Although the conventional display market is saturated with so many products that it can be really hard to choose any single one, there still aren't that many 21:9 screens out there. Most manufacturers only have one in their product line-up, and therefore they throw everything at it, making it a flagship model with excellent picture quality and great design without any corners cut. That seems to be what Philips has done here, ensuring even the built-in audio is top notch.
There's certainly plenty to like here, with the image quality itself being the most compelling point. The picture is sharp and bright, and everything from the Windows desktop through to games and movies looks great. We also really appreciated the design of this monitor, and the neat extras such as the little joystick for controlling the on-screen menus and the above-average integrated speakers.
Gamers may be disappointed with the refresh rate, and the fact that no anti-stuttering technology such as Nvidia's G-Sync or AMD's FreeSync is included. This is also a pretty big monitor which will dominate your average desk, and there's a minor design niggle in that you can't adjust its height.
There's no doubt about it: the Phililps Brilliance BDM3490UC is a great monitor. But how does it compare to the competition from firms like Samsung and LG, who are taking a similar approach with their own high quality 21:9 screens? Refresh rates of 60Hz and IPS technology are generally standard across all good quality displays, so there's no single unique feature that makes the BDM3490UC stand out.
Manufacturers of gaming displays such as Acer and Asus are pushing refresh rates beyond 60Hz and including technology such as Nvidia G-Sync, but the Brilliance BDM3490UC lacks these advanced gaming features. However, if you want those gaming features, you have to pay considerably more for them.
Although no ultra-wide 21:9 display could be called cheap, the Philips Brilliance BDM3490UC is reasonably good value when compared with some of its competition. Given the great picture and excellent build quality, that makes it a very compelling offering. If this ultra-wide 21:9 form factor appeals to you, then this screen should be at, or at least near, the top of your shopping list.