At this year's CES Josh and I sat down with representatives of QD Vision to discuss their quantum dot display technology, along with where they see the television and monitor market moving in the next few years. QD Vision offers a quantum dot solution for displays, which is branded as Color IQ. The interesting proposition that QD Vision brings to the table with their technology is that it's not just usable in high end displays, but also in less expensive ones where it can be used to bring features that were traditionally limited to high end displays down to a lower price point.

After our meeting with QD Vision, we were informed that Philips would be launching a new line of monitors that use QD Vision's Color IQ technology. Given that these are some of the first computer monitors to come to market with quantum dot technology, I was quite interested in taking a look at it. The monitor in question is the Philips 276E6 monitor, which has a 27" panel and claims to cover 99% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. The full specifications of the Philips 276E6 can be found in the chart below.

Philips 276E6
Video Inputs VGA, DVI-D, HDMI
Panel Type IPS-ADS
Pixel Pitch 0.311 mm
Colors 16.7 million (8-bit)
Gamut 99% Adobe RGB
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio 1000:1
Response Time 5ms GtG
Viewable Size 27-inch
Resolution 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz
Viewing Angle 178°/178°
Backlight W-LED + QD
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Tilt -5° to +20°
Dimensions 640 x 471 x 235  mm
Weight 5.33 kg
Accessories VGA Cable
Power adapter

Before moving forward, there are obviously a few points to address about the Philips 276E6. The first is the resolution and pixel density. At 27", a 1920x1080 resolution is definitely on the lowest end of the spectrum. It's very important to keep in mind that the 276E6 retails for only $300, which really isn't enough to get you a 27" 2560x1440 sRGB monitor unless you can order from Korea and dodge import fees. With that in mind, you're certainly not going to find a 2560x1440 Adobe RGB monitor for $300, and with the purpose of monitors like the 276E6 being to drive down the price of wide gamut displays, this concession makes sense. However, it is true that the pixel density of a 27" 1080p monitor is quite low, and having used a 2560x1440 27" monitor for several years now it did take some adjustment to get used to.

One other point to consider regarding the 276E6 is that, as a wide gamut monitor, it's positioning itself as a product for photographers and other professionals who would like to be able to work in a wider color space. For those applications the relatively low resolution poses less of a problem than applications that involve looking at a great deal of text. The Philips 276E6 is also just the first of many displays that will come to market with this technology, and even for users who are interested in a smaller or higher resolution panel the 276E6 will provide insight into the level of quality that can be expected from this new generation of inexpensive wide gamut displays.

As for the design of the Philips 276E6, I think it's quite unique, but I'm not sure if I'm a huge fan of it. The chassis is definitely on the flimsy side, and the fact that it's made of white glossy plastic doesn't help the visual impression that it's not the sturdiest monitor. The panel has an AG coating, but it's not as heavy as the coatings I've seen on monitors that are really heavily targeted at office use. 

The back of the monitor is the same plastic as the front, although the chassis isn't a single component, so there is a gap between the two parts that runs around the edge. The back has a wave-like pattern, which I think looks sort of odd, but it's not really a problem since it's on the back of the monitor where it probably won't ever be seen. All the ports are back-facing rather than down-facing, and they include a port for the power adapter, a VGA port, a DVI-D port, and an HDMI port. There's also a jack for HDMI audio out.

As for the stand, it looks like a fairly study metal stand. However, that's only really true for half of it. The base of the stand is metal, and is removable, but the shaft is made of plastic and is permanently attached to the display. The stand has a degree of tilt, although tilting it too far worries me because the stand can be quite wobbly and I worry that any sudden shift or an impact on the desk may topple it. 

One other thing I wanted to comment on is the OSD and the buttons for accessing it. To be quite frank, the buttons are horrible. The response is inconsistent, and you often end up hitting the wrong button by mistake and closing the menu. I wish manufacturers would just use physical buttons, as they're much easier to use and I really doubt that the impact on the bill of materials is significant. 

