Great value 4k console gaming monitor
- Manufacturer: Philips
- Model: Momentum 278M1R/00
- Type: Console Gaming Monitor
- Price when reviewed: £369.99 (Amazon)
- Supplied by: Manufacturer
Console gaming monitor
With the rise of eSports and streaming, we’ve seen a new trend emerge amongst console gamers, with more and more people switching to desk-based setups, and taking advantage of the superior responsiveness of gaming monitors. I’ve been using a gaming monitor for years, and you can feel the difference in input responsiveness when you go back to a regular TV.
In response to this demand, manufacturers have now started producing gaming monitors aimed specifically at console gamers. Philips’ newest Momentum monitors have been created with this in mind, and alongside the phenomenal 55” 558M1RY we recently reviewed, they have also made a more affordable 27” variation, the 278M1R.
With next-gen consoles due out very soon (or already out, depending on when you are reading this), the 278M1R lacks a couple of features that would make it an essential purchase, but it provides solid performance that should make it a solid contender if you’re in the market for a new monitor for your console.
Unboxing and accessories
I’m a big fan of Philips’ packaging. In a world dominated by monochromatic designs, Philips adds a touch of flair to their products, with vivid glossy images bedecking the 278M1R’s box. As I’ve come to expect from Philips, the monitor came very well protected and arrived in immaculate condition.
Unlike the enormous size and heft of the 558M1RY, the 278M1R is a far more manageable size and weighs in at just 6.87 kg. Attaching the base and putting the monitor in place is easy.
The 278M1R comes with a UK power cable, a USB-B upstream cable, an HDMI 2.0 cable and a full-size DisplayPort cable, along with the instruction manual and quick start guide.
Design and build
The Momentum 278M1R echoes the styling of its big brother, having more in common with high-end TVs than typical gaming monitors. Build quality is very good, and combined with the absence of overtly gamer styling, it gives the monitor a very sophisticated appearance that belies its reasonable asking price.
The bezels are tiny, although there is a slightly larger border that surrounds the display when it’s turned on. Surrounding the top and sides, it’s around 8mm, with a slightly larger, coarse-textured matte black panel spanning the bottom of the screen. There’s nothing garish on the panel, with branding limited to a chrome-effect Philips logo, and a small power indicator light.
At the rear of the display, the Momentum has a bit more going on, with the most notable feature being the four-sided Ambiglow LEDs. The Ambiglow lights can be adjusted in intensity, and there are a few options for how they operate. Static colours can be chosen, or it can be set to cycle through the colour palette, but the highlight of Philips’ Ambiglow is the mode that follows the display, changing colour to match what is being played.
Implementation of the Ambiglow system isn’t as good as on the 55” Momentum, though. The colours it chooses often don’t quite match up to what is being displayed, and there is a notable delay between the changes. Despite this, I still really enjoy the feature, and it makes viewing in darker rooms far more enjoyable.
Philips has fitted the monitor with a very sturdy stand, made from solid metal. Once the display is securely clipped into place, it can be easily positioned to your preference, with 130mm height adjustment, -5/20 degree tilt adjustment, and the welcome addition of +/- 33 degrees of swivel. Cable management is provided by a clip on the rear of the stand that guides the cables down the rear, and thanks to the wide wedge-shaped vertical riser, it conceals the wires and keeps them from peeking out the sides. Topping it off is a gunmetal grey coating that gives the stand a premium feel.
27” is getting towards the limit of where 4k makes a notable difference, but if you have good eyesight and sit at a normal distance from the screen, then the clarity increase makes it very worthwhile, especially on finer elements like small text or textures on environmental objects in games. With PCs, 1440p tends to be the butter zone for balancing performance with display quality, but consoles don’t offer the same granular control over their graphics settings. They do, however, target 4k, and they are optimised for this resolution, so why not take advantage?
