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Review: Philips 55OLED803/12 (OLED803 series) Ultra HD OLED TV

Philips 55OLED803
With the 55OLED803 / 12, Philips wants to deliver top image quality at an accessible price. Equipped with Ambilight, the latest Philips P5 image processor, improved sound and Android TV.
4.7 - 23 votes

With the 55OLED803 / 12, Philips wants to deliver top image quality at an accessible price. Equipped with Ambilight, the latest Philips P5 image processor, improved sound and Android TV, this set is the successor to the POS9002 series. The model is available in a 55 and 65 inch screen format.

Philips 55OLED803/12 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD OLED TV
  • Screen size: 55 inch (139 cm), flat
  • Connections: 4x HDMI (4xARC 2x HDCP2.2), 1x component video, 1x stereo cinch, 1x optical digital out, 2x USB (1x 3.0), 1x headphones, 3x antenna, Bluetooth
  • Extras: HDR10, HDR10 +, HLG, WiFi (802.11 ac 2 × 2) built-in, Android TV (7.0 Nougat), USB / DLNA media player, Multiroom (Client / server), DVB-T2 / C / S2, CI + lock, P5 processor, three-sided Ambilight
  • Dimensions: 1.228 x 713 x 230 mm (including foot)
  • Weight: 21.1 kg (including foot)
  • Consumption: 144 / 0.3 watt (Energy label B)
  • List price: 2.199 euro

A complete overview of all the models that Philips put on the market in 2018 can be found in the 2018 Philips TV line-up. Here you will also find the complete specifications per model.

Philips 55OLED803/12 – design

The design of the 55OLED803 is almost sober. The single millimeter thin OLED panel has the same metal back and metal edge that we saw on many other models. The metal has a slightly rosy / champagne color. The electronics and Ambilight LEDs are housed in a black plastic housing at the rear that covers about half of the surface.

The device stands on two very small but very stable feet. They are not more than chrome-colored rods, one with a discrete Philips logo.

At the back you will find a new bass module. It is larger and different than that of the POS9002, and instead of a bass reflex system it uses two passive radiators that should cause less distortion.

Connections

The device is equipped with four HDMI connections, all ready for Ultra HD and HDR. You should use HDMI 1 and 2 for HDR sources, since they provide the full HDMI 2.0 bandwidth and thus guarantee the best picture quality for your HDR sources. There are two USB connections, wireless and wired network, and Bluetooth which unfortunately is only usable for wireless keyboards (and the remote) but not for audio. There is a headphone output.

Two of the four HDMI jacks, the USB jacks and the headphone output are to one side. All rear connections point downwards so wall mounting is no problem.

Philips 55OLED803/12 – ease of use

The 2018 Philips models are equipped with Android TV, version 7 (Nougat). You can now also log in with multiple Google accounts. But during the installation we notice a feature that has apparently disappeared. When you set up a Google Account, you have to type a username and password. On previous versions you could simply ask via your smartphone to configure your television. That is now no longer possible. Since you only do this once it is not a big disadvantage, but it is a step backwards.

Remote control

Philips supplies two remote controls with 55OLED803. They are identical to the versions that were part of the 973. The classic remote with keyboard on the back is slightly wider than we are used to, which makes it also palpably larger, and is slightly less well in the hand. The keys also have a fairly hard attack. A slightly softer touch would improve comfort. This remote works exclusively with infrared, also for the keyboard on the back, so good focus remains necessary. By stopping IR transmitters in the long side, the keyboard is relatively easy to use, but it is less convenient than Bluetooth.

The second remote is the same as supplied with the OLED973. A small narrow bar, which also works with IR, but its main function is a built-in microphone (which works via Bluetooth). At the moment you can say simple searches, but in the course of this year the Google Assistant (initially with support for English, German, French and Italian, but later this year also in Dutch) will go to Android TV, and then there will be more possibilities for the microphone. This way you can search directly in other applications, and for example control your Hue lamps via voice commands.