For $300 you're not going to get an aluminum enclosure for your monitor, and in fact you don't really get that even for $1000 unless you buy Apple's Thunderbolt Display. However, I think darker matte plastic would have probably been a better option, and it should have been possible at this price point. Getting a stand with height adjustments and rotation is going to require buying a more expensive monitor, and the tilt range is as much as you'll need for a monitor of this size. Ultimately a monitor is going to be more about function than form, and that's what we'll get to next.

Color IQ: What it is, and how it works
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  • Guspaz - Friday, April 29, 2016 - link

    The U2711 was a high-end monitor, and so one of the advertised features was that Dell individually calibrated every monitor at the factory. They included with each monitor a custom calibration report that had the deltaE and such things, with graphs and whatnot. Dell provided a generic ICC profile file for the monitor, so I would imagine that the monitor itself was calibrated so that the ICC profile would match the physical monitor.

    If I pick option 2 (monitor set to sRGB, Windows set to ICC profile), then how does Windows know that the monitor is expecting the input to be in the sRGB colour space?
  • Brandon Chester - Friday, April 29, 2016 - link

    To the best of my knowledge Dell's factory calibration is at the internal LUT level so you can plug it into any device and have it be accurate (the best type of calibration). The ICC is probably just something generic and I doubt it contains a VCGT for the GPU.

    I would choose "option 4", which is to say, just leave the OS color management alone because Dell has been playing this game long enough to know that the Windows CMM doesn't work, has made your monitor usable in sRGB without having to mess with it, and given you the option to turn on Adobe RGB when you open Lightroom or some other program.
  • jlabelle2 - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    - If I pick option 2 (monitor set to sRGB, Windows set to ICC profile), then how does Windows know that the monitor is expecting the input to be in the sRGB colour space? -

    Option 2 is Option 4 with a display ICC calibration. If you are using a color managed application, it reads embedded profile and therefore will display correctly. On most of the case where it is not color managed (wall paper, Edge, modern Windows app...), the assumption is that you would use sRGB content anyway (web, pictures you received..).
    The ICC display profile ensure that you are correcting the latest inaccuracy from the Dell screen compared to sRGB color space (as, even out of the box, calibrated by Dell, it is not perfect).

    If you have no calibration probe, your best bet is option 4.
  • jlabelle - Friday, April 29, 2016 - link

    - On my Mac I just set the ICC profile and everything works immediately and perfectly. -

    For record, it does because does not really take advantage of the wide gamut in your case !
  • Spunjji - Thursday, April 28, 2016 - link

    "for photographers and other professionals... the relatively low resolution poses less of a problem"

    Higher pixel density is actually huge asset - you can get a better idea of critical image sharpness without zooming in, and getting above 1080p is a massive help for getting more working area between all the toolbars.

    So really, having wide gamut /and/ high pixel density would be great. Hopefully they get on that! :)
  • Brandon Chester - Thursday, April 28, 2016 - link

    I definitely agree. Anyone who has done photo editing on a 4K or 5K display can attest to the improvement. I just meant that relative to someone who writes word documents all day, the lower resolution is probably less of an issue.
  • Spunjji - Thursday, April 28, 2016 - link

    If I could edit, I'd add thanks for the article - it was a fascinating read and I was certainly not aware that Apple had such a commanding lead in colour calibration support. Food for thought.
  • jlabelle - Friday, April 29, 2016 - link

    - I was certainly not aware that Apple had such a commanding lead in colour calibration support. Food for thought.-

    Let's be honest, having a less confusing way of setting once your display ICC profile (which anyway is done automatically by the software coming with your calibration probe) is NOT having a commanding lead in color calibration support. That is a silly statement.
  • willis936 - Thursday, April 28, 2016 - link

    I'm seeing a lot of gripes about windows color management. Doesn't argyllcms take care of that? Anyone shelling out for wide gamut should also spend the $50 for a cheap colorimeter.
  • Brandon Chester - Thursday, April 28, 2016 - link

    1. Cheap colorimeters are so inaccurate that they're basically useless.

    2. Argyll doesn't solve any of the problems. You need your OS, its frameworks, and its applications to all understand color management and work with the CMM. ArgyllCMS is basically a tool for profiling and creating ICC profiles, it can't make software understand and utilize them.

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