TP Vision presented here the latest middle class and entry models for 2015, including the TVs in the PUK7100 series. In this review we look at the 49-inch Philips 49PUK7100, equipped with a 4K Ultra HD resolution, Ambilight and of course Android TV software.
Philips PUK7100 – specifications
The Philips PUK7100 models belong to the middle class series of TP Vision and are therefore not too high-end specifications. You could say that this is the entry series for those looking for the high 4K resolution and Ambilight. The models include a 50Hz panel equipped with an 800Hz Perfect Motion technology, edge lit LED backlighting and Micro Dimming Pro. Passive 3D representation is also present.
Furthermore, the PUK7100 models come with Ambilight on two sides, a quadcore processor, the new Android TV platform with access to Netflix, 16GB of internal storage, four HDMI ports, three USB ports and a remote control with integrated keyboard . The TVs can also be connected wirelessly to the internet and you have the option to operate the TVs via the Philips TV Remote app.
The Philips PUK7100 series consists of three models; the 43-inch 43PUK7100 with a sales price of 899 euros, the 49-inch 49PUK7100 with a suggested retail price of 1,199 euros and the 55-inch 55PUK7100 with a suggested retail price of 1,499 euros. In this review we look at the 49-inch model but the conclusions also apply to the other models in this series.
For this review we use, among others, the Marantz UD7007 Blu-ray player , the Marantz SR7009 receiver , the B & W CM S2 series speakers and a PlayStation 3 game console. We also used Netflix for streaming video, both HD and 4K.
Philips PUK7100 – design
A part that is still much influenced by the European market is the design. TP Vision wants to put down TVs that form the center of the European living room, an average living room on the European continent. In terms of design, this year focuses on minimalistic feet, high-quality materials and slender bezels (edges around the display).
The top series (7600 and 7100 series) come with the most striking and elegant foot, or actually feet. On both sides of the TV is a small aluminum base placed slightly outside the frame of the TV. This again gives the effect as if the TV is floating or, as Philips himself says, that a premium screen is kept elegantly high.
The PUK7100 series looks particularly sleek and neat, with a very slim display, no bells and whistles, and actually just a fairly simple but premium-looking appearance. In terms of connections, we see the CI slot, two HDMI ports and two USB ports pointing to the side. Behind the other hdmi and usb ports, which are placed in a notch. When you hang the TV on the wall, it is good to know that the scart and component connections do not offer much space for cables.
An important part of the TV is of course the remote control. Philips also gave this accessory a make-over. At the front we still see the familiar buttons for the main functions, now accompanied by Android buttons and a Netflix button, and on the back we see the QWERTY keyboard back. Philips has made the buttons slightly larger to increase the ease of use. Unfortunately, the keys of the keyboard are a bit soggy so it does not tick, but otherwise the accessory fits well in the hand and is equipped with a user-friendly lay-out.
Philips PUK7100 – ease of use
The installation of the Philips 49PUK7100 is actually a piece of cake. Thanks to a convenient set-up you will be guided through the most important settings, including the smart TV settings, the WiFi connection and the addition of your Google account. The channels can also be searched automatically. Unfortunately there is no handy set-up with which you can adjust the image to your own wishes. For this you still have to dive into the menus.
The most important component in terms of ease of use is probably the smart TV platform, Android TV. Without going into detail about this platform, it can be said that this interface is actually visible in everything. From the Android homescreen you can go anywhere, from apps to institutions. The overview is fine, with sufficient structure to immediately see where you need to be. It takes some getting used to but after a few times browsing through the interface you see where everything is for. But, the software is unfortunately not very fast. Navigating is sometimes painfully slow and the time it takes to open apps leaves something to be desired. In addition, the TV does not always respond to input from the remote control.
The settings of the TV are easy to reach, well structured and conveniently arranged. The menus for image, audio and other elements are a lot like what we know from older generations but they have got a lick of paint and therefore look a little tighter. At most institutions is briefly explained what they serve but unfortunately it must also be said here that navigating through the menus is not always fast.
TV Remote app
If you do not like the remote control you can use the TV Remote app from Philips. This allows almost all functions of the remote control to be taken over, and you can do some extra things. The app is free to download and allows you to choose the input for the TV, manage or open apps, view media from your mobile device, access games and play, adjust Ambilight and watch the TV guide . It is a nice app but not very clear, without a clear home button and actually not with the fastest connection to the TV.
