At the beginning of this year we looked extensively at the first Philips TV with Ambilux, but TP Vision has also released several other high-end models with the traditional Ambilight. In this review we look at the Philips 65PUS7601, a TV that has all the premium features including Ambilight.
Philips 65PUS7601 – specifications
In 2015, Philips promised to come up with a top model in the 9000 series, equipped with the latest technologies and features. However, the arrival was postponed several times and eventually we did not see a top model appear. Yet the TV is not completely gone because in 2016 TP Vision promised everything that the original 9000-series would offer to process in a cheaper 7000-series TV. The result is the 65PUS7601, a 65-inch TV with everything you want to see on a TV today.
The 65PUS7601 is a premium TV with various high-end features and specifications, including direct LED backlighting, the high 4K Ultra HD resolution, 2D local dimming, the latest version of Android TV and HDR Premium. There is only a 65-inch model available and this has a price of just under 3,000 euros. Below you will find an overview of the most important specifications.
Specifications Philips 65PUS7601
- 4K Ultra HD
- Direct LED
- Perfect Pixel Ultra HD
- 2600 PPI (Picture Performance Index)
- HDR Premium (700 nits peak brightness)
- Micro Dimming Premium
- Ultra Resolution upscaling
- Perfect Natural Motion
- Android 5.1 Lollipop (Android TV)
- Quadcore processor
- 16GB storage memory
- Remote control with keyboard
- 3-sided Ambilight
- Four hdmi 2.0 ports (2x HDCP 2.2)
- Three USB ports (1x usb 3.0)
- 30 Watt speakers
For this review use the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Denon AVR-X6300H receiver, a PlayStation 3 game console and Bowers & Wilkins CM S2 series loudspeakers. The LG E6V series OLED TV serves as a reference model. We also used Netflix for testing 4K and HDR material.
Philips 65PUS7601 – design
In terms of design TP Vision hits the mark this year, as we also indicated in previous reviews of the 2016 models. The new models feature a minimalistic and sleek design, as does the 65PUS7601. The TV looks premium and has a sleek (but with 1cm not the slimmest) bezel with a silver-brushed metal finish. Furthermore no bells and whistles, only a somewhat fragile luminous logo on the underside of the panel. You can turn off this luminous logo but we would have preferred that you can take it off completely. It adds nothing, makes the appearance slightly less tight and with our review copy the logo was already half off by the many moving and use of the TV.
The minimalist design is also extended in the foot, or rather the two feet. These metal feet are very easy to assemble and leave the solid on a piece of furniture. You do not need much space in terms of depth, but keep in mind that the supports are on the sides. The feet are neatly finished, feel solid and contribute to a generally good build quality (apart from that logo).
At the back of the Philips 65PUS7601 we see all connections. The TV comes with a USB port and a CI module and two HDMI ports pointing to the side but the two HDMI ports for 4K Ultra HD content point down. Also down a USB port, an optical digital output, an ethernet port, a cable connection and a satellite connection. The SCART, composite and component connections point towards the wall.
TP Vision provides the 65PUS7601 with the same remote control as the other top models. This remote control comes with the familiar two sides; one side for the traditional buttons and one side with a full keyboard for entering texts. The keyboard comes with some small keys that have little travel but it makes the use of the smart TV functions a lot easier. Entering a web address or search is a piece of cake, especially because the keyboard is split into two parts, making it easy to tap with two hands.
The top with normal buttons has more room for the keys and despite the large size, everything is comfortable to operate with one hand. The remote control is somewhat larger and heavier than the average remote control, but this ensures a better location in the hand and gives the accessory a better feeling of quality.
Philips 65PUS7601 – ease of use
In terms of ease of use we see little to no differences compared to the other models released this year. TP Vision still uses the well-known Philips interface for the general menus, which for some people may seem a little unclear at first because you have multiple submenus in submenus. All options, however, are clearly labeled and are in most cases also explained by means of a short sentence or an illustration so that you know what you are doing.
The 65PUS7601 can be set up quickly and easily with the first use, linked to your WiFi network and then used. There is now even an option for quick adjustment of the image display, very useful when you do not know much about it but still want to play with the settings for the best possible view.
