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Review: Philips 65PML9636 (PML9636 series) LCD LED TV

Review: Philips 65PML9636 : Philips has been committed to OLED for its top models for a while, but here it shows that they still have a love for LCD TV

Philips also has miniLED models in its line-up this year. This 65PML9636 is the best LCD TV you can buy from Philips. It must combine impressive brightness with strong contrast, is equipped with a Bowers & Wilkins speaker bar, HDMI 2.1 connections and of course also Philips’ P5 AI image processor. Can it compete with the OLED models?

Philips 65PML9636 – Specifications

 

What Ultra HD Full Array LED LCD TV with local dimming (32×32 segments)
Screen size 65 in (165 cm), flat
Connections 4x HDMI (2x v2.1 48 Gbps, 2x v2.0, ARC/eARC, ALLM, 4K120 HFR, VRR, AMD Freesync), 3x USB, 1x optical digital out, 1x headphones, subwoofer pre-out, 2x antenna, Bluetooth
Extras HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+ Adaptive, Dolby Atmos, WiFi built-in, Android 10.0, DTS Play-Fi, USB/DLNA media player, DVB-T2/C/S2, CI+ slot, 5th Gen P5 AI Processor, Ambilight four-sided
Dimensions 1,449 x 930 x 286 mm (incl. foot)
Weight 35.7 kg (incl. feet)
Consumption SDR 95 (F) / HDR 170 watts (G)
Recommended retail price 2,999 euros

Philips 65PML9636 – Design

The design of the 65PML9636 (PML-9636 series) is dominated by the impressive speaker bar that doubles as a base. A keen eye immediately recognizes the Bowers & Wilkins solution with ‘Tweeter on Top’, which we also found under the OLED936.

The finish is top notch, and although the screen obviously does not have such a slim profile as an OLED TV, it is still very good. Smart roundings and a slim metal frame create an elegant impression. The back has a slightly rough texture. The speaker bar is finished with Kvadrat speaker fabric on top and a metal micromesh on the front and sides.

In the box you will also find two necks to connect the TV to the speaker bar. One is for wall mounting, the other for furniture installation.

Philips 65PML9636 – Connections

The PML9636 received an extensive set of connections. They all face sideways or downwards, ideal for wall mounting. You will find two HDMI 2.0 connections and two HDMI 2.1 connections. The latter provide the maximum 48Gbps bandwidth, and support the following HDMI 2.1 functions : eARC, ALLM, 4K120 HFR and VRR.

In addition, there are three USB connections, wireless and wired network, and Bluetooth (for wireless keyboards, the remote and wireless headphones), a digital optical output and headphone output. You can connect your own subwoofer via the subwoofer pre-out to give the B&W sound solution some extra oomph.

Ease of use and smart TV

Under the hood of the 65PML9636 (PML-9636 series) we find the same high-performance chipset as in OLED models, based on the MT5895, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A73, 3 GB of RAM and the Mali G52 GPU. It is therefore pleasant to navigate through the Android TV environment, everything runs smoothly and the TV responds promptly.

Also on this model, Philips will remain with Android 10 version for the time being, and we are absolutely not sorry about that. That version also got a slightly streamlined Home screen that is more in the direction of Google TV, but remains customizable. At the top is a simple menu bar in which you will find Discover in addition to Search and Start screen. In that section, Android TV gives you recommendations. Finally, the Apps section where you browse all apps.

 

We continue to hope that Philips will modernize its settings menu a bit next year. Now each adjustment takes up all or a large portion of the screen, making it difficult to adjust anything. A quick menu would also be a particularly good addition.

Remote control

The long, slim silver remote lights up when you press any key. It has a soft leather back and is therefore very pleasant to hold. We are less satisfied with the keys. They lie perfectly in the surface of the remote, without noticeable relief. Your thumb also wanders easily, so it sometimes happens that you hit the wrong key.

The layout is decent, but we would have preferred a slightly clearer separation between the keys. Design is important, but functionality is more important to us.

Functions

The PML9636 has a single TV tuner and one CI+ slot. You can record to a USB hard disk, but watching another channel at the same time is not possible. Philips apparently opts for a single tuner on all its top models. No problem for those who watch digital TV via a set-top box, but if you want to get rid of that, this is of course a fairly basic solution. You can enjoy HDR content via all streaming platforms, and the media player is quite complete, it only refused Divx and Xvid.

In addition to Google Cast, Philips also supports DTS Play-Fi . That doesn’t just mean that the TV supports DTS (and DTS HD). You can create a wireless surround setup via this WiFi multi-room system, or listen to the TV sound on your smartphone or on a wireless speaker in the kitchen, for example.

Ambilight

Of course you can enjoy four-sided Ambilight on this top TV. Very nice when it is on a TV cabinet, but even more fun when it is hung on the wall and the atmosphere of the film really radiates all around the TV. Ambilight now has a lot of functions in addition to the typical use in which the LEDs spread the atmosphere and color of the film over the wall behind it. For example, you can use Ambilight as a Lounge light, there is Ambilight Music if you want light effects on your sound, and thanks to AmbiSleep and AmbiWakeup you can go to sleep and wake up with Ambilight.

