes to HDR compatibility, you might want to hold off on a purchase, especially at £439. With so many non-HDR alternatives costing a fraction of the price, the best-value monitors currently lie elsewhere.

(expertreviews.co.uk, https://goo.gl/UKy8gW)

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