Recently I caved in to my dark desires and replaced my old(ish) LED-LCD TV for a new and shining 55″ OLED one. A Philips 55POS901F/12 to be exact.
As usual I, as someone having grown up in a time when the TV-repair guy actually made house calls to repair your TV, am a bit saddened about the fact that I was replacing a well working piece of hardware just to get one with the latest bells and whistles. Well I wanted a bigger one than my old 46″ screen as well but still…
Anyway, I felt like sharing a few words about this new gadget of mine. Yes I call it a gadget since I can not really claim that a 55″ OLED TV with all its bells and whistles is one of life’s essential requirements (it is damned close though, I can tell you ).
I looked around for a while before I decided which model to buy. There are a lot of interesting models out there but I draw the line when you can buy a small car for the price of a TV set. That price level is just ridiculous for even the one percenters. You got to be in the 0.1% or be seriously fanatic about your home cinema gear to accept that kind of price.
I also ruled out the models with those silly curved screens. Curved screen is a hyped up marketing gimmick, nothing else. At the distances and sizes we are talking about for a TV installed in a normal home a curved screen is a big minus if anything. The guy who sits in the sweet spot may have some (debatable) benefit from it but every one else will be suffering.
The Philips brand was on the list quite early since I do like their Ambilight technology. It produces a wonderful relaxing atmosphere when watching movies in the evening and you can synchronize your Hue lights to it as well. So when Philips came out with their first OLED TV and it generally got very good reviews I went for it.
So, is it any good? The first thing that comes to mind is that the picture is simply stunning! When I bought my old Philips it was supposed to have one of the best picture on the market and up until I got my new beast installed I thought it was pretty damned good. I still is I guess but the OLED one is just wow. The color reproduction is just so much better than on any LCD screen that I have seen. On my PS3 I have a theme with a background of a post-apocalyptic city with lots of smoke and fires. On the LCD screen there where a lot of dark, almost black, smokey areas. On my new TV there are loads and loads of details in those areas. It is like it is a whole new image. The fantastic picture alone is worth replacing my old TV. There are also plenty of settings to adjust the picture, apply software corrections etc. etc.
The other big reason that I wanted to replace my old TV was that I wanted a 4K capable one. I have already started to buy some of my new additions to my movie collection in Ultra HD Blu-ray. At least for the time being the Ultra HD Blu-ray’s always seems to include a standard Blu-ray as well so, given that I planned to upgrade to a 4K set at some point, it seemed logical to get some of the more visually extravagant movies at least as Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Unfortunately I have not yet upgraded the rest of my system (receiver and Blu-ray player) so I cannot yet comment on how proper 4K material looks on the TV. The missing hardware (including a Atmos/DTS:X setup) is coming soon though so I guess I will have make another post on this subject by that time. I do get Netflix’s version of 4K via the Netflix app on the TV though and it looks pretty good. However, as with all the streaming services, it is compressed as hell to reduce the bandwidth requirements. Even a standard Blu-ray has up to three times the bitrate compared to what Netflix offers. Also, the sound quality when streaming is plain Dolby 5.1 at best so I refrain from any in depth comments on 4K images for now.
I have played a fair bit of HD and SD material from Blu-ray, Netflix, Hulu and basic TV out of my Internet/TV box though and I have to say that the set is doing a pretty good job of it. The Blu-ray’s are magnificent when upscaled to 4K and displayed in splendid OLED colors by the TV. It has a function to “upscale” the colors as well by oversampling and it is doing a decent job of it. SD material is of course looking like … SD material. You cannot create information out of thin air so upscaling a 480p signal to 4K is a rather tall order. Having said that the TV is doing as good a job as can be expected. The image certainly do not look any worse than on my old TV and that is good enough for me.
The one drawback I see is that it is indeed not as bright as my old TV. Whether it was a sunny day or in the middle of night, I could still enjoy watching TV. I still can but the OLED screen is struggling a bit on a sunny day.
Okay, stunning image but what about the rest? Well I guess there are speakers built in. Okay, yes there are speakers built in but I have not used the built in speakers of any TV set for 15 or so years. I always feed the sound through my AV receiver.
The user interface and the remote I can say a few things about though. The remote(s) are somewhat disappointing compared to the slick metal remote of my previous Philips TV. They have a plastic feel and are just average on ergonomy. Actually, the cheapest of the two controls are the best one to use since the more advanced one has a stupid combination of track pad and arrow keys in the center which at the slightest touch decides that you wanted to do something completely different than what you really wanted. After setting up my Logitech universal remote the Philips ones promptly got delegated to the box-of-electronic-gadgets-that-I-probably-never-will-use-again.
Unfortunately the on screen user interface is about as dull as the interface on my previous TV. Philips should really hire some professional GUI designers. It does what it is expected to do but not really anything more. It also seems somewhat unfinished and inconsistent. Sometimes you gan navigate with the arrow keys and sometime you have to use the back button and it seems to be anyone’s guess whether or not back brings you back one step or all the way out. The user interface is simply unacceptably poor for a high end TV today.
Philips uses Android as it Smart TV OS and people that are better at reviewing has written enough reviews about Android on a TV so I am just going to say that I do not really like it. Dull user interface, not really that many apps that I actually care for and, as usual, it comes pre-loaded with a lot of crap (including a lot of useless Google apps) that I really do not want. Yes I do not have to use them but I have to scroll through all that crap when I navigate around in the OS.
Well there is probably a lot more I could praise or harp about but to me this TV boils down to one thing. Stunning picture quality and that is what I buy a TV for. The fact that the design looks good in my living room even when the TV is turned off is just a bit of icing on the cake. It is a shame that the remotes are a bit shoddy but I almost never use them anyway and neither do I muck around in the on screen menus that often so … I am a happy puppy.