Philips factory-calibrate their devices before sending them out, and I was highly impressed with the setup of the panel we received. Brightness uniformity was 100% across 25 measured points on the display, which is frankly incredible. Delta E (a metric for calculating colour accuracy) is also superb, with the Momentum 278M1R recording an average Delta E of just 0.55 (against a manufacturers target of <2), measured across the same 25 points.
Colour temperature out of the box was very close to the ideal 6500k range, although reds were showing through on a pure white image, and appeared oversaturated in games. A minor adjustment to the colour settings on the display resolved this issue and resulted in a clear and natural image that gave lifelike colours, with realistic skin tones. The Momentum covers 105% of the sRGB range, 91% NTSC and 89% Adobe RGB. This is very good for a monitor in this price range.
The factory calibration provided by Philips is excellent, and you likely won’t need to make anything but the slightest adjustment to fully enjoy it.
A Low Input Lag feature is included on the Momentum, which minimises the delay between you making inputs on your controller and seeing them on your display. This works in tandem with the already much lower display latency of monitors, so if you’re used to playing on a TV, you’ll be very impressed with how much more instantaneous your actions feel. Competitive games like Call of Duty that require quick reactions and movement will benefit even more from this tech. I usually game on a monitor, but I found the 278M1R to feel even more responsive than my usual display, though this could be a placebo effect. Unfortunately we lack the measuring tools to accurately quantify just how much of an advantage this mode gives, but suffice to say there’s a notable difference.
Unlike the HDR1000 certification of the 55” Momentum, the 278M1R only carries HDR400 certification. On monitors like this, the limited peak brightness and lack of local dimming mean the boost to contrast is so subtle as to be almost imperceptible. However, that is not the only advantage of HDR, as WCG (Wide Colour Gamut) is also enabled when you display an HDR source. This lets the Momentum display a far wider range of colours than a traditional SDR image, resulting in a beautifully vivid image with punchy colours, even if it lacks the stunning contrast of higher range HDR sets. The images produced by this monitor are exceptionally good, with excellent balance between all the colours and no banding visible across subtle colour gradation changes.
Brightness is a reasonable 368 cd/m2 (350 cd/m2 specified), peaking at just over 400 cd/m2 in HDR. The Momentum 278M1R is fitted with an IPS panel, so the blacks and resulting 1000:1 contrast ratio are, on paper, relatively average, but in use, the display is very good. Viewing in low-light environments results in very dark images having a grey tinge, which is an unfortunate byproduct of backlight leakage on all IPS displays. Despite this, the Momentum retains lots of details in dark scenes.
There are a few additional HDR modes included for movies or different genres of games, but I found they all either oversaturated the colours or darkened the image, and I wouldn’t recommend using them. Performance using the Personal mode is superb anyway, so it’s more an observation than a complaint.
The 278M1R has strong performance when viewed off-centre. Colours remain consistent as you move around the display, and brightness uniformity remains constant. There is some washing out of the image at more extreme angles, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to look at the screen like this in normal use. When you factor in the adjustability of the stand for positioning the display, then the display angles will never become a hindrance.
The Philips Momentum 278M1R supports the following optimum resolutions:
HDMI: 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
DP: 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
4k @ 60 Hz is ideal for both current Pro and X versions of the PS4 and Xbox One, respectively. We do have the new consoles that can, on some games, hit 4k at 120 Hz or 120 Hz at a lower resolution, so ideally you’d want a higher refresh rate. 4k 120 Hz displays with the required HDMI 2.1 support are few and far between at the moment, though, and they’ll set you back a lot more than this monitor costs.
Philips is working on building monitors that support the 4k 120 Hz standard, but they are not expected until next year. For now, the 278M1R represents excellent value for money and will support the majority of upcoming games at their optimal settings. I have been using the monitor with the Xbox Series X, and have found it to be outstanding even without 120 Hz support.
Switching between inputs is straightforward via the rear-mounted joystick, and it will auto-switch to another connected device when one is turned off. When in standby mode, turning on a connected console will switch on the display, and it will revert to standby when you turn it off.