However, Android TVs still have two interfaces. On the one hand you have the interface of Android TV that works with many images and its own layout, and with only icons (no title or explanation) also provides access to many of the settings of the TV. In addition, you have the interface (the Philips menus) of the manufacturer itself that has a different design, uses other icons and also gives access to the settings of the TV. This can be confusing for someone who does not know Android TV.
The most important component in terms of ease of use is probably the smart TV platform, in this case 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 general settings. The overview is fine, with sufficient structure to immediately see where you need to be, even though the icons for the institution could have been provided with a title. It takes some getting used to but after a few times browsing through the interface you see where everything is for. The software is slightly more stable than last year but we still have to deal with sometimes longer reaction times or freezes, so the TV switches off in one go or just crashes. It does not happen regularly but in the two weeks that we have used the TV it has happened a few times. The Android TVs from Sony are also affected, so it is mainly in the Android TV software. If no problems arise, the navigation is fluent and smooth, so you can browse the apps and other content without any problems.
What is allowed a bit faster is zapping between channels. This is something I think we have been mentioning and reading in reviews of Philips TVs for years, but it remains a point. It is not disturbing, but why there is a slight delay here is not clear to us.
Philips 65PUS7601 – features
Smart TV platform (Android TV)
Android TV is now a well-known platform for smart TVs, but the platform has had quite a few problems since its introduction. Unfortunately, these problems are not completely out of the world yet. TVs with this software, including the 65PUS7601, are not always stable due to, among other things, jammers. The speed of the software has increased compared to last year, but there is still room for improvement.
The Android TVs, including the 65PUS7601, 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 recommendations from Philips (apps, games, videos and even advertisements), apps, games and settings. The interface has been designed in the style of Android, but Philips has made various adjustments to put its own stamp on it. For example, the icons are in the style of the Philips icons and an extra TV menu has been built in which you can quickly access certain (smart) functions. This menu actually takes away the need to first navigate through the home screen of Android TV to certain sections or functions, and it can be called directly via the remote control. The advantage is that the menu gives you faster access to certain sections and options, the disadvantage is that it is again an extra menu.
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. Android TV is all in all 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. The TV also has 16GB of internal storage for apps and media.
The Philips 65PUS7601 has more smart features and functions. It is possible to share media within your home network with the TV thanks to WiFi and DLNA, you can display content from TV on your mobile devices via WiFi Smart Screen and the CI + module and it is possible to pair a speaker via Bluetooth. Recording is also possible when you connect an external hard disk to the TV.
The TV has a built-in media player that allows content to be displayed from your home network or from a USB device. With WiFi and DLNA you can easily and quickly communicate with devices in the home network and the TV comes with a broad support for file formats so that almost all popular video and audio files can be displayed. Since it is an Ultra HD TV, there is of course support for 4K content with the hevc codec. The media player also works quite intuitively and quickly, in line with the other software. However, many more media players can be found in the Google Play Store, so you have plenty of choice.
Philips 65PUS7601 – picture quality
Whether we recommend a TV or does not fall or is of course with the image quality. On paper, the 65PUS7601 is at least a TV that should offer great value for money. The TV comes with the high 4K Ultra HD resolution, direct LED backlighting, HDR support with a maximum brightness of 700 nits, Micro Dimming Premium for high contrast, Ultra Resolution for sharp display and Perfect Natural Motion for flowing movements.
When you buy a high-end TV, you also want to enjoy the best possible image quality. TVs come with hundreds of setting possibilities, from basic settings to advanced customization options. If you buy a premium TV, we always recommend that this model be professionally calibrated. For a price between 100 and 300 euros you can have this done by a professional and that way you get the most out of your TV. But, if you do not want that, you can use a few small adjustments to get a very good view from your screen. We keep this in our reviews so that everyone can work with the settings for optimum 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. We started with the ISF Night mode as most people watch the TV in the evening (in the dark or with dim light).
|Image (ISF Night mode)||Advanced||Advanced|
|Color enhancement: Off
Color temperature: Warm *
Contrast mode: Optimum Image
HDR upscaling: Off
Perfect Contrast: Off
Video contrast: 90
Light sensor: Off
|Ultra Resolution: Off
Noise reduction: Off
MPEG artifact reduction: Off
Perfect Natural Motion: Off
Clear LCD: On
Many of the settings depend on personal preferences and the room in which the TV is located, but if you have a dark room and especially watch TV in the evening, these are the settings that you can use to get a lot out of your screen. At a number of institutions, we explain why we have opted for this and what they do.