Philips 65PML9636 – Image processing

The 65PML9636 (PML-9636 series) is equipped with the fifth generation P5 with AI. So that is not the ‘Dual Engine’ version, which is reserved for the best OLED models, but the same version that you will find on the OLED806 . We therefore see largely the same performance as on that model.

The deinterlacing and detection of film and video frame rates is fast and reliable. This way, jagged edges or moiré are kept to a minimum. The upscaling produces beautiful images, and you can eliminate unwanted noise quite well. For random noise this is excellent, for block noise (as a result of too heavy video compression) the effect is less strong. If you see problems like that, you can easily switch MPEG Artefact Reduction to medium. Because the OLED806 was not too strong in eliminating color bands, we feared the same problem on this model. Fortunately, that turned out to be a little less serious. In our dark Game of Thrones scene, the issues are visible but significantly less distracting than on the OLED model.

Whoever uses the Filmmaker Mode may raise the ‘Sharpness’ settings to 1 or 2 and activate Ultra Resolution. Without those settings, we found the image a bit too flat in some cases. With those settings you give the finest detail a boost.

The most important feature on this processor is the AI ​​Film detection and extensive classification. The P5 now recognizes when you’re watching a movie and then switches to Filmmaker Mode or Home Cinema Mode itself. In addition, Ambient Intelligence allows for a more extensive adjustment of the image based on the light sensor. It is very nice that Philips allows you to look under the hood. The new ‘AI Picture Demo’ shows what the processor is doing in real time.

The 65PML9636 (PML-9636 series) offers excellent motion sharpness, especially when you activate ‘Fast Motion Clarity’, a Black Frame Insertion (which is BFI ) technique. In the lightest position, it brings out almost all the detail in fast-moving images, while you lose relatively little brightness and no visible flickering occurs. Definitely recommended for sports and games. The motion interpolation ensures smooth images without excessive artifacts. The ‘real cinema’ mode left a little too much judder behind, we prefer ‘Films’ for our films and TV series. If you want a really smooth viewing spectacle, you can opt for ‘standard’. The ‘smooth’ motion style shows a bit too many image artifacts.

Main Settings

Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV.

Image Image Advanced Image Advanced
Picture mode: Filmmaker mode 

Color: 50
Contrast Backlight: 100
Sharpness: 1-2
Brightness: 50

Sharp Image/Noise Reduction: Minimum
Sharp Image/MPEG Artifact Reduction: MinimumSharpness/Ultra Resolution: OnColor/Color Enhancement: Off
Color/Color Gamut: Normal
Color/Color Temperature: Warm
Contrast/Local Contrast: Medium
Contrast/Perfect Natural Reality: Off/Minimum
Contrast/HDR Perfect: Adaptive
Contrast/Perfect Contrast: Off
Contrast/Video Contrast: 95
Contrast/Light Sensor: On
Contrast/Gamma: 0/+2Motion/Motion Style: Movies/ DefaultFast Motion Clarity: Off/Minimum

Philips 65PML9636 – Picture quality

Philips opted for a VA panel to guarantee excellent contrast. And we notice that contrast immediately, even without any form of local dimming, the screen scores an ANSI contrast of 5,848:1, an impressive achievement.

The Full Array backlighting with local dimming is made up of miniLEDs that are subdivided into 1,024 (32 x 32) zones. That is a lot more than, for example, the Samsung QN95A, which also delivers good performance with 576 zones. The screen delivers excellent uniformity in both bright and dark images. As soon as we activate the local dimming, the contrast jumps up again to 11.550:1 on one of our other test patterns, and even to ‘no longer measurable’ on the ANSI chessboard.

Those are very promising results. Time for some normal footage and that confirms our very good impression. There is virtually no blooming visible, especially if you are sitting right in front of the TV. And the black display is particularly impressive. We judge with an OLED TV next to the Philips as a reference, and that comparison leaves a strong impression.

Are there no weaknesses? Still, just like we notice on other TVs with local dimming, it is mainly the bright light accents on a black background that inevitably lose some intensity. This is clearly visible in the Gravity test scene, for example, where the stars are clearly a bit dimmer in some places. Conversely, however, subtitles, for example, do not cause sudden changes in the image. The screen also avoids very well seeing zones that are really off, that kind of problem is only visible in that same scene very sporadically. The Philips manages to preserve a lot of black detail, only the darkest nuances are lost, but even in our Revenant or Harry Potter scenes that was no problem.

For the best images, we switch to the Filmmaker Fashion. It shows a very good calibration. The gray scale is neutral across the board, albeit a bit too cool. Philips sets the gamma value to 2.2. That’s not wrong, but for movie maker mode we prefer 2.4 (set the gamma setting to +2). Middle tones and dark tones are then darker, which creates a slightly more intense film look. The color reproduction is excellent, the images are rich and powerful, but remain correct with especially accurate skin tones.

