The Philips Brilliance 242G5DJEB monitor is specifically aimed at the performance-seeking gamer, with unique features that set it apart from other monitors both inside and outside the ‘gaming’ subset of monitors. How do these specific functions stack up and are they worth the investment? We tested the monitor extensively and paid extra attention to the functionality designed to set it apart from the competition.
First and foremost, the 242G5DJEB (and I wish monitor producers would use less product-driven names!) features a 144Hz refresh rate. As we pointed out in our Gaming Monitors 101 guide, the higher framerate (many monitors still run at 75Hz) will ensure a ultra smooth framerate if your graphics card can output frames at the required rate. This being a monitor geared towards the high performance end of gamer, we will assume that prospective buyers will be able to exceed the framerates where 144Hz becomes benificial. It’s worth pointing out that you can only reach 144Hz refresh rates when using a Dual-DVI cable (which is supplied with the monitor), as an HDMI interface does not support this.
The monitor does feature two HDMI ports (one specifically for displaying Mobile HD content), a display port and a D-Sub (‘VGA’) port. When connecting the monitor to your pc using the D-DVI cable, you can connect it to a console via HDMI as well, which is a benefit for gamers with multi-system setups. However, the HDMI port does not support audio though internal speakers and this means your console experience will be silent as long as you don’t connect a set of speakers or headphones to your monitor first (using the HDMI audio-out port).
Rounding things off on the hardware end of things, the 242G5DJEB features 1ms response times, a SmartControl interface with a dedicated remote, a 4-pot USB 3.0 hub on the side of the monitor and a high build quality for both the screen and the stand. The stand supports raising and lowering the screen, tilting it, swiveling left and right and rotating the monitor at a 90 degree angle. The latter, from a gaming perspective, is great for old fashioned vertical arcade shooters and pinball games. Coming back to the dedicated remote, the (wired) remote has a cheaper ‘plasticky’ feel to it but offers a lot of convenience to users in bypassing the on screen display (OSD) modes that the monitor offers. With the remote, you can switch between pre-defined presets at the press of a single button without having to lean forward to tinker with the on-screen controls. If the existing presets (for racing or FPS games) don’t do it for you, you can create user-defined presets and switch to those instantly as well.
While using the monitor, we slowly got to grips with all the extra features it has under its hood. Besides the usual brightness, contrast and sharpness features and the presets mentioned above, Philips also added support for their SmartControl software which features a mode called ‘SmartFrame’. What this does is supply extra brightness to certain areas of the screen to help you highlight that which might otherwise stay out of your area of focus. During actual gameplay, this could mean that you spot enemies entering your point of view earlier on if you have the edges of your screen lit up more, though we didn’t feel a competitive advantage with the feature enabled. Still, we can think of many possible applications where this feature could add to the gameplay experience (for instance, when displaying popup windows for dramatic effect), so props to Philips for introducing it and we’re hoping for it to be developed futher in future software revisions.
The 242G5DJEB offers excellent picture quality, but the monitor is so feature-rich and this comes at a price in terms of having to tweak the settings a little if you want to take full advantage of what your screen has to offer. The predefined settings might be too far removed from what you’re used to and we often found ourselves using either our own standard settings or slightly lowering the dramatic effects within the various presets. On the other hand, using the enhanced contrast effects that these presets offer does provide an extra dimension to games with a distinct visual design. Games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the Burnout or Ridge Racer series work very well with the presets, but ultimately this will be down to personal taste.
Looking at the full package, it appears Philips has put its focus in all the right places. The 242G5DJEB does not have internal speakers (unlike the AOC g2460Pqu that we reviewed), but the high end gamer audience is likely to have a dedicated solution for this already. The monitor’s need for some tweaking with the settings might also put some people off, but is a testament to the screen’s versatility which is a feature sure to appeal to the demanding gamer as well. And that’s not even addressing the core of this product: 144Hz performance for unrivalled support for high-powered gaming rigs. If you’re a performance gamer who’s already invested in a top end graphics card and a gaming-specific mouse and keyboard, you might want to check out the benefits that are available today in terms of monitors. Philips is hoping you will, and the 242G5DJEB shows that they understand the (high end) gamer’s needs – highly recommended if you’re in that target group.