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Review: Philips 65OLED973 OLED TV

Philips 65OLED973
The Philips 65OLED973 is the new top model in the 2018 Philips OLED line-up. It is equipped with an integrated soundbar, HDR10+, and Android TV (Nougat v7).

The Philips 65OLED973 is the new top model in the 2018 Philips OLED line-up.  It is equipped with an integrated soundbar, HDR10+, and Android TV (Nougat v7). This model is only available in a 65-inch screen format.

Philips 65OLED973 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD OLED TV
  • Screen size: 65 inches (165 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, 2x antenna, Bluetooth
  • Extras: HDR10, HDR10 +, HLG, WiFi (802.11ac 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: 1.462 x 907 x 269 mm (including foot)
  • Weight: 31.5 kg (including foot)
  • Consumption: 192 / 0.3 watt (Energy label B)
  • Recommended retail price: 4,499 euros

A complete overview of all models that Philips put on the market in 2017 can be found in the 2018 Philips OLED TV line-up. Here you will also find the complete specifications per model.

Philips 65OLED973 – design

For this new top model Philips chose a striking new approach. The screen itself uses a design that strongly recalls the ‘picture on glass’ design of LG. The OLED panel sticks, as it were, against a glass back plate that protrudes five millimeters beyond the edge of the screen. The entire rear is finished in metal gray, just like the housing of the electronics and the foot. The Ambilight LEDs are mounted at the back on a separate rail that goes around the entire screen.

We have kept the most eye-catching choice for the last time. The device is equipped with a sound bar that is incorporated in the foot. The front of the soundbar is covered with a beautiful gray fabric, and the rest of the foot is finished in metal gray just like the screen. The foot / soundbar is attached to the device but can also be tilted in case you want to fix the screen to the wall.

The foot is very large, but due to its low height, good design and beautiful choice of materials it does not really bother. At the back the foot is rather deep. It also contains the connections that all point to the back wall, so you have to place the device fairly far from the wall.

A cautious estimate is that the back of the screen is about 25 cm away from the wall. If you opt for wall mounting, the construction of the foot also places the screen fairly far from the wall.

Connections

The connections contain no surprises. As said, they are in the foot, and they all point to the back wall. This can cause some problems during setup if you place the screen too close to the wall. The connections are fairly at the center of the screen, and reaching behind a 65 inch screen to plug in a cable is a challenge.

Just sliding the screen is the appropriate solution. This will not be so bad for the HDMI connections (you do not do that regularly), but for a USB device or a headphone this is more difficult. Even though those connections are closest to the edge, the accessibility and visibility is limited. You can of course always connect an adapter cable and leave it there, so you do not have to mess around behind the device every time. The TV also has a wireless network connection and Bluetooth (for wireless keyboards).

Philips 65OLED973 – ease of use

The 2018 Philips models are equipped with Android TV, version 7 (Nougat). It brings support for the HLG format for HDR, which later on can become important for HDR TV broadcasts. 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 65OLED973. We had expected the slightly more luxurious version of this top model, which was also included with the POS9002. But the classic remote with keyboard on the back seems to us the same version as the PU7502. This is slightly wider, so that it is also noticeably bigger, 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 useful than Bluetooth.

The second remote is 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.

As nice as that seems, we are not enthusiastic about that small 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 also lie on the table.

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

Philips 65OLED973 / 12 – features

Smart TV platform

TP Vision decided not to use any other chipset in the 65OLED973, so like many models from last year, this television uses the Mediatek MT5891. The quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 has 2GB RAM, a Mali-T860 GPU and 16GB internal storage. It is a standard chipset for Android televisions. In general, it is sufficient for a fairly smooth experience, but we still regret that in a top model such as this one is not chosen for a more powerful chipset. That would raise the experience to a more premium feeling. Now the set sometimes falters, even if it is exceptional, and we obviously did not want to see that.

