Philips 243B1 USB-C monitor review
As working from home becomes more normal, along with the rise of USB-C, a new monitor might be in order. Well, Philips has come up with a very neat solution in the 243B1, a high-quality and versatile display with a handy docking station built-in.
Not everyone wants or can afford, a huge 27in monitor with a 4K resolution so this 24in option at Full HD with useful features at a reasonable price will strike the perfect balance for many offices.
At 23.8in diagonally across (60.5 cm), this isn’t a large screen by modern standards and is relatively easy to remove from its packaging and assemble.
The stand has only two main parts to it, and they connect with a thumbscrew and then connect to the panel with a spring-loaded retainer. No tools, and it should take most owners less than a minute to have the monitor assembled and ready for use.
Along with the screen, the box contains a good selection of cables and a region appropriate power cable. It might make the panel marginally more cumbersome, but that the PSU is part of the screen makes for tidy installations and fewer opportunities for unexpected connection failures.
The construction is solid. It might not be indestructible, but it meets the standards that most business buyers would expect.
Design & Features
As this display isn’t designed for gaming or colour accurate design work, it doesn’t have many of the features associated with those products. At its core, the 243B1 is a run-of-the-mill panel designed for office use and therefore it has a respectable quality IPS panel of a modest resolution and size.
What marks it out as a bit different are a selection of special features that aim to elevate it above the herd of 24in business screens that have flooded the market.
The first of these is the support arm, one of the best I’ve seen on a business product of this type.
Most allow for some vertical movement and tilt but the 243B1 goes one better. It can also swivel on the base, and surprisingly, it can also pivot into portrait mode.
The extent of these movements is good, with tilting from -5 to 35 degrees, 90 degrees of pivot and a full 180 degrees of swivel. And, to achieve portrait mode without striking the tabletop, it has 15cm of vertical travel available.
Those adjustments are user friendly, and this design is also packed with other considerations such as flicker-free technology, low blue light mode, and a light sensor that can adjust brightness across a range of dynamic lighting conditions.
That last feature also has the benefit of reducing the power consumption and extending the working life of the panel.
And, the final special feature is that the 243B1 is configured for the users who have a laptop and need to charge that while connected to the office network with a single cable.
A USB Type-C connector can simultaneously charge a connected laptop with up to 65 watts, while also connecting the screen, a gigabit LAN port and USB peripherals like a mouse and keyboard.
The IPS technology in this panel isn’t anything special, although it offers decent viewing angles and its reasonably colourful.
With this scale and a native Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080), the demands on the graphics card of your PC or laptop to drive this screen aren’t great, and it’s a resolution that most applications are designed for.
The optimal refresh rate for this panel is 60Hz at 1080p, although it can be forced into 75Hz. It has FreeSync variable sync options, but with a maximum refresh of 75Hz, the scope isn’t large.
As this isn’t a product designed for gamers, the limits of variable sync aren’t a significant problem.
Where this panel is more impressive is in respect of its power management, and the significant number of user-friendly ergonomic features.
Most of the OSD menu is occupied with these options, including a SmartImage sub-menu with specific modes for EasyRead, Office, Photo, Movie, Game, Economy and a LowBlue setting.
It also sports PowerSensor, a system that utilises an infrared sensor to determine the presence of the user. If the user isn’t near the screen, the PowerSensor mechanism reduces the brightness and power consumption accordingly. The range of this sensor is between 30 and 100cm (12 and 40in), and it can be disabled if the user operates outside this zone.
It might seem a decade overdue, but we’re finally seeing business monitors that don’t encourage the seemingly endless continuation of VGA!
Having DisplayPort alongside HDMI is a sensible choice, and you can also use DisplayPort over the Type-C port should you need it.
Another interesting twist is that while this panel has two DisplayPort inputs listed, one of those is a DP-out, designed for chained displays. Using this a single DisplayPort over Type-C, or plain DisplayPort input from a desktop system can drive this monitor and up to three more daisy-chained to it.
The video inputs options are well-considered, and the docking station aspect mentioned earlier is ideal for anyone with both desktop and laptops.
The current office environment is a fluid space where priorities and personnel can change rapidly, and this design provides a flexible solution that could easily be repurposed as planning requires
I wasn’t expecting anything remarkable to be revealed by the calibration testing of the 243B1, and it didn’t deliver any great surprises.
This panel can achieve 100% of sRGB, but only 79% of AdobeRGB and 82% of P3 gamut. That’s good enough colour accuracy for office work, but it isn’t ideal for anyone working professionally with colour.
You can’t specify a specific numeric Gamma, but the default setting is close to a tone response curve of 2.1.
The weakness of this design is a below optimal contrast and variance in the luminosity across the panel. The lighting is heavily biased to the centre, leaving the corners up to 19% darker than the middle. And overall, the screen is brighter in the top half than the bottom.
How noticeable you find this will depend on the ambient lighting and the brightness levels set, but as this isn’t an exceptionally bright panel, it slightly masks the flaw.
Gamers or colour professionals would be disappointed with this design, but for office use, it is better than many business screens in colour representation and accuracy.
The competitive UK cost of the Philips B Line 243B1/00 is £215.99 inclusive of VAT, though some retailers are asking another £30 or more for it.
You can buy it namely from Amazon and Ebuyer.
Sadly, for whatever reason, I’ve been informed this exact model won’t be launching in the US.
See what alternatives there are in our best monitor chart.
Overall, the 243B1 is a workman-like solution to the typical office requirement.
It provides a highly ergonomic display with plenty of employee-friendly features at a price that most businesses would readily accept.
The inclusion of docking station technology provides a simple deployment for IT staff who need to support laptop users while they’re in the office.
When you factor in the cost of a separate docking station, unless you need Thunderbolt technology, then the 243B1 is a cost-effective option.
I have only one major reservation about this design is that it isn’t available for US customers. Hopefully, they’ll get something similar soon, as the design ticks many of the business requirement boxes for both office and home office users.
For those working with tighter budget or ergonomics, and living in a region where it is available, the 243B1 is still a right choice, and most users should be happy to find one of these on their desks
Philips 243B1: Specs
- Model No.: 243B1/00
- Panel Size: 23.8in/60.5cm
- Resolution: Full HD 1920 x 1080
- Display Technology: IPS
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Response Time (GtG): 4ms
- Viewing Angle: 178°(H)/178°(V)
- Maximum Refresh: 75Hz
- Video Ports: 1x HDMI 1.4, 2x DisplayPort 1.2, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 x 1 (upstream, power delivery up to 65 W)
- USB ports: 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (upstream), 4x USB 3.2 (downstream with 1 fast charge B.C 1.2)
- Other Ports: 2x 3.5mm Mini-Jack for Headphones and PC Audio in, 1Gb Ethernet LAN (with Wake-on-LAN)
- Webcam: N/A
- Speakers: 2x 2W
- Typical Brightness: 250 nits
- Static Contrast: 1000:1
- Variable Sync: AMD FreeSync
- Weight: 4.98kg (with stand), 3.4kg (without stand)