When CEO Philips TV & Audio Kostas Vouzas enters the stage in the snug, chalk-white showcase room at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam, he does so with great confidence. He is well aware Philips and TP Vision (who manufacture screens for the company) have been killing it in recent years. And the future looks bright, to say the least. Gamereactor flew into a snowy, rainy Holland to snatch a sneak peek at all of the news coming from Philips TV this spring.
Vouzas starts by clarifying that we have entered a new golden era for TV as an entertainment medium. It is "video on demand" via services such as Netflix and HBO that not only dominate our "new" way of consuming TV but also made it so more screens were sold in the last two years than in just over two decades. Internationally, we spend over a billion hours per week watching our screens and Kostas talks a lot about how the TV is used today as something more. Many listen to Spotify or Youtube Music via their TV, others surf the net with it every day. It has become a Swiss army knife of entertainment, of sorts, and Philips thinks that beautiful design is equally important as great picture quality and fantastic functionality because of this specific reason.
Here at Gamereactor, we have been very pleased with the latest four Philips screens we have tested and in recent years have been very positive about basically everything they have had to offer, except possibly the slightly buggy software that models like the 65PUS9809 and 65PUS7601 offered. The picture quality and sound, as well as the lavish remote controls, have been brilliant for many years now. Last year, in addition to the Sony A1 and LG C7 / C8, the Philips 803 and the flagship 903 impressed us immensely and Philips is well aware that their self-developed image tuner P5 is one of the market's absolute best. Prior to the 2019 line-up, Philips and TP Vision have naturally further developed the P5 chip, which is now in its third generation, and this time they have included Dolby Vision, a feat that was not all that easy according to research director Paul Grey. At first, Dolby did not want Philips to process the Dolby Vision picture further with the new P5 Pro-chip and to get around this, the upcoming 2019-screens offer both a "pure" Dolby Vision picture mode and a Dolby Vision P5 mode. Both look spectacular in the new line-up of Philips OLEDs, though. Spectacular image quality with the very best HDR we have ever seen on a TV.
Philips TV, mainly their fantastic OLED models (like all other OLED TVs based on LG Display panels) are known for their image punch. It's an over the top, "more is more" type of picture. Everything has been cranked up to the max and the picture "pops" in a way that few other screens from very few other manufacturers do. During our time in Amsterdam, we got acquainted with the upcoming flagship OLED 804 and OLED 854 and both offer an image punch that feels vividly strong, colourful, energetic and sometimes cranked up too high in terms of vividness. In a versus test with Sony A1 and LG C8 that Philips put together, the three OLED panels differed a great deal despite exactly the same basic technology. This is because all three manufacturers "tune" the picture completely differently. The Sony one was a little red/warm compared to the others and very soft/compliant in the picture, while the LG screen felt a little colder and with better sharpness (out of the box). In the middle was the Philips 854, which offered more sharpness, contrast, brighter and stronger colours, directly out of the box.
"Vibrant perfection", Philips calls it and although we would opt to tune down both colours and sharpness, the brightness and contrast in this image, and the motion management via the third generation P5 chip is completely superior to the main competitors. It destroys the competition. We looked mainly at two car sequences from the Netflix movie Bright and here we saw clear evidence of how the P5 causes the police cars to move more evenly and smoothly through LA while the amount of "banding" and "flickering" is greatly reduced. Sure, purists will, of course, deactivate the motion filters as soon as their new OLED is taken out of the box, but even without the motion smoothing from the P5 chip, the 854 looks insanely good regarding the "flow" and natural feel of how the picture moves. This TV is going to be superb for gaming purposes since the amount of input lag is reduced and lies well below 20 ms.
Philips isn't slow in showing off the measurement results from three independent blind tests that were done with its own screen 903 and against competing top models from Panasonic, Sony and LG last year. The Philips screen won them all, all three, both when it comes to "out of box" performance and after all the screens were ISF-calibrated. For all of this you can thank the P5, and although this is a highly subjective matter of taste, there can be no doubt that P5 is a fantastic tuner.
The collaboration with British speaker giant Bowers & Wilkins continues, too. And it has been expanded. We sat in on a demonstration by B&W in which they talk about how they work with the stereo image and the design of their speaker elements. We get to see how they "hang" freely inside the TV case so that the drivers can play freely and move several millimetres back and forth without affecting the picture panel and the demonstration is as interesting as it is impressive. The upcoming LED TV 8804 with the "new" variant of B&W's built-in audio plays Damien Rice's masterpiece The Blower's Daughter and we will willingly admit that we never heard a flat-screen TV sound like this, ever. It sounds better than many soundbars, and that is most impressive. When the B&W representative then starts up at The Greatest Showman on Blu-ray and demonstrates how they work to highlight details that often disappear in the mix when using small elements, we're even more impressed. While this level of sound will never suffice for the home cinema enthusiast, for the standard consumer this is a big step up and the right way forward for Philips.
The most interesting part of what was shown in Amsterdam was, however, neither the flagship OLED TVs nor the B&W sound venture, but rather the new, slightly clever investment in the mid-price range. This spring Philips will be releasing "cheaper" LED TVs in 50, 55, 58, 65 and 75 inches which they have chosen to name The One. Stylish, minimalistic design, a newly developed panel and the last generation P5 chip make for a price that will shock consumers (we do not know about the exact prices yet but a guess is around £1000 for the most common models). The One will offer HDR, Dolby Vision and everything else we expect from a modern TV. Philips also promises that they worked hard on their "game mode" which now offers a minimised amount of input lag of just under 20 milliseconds, which of course is brilliant news for gamers.
Philips also just happened to talk about a whole series of new gaming gadgets that are set to be presented on September 6 at IFA 2019 in Berlin. It sounds like we will get dedicated gaming screens and brand new gaming headsets, but right now we know little of this. While we wait on more news we certainly look forward to getting comfortable in front of the new OLED models 854 and 805, as well as seeing what The One has to offer.
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