We remain very skeptical about this remote. The only keys are volume +/-, Home, Back, a touch-sensitive part that functions as a d-pad (the silver piece above the Back key), the microphone key, and an on / off key. Long press on the Home button takes you to the TV menu, and a long press on the OK key (the touch pad) brings up an options menu. Yet many actions require intensive use of the d-pad. And all that with a touch-sensitive button that regularly refuses service, and where you sometimes accidentally make a click instead of a swipe action, so you select an unwanted action. We have never been a fan of these kind of touchpads because they rarely work reliably on a remote. Unfortunately, this is no exception. In short, let the classic remote certainly be on the table.

An alternative is the Philips TV remote app for your smartphone. That gives you access to almost all TV functions, you start apps directly with it and it has a microphone function and keyboard.

Philips 55OLED803/12 – features

Smart TV platform

Also this television takes place in the long row of aircraft equipped with the Mediatek MT5891. The quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 has 2GB RAM, a Mali-T860 GPU and 16GB internal storage. It is the standard chipset for Android televisions. It suffices for a fairly smooth experience, but the television is exceptionally sometimes faltering, and we obviously did not want to see that.

You still can not show HDR video via Amazon and YouTube, so you have to wait for a software update . We were able to view HDR content at Netflix.

Smart functions

The Android TV interface (Nougat) is still unchanged. The Home screen takes over the screen, although you can see what you were looking at in the background. Recommendations are prominently at the top, and below them are several rows of apps and TV functions. At the bottom of a row of institutions

The Android Home key is located under the D-pad. Philips also still uses an alternative menu that you activate with the button above the d-pad. That is the fastest way to choose another input, start the media player, or view other functions for live TV such as the channel guide, or recordings.

The 55OLED803 is equipped with a single tuner and CI + lock. Recording to a USB hard disk, but recording while watching another channel is impossible.

The media player is very complete and played all our video test files, including HDR video. The music player only fails with ALAC, Apple’s lossless format. All other popular formats, including tags, are played correctly.

Ambilight

No Philips TV is complete without Ambilight, so is the 55OLED803. The three-sided version shines colors on the wall behind the television that match the image on the screen. That is how the picture looks even bigger. Keep in mind that you have to leave some free space around the screen to enjoy it to the maximum. Philips offers different modes, from very energetic (game) to rather quiet (relaxed). To give your dance parties a bit of a spice, Ambilight can also follow audio instead of video, or you can set it as a lounge light. Pairing with your Hue lamps is also possible.

Philips 55OLED803/12 – Image quality

The OLED803 range uses the 2018 LG OLED panel. Do not be distracted by the lower model number (vs the previously on the market 973 and 873). The 803 is indeed the newest model.

Please note that OLED panels may be susceptible to burn-in. According to Philips, this would not be a problem with normal use. Never turn off the power completely, but leave the television in standby so that it can do the necessary work behind the scenes to counteract any visible effects.

Main settings

Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV. With the basic settings we have come to the following settings for this TV.

Image Image Advanced Image Advanced
Picture Mode: Movies

Color: 50
Contrast: 30-70
Sharpness: 1-2 *
Brightness: 50

Computer: From
Color / Color Enhancement: From
Color / Color gamut: Normal
Color / Color Temperature: Warm
Contrast / Constrast mode: Optimized for images
Contrast / Perfect Natural Reality: Off / Minimum *
Contrast: HDR Perfect: Off-Medium *
Contrast: Dynamic Contrast: Off
Contrast / Video contrast: 100
Contrast / light sensor: Off
Contrast / Gamma: 0 – 2
Sharpness / Ultra Resolution: Off / On *
Sharpness / Noise reduction: Minimum
Sharp Image / MPEG Artifact reduction: Minimum
Motion / Motion Style: Movies / Standard

Explanation of main settings;