The quality of the integrated downward-firing speakers on the Momentum 278M1R is above average. Peak volume is loud, and although they lack the presence of a bespoke set of speakers, they still manage to fill a reasonably sized room. Bass, as is to be expected from such small speakers, lacks any low-down vibrancy, but the mids are satisfactory and treble comes through clear and distinct.
The range of volume is ok, but the lowest setting (1 out of 100) was still too loud for me to use at nighttime. It’s an unusual complaint, saying speakers won’t go quiet enough, but for anyone like me who has to keep the volume down to avoid waking kids, the minimum setting is far too loud.
There’s a very good selection of ports on the 278M1R. 1 x 3.5mm headphone output, 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x USB-B upstream (to connect to your PC), and 4 x USB 3.2 downstream ports for connecting peripherals (including two fast charge B.C 1.2).
There are enough inputs for multiple consoles, as well as a DisplayPort equipped PC. The USB upstream and downstream ports are also a welcome addition, both for assisting in cable management and also for charging controllers or any other USB devices like phones.
What I didn’t like
Changing the settings is done via a joystick mounted on the right-hand side at the rear of the display. It isn’t very responsive, though, often not registering presses, and it is awkward to reach. I’ve used other monitors where they have added the joystick or controls to the underside of the display, and it is much more user-friendly. Hopefully, future revisions will see them move the controls to a more easily accessible location.
The settings menu is decent and gives you easy to use control of all of the monitor’s features, but the software powering it is a bit sluggish and slow to respond. This is disappointing, but as mentioned, the out-of-the-box calibration is great, so once you make any adjustments you may need, you will rarely need to use the settings other than to change the volume.
One for all
I used the 278M1R with an Xbox One X and Series X, and a couple of Acer Predator gaming laptops, and I was very impressed with the performance. One of the laptops had an RTX 2080 in it, and alongside the Series X looked beautiful running at 4k60. Impressively, and something that I often find underwhelming with PCs, was that HDR worked properly with Windows 10. The 278M1R detected the HDR signal straight away and displayed a vibrant and accurate image.
The other laptop had an RTX 2070 and managed 4k60 on many games, but I had to run it at 1440p for some more demanding games. I allowed the monitor to handle the upscaling and it did so superbly, with no aliasing or performance issues.
At just £369, the Philips Momentum 278M1R represents great value for money. There’s plenty of gamer-friendly features like low latency, and despite lacking HDMI 2.1 support, it will serve well for both the current and next generation of consoles.
My personal take
When I bought my own monitor, an LG 27UK650, I spent weeks researching, testing and checking for the best deals available. I chose the LG for its excellent picture quality and great value for the features it provided, and I still maintain you can’t go wrong with it (or the newer model LG 27UL650).
Having spent a month with the Momentum 278M1R, though, I’d now make this my main recommendation. I used the Philips and LG side-by-side, displaying identical videos simultaneously, and I couldn’t discern any difference in picture quality between the pair. Pricing is also nearly identical, and they share similarly slim bezels and footprint.
Where the Philips exceeds the LG, though, is the addition of the USB ports, speakers and the perfect brightness uniformity. The LG has a smoother UI, and the joystick is better located and more responsive, but the practicality of the other features outweighs that. It’s a minor difference, but when they share almost identical image quality, the quality of life improvements sway the balance in favour of the Philips. If I was buying a new monitor today in the sub £400 range, I’d 100% go for the 278M1R.
The Philips Momentum 278M1R is my new top choice of 27” 4k monitors for console gaming. Picture quality is excellent, the price is very reasonable, and there is a good range of inputs that should meet most people’s needs. It’s a monitor that is sure to look good in a modern setup thanks to its sophisticated styling, and despite the Ambiglow not quite living up to the performance of its 55” sibling, the colourful glow surrounding the display makes the 278M1R a very attractive display.