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Philips Gioco 278G4 3D Ambiglow Monitor Review

Philips Gioco 278G4 3D Ambiglow Monitor

The Phiips Gioco 278G4 is a beautiful monitor. Not only does the frameless 27in IPS panel look like a high-end monitor, with its slim and glossy bezel, it's also a Full HD display that's 3D-ready. It isn't height adjustable, sadly, but with 20 degrees of screen tilt available, you shouldn't have any trouble finding a comfortable viewing angle.The Gioco 278G4 is certainly very pretty, but is it a
great monitor?

It's one of Philips' Ambiglow models, which means it has 10 LEDs embedded in the back of the casing. These are meant to match the colours being projected onscreen, whether you're playing games, watching movies or using it for everyday word processing. The idea is to create a halo of light around the monitor on the wall behind it in order to 'extend' the display past the edge of the screen, and offer a more immersive 3D experience. But even with the Ambiglow set to its brightest setting, the light being emitted did very little to bring us closer to our viewing experience. You'll have to place the monitor 15-20cm away from the wall and turn off the lights to get the best effect, but more often than not the spell was broken due to sudden changes in the light's colour. Instead of smoothly adapting to whatever's being shown onscreen, the light flashes instantly from one colour to the next, and it's incredibly distracting because it draws your eyes away from the screen.

To set up 3D, all you need to do is install the TriDef drivers that come in the box, after which it'll
automatically switch between 2D and 3D depending on the program or game. Sadly, the TriDef drivers included in the box aren't compatible with Windows 8, but you can download Windows 8-compatible drivers. You'll also need a graphics card that's up to the task of out putting enough frames per second to make watching 3D worthwhile. The Gioco 278G4 has a maximum refresh rate of 60fps, which drops to a lowly 30fps when you view images in 3D. The best 3D monitors have refresh rates of 120Hz so that you get an smooth 60fps when playing games in 3D. The Gioco's 30fps might not be enough for keen gamers.

Hook up the Gioco 278G4 to a 3D-compatible games console or 3D Blu-ray Player and it works brilliantly. The Gioco 278G4 displays 3D images automatically, without need for drivers, and there are no wires or fiddly menus to worry about. All you need to do is put on the pair of 3D glasses included in the box and you're ready to go. You'll still need to find a very specific sweet spot in order to minimize some heavy crosstalk (we found it best to look directly at the middle of the screen), but once you find it, the level of depth is very good. One drawback is that there are no 3D controls on the monitor itself. You must use the TriDef utility on your PC to adjust various settings, including 3D depth, but we found it a bit fiddly to use. Of course, you can't use the TriDef utility if you're playing a PlayStation 3 game or watching a Blu-ray movie.

The 278G4 has enough inputs to let you connect multiple devices at once, including three HDMI inputs and a VGA port for connecting it to older PCs. It doesn't have any speakers built into the casing, but there is a HDMI audio output for your headphones or an external pair of speakers. There are also four USB3 ports, which is particularly handy if you like to keep your PC out of the way on the floor. Of course, no monitor is worth its salt if it hasn't got the image quality to match its special features. Thankfully, the 278G4 isn't far off the award-winning AOC e2752Vq when it comes to colour accuracy. Straight out of the box, our colour calibrator showed it was displaying 97.5 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. We weren't able to increase this score after calibration, but a score of 97 per cent is precisely what we expect to see from an IPS screen at this price. Our solid colour image tests bore similar results, showing very bright and vivid reds, greens and blues uniformly across the screen. Blacks were deep and whites were almost truly white, but here we couldn't help but notice the backlight bleeding through very slightly in the bottom corners of the screen.

You wouldn't notice it during day-to-day use, but it nevertheless chips away at the monitor's overall appeal. Its glossy finish also caused a few problems with reflections when we tried viewing our high
contrast images with the lights on, but considering the 278G4's Ambiglow effect is best viewed in the dark, we had no problems whatsoever when we turned the lights off. Each picture showed a very high level of detail, and its brightness levels were also excellent.

Overall, we like the Philips Gioco 278G4, especially its USB 3 hub, but its AmbiGlow feature not only feels superfluous, it also detracts from your viewing pleasure. You can turn it off, though. If you aren't going to take advantage of its 3D capabilities either, that leaves the 278G4 feeling rather expensive. If you'd rather not pay a £50 premium for its good looks, then you'd probably be better off with the AOC e2752Vq .

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