  • The Movies setting provides the best start. The ISF presets are an alternative for those who want day and night versions.
  • Contrast is the setting that controls the intensity of the OLED light source. By default, this results in a very bright image, so activate the light sensor if necessary. Do you always look at light eclipse you can safely drop them down.
  • If you want to see the effect of Ultra Resolution, you have to set sharpness to at least 1, but 2 we also found very good.
  • HDR Perfect Natural Reality: gives a very good HDR effect. We usually left it in the minimum position, but experiment with what you prefer.
  • HDR Perfect: This affects the tone mapping of HDR images. At Maximum the image gets a little more impact, but there is a risk that you clip away some highlights. (everything above 1000 nits) Personal taste you can lead here, but leave at least Minimum activated.
  • Ultra Resolution: gives a slight boost to detail without false contours. Activate it, but do not forget to set focus at least 1. In this case also activate noise reduction.
  • Noise Reduction and MPEG artifact reduction can best be activated if you start from a bad source (old DVDs or low quality YouTube). We left it at minimum to get a softer image.
  • Motion style: Out for purists, but the ‘films’ mode is advised for extra detail, and getting rid of judder. From ‘standard’ you can also see smooth pan images.

General image and image processing

This version of the Philips P5 image processor is equipped with new functionality, so it does differ slightly from previous versions, but the good performance is stayed. For example, we still see excellent deinterlacing and detection of film and video framerates, so that jagged lines or moiré effects are a rare phenomenon.

Random noise is perfectly hidden. The block formation that you see in highly compressed videos can also remove the P5, although it is not perfect in that area. We leave the two types of noise reduction in the Minimum mode, especially because that is necessary if you also want extra sharpness in your image. Without noise reduction, the television will also accentuate all the noise as a detail and that of course results in a very ugly image. For those who want the extra sharpness and detail, focus on 1 or 2 and activate Ultra Resolution for some extra detail.

OLED TVs score excellent with motion sharpness, but still leave that last bit of detail that the best LCDs can show. Therefore, leave at least ‘Bright’ activated as the Motion Style, and for film playback choose ‘Movies’ to avoid judder. The motion compensation algorithm from Philips is excellent, so we even recommend setting motion style to ‘Standard’. The ‘Fluent’ setting creates just too many visible artifacts.

The Philips 55OLED803 has a good calibration in the Movies preset. The gray scale is nicely neutral, and delivers a correct color temperature. There is a lot of black detail visible. The gamma value is a little too low, which means that midtones are a little too bright. If you look at a lot of light, that is not a problem, but for a slightly better overall performance, set the gamma value to ‘+1’. If you look predominantly in a slightly darkened room (ideal for that real movie experience), set the gamma value in the menu to ‘+2’ or even ‘+3’. The color reproduction is excellent with excellent skin tones.

Perfect Natural Reality

But what’s new? Philips has replaced the former ‘HDR upscaling’ with ‘Perfect Natural Reality’ and that is more than a name change. The new algorithm gives SDR content an HDR view, and it does so in a spectacular way. The results are especially impressive with regard to white detail. Even on images where the white detail is barely visible, the P5 can make that perfectly visible. Images also get more contrast, with a truly sparkling light accent here. Photos illustrate the results best. Keep in mind that photos never perfectly represent the image, but because we were able to photograph two identical devices side by side of which a with Perfect Natural Reality activated the images show what is possible. The device with PNR is always shown on the right.

An example of improved white detail.

PNR also succeeds in showing typical HDR advantages. In this image you clearly see what is outside the window.

By improving the contrast you get more detail in the hair, and harder shadow rendering, which is more consistent with what you do on a sunny day

PNR gives clouds a nice boost and improves the contrast and light accents (visible on the front of the jet ski)

We realize that PNR is not for everyone. Whoever swears by an unchanged image, the so-called ‘director’s intent’, will obviously not find one but a few bridges too far. On the other hand, PNR offers a way to view HDR-style images with all your current content. You can set the strength in three modes, we personally chose medium.

PNR is doing very well with clear images. But with dark imagery we found the results somewhat less. There the contrast often gets a slightly too strong boost and the bright accents or parties are slightly too much so that the image becomes too hard and sometimes too bright. You see something more black detail. In the picture below you see good results on the shirt and the grate on the left, but the face has become too hard and has also changed slightly.

