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Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC


:P
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For software developers lots of screen real estate is important – it seems like there's never enough. Trying to see code, and multiple browser windows, debuggers and command windows all at once or at least in a way that you can find all these windows quickly is difficult if you don't have a ton of screen real estate lest you get into multi-finger acrobatics. Yeah, we've all done that. For the longest time I've fallen behind in my expansion of screen real estate – I've been stuck with a couple of  27" 1080p monitors (plus the laptop screen) for a looong time. I missed the WQHD/WQXGA era because it seemed like too little too late, when 4k was on the horizon. However it seems like it's taken a long time for 4k monitors to actually catch on and even longer for some decent sized 4k displays to become available.

A couple of weeks ago when I got back to Maui and my office (after 6 months on the mainland), I finally decided to jump in and buy a 4k monitor. But not just any monitor either but a freaking behemoth of a monitor that is the 40" Phillips BDM4065UC.

Why this Philips?

4k seems to me the logical next step for monitor resolutions, but a 4k monitor on anything smaller than a 30+ inch monitor is pointless, so I've been waiting for for larger models to show up. I discovered the Philips monitor before it was released in the US and was available only as an import and it looked tempting then. The thing that put me off initially was that it's relatively cheap compared to most other 4k monitors – it's in the same price ranger as mid to high end ~30" monitors which seems surprising given that this is one of the very few large 4k monitors out there. So, naturally I was skeptical and with lack of reviews at the time I decided to hold off.

In the last 6 months I've checked the reviews again and talked to a few people that bought these and said they were good – not great but good. Since I've never owned a super high end monitor I figured I can live with purist limitations and decided to get it.

After a week and half with this beast I can tell you one thing: There's no way I'm going back to a smaller monitor!

It's freaking Big and Big is AWESOME!

This monitor is very large compared to the 27" displays I've been using in my office. Just to give you and idea, here is the monitor with one of the old 27" monitors on the right and the 15" MacBook Pro on the left. Look how puny the 27" looks compared to the Philips.

MonitorSetup

Yes it's a behemoth. When the box showed up at the door it was a definite OMG moment! Sylvia said it must be some mistake on the delivery and now she's worried I might never emerge from my office again :-). Once set up the monitor barely fit underneath the mounted speakers…

When I sat down in front of the monitor for the first time I definitely thought: This is going to be too freaking large. I felt like being at a tennis match in the front row. You definitely have to turn your head to see each end of the monitors edges :-)

But surprisingly after a day or so of use the monitor no longer feels massive, but rather it feels – just right. It takes a little getting used to, in terms of figuring out how to place your windows for maximum efficiency to access them and to put the content you're working at the right eye level. The screen real estate is amazing. 4k is essentially four 1080p monitors and that is a lot of space. Making the most of all this space takes some experimenting – I like to layer my windows so that part of every window is always visible so it's easy to get to each open window and with 4k of space it's very easy to keep a lot of stuff open and accessible.

 

Living with 40 inches

40" is big enough so you can run the monitor in its native 100% resolution without any scaling required from Windows or the Mac. I run Windows at 100% and the Mac in smallest scaled size it can do and while it's a little bit on the small side it's totally doable.  I'd say it's probably equivalent of what you would get with a 24" display at 1080p.

To give you an idea of screen size consider this screen shot of using Visual Studio with 3 edit windows open simultaneously plus a document and test view, plus a full screen browser with the Dev Tools open:

VisualStudioAndDev

Everything you need on one screen!

The real kicker here is the vertical resolution – if you want to see a lot of lines of code in a single page, this is a pure joy to get over 2k vertical pixel height When you're heads down working this setup is pretty sweet with Code, HTML, CSS all open in a single view, plus a code search, active browser and browser dev tools. It's pretty damn productive when everything is right there without flipping between different windows or monitors.

Another really cool use for all that screen real estate for me has been running my music recording rig. I use LogicProX on the Mac and running a DAW at 4k is simply amazing.

Daw

I can see all my tracks, plus the full track mixer plus a number of bus views and plug ins I'm actively working on in a single view. When I'm actually recording I can see the whole track while it's running which provides some useful visual feedback.