Input on the screen, when you choose the tick window or the cursor, is often too slow on TV and navigating through the remote control works in many cases just faster and better. If you want to display some pictures or music again, it’s handy, but for the rest we do not immediately see the great use of the app.
And, perhaps even more annoying, sometimes a ‘DOS’ menu suddenly popped up and TV had to be restarted. This happened a few times when we were working with the app but it was not clear to us exactly what it was.
Philips PUK7100 – features
Smart TV platform (Android TV)
Last year Philips introduced the first TVs with Android TV as operating system and although we already saw potential in this, it was not because of a look & feel that was just taken over from NetTV and software that was full of bugs and lags. This has to change this year because the new models are all running on Android 5.0 Lollipop, the latest version of the operating system. The appearance has been completely changed and the platform on Philips TVs is now a real Android platform.
The TVs offer a home screen / launcher with so-called ‘shelves’ that provide quick access to content. There are shelves for video tips, a Philips TV section with promotions (unfortunately also advertising) and recommendations from Philips, apps, games and settings. The entire interface of the TV is designed in the style of Android, from fonts to icons. Of course, the well-known Android TV functions like Google Voice and Cast are also present so that you can search for content by means of speech and can stream (stream) media from your tablet or smartphone to your TV. The apps in which these media are located must provide support for this. The style of the interface is typically Android and offers a clear view of interesting content, frequently used apps and useful applications. Unfortunately, the display of this content is completely determined by Google, Philips and your own use of the TV. So you can not swap shelves or push apps further forward. An app that is used more often is more prominent.
The speed was much better than with last year’s Android TVs but navigation still leaves much to be desired. As mentioned above, the input from the remote control is sometimes registered too late and apps do not start up very quickly. There is still a lot of room for improvement here, and then we are not talking about the error messages described above and the fact that the TV has sometimes restarted on its own. In terms of structure, overview and ease of use this is good. Android is a great platform that many people already know and besides, the Play Store is filled with a large amount of apps so there is something for everyone. All known and important apps are already installed for you, including YouTube, Netflix and NPO Missed.
Want to know more about the Android TV platform then you can go to our article on .
Of course, smart TVs now offer much more options, for example for file sharing. The PUK7100 models, for example, are a simple media player that lets you watch media from your home network, WiFi Smart Screen that lets you stream TV channels to your smartphone or tablet (This option works only with the built-in digital tuner and only with the channel that is on that moment is shown on TV) and Spotify Connect with which you can listen to your favorite music. Bluetooth is also present, for example for connecting a wireless speaker.
Philips PUK7100 – picture quality
What it is all about, of course, is image quality. The PUK7100 series is a middle class series but still has a number of excellent specifications. The 49PUK7100 features, among other things, a 4K Ultra HD resolution, an LCD panel with edge lit LED backlight, a 50Hz panel with 800Hz Perfect Motion Rate and Micro Dimming Pro. Passive 3D representation is also present.
Before we start using a TV, we always look at the most important settings with which you can achieve better image quality quickly and easily. Philips has a number of presets ready for you to influence the image quality. From the box the ISF modes are the best modes to start immediately. This gives you the deepest black values and the most natural color reproduction for most content.
TVs are nowadays equipped with a large number of techniques, options and features with which the image quality can be influenced. It therefore becomes increasingly difficult for you as a consumer to find the best image display but you can use one starting point. It is the intention that the image is displayed as natural and clean as possible, without the TV having to work on it. In most cases, we switch many of the features that influence the image quality or we set them at a minimum.
We have disabled or minimized as many image processing techniques as possible. Natural Motion, for example, has to ensure that fast images flow smoothly but at the same time introduces artifacts and you quickly get the home video effect so that film images do not appear natural anymore. We choose ‘Minimum’ here. The dynamic contrast is minimal, just like the noise reduction. Under the heading Sharpness we have the Ultra Resolution turned on because this seems to improve the upscale performance and when disabled more artefacts are introduced. The color enhancement is off with the Color cup because the colors are too saturated and the color temperature is warm.
When we test a TV, we always look at the general properties of the screen, such as the backlight and the uniformity, before we start to view various media. In this area we have not experienced any problems with the 49PUK9100. Both with complete black, red and white, the TV knows how to prepare a virtually uniform picture. There are no clearer or darker corners of the screen and the backlight does not cause significant beams or light spots.
