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Philips strive to make things better, though not necessarily smaller or cheaper as this formidable 19-inch multimedia monitor proves



One thing you learn very quickly with the Philips Brilliance 109 monitor is not to put anything on the top of it. If you do it will almost certainly turn off because that's where the on/off switch is, slap-bang in the middle of the top panel. It's hard to say whether Philips has done it deliberately -- to prevent owners using the top of the monitor as a shelf -- or maybe it is some kind of tricky design statement, either way it is a damn nuisance. Where else are you going to put your stuff with one of these monsters taking up all the desk space…?


Make no mistake, it is a whopper, the 109 is one of the plumpest 19-inch monitors on the market, but that's because it has a pair of multimedia speakers and a microphone set into the screen surround. It's also one of the dearest, though looking through the features list it's not hard to see why, the specification is very impressive. Maximum resolution is a theoretical 1800 x 1350 with auto-scan horizontal frequency range between 30kHz and 107kHz and a vertical frequency of 50Hz to 160Hz. Dot pitch is just 0.22mm so it is well suited to a very wide range of demanding applications, including of course desktop video.


It has so many pre-sets and adjustments that it is unlikely you'll ever get any work done when it first takes up residence on your desk. In addition to all of the usual picture geometry control there's compensation for distortion caused by the Earth's magnetic field. Of more immediate interest to those living and working away from spurious geodetic phenomena and big magnets is the facility to connect to a PC and other peripherals using a USB interface. However, closer inspection of the specs reveals this is an optional extra, requiring a plug-in USB hub module costing a further £50.00.


Conventional rear-panel connections to the 109 comprise a 15-pin D-sub and a set of BNC sockets, for the benefit of Mac users; there is also a pair of phonos for audio-in and a jack for the microphone output. The monitor comes supplied with a removable shroud, to protect the cables and tidy up the appearance of the backside. On the right side of the cabinet there's two minijack sockets for an external microphone and headphones.  


And so we come to the on-screen display. You will see from the photograph that the front panel has just a couple of buttons, the small one is for sound mute, the other one calls up the OSD. Underneath the screen surround there's a large thumbwheel, that steps through the options, and boy is there a lot of them! Once you've found the adjustment you want to change you have to press the front panel button again to select it. Because they're spaced quite far apart this requires a certain amount of manual dexterity, or very long fingers. Then it's back to the wheel, to make the changes. The point is that it's quite a long-winded business, thankfully not the sort of thing you need to do very often.


In amongst the menus there are some very useful features, like three colour balance presets, (Cad/Cam, DTP and Photo Retouch) each of which can be customised and stored. Incidentally, it also comes with a copy of Colourific colour matching software on CD-ROM. There's a zoom facility, that adjusts the overall size of the image to suit the application, and moire cancellation. On the audio menu there are settings for volume, bass, treble and balance.



The flat, high-contrast screen has excellent anti-glare properties and produces a bright crisp image, even in brightly-lit surroundings. We use a combination of static test patterns and moving video across a number of standard resolution settings; overall the display is excellent and it passed all of our colour, focus, convergence and power supply stability tests without a hitch.


Sound quality from the built-in speakers is perfectly adequate for all normal Windows application, though serious game players might find the bass response is a bit limited.



The OSD and top-mounted switch are a bit of a pain, and the price seems at first glance to be on the high side -- the extra £50 for USB connectivity doesn't help -- but when you factor in flexibility, speakers and microphone it doesn't look quite so bad. We have absolutely no problems with the video performance of the 109; image quality is up there with the best of them. The wide range of resolution settings and the extra display facilities mean that is capable of handling just about anything that you're likely to throw at it.


How Much?                  

£540 (inc.VAT) *, USB hub £50

Tube size                     


Visible display area     

365 x 255mm

Dot pitch          


Max Resolution 

1800 x 1350 pixels

Max refresh rate

auto scan to 93kHz


485 x 490 x 515mm





Features                       9

Performance                  9

Ease of use                   7

Value for money            8


Overall Rating  88%


Philips UK, telephone (0181) 665 6350,

* Dabs Direct




ã R. Maybury 1998 2311




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