Philips 34E1C5600HE review: how wide is too wide?

The Philips 34E1C5600HE is an ultrawide curved monitor that tests the limits of desk space – and reason.

A black Philips 34E1C5600HE monitor on a wooden desk
(Image: © Future/Erlingur Einarsson)

Our Verdict

The Philips 34E1C5600HE is a well-built ultrawide curved monitor available for mid-range money, so is definitely a solid option for those in the market for winged screen monsters. It does come up short on a few items, like webcam and speaker quality, and connectivity is fiddly, but gaming was a surprisingly delightful experience on a monitor not pitched as a gaming product.

For

  • Surprising gaming performance
  • Top anti-glare quality
  • Great contrast and screen response

Against

  • Middling webcam
  • Poor speakers
  • Ports hard to reach

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Philips 34E1C5600HE specs

Screen size: 34in
Screen type: VA LCD
Resolution: 3440 x 1440
Brightness: 300 nits
Contrast: 3000:1
Pixel response: 4ms
Refresh rate: 100Hz
Display colours: 16.7 million
Inputs: 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x USB-C (DisplayPort Alt mode, data and Power Delivery), 1x HDCP 1.4, 1x HDCP 2.2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 4x USB-A downstream (with 1 fast charge B.C 1.2), Separate Sync, Audio Out
Adjustment: Tilt -5/20º, height adjustment 130mm,  
Weight: (with stand) 9.29kg
Dimensions: (with stand) 808 x 557 x 281mm 

The first thing my ever-curious six-year-old son said when he saw me place the Philips 34E1C5600HE monitor on my desk was, "Who needs something like that?"

And honestly, I was thinking the same. Replacing a 27-inch monitor I had been reviewing before that, one that was already a considerable size upgrade on my own 24-incher I have in-between tests, this 34-inch curved behemoth from Philips made the narrow L-shaped desk I was using at the time look comically tiny, spreading its arching wings over most of it, its (necessarily huge) hexagonal stand pushing my keyboard to the very front edge, its ludicrously wide screen not so much sitting in front of me as it was actively confronting me.

Don't get me wrong, some people don't only like ultrawide monitors, they actually need them. Sort of. Well, it certainly helps in some cases, and you can find monitors this size among the best monitors for video-editing (opens in new tab) and the best monitors for programming (opens in new tab), for example, where the cinematic screen ratio and the ample screen real estate makes multifaceted work both simpler and more efficient. So, how would this Philips contender match up? I decided to plug it in, turn it on, and find out.

Philips 34E1C5600HE review: Design and build

A black 34-inch Philips 34E1C5600HE monitor on a wooden desk

This monitor is much happier on a laaaaarge desk (Image credit: Future/Erlingur Einarsson)

The screen is a 34-inch curved VA LCD panel with a W-LED backlight system, cased in a black frame with three very thin bezels and a thicker Philips-branded bezel at the bottom. It feels and looks sturdy and well-built, as you would expect from the Dutch screenmaker, and latches easily onto the metallic table stand. It's a good thing that's easy, too, as the screen weighs a hefty 7.16kg. The stand adds over 2kg to the total weight, so you better pray your desk isn't too flimsy...

Plugging everything in is a little trickier, as the plentiful array of ports is inconveniently tucked into a notch underneath the back, and with no rotation and limited tilt available on the stand, some fumbling around is almost inevitable. It certainly feels like this could be laid out more conveniently for the user, especially if you're setting the monitor up in a room where you can't easily get behind a desk or turn things around after they've been set up (speaking from experience here). 

Once set up though, the monitor looks imposing but classy, with its matte framing and anti-glare coating on the screen reducing unwanted reflection off the ample black-mirror area. 

On top of the monitor, in casing that sticks up from the rectangle in a trapezoid shape, sits the integrated webcam. It comes with a physical privacy shutter that blocks and unblocks the lens by simply sliding it left and right. There's a slight flimsiness to the slider, but it works well enough to do its intended job.

Philips 34E1C5600HE review: Features

A black 34-inch Philips 34E1C5600HE monitor on a wooden desk

Plugging everything in after setting the monitor up was a mistake (Image credit: Future/Erlingur Einarsson)

The Philips 34E1C5600HE aims for pro users with its 21:9 screen ratio and 3440x1440px resolution, with up to 100Hz scanning frequency to help both creative tasks and gaming endeavours look their best. The brightness is a very decent 300 nits but doesn't really threaten much brighter (and admittedly more expensive) HDR screens in the market. 