Even when we look at a dark scene with light objects, the TV is more than capable of standing. No light haze is visible around light objects on a dark background and the black values are reasonably good. For a middle class model we can say little about this. The same applies to the contrast; this is not impressive but still the TV is convincing in this area. With the dynamic contrast fully turned on, more details appear in dark and light areas of the screen, but black becomes greyish and we do not want to achieve that. The light output of the 49PUK7100 is reasonable but not sufficient to box up against a lot of incident light without really sacrificing image quality.
We do not watch a lot of SD content anymore, almost all important sources can be seen in HD. But, if you watch TV through analogue channels or if you still have a lot of DVDs, you can not escape it. In this area, however, the PUK7100 series is not a high flyer. The 4K upscale function does its job with the aforementioned settings reasonable but still introduces quite a few artifacts and noise. The image is not very quiet and this is especially the case with faster moving images.
Chances are that most of the material you watch is available in HD resolution and this is also a lot better arranged. In addition to the general properties discussed above, it must be said that the color reproduction is impressive. The TV offers a true-to-life reproduction with colors that are realistic but not over-the-top. Details are sharp and sleek, which together with the intense but natural colors makes for a lively picture. The contrast is not great, but we can not really criticize this point, looking at the price range. However, we still see some artefacts and distortions in the image when more action is seen. We can not name the picture so tightly.
Are you already watching series and films on Netflix? Then the 4K resolution is of course what you are looking forward to. The PUK7100 models can display everything up to the 4K resolution, but native 4K material really splashes off the screen. For this test we have looked at various demo videos, series and films on Netflix, all available in full 4K resolution.
Although here and there is clearly compression (and therefore artefacts and noise) we have to say that native 4K material is impressive, especially in terms of sharpness and showing subtle details. Depending on the size of your TV and the viewing distance, the higher resolution will take you deeper into a movie or series and you will see details that previously disappeared in the background or were simply too small. The color reproduction and contrast are also at a high level with 4K material.
It does not matter for many, but the Philips 49PUK7100 still has 3D display. Yet it is not the active variant that we see on other models but the passive variant. Philips provides no less than four passive 3D glasses for this. There is not much to complain about the 3D experience. The resolution is high enough (not a full resolution) to be able to enjoy a film without any noteworthy loss of detail, but here and there there is slight crosstalk. The general 3D experience is fine, but it remains visible that the upscale function introduces artifacts and thus does not accurately represent the image.
Philips has equipped the 49PUK7100 with a special game mode that disables various image processing techniques to give you a fast response time, with low input lag. The input lag, the delay between an action on your controller and the action on the screen, with 69ms is not very interesting for the really fanatical gamers who find reaction time important. The average user will find no significant disadvantage from below.
Reflections and viewing angles
As already indicated above, the brightness of the PUK7100 models is not very high so that incident light can provide relatively quick reflection and thus a lower image quality. The ideal TV for the room in which there is a lot of light we can not call it, but the screen knows how to camouflage reflections. They can stand out from the sides, but when you are sitting right in front of the TV, the content is still reasonably visible with reflections of, for example, a lamp. The viewing angles are also reasonably good. From different ‘normal’ viewing angles, the brightness of the screen does not decrease significantly and much of the contrast is also retained. So it is a great TV where you can sit down with the whole family or the whole family.
Philips PUK7100 – audio quality
In terms of audio output, the PUK7100 series offers no high performance. Philips has chosen to have the speakers pointing backwards, which gives a somewhat concave view. The audio reproduction can be partially influenced by institutions, but unfortunately there is little dynamics and conviction. At the back, Philips even mounted a woofer but we can not really speak of a lot of (extra) layer. For the average TV program no problem because everything is easily understood, but for a film or series the audio quality is somewhat below level. If you choose this model, we definitely recommend an external audio system, in the form of a soundbar or home cinema set-up.
Philips PUK7100 – conclusion
With the downsides in the field of image quality, including the sometimes present artefacts and the relatively low brightness, we can watch the price range live, but if a TV just does not function properly in the field of software, it will frustrate very quickly. Even for users who simply place lesser requirements on image quality. Android TV is a nice platform with potential, but it is simply not yet stable and fast enough. Whether it is the software of Philips or Google does not matter to us; in terms of speed and stability, there is still quite a lot to be gained. Regarding the other points, the 49PUK7100 is a great TV, with a sleek and premium design, smart TV options, a sharp display with natural colors, and of course access to everything that Android TV has to offer. Let’s hope that Philips continues to improve the software, possibly together with Google, so that the main flaw of this model disappears and can be called a real must.