Philips SuperWide Monitor: 4 Ways a Beastly Screen Will Change How You Work
I have long rocked a 24-inch Acer monitor as an extension to my 2015 MacBook Pro at work. When I was first endowed with my auxiliary screen, I was ecstatic. I had productivity on lock. I’d never lose track of a tab again. But my understanding of what a monitor is truly capable of all changed the moment the Philips 49-inch SuperWide Curved Monitor was wheeled into the Inverse office.
It arrived on a dolly. Its box stood tall enough that it reached just below the tops of my shoulders (I’m six feet tall). The delivery man struggled to get it through the door, and once I signed off on my extendo package, I knew I was about to embark on a new chapter of my online life. I would be that guy with an office screen the size of a toddler. But I’m not alone.
The Philips SuperWide Monitor made its debut at CES 2019 and is now available on Amazon and NewEgg. It’s one of the latest additions to the “ultrawide format” line of screens that is populated by displays with aspects ratios much wider than 2:1, meaning they’re substantially wider than they are tall.
They essentially consolidate multiple screens into one massive display, which requires most of them to be curved inward so users can comfortably gaze at their screen without twisting their neck. These monitors have taken off, not just with PC gamers, but also financial analysts, and video editors whose jobs and hobbies can benefit from extra screen real estate.
Samsung alone sold seven million curved monitors in 2018, and expects to sell 10 million this year, according to a February Business Wire report. Samsung has found the most success in the gaming market, but the Philips SuperWide Monitor doesn’t require users to have a four-figure PC rig or a job on Wall Street to make the most out of it.
After a week of use, I learned that it can turn any basic laptop into the cockpit of the Starship Enterprise. But Windows users will be able to use it to its fullest potential.
- Product: Philips 49-inch SuperWide Curved Monitor
- Price: $1,300
- Perfect for: Deep-pocketed multi-taskers that need an encyclopedia-worth of tabs open at all times.
This monitor clocks in at 32:9, meaning it’s 3.5 times wider than its height. Filming the unboxing of this beastly monitor required a video editor to clear out our studio, and we also had to break out a wide-angle lens just to fit the entire thing in one shot.
Once I freed the SuperWide monitor from its styrofoam coffin, I situated it on my desk, hooked it up my laptop, and flipped it on. When the LCD screen lit up, I felt like I was in the scene from the 1977 extraterrestrial movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when a group of people all stare at the light from a UFO in awe.
Making the most of this screen set-up requires some effort. It took almost an hour for me to find the right wallpaper to suit its 5,120 x 1,440 resolution. In the meantime, my co-workers sitting behind me posted Instagram stories of the new addition to my laptop. I felt powerful, important, and extremely online. That’s when I realized 1. just how much of an office flex massive monitors are.
PC-users can stunt even harder on their coworkers using the Philips’ retractable, Hello Windows webcam, which uses facial recognition to sign you into computers running Windows 10.
In a time when hustle culture is driving many young professionals to the brink of burnout, enormous screens are a not-so-subtle way of letting your coworkers know how busy you are. I immediately opened four tabs, splayed them out on the monitor, and couldn’t help but feel like the Hackerman meme.
The SuperWide monitor’s resolution is also the highest of any 32:9 aspect ratio screen I could find, matched only by Dell’s UltraSharp 49 Curved Monitor. I finally settled on a wispy rendering of bright yellow galaxy, surrounded by red, purple, and blue stellar dust clouds.
The setup was complete. My workstation was ready.
The next-day I got my first taste of what I found to be 2. the monitor’s biggest selling point, accommodating my multitasking. At any given moment I could have six to seven windows open at once and I could almost double that if I resized them all into small squares instead of having each one span the entire height of the monitor. Interview notes, to-do-lists, livestreams I had to monitor for news — all fit easily with tons of room to spare.
All of that extra digital real estate eliminated the need to cycle through different desktops on my MacBook and it kept me from losing track of tabs while I’m writing. It was like having ten sheets of paper perfectly spread across a table, available at just a glance.
Sure this could be achieved by simply grouping together several smaller screens, but the displays’ bezels make these rigs look like jigsaw puzzles. The Philips monitor provides 49-inches of uninterrupted screen that even the most intense multitaskers will have a challenge filling up.
Wednesday & Thursday
There are some drawbacks. Later in the week, I learned that 3. video editors and gamers might find the UltraWide monitor slightly disappointing. For starters, its resolution is just shy of 4K, meaning gaming and watching videos in that resolution is a hair out of reach. This wasn’t that big of a deal for me, but anyone who requires that resolution to edit might want to look for alternatives.
Secondly, it only supports a 70-hertz refresh rate, which could prove lackluster for some gamers. This means the monitor can only refresh the the image being displayed 70 times per second, which is a big bummer seeing as there are monitors for less than $200 that offer double the refresh rate.
For non-gamers, 70Hz will do just fine. But for the consumers that play a lot of online games, lag and frame drops will be a lot more noticeable on this display that on a 144Hz alternative. That could be a deal breaker for the prime market of these types of screens.
The lackluster refresh rate is amplified even further when taking into account that running games at full resolution will take a beastly graphics card. Windows Central suggests a $350 RTX 2060 for 1440p. So PC-gamers would have to spend big on this monitor and even more on a graphics card, and still wouldn’t get top-of-line performance.
As an avid user of the f.lux app I was relieved to find out that 4. Philips’ monitor comes with a LowBlue Mode for those of us that need to stare at a screen for a living. After a few days of use, I noticed I was leaving work feeling a bit more eye strain than normal but flipping on the monitor’s lighting option fixed that issue.
All I had to do was click the button closest to the center of the screen on its right side to cycle through its brightness options.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a casual tech purchase that every consumer will be tempted to make. The Philips 49-inch SuperWide Curved Monitor is a niche product for a professionals that need a lot of screen, but not the cutting-edge specs that gamers ogle over.
It could be useful for stock analysts, software engineers, and journalists like myself. I have to admit though, that having multiple cheaper screens could accomplish the same thing for much less money.
Is a pair of monitors, however, as cool as having a SuperWide Curved Monitor? Absolutely not. Would I keep this thing forever if I could? Absolutely.