In short having this much screen real estate is just awesome. But what's really scary is that now going back to the 1080p display to do anything feels like a an 800x600 display of old. It's going to be hard going back to smaller resolutions once you get used to this much screen real estate.

The Good Stuff

Given that this is a relative cheap monitor for this size, the monitor is pretty nice. Yes it's missing some amenities, but the things that really matter for developers are all there and working.

There's lots to like:

  • Size, Size, Size
  • Super sharp text at native resolution and scaling
  • Good brightness and contrast levels
  • 60hz support with DisplayPort 1.2 (has to be configured explicitly)
  • Price: Less than $800 from Amazon
  • PIP options to section the screen into halves or quarters driven by separate video inputs

Make sure you configure the Monitor for DisplayPort 1.2

Note that in order to get the monitor to run at 60hz, which is a requirement if you want to run it at native resolution so you don't get severe mouse lag, you have to configure the monitor explicitly via the on screen menus. Those menus are a bit tricky to work at first – it's a funky joy stick at the back. The DisplayPort configuration is in the Setup section of the onscreen menu on the bottom.

It's a mystery why they would ship this thing with DisplayPort 1.1 support enabled by default when you can't really get good enough screen performance to run it at native resolution. You definitely need DisplayPort 1.2 to use this monitor effectively so make sure you have a video card that supports this.

I'm using the current 15" MacBook Pro with the monitor and it works great. You'll need a mini DP to full DP cable which is not included in the box to hook up a laptop. There are a host of cables that come with the monitor including a full size DisplayPort cable, but no mini to full DP cable.

You will also need a video card that actually supports 4k video output. Most recent video cards on higher end laptops and most reasonably recent dedicated GPUs should support 4k and DisplayPort 1.2 but be sure to check first.

Driving this much screen requires a lot of horsepower and I have noticed that the GPU is working pretty hard and forcing the MacBook fan to run a lot more than it did before. I also noticed that while running in Parallels, the mouse is not quite as smooth as it used to be. However, in native Windows (Bootcamp) or native Mac there's no problem. You do want to bump the mouse pointer sensitivity nearly as high as it will go so you can get around all of this screen real estate. Any small hiccup in the mouse software or wireless connectivity is noticeable – I'm considering getting a wired mouse to avoid these disconnects.

It's not all Unicorns and Rainbows

As I mentioned early, when I did some research on this monitor the reviews were good but not exactly glowing. The bottom line is that this is a good monitor, but it's not a competitor in the top of the line camp for monitors. This is not an IPS monitor so while the screen is super sharp, the color gamut is average at best. Even playing around with the color settings on the monitor and in the OS gives decent but slightly washed out colors. I settled on the standard SRGB settings which are not customizable at the monitor level with some gamma tweaking in the video settings for the video card to make colors pop a little better. This isn't to say the colors are bad, but compared to high end displays this monitor is not a contender.

The other issue are viewing angles. Because the monitor is absolutely massive this actually matter a lot more than other monitors because you are actually affected by viewing angles sitting directly in front of the monitor. I've had issues with things on the very bottom of the screen – like Windows Taskbar highlights being difficult to see because they are so small. If you are really close to the monitor and looking down the bottom edge starts disappearing. The higher you sit the more noticeable this problem becomes. It's a minor thing that could be easily fixed if the monitor had veritcal adjustment so the image could be moved up a touch, but in certain color profiles you can't adjust the image position.

Because the monitor is so big, I also noticed that there are a few uneven spots in the display. This is not a problem if you sit right in front of it but from various angles you see these uneven spots as slightly shaded/discolored.

The monitor comes on a fixed stand – there's no adjustment for height or angle. On the plus side the stand is an open metal frame that leaves room underneath the monitor so you can store stuff underneath the monitor.

None of these are deal breakers, and given the price of the monitor this is what you would expect.