It has both an HDMI and DisplayPort connection, along with a USB-C port that can serve as both a DP alt mode, a power source for a laptop (along with a second, huge screen) and for data transfer. There are also two HDCP (HDMI/DP/USB-C hybrids), one 2.2 and one 1.4. There's also a USB 3.2 port along with four USB-A downstream ports, meaning you can attach a number of peripherals straight to the monitor (along with your headphones using the audio port) – if you can reach them, that is. 

Meanwhile, the integrated webcam is a 5MP offering, which isn't exactly world-beating, but I've seen similar or worse-specced webcams that do the job well enough on other monitors and laptops.

Philips 34E1C5600HE review: Performance

A black 34-inch Philips 34E1C5600HE monitor on a wooden desk

This is not the best webcam we've ever used... (Image credit: Future/Erlingur Einarsson)

Being such a large screen, the 34-inch Philips 34E1C5600HE also has a lot of pixels, for a maximum resolution of 3440x1440 in a very cinematic 21:9 ratio. However, with it spread over such a large area, though, the pixel density is a fairly pedestrian 109.68 PPI, and that's something you really do notice when watching films and video in full screen. 

I found myself opting to watch HD videos on YouTube in windowed mode, even though I usually prefer the immersion of full screen, because they just got too pixellated, and HD/UHD-ready films on streaming services looked noticeably grainier than on smaller, more pixel-dense screens.

Gaming looks a lot better, though, with the SmartImage Game mode coming into its own, providing an immersive experience rich in colour, and even though other monitors offer higher scanning frequency than this one's 100Hz, I found it plentiful for my chosen diet of strategy and racing games. The width of the screen really immersed me in racing action in particular, helping me to enable a wider field of vision, one closer to a realistic perspective when sitting in the driver's seat on a packed grid of single-seaters roaring down the start-finish straight at Spa.

Contrast is a very decent 3000:1 and the claimed colour gamut of 99.25% NTSC coverage and 123.24% sRGB coverage is nicely backed up by its performance in gaming and when editing photos, although the Adobe RGB coverage isn't quoted. 

Also, the webcam, which provides 5MP resolution, is a decided underperformer too. It often struggled a bit with sudden brightness changes (such as the sun coming out from behind a cloud outside the window or the light in the room being turned on or off), and video looked a bit potatocam, let's be honest, next to my video-conferencing colleagues using HD webcams.

There is also an integrated speaker on the speaker, but it's literally only useful for VC, as any music sounds hollow and disappointingly quiet on it, so if you're using this monitor for a desktop, you'll need external speakers or a soundbar for any meaningful audio experience.

Philips 34E1C5600HE review: Price

The Philips 34E1C5600HE sits plush in the mid-range for monitors of this size, its going rate of around £500 making it slightly more expensive than the gaming-friendly BenQ EX3410r (opens in new tab), but a much more affordable option than the slightly higher-specced LG 38WN95C (one of our best monitors for video-editing (opens in new tab)). It's a very reasonable price point for what you're getting, especially as it comes from a screenmaker known for well-built hardware that lasts for a long time.

Should you buy the Philips 34E1C5600HE?

A black 34-inch Philips 34E1C5600HE monitor on a wooden desk

Despite some flaws, this remains a mark of quality on a monitor (Image credit: Future/Erlingur Einarsson)

If you're looking for an ultrawide monitor that can handle daily work, programming, entry-level video-editing or photo-editing and can immerse you in games without breaking the bank, the Philips 34E1C5600HE, at its price point, is a good proposition. It's not without its flaws (fiddly access to ports, pedestrian webcam, woeful speakers), but I'll probably miss the massive, mostly pain-free screen real estate it's offered me once it's time to pack it up and send it back. If you're in the market for a curved 34-inch monitor, this Philips giant should go on your shortlist, as long as you are aware of its small selection of shortcomings.

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The Verdict
7

out of 10

Philips 34E1C5600

The Philips 34E1C5600HE is a well-built ultrawide curved monitor available for mid-range money, so is definitely a solid option for those in the market for winged screen monsters. It does come up short on a few items, like webcam and speaker quality, and connectivity is fiddly, but gaming was a surprisingly delightful experience on a monitor not pitched as a gaming product.

Erlingur Einarsson
Tech Reviews Editor

Erlingur is the Tech Reviews Editor on Creative Bloq. Having worked on magazines devoted to Photoshop, films, history, and science for over 15 years, as well as working on Digital Camera World and Top Ten Reviews in more recent times, Erlingur has developed a passion for finding tech that helps people do their job, whatever it may be. He loves putting things to the test and seeing if they're all hyped up to be, to make sure people are getting what they're promised. Still can't get his wifi-only printer to connect to his computer.