Philips isn't a very large player in the monitor market, and the 200BW probably isn't going to change this too much. The monitor has a number of flaws; its adjustability and viewing angles make it a possible option for the office, however.
A 20in screen is an unusual size, but may be a sufficient stepping stone between 19in and 22in for some people. Even given the few choices in the 20in market, Philips offers little to make this monitor stand out. The 200BW sports a 16:10 aspect ratio with a maximum resolution of 1680x1050; both of these are standard. The monitor's contrast ratio of 800:1 and 5ms response are also typical for 20in monitors, and are slightly disappointing given the higher contrast of the ASUS VW202T and faster times of the Samsung SyncMaster 206BW. The response time should not affect the monitor's use in an office, but it can be a contributing factor to ghosting in gaming and fast-paced movies.
We were quite impressed with the monitor's design. While the understated bezel is nothing extraordinary, the monitor sits on a swing-arm mount that allows an impressive amount of horizontal and vertical adjustment. This means it can be useful in workplaces with cramped spaces or awkward desks.
This flexibility is aided by respectable viewing angles. Philips advertises 160 degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles; we found that the maximum horizontal angle was even better, with clear text and images at close to 180 degrees. Vertical adjustment beyond the monitor stand's capability did reveal some washed-out colours at close to 160 degrees, although pictures and text were still quite clear.
The monitor is quite bare in terms of features, offering inputs for DVI and VGA and built-in stereo speakers. We were particularly disappointed to find no button to switch between DVI and VGA inputs, a feature that is quickly becoming standard in the monitor market. The monitor will default to whichever input was used last, and switching between the two can be difficult. The monitor forgets resolution settings when inputs are plugged back in and consequently must be readjusted.
The monitor's speakers are particularly poor quality. Additionally, they are positioned behind the monitor and have a low maximum volume. Given the potential quality of built-in speakers exemplified by the Echologic 11in Digital Photo Frame, the lack of initiative shown by Philips in this regard is disappointing.
The monitor required some configuration out of the box, mainly due to exaggerated brightness. Even after adjustment, however, the monitor's image wasn't remarkable. Image lines were distinct, and text was clearly legible in small point sizes. However colour reproduction had some issues; the image is slightly dull. Turning down the brightness to an acceptable level also removed any vibrancy that the images once had.
Fortunately, the 200BW isn't reflective. Testing in a well-lit office environment, we did notice minor amounts of reflected light in dark images and movies, but overall the image was unaffected. Philips' choice of a matte screen over glossy makes the 200BW useable in well-lit rooms and offices.