Philips also invariably tries to get the maximum brightness out of its TVs. As a result, a touch of white detail had disappeared on our test model. Lower the Video Contrast to 95 to fix that. The TV also has excess brightness, so you certainly don’t have to worry about that. If you watch more in well-lit conditions, perhaps choose the ‘Home cinema’ image preset for a somewhat more powerful display.

The 65PML9636 (PML-9636 series) is ‘Calman Ready’ meaning it supports automatic calibration in Portrait Displays Calman.

Philips 65PML9636 – HDR

With HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ Adaptive, Philips offers very extensive HDR support. Dolby Vision IQ, the counterpart of HDR10 + Adaptive, which takes ambient light into account is still missing. Philips does use the light sensor in Dolby Vision, but it is not an official Dolby Vision IQ implementation.

We were already quite impressed with the performance in SDR, but in HDR this TV can really flex its muscles. In HDR Filmmaker Mode on a 10% window, the meter goes above 2000 nits, to 2039 nits to be precise, and he can also easily maintain that. On the completely white field you still get 665 nits. These are unprecedented performances, with which he even leaves the Samsung QN95A behind. The Samsung only scores higher on a completely white field.

The color range is also exceptionally wide. With 97% DCI-P3 and 78% Rec2020, it even delivers a wider range than the best OLEDs. Philips uses quantum dot technology for this, although you will not find that in the specifications. So this Philips has a lot of raw power in house, but does it handle it correctly? The HDR Filmmaker mode is very well calibrated. Just like in SDR, we see that the local dimming hides a minimum of black detail, but not to the extent that it disturbs. On the contrary, the TV surprises us with its clever combination of light and dark, it is a real showcase for HDR.

You can tinker with the tone mapping using the HDR Perfect setting. The ‘Minimum’ setting is fine, but higher settings give a slightly brighter display. In all cases, you preserve the white detail excellently. Do not turn off HDR Perfect, then you will lose white detail, that mode is only for game consoles ( HGIG ). The color reproduction is excellent, and the wide color palette clearly brings out sufficient tint even in the brightest scenes. In short, this TV is a real showcase for HDR.

Gaming, Reflections and Viewing Angles

VA screens have to contend with a limited viewing angle and that is no different on this model. Zone boundaries also come into view from an angle, although this is of course visible in extreme image material. But due to the large number of zones and the excellent image processing, that effect is less disturbing. It is, however, something to keep in mind.

We measured an input lag of 19.3 ms (4K60) and 10.0 ms (2K120). This Philips is therefore a good choice for gamers. You get two HDMI 2.1 connections and a soundbar is unnecessary, so both connections are available for your game consoles. They support all important gaming features: ALLM, 4K120 and VRR (48-120Hz). To activate VRR, dive into the menus, ‘General Settings / HDMI UltraHD’ and choose ‘Optimal (Autogame Mode)’. In the normal ‘Optimal’ mode you do have 4K120 support, but no ALLM or VRR.

Philips offers both HDMI VRR and AMD Freesync, and NVIDIA Gsync compatibility. You don’t have to make a difficult choice between Dolby Vision or VRR support, the Optimal (Game Mode) supports both. If you game in HDR, you can use HGiG for the best result, for this you go to the image properties ‘Advanced / Contrast / HDR Perfect’ and select Off/HGIG.

Philips 65PML9636 – Conclusion

Philips has been fully committed to OLED for its top models for a while, but the 65PML9636 (PML-9636 series) shows that they still have a lot of love for LCD TV. And that seems absolutely right to us. We don’t have to point out many negatives. We would adjust the remote to better avoid those unwanted attacks. And although the light sensor does work with Dolby Vision, we would have liked to see the Dolby Vision IQ logo for completeness. The moderate viewing angle is an intrinsic disadvantage of VA panels, you have to take that into account.

We know that miniLEDs and plenty of local dimming zones are a good asset for LCD TVs, but the 65PML9636 really shows the potential of that approach. With 1024 zones and a VA panel, you get deep blacks and fantastic contrast. In many cases, and certainly if you look at some ambient light, this TV can effortlessly stand next to an OLED. Philips also provides you with very good image processing that optimally avoids zone boundaries. If you really want to show off with this TV, put some clear HDR content on the screen. That peak brightness of more than 2,000 nits is fantastic, in fact it is a top performance, certainly combined with the good contrast and the very wide color range. Thanks to an excellent calibration, this provides top-notch visual violence. Your ears are also spoiled, that’s what the handsome Bowers & Wilkin’s solution under the TV. Gamers can count on good input lag and two HDMI 2.1 connections with the necessary gamer features. add more DTS Play-Fi , four-sided Ambilight, and the handy Android TV environment and this is a TV that has a lot to offer. The price tag is hefty, but certainly justified for this model.

Pros

  • Fantastic peak brightness
  • Top contrast thanks to a large number of dimming zones
  • Very good image processing
  • Powerful HDR images
  • DTS Play-Fi and four-sided Ambilight
  • Good input lag and gamer features
  • Fantastic B&W sound, including Dolby Atmos
Negatives

  • Remote causes unwanted keystrokes
  • Slightly limited viewing angle
  • No Dolby Vision IQ

 

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