Going Big

To me this is the right size for a monitor because it's the size that is borderline too big, but can display an enormous amount of pixels at native resolution. I think this is as big of a monitor that you can comfortably use sitting right in front of, so I don't foresee much bigger monitors coming along in the future and getting much traction. Some would say that this is too big, but I think this is pretty close to the sweet spot for 4k displays. It's big, but it doesn't feel too big.  I also think that even higher resolutions aren't going to matter all that much for monitors because this monitor's resolution is already ultra sharp – anything higher and we're just going to start scaling the screen down which seems pointless. So personally I think 4k seems like a sweet spot with 30"+ size monitors.

I'm rather surprised that there are a so few bigger size monitors out there. To date there are only very few and most of the other ones are a lot more expensive. I think this will change eventually once more people use these behemoths and they become more common. If you're a developer, once you see one of these, or better yet you've had a chance to work on one for a few hours you'll probably realize very quickly how productive it is to have all this screen real estate.

The Philips is a decent monitor and great deal for the price. It's bare bones but it gets the most important job done effectively.

There's no going back for me.

Update April 15th, 2016

So it's been nearly a half a year that I've had this monitor and I'm still as stoked about how this worked out as I was at the beginning. Well, not quite – I've gotten quite used to having a monstrous screen like this and going back to anything smaller (a typical 1080p display for example) seems blasphemous now.  When I travel and have to take the Mac book and work on the cramped 15 inch screen (even though it has near 4k res) is just painful once you're used to having all this screen real estate.

The productivity gain from having that much real estate is really significant for me and it's REALLY, REALLY noticable if I got back to working even with multiple smaller screens or a single screen. Being able to see multiple things side by side is crucial and while you can do it with multiple monitors it's a lot easier to manage lots of windows on a single big surface than multiple monitors.

Now multiple 40k monitors – that would be something :-)

It's still amazing to me that there are so few of these big monitors out there. This one still seems like the best choice, and with the current  price at Amazon of $699 it's hard not to call it a bargain for the productivity gain alone.

 

Related Monitor Resources

Posted in Hardware  

The Voices of Reason


 

Jerrie Pelser
November 23, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Good heavens, you can fit a lot of code on that monitor :D

Sam
November 23, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

I ve bought 40" too , but I return it back for 30" , as I found it is too big for my eyes and you feel tired after an our from looking at the screen unless you are too far from the monitor which might cause your eyes to get weaker .

Harvey Mushman
November 23, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Just think, if you rotate it to portrait and add a style sheet to even and odd rows of source code text (green vs. white) you could pretend it was a green-bar fan-fold paper printout just like the good old days.

The more I think about the size of that thing, the more at awe I am...

Guest it is time to consider retiring my 21 inch CRT, state-of-the-art at 1600x1900 in gee... 2002?

Steve
November 23, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Ive had this monitor for a few months and agree with your review.

I did try and use it with a 24 inch monitor either side but it was just too much. I think there is something to be said for not having too much information in view at any one time.

Having lots of vertical space for viewing code is great and easily the best thing about the extra space.

I now have a 24 inch monitor in portrait mode next to the 40inch and this is the sweet spot for me.

Peter kellner
November 23, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

I bet the over 45 crowd will have trouble with focal distance.

Rick Strahl
November 23, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@Steve - yeah I'm finding additional monitors to be more of a distraction. I'm going to stick it out a bit longer. I'm pushing Windows in Parallels onto the main screen with the Mac windows out on the 1080p and MBP and that seems to be OK.

@Peter - I don't really have a problem with the focal distance either close or far (and yes I'm over 45 :-) and I'm having focal issues with near/far sight generally but not on this monitor). I'm not really any further away than with my 1080p monitor because the text size is only slightly smaller than the old display.The main issue is that you have have to definitely have to move your head to look edge to edge (which is OK - same as multiple monitors).

Not sure what people are thinking about when they think eye strain is worse on this big monitor. It seems no different than any other display to me since actual text size is roughly the same.

Philip Hendry
November 24, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

That monitor is a monster!! I've had an AOC U2868PQU (http://amzn.to/1LyqEnB) for almost a year now and love it. It's only 28" and I run it at 100% scaling but my eyesight is perfect at these distances. I also run Nifty Windows (http://www.enovatic.org/products/niftywindows/) since moving and resizing windows becomes soo much easier (that said, Windows 10 provides so better support.) Graphics cards were a pain too - in the end I chose an AMD FirePro W2100 since it was reasonably cheap, supported 60Hz over display port and only requires about 30w (which given the age of my machine was a requirement!)