HDR

Philips is in the HDR10+ camp and that means you will look for Dolby Vision in vain. Of course HDR10 and HLG are also supported.

The new OLED panel is a bit brighter than its predecessors. In our standard test we gained 705 nits, and on a 2% window the Philips peaked to 841 nits. He can hold these luminosities for a limited time (estimated around 30 seconds), after which the screen dims gradually over a very long period of time to about 140 nits. On a completely white field we reached a peak of 168 nits. The color range reaches 97% DCI-P3, and 72% Rec.2020, still at the best performance of all televisions, and more than enough to show a beautiful and rich HDR image. The HDR performance of this Philips is in line with what we see on other OLED TVs.

The HDR Films image mode is the best choice for calibration. HDR-Perfect is standard at minimum, and we also recommend to leave it that way. Turn off your HDR Perfect, then the Philips respects the required brightness curve to about 250 nits. Between 250 and 4,000 nits the images are then too dark. With HDR Perfect at minimum, the TV stays well on the required curve to 350 nits, and also rolls much softer to 4,000 nits. This keeps the bright accents clearer. IN medium the images become a bit clearer (about 20%) and you lose minimal white detail, in maximum mode the images are 25% too bright and you lose all white detail above 1000 nits.

Maximum can therefore be a possible choice with a lot of ambient light. Many films are also mastered on 1000 nits, so you do not lose much. For general use and the best result we advise to leave HDR perfectly at Minimum. You can also use the auto mode of HDR Perfect, the Philips itself then makes the necessary calculation to imitate a form of dynamic metadata, as we have seen before at LG.

Reflections and viewing angles

Oled delivers a lot wide viewing angle, an advantage that can prove a real asset in many living rooms. The screen is very good with reflections.

Gaming

In film mode we measure a lag of 56.0 ms, which is pretty decent, and for a casual gamer is still perfectly ok. In the game mode the lag drops to 38.8 ms which is a great result. The screen is a decent choice for gamers.

Philips 55OLED803/12 – Audio quality

The new sound solution of the Philips 55OLED803 is a huge improvement over the POS9002 (admittedly, it had fairly weak performance). In addition to the visible changes of the bass module on the back, the middle and high tones have also been improved by the addition of a separate tweeter. The result is very good and provides a particularly pleasant and rich sound, which performs well for a whole range of film and music. Be sure to try out the movie and music sound modes. Especially the nice bass reproduction is a nice trump although you have to keep the volume within limits if you do not want distortion. But even if we take this into account, the Philips plays loud enough. The device also supports Dolby Atmos, but only from an external source, and if the carrier is Dolby Digital Plus. We did not see Atmos soundtracks via streaming (Netflix bvb). The result is also rather limited, so do not expect a sparkling surround of an Atmo track.

Review equipment

For the lay-measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 HDR2000 Colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, a VideoForge Pro pattern generator, and the Spectracal Calman for Business software. To analyze any HDR problems we use an HDFury Vertex.

Philips 55OLED803/12 – Conclusion

OLED televisions are available in more and more variants. With his prize this is still a premium device but within the OLED segment he is affordable and he offers a lot of value for his money. We talked about the weaknesses quickly. We find the small bar brake very awkward, which is especially unfortunate because you can not find a microphone on the other remote. When Google assistant becomes available, you have to keep the smaller remote control at hand. Also our recurring remark about the somewhat weak Android chipset remains, especially given the price of the device.

With his P5 chip, Philips gets beautiful images from the 55OLED803. Especially the addition of Perfect Natural Reality, which gives all your existing content a truly exceptional HDR tone, is an excellent asset. Count on excellent motion sharpness and all the benefits of OLED, and you have amazing picture quality. Philips has also improved the sound a lot so that you get a fantastic all-rounder with this television.

Cons

  • Android chipset a bit too weak for topmodel
  • Second, smaller remote is awkward

Pros

  • P5 Image processing
  • Perfect Natural Reality
  • Color rendering
  • Contrast, black value
  • Sound quality & Ambilight

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