As you can see in the above table, we do not do weird things with the settings and we even switch off most settings to make the image appear as pure as possible. Especially when the source is already good (hd signal, blu-ray, 4K, etc.) then we want the TV to do as little as possible to introduce no adverse side effects. For example, we have turned off Perfect Contrast because this option, despite the fact that the contrast looks larger, makes subtle details disappear in darker and lighter areas of the screen. The HDR Upscaling function is a nice function to increase the contrast and give the brightness of light parts a bit more ‘punch’ but in our view this gave the image a less pure and realistic look. However, it is a question of taste because this option does not introduce artefacts or other problems.
Ultra Resolution should increase the sharpness of objects but this causes a too hard display, an unnatural display with halo effects. The reduction filters for noise and mpeg artefacts are always outstanding with good quality content because they can reduce the sharpness. The capture of fast moving images or objects is always a difficult point and partly a matter of taste. We want to affect the image quality as little as possible and without the TV creating frames with ‘creating’ a smooth reproduction. With Perfect Natural Motion those frames are made up with it so we switch this off. This option creates artifacts and can even give a home video look to a movie. The Clear LCD option makes the backlight blink very quickly and that has the goal to make the movements look smoother. This works a lot better, but there are people who perceive this blinking, making it not an option. If you watch a lot of sports competitions, you can always experiment with the Perfect Natural Motion option for a sleek display. You can not escape the artefacts.
* With the color temperature, Warm is the option that gives the best result, but this option can tend to blue to the trained viewer, especially in white areas of the screen. With the advanced options for color you can correct this with RGB sliders, but measuring equipment is required for this.
When you watch HDR content, the TV will automatically recognize this and so you will also see other picture modes in the menu. Although many HDR modes appear, we still opt for the ISF Night mode. The only thing that will be adjusted is the HDR Contrast, which is set to 100, and the Video contrast that is set to 86.
In every review we always first discuss the general properties of the screen. For example, we look at the uniformity of the screen with an even black or white display, problems with the backlight that may occur, halo effects or clouding issues that are visible, and the contrast display. Actually, there is nothing to complain about the Philips 65PUS7601 in all these areas. The TV just performs very well, especially when we look at the price range in which the TV is located. The screen is impressively uniform, with some clouding in the corners, but this does not stand out during normal TV viewing.
The TV knows for an LCD TV impressive deep black display, which is also enhanced when you use Ambilight (low level), and the contrast is above average high level. In dark parts of the screen, sufficient detail remains observable and halo effects (a light haze around light objects on a dark background) hardly ever exist. The va panel, together with the direct LED technology and local dimming, is a very good combination that can give images particularly tight and dynamic. Yet there is a small downside, which we noticed particularly during sports competitions and fast pan movements in films. In these situations you can sometimes experience ‘banding’, which means that your vertical bars can see light through the image. It is really minimal, but on a large green lawn this can stand out.
SD and HD content
Where Philips always achieves high scores is the upscaling of low resolution content and the de-interlacing technique to display this neatly. SD content is basically already ‘dredging’ on an Ultra HD screen, but the 65PUS7601 knows how to make it look very nice. Details that are not there can not be added, but we still get a smooth, relatively tight and clean picture.
When we switch to HD content, it becomes a lot more impressive. Subtle details are clearly visible, fast moving images and objects are collected almost effortlessly and the whole picture looks natural and dynamic. There is absolutely no irritating artefacts, noise or forms of blur. Images are displayed in a subtle and vivid way, with sufficient depth and high contrast. Especially when we look at Gravity in HD it is striking that the local dimming system works perfectly with the direct LED-backlight so that stars in the dark sky sparkle and in the shadow areas of the screen a lot of detail can be observed. Even the long movement over the earth is rendered smoothly, without sacrificing much on sharpness.