@Rick Do you wish the screen was curved? Even at 28" I notice the corners feel more 'distant'.

Rick Strahl
November 24, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@Philip - Sure curve might be nice, but I'm not sure how well that works for a developer screen that displays mostly text. I haven't seen one but I'd think the curve actually causes some warping in text that's potentially a problem...

Gareth Stephenson
November 25, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

I just got the LG 40UF673T 40", and it's pretty decent.

How long before you had change the DPI settings to at least 125%?
Operating at 100% DPI with that pixel density just made it too difficult to use (for me).

Colin Nicholls
November 26, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

*sigh* another good weblog lost to the curse of ginormous fonts. I suspect the mega-resolution displays are the culprit.

Rick Strahl
November 28, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@Colin - if you want smaller fonts reduce the width of the browser a bit. The blog reduces font-size for smaller (tablet to small desktop sizing). For wide screens it goes bigger assuming you're probably using a high res display.

Rick Strahl
November 28, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@Gareth - Looks like that LG 40" is a TV, not a monitor. I'd be real careful buying a TV instead of a monitor as they tend to be calibrated differently - TV's aren't as sharp as you need them to be typically as their optimized for different viewing distances than a monitor.

Craig
December 01, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Current best price is $730 from newegg.com. I haven’t seen this particular screen, but after seeing a co-worker’s 40” 4K I’ve decided I’d rather have two 27” WQHD monitors for the same price. He ended up decided the same and took the 4K monitor home to use as a media display.

Rick Strahl
December 01, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@Craig - yeah 2 WQHD monitors would also be nice, but you lose some of the vertical resolution. Having 2160pixels for vertical code display is pretty damn sweet when you're working through complex code or HTML  - especially legacy code which I often have to do. What WQHD monitors did you end up getting?

Andreas
December 03, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Nice review!

I've been thinking of upgrading my 27"+2*23" setup. Was looking at the curved 34" Dell, maybe two of them. But maybe this 40" solution is better, since two 34" will probably be too wide?

PS. I like your font, but it's probably my age showing :) DS.

Doug Dodge
December 04, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

You know Rick, you really ought to go see an optometrist. :)

Seriously though, what I'd be curious about is a short description of your working environment. A 40" monitor would take up almost all of my desk's width... OK, not 100%. My desk is 70.5" wide & 36" deep. I have two computers, one a laptop and the other a desktop. Both have two ASUS VS229 (21.5") monitors each using an Ergotron LX Dual Side-By-Side Arm monitor adapter ( http://www.amazon.com/Ergotron-45-245-026-Side-By-Side/dp/B0036FQ23A/ref=sr_1_2 )

Given that am extremely nearsighted this works well as the distance-to-eyeballs, resolution, screen size are pretty good. I have given some consideration to adding a third monitor for one of the computers to hold additional information but the need just has not been that great.

What's the approximate distance from your eyes to the monitor?

Regards,

Doug

Randy Godfrey
December 07, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Just installed the same monitor. Running at 100% as any higher kind of defeats the purpose for having that resolution. For my eyes, the font is too small so now waiting for someone to make a 48" with the same resolution. Spent some time changing the default fontsize in VFP and some of the programs I use that allow that change so still able to use the monitor without much difficulty. I did notice some eye strain the first two days but the fontsize changes seems to have fixed that problem. I am going to raise the height though as it sits too low on my desk causing some neck strain looking down. A couple of short pieces of 2X4 should fix that. Do wish the colours were a little more vivid. Love the fact that I get 4X the display area in less physical space than the two 24" monitors I was using. So a mixed review from me too but I am not giving it up as I agree with Rick - there is no going back.

Rick Strahl
December 07, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@Andreas - Two monitors work, but as mentioned earlier you won't get the same veritcal resolution (unless you use portrait mode).