During our first tests the Amazon Video app caused a whole series of problems. The device was slow, reacted slowly or no longer on commands and the app also caused some error messages. When we wanted to test again the next day the app appeared to have received an update (recognizable by the new icon) and the problems of the job. So if you start your device for the first time, it would be a good idea to be patient until all updates are received. The app refuses to show HDR video, although it should be possible. At Netflix we watched HDR content without any problem.

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 with settings.

The Android Home key is on the right below 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 a different input, start the media player, or view other functions for live TV such as the channel guide, or recordings.

The 65OLED973 is equipped with a single tuner and CI + lock. Recording to a USB hard disk, but recording and simultaneously watching another channel is impossible.

The media player is very complete and played all our video test files, including HDR video. Unfortunately, he required as good as all videos to fill the entire screen, and we could not correct this via the menus. That was surprisingly not a problem on previous models, and will hopefully be solved with a software update. 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. 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.

Some people found the Ambilight on the POS9002 too aggressive. Although it does not bother us personally, this version also seems to create a light band on the ceiling. Remember that you can adjust the brightness and color saturation of Ambilight through the menus if you want to reduce the effect.

Philips 65OLED973 – Picture quality

The OLED973 series still uses the 2017 LG panel, unlike previous messages. Philips confirmed this, and said that the differences with the new panel are very small anyway.

The other OLED devices (873 and 803) use the new 2018 panel.

Main settings

Statue Image Advanced Image Advanced
Picture mode: Movies

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

Computer: Off
Color / Color enhancement: Off
Color / Color temperature: Warm
Contrast / Constrast mode: Optimized for images
Contrast / HDR Upscaling: Off / On *
Contrast: HDR Perfect: Off-Maximum *
Contrast: Dynamic Contrast: Off
Contrast / Video contrast: 100
Contrast / light sensor: Off
Contrast / Gamma: 0
Sharpness / Ultra Resolution: Off / On *
Sharp Image / Noise Reduction: Minimum
Sharp Image / MPEG Artefact reduction: Minimum
Motion / Motion Style: Movies / Standard

Explanation of main settings;

  • The Movies setting delivers the best start. The ISF presets are an alternative for those who want day and night versions.
  • If you want to see the effect of Ultra Resolution, you have to set sharpness at least 1, but 2 we also found very good.
  • HDR Upscaling: gives a very light HDR effect. We usually left it activated because you enjoy the possibilities of the screen.
  • HDR Perfect: This affects the tone mapping of HDR images. At Maximum the image gets a little more impact, but there is a limited 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 picture.
  • Motion style: Out for purists, but the ‘movies’ mode gave a lot of extra detail, from ‘standard’ you can also see smooth pan images.

General image properties and image processing

Philips introduced its first, own image processing chip, the P5, last year. The chip has already earned its spurs in previous models, and is being used this year in a number of additional models, including the OLED973. Apparently Philips did not sit still and there is another ‘tuned’ to the chip, because the deinterlacing performance that in previous tests here and there made a sting, are now excellent. The device quickly and reliably recognizes all the most important frame rates for video and film.

The other performances seem largely unchanged. The device works well away random noise, and can also remove block formation in highly compressed video files, although in the latter case it is slightly less strong. We left the noise reduction for both settings at Minimum. The reason is simple, whoever wants some extra sharpness in his image, must set the sharpness setting at least 1 (up to 2 we found it ok). Then with the Ultra Resolution setting you get a little extra definition from the image. But if you do not activate noise reduction, the screen will also bring out better picture of all the noise.

OLED TVs score great with motion sharpness , but still leave the last bit of detail that the best LCDs can show. Therefore, have at least “Movies” activated as Motion Style. Philips also has an excellent algorithm for motion compensation, so we even recommend setting motion style to ‘Standard’. The ‘Fluent’ setting creates something too many visible artefacts.