@Doug - I'm about a foot and half away from the monitor and that works fine for me. I'm near sigthed and that works with glasses/contacts no problem. It's plenty big for me, but I've been using small fonts for ages. Just remember the monitor is huge, but the *actual* screen dpi is roughly like 1080p at 24" so compared to your existing 21" monitors you might actually end up with larger text.

@Randy - if you can't read things at 100% try bumping the icon size in the Advanced text options. That size controls menus and other common windows features. In editors like the VFP editor you can set the fontsize and just bump that as needed one or two points bigger as needed. Running scaled is fine too especially if you run at 125% or 150% - the display still looks fine to me at that, but for me that's WAY too big. The nice thing is because the monitor is so big you still end up with a massive actual screen resolution.

I tend to run 11pt Consolas for all my base fonts. In Visual Studio and Sublime I tend to bump the font a little with zoom. In VFP I run native 11pt or 12pt depending on how tired I am.

Randy Godfrey
December 08, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Thanks for the tip to enlarge the icon font - up by 1 point was all it needed. I will admit that after 5 days I was getting used to the smaller font. I tried running at 125% but that seemed too big. I did some debugging last night and it was awesome to have so many code windows open without stacking them - far more than I could fit on the two 24" monitors. That extra vertical resolution makes it much easier to work on a full 1980 x 1020 form without having to constantly scroll up and down. Yup, I am really glad you put this idea into my head a while back. Thank you.

Scott
December 08, 2015

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Rick,
Hey Dude... I've been reading your blog forever and when I need some help with something, your advice seems to be always right on time and perfectly correct. There's a lot of crap out there :D When I saw you monitor and your LogicPro screen shot, I realized that you're my brother from another mother. I've been developing for web for over 18 years using mostly Microsoft stuff and I'm way into music. If you're ever in the Northern Virginia area, please look me up. Please take a look at my www.bandsetlist.com site and let me know what you think - Our band is Hypnotic Willie. (www.youtube.com/hypnoticwillie) We're a bunch of old dudes, playing old tunes and having a good time. I've been using this awesome mobile mixer made by QSC called the TouchMix and have integrated some stuff into it. If you do live multi-track recordings, check it out. You'll love it.
Cheers!
Scott

Theof
January 27, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Hi Rick,

Your review introduced this monitor to me, and while I resisted the urge to get it since (also a review about color banding in Amazon), I couldn't resist any more, and I've ordered it.
Waiting for the monitor to arrive :) Far too many monitors in the house, but it's ok. Others have a passion for collecting cars..

Thank you for all your contributions all these years! You've been a source of inspiration!
Cheers

Kay
April 16, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

These are seriously great monitors at the price. Still holding out for the PG348Q here, VA panels give me a headache after awhile.

lynx
May 31, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Hi,

@RickStrahl can you adjust the volume with this monitor on your MacBook pro without any issue?
For me, then i set the volume to 0, i can still hear something...

Rick Strahl
May 31, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

I have the audio disabled on the monitor because the speakers are terrible. FWIW, I've never had a monitor that had anything resembling decent sound. Heck the sound is better from the MBP.

lynx
May 31, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@RickStrahl Do you plug a jack directly to your MacBook or do you use the audio out port from this monitor?

Rick Strahl
June 01, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

It just works as a USB audio device if it's enabled. But again don't bother - the quality is so bad it's not worth it.

Ed Spencer
August 24, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

Looks great - I did notice you're running a Mac Book though. I'm interested that you didn't have any problems with sharpness. I had problems on my Mac Book's second output in Windows (fonts didn't look as sharp), but your post got me thinking that it could be down to one of the following:

1. That I was running Windows inside of virtualization software on the Mac instead of natively
2. DPI scaling not being great as the second monitor was a "standard" dpi monitor. The Philips screen you've got will be high DPI

Sounds like I need to experiment with a few things

Rick Strahl
August 24, 2016

# re: Going Big: 40 Glorious inches of 4k with the Philips BDM4065UC

@Ed - yes running inside of a VM will affect font sharpness drastically. If you're using Parallels playing with the varying scaling options can improve sharpness. I run my MBP mostly using Bootstrap in native Windows and sharpness is great at native 100% resolution.

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