In the Film preset this television scores with an excellent calibration. The gray scale is perfectly neutral and provides the correct color temperature. With an average error under one (DE2000) the result is as good as if the TV has just been calibrated. The gamma curve is around 2.2, which is a good compromise for all viewing conditions. If you look at something dark and want more impact, you can set the gamma value to +1 or +2 in the advanced settings. The image has a perfect color reproduction, and virtually flawless skin tones.

OLED screens sometimes hide some black detail, but that has clearly been tackled over the past few months. Even in very dark scenes we see as good as any detail. Enjoy the image of this television, it is particularly handsome.

HDR

Philips has positioned itself in the HDR10+ camp , which now supports HLG, HDR10 and HDR10+. The OLED panel provides a maximum brightness of about 670 nits in ‘Movies HDR’ image mode and can peak to about 705 nits. With a completely white screen you get 145 nits, all very typical scores for the current OLED panels. The color range clocks to 97% DCI-P3, and 71% Rec.2020, which is still the best performance among all televisions, and more than enough to show a beautiful and rich HDR image. There is still some improvement in the saturation of the colors, but the result remains fine.

Philips also provides a good calibration in the Film-HDR image preset. The HDR Perfect setting is set to minimum by default, which means that the screen makes the HDR images slightly brighter, although without hiding detail in brightest parts. You can turn it off, but that makes the image too dark to our liking. If you want more punch (ideal if you look at a lot of light), set HDR Perfect to maximum. All white detail above 1,000 nits is then hidden but the image is considerably brighter. Most content is mastered around 1,000 nits so that will rarely be a problem. You can adjust this setting to taste, but we prefer the minimum or medium setting.

SDR content gives you an HDR effect with ‘HDR upscaling’. The effect is limited, but clearly visible, and a must if you look at a lot of light.

Reflections and viewing angles

Oled offers a very wide viewing angle, an advantage that can prove a real asset in many living rooms. The screen deals well with reflections, and has a neutral gray tone.

Gaming

In the film mode we measure a lag of 55 ms, which is pretty decent, and for a casual gamer is still perfectly ok. In the game mode the lag drops to 35.7 ms which is an excellent result. The screen is a decent choice for gamers.

Philips 65OLED973 – Audio quality

That impressive soundbar sets expectations high. What is immediately noticeable: it excels in the middle and high. Even to the extent that we initially felt that the sound was too sharp. The soundbar reveals perfectly all the details in the sound, but that also means that it mercilessly accentuates all noise, or small noise from a live recording. In the end, we lower the treble setting slightly to counter that effect. On the low side, the bass is well present, but as soon as you turn the volume freely open, it stays behind a bit. At very high volumes, you can even easily transmit the bass.

With dialogue, and vocal work, the sound is very good. For music it will depend on your taste and genre. The soundbar performs considerably better if you do not turn up the volume too high (although we do say that for most circumstances it will still be loud enough). Movie soundtracks came out very well, especially with the film sound mode. The end result is good, and a lot better than that of most other televisions, but still remains slightly below our expectations.

Review equipment

For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator, an HDFury Integral and HDFury Vertex HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.

Philips 65OLED973 – Conclusion

The 65OLED973 from Philips comes with a new design and a built-in soundbar that is undoubtedly the big point of discussion. It is a fixed part of the device, even with wall mounting. It drives up the total price considerably, and performs well, but just slightly below our expectations. The price clearly places the device in the highest regions. As another negative point we dot the Android chipset, which may be a bit more powerful in a top model. And the small rod brake with its touch pad did not really appeal to us. But where it counts, in image quality, the Philips is an excellent television, even from reference level. The OLED screen delivers beautiful colors, perfect black with excellent black detail, and very good sharpening. The P5, Philips’ own image processing chip, guarantees top image processing, so that you enjoy impressive images with all your sources. Ambilight is a beautiful and unique extra.

Cons

  • Android chipset slightly too weak for topmodel
  • Second, smaller remote is inconvenient
  • price

Pros

  • Image processing
  • Color rendering
  • Contrast, black value
  • Ambilight

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