4K Ultra HD display
Naturally, the Philips 65PUS7601 should really excel with 4K Ultra HD content, especially with a 65-inch size. Luckily, the TV does not drop a single point in this area either. Native 4K content is displayed with complete conviction, ensuring crisp lines and subtle details, a smooth and smooth display of movements and sufficient color range for a lively experience. It is, of course, a combination of all elements, because only with the well-performing backlight and the impressive imaging techniques can the resolution come into its own.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a term that we see frequently this year and with which, combined with the higher resolution and the larger color range, we give an extra dimension to a film. Put simply, this means that the TV has a higher contrast with more color gradations, deeper black levels and more intense whites. HDR content is not widely available at the moment but Netflix already offers a number of films and series in HDR and most Ultra HD Blu-ray discs have HDR playback.
We are big of HDR but we have to admit that we have seen it so far only on TVs that actually reach over 1,000 nits of peak brightness (or deeper black in the case of OLED), which is also a requirement for the Ultra HD Premium certificate. The Philips 65PUS7601 does not have that certificate with a maximum brightness of 700 nits. But, to be honest, that is not a big problem because thanks to the full array LED baclight (direct LED) with 128 individual zones, this TV still has a very impressive picture.
HDR material is shown with a combination of (for an LCD LED TV) impressive deep black, intense white and natural and intense colors. The HDR material is displayed without many problems, without clipping (lack of detail in clear areas of the screen) or without the loss of subtle details in dark areas of the screen. Here and there, there are light halo effects around light objects on a dark background, but we see that with almost every LCD LED TV. Certainly in a dark room, objects such as the sun or the moon – or in our case the snow in Everest – are particularly bright and taut. The difference with TVs that do have the minimum brightness of 1000 nits you mainly see with a lot of ambient light where you need to be bumped into, but since most of us still watch a movie in the evening that is not a big problem.
Despite the laudatory words we must admit that it is not the most impressive HDR experience we have ever had (for example look at the Samsung KS9500, LG E6V or Sony ZD9) but looking at the price range in combination with the image quality we are here very satisfied. It should be said that the color range is less than on TVs with the Ultra HD Premium certificate (and several other premium TVs). These TVs must be able to display at least 90 percent of the DCI color palette. The Philips 65PUS7601 is not yet 80 percent, which the model in terms of color range again with both feet on the floor. All in all, the Philips 65PUS7601 offers a very good experience that is a kind of cross between HDR and SDR.
Incidentally, we were not able to test HDR content from Netflix in this review. Philips indicates that we are working on support and that we can expect a firmware update this year that will unlock the HDR capabilities of Netflix.
For those who play a lot of games, the input lag is important. This tells you how much delay there is between performing an action on your controller and performing the action on the image. As far as the input lag is concerned, the Philips 65PUS7601 is in the middle class, with an input lag of 39ms in Game mode. The really fanatical gamers who play a lot of shooters, for example, are better off with a faster TV.
Reflections and viewing angles
In terms of reflections and viewing angles, the Philips 65PUS7601 is also a middle class. If we sit far out of the middle then the brightness will deteriorate and the color will be a bit lighter, but we see that with almost every LCD led TV. However, it is not a big problem when you are sitting on a couch opposite the TV with three or four people. Only when you really look at the screen from the side (about 45 degrees) will it affect the viewing experience.
Reflections are present but are minimized by the filter used. A lamp in the back of the room can therefore reflect in hazy form on the screen, something that stands out especially in dark content. If you put the TV directly next to a window, direct incident light can provide a lesser experience.
Philips 65PUS7601 – Ambilight
A part that we can not (and want to) come out of when we test a Philips TV is of course the Ambilight function. The Philips 65PUS7601 has three-sided Ambilight; left, right and above the screen. Ambilight means that the TV can display a colored glow that follows the image on the wall behind the TV using LEDs behind the screen.
We have been a fan of Ambilight for many years. It gives a more comfortable viewing experience because your eyes do not have to adjust continuously to a clear or dark image, but Ambilight also ensures that black is deeper and the contrast is higher. Philips is the only manufacturer entitled to Ambilight and that is still bearing fruit. You have various setting options to adjust Ambilight to your liking. So you can make the color changes fast or slow, you can change the lighting based on video or audio (music), you can specify a specific color instead of dynamic colors and you can optimize the color rendering by the color of the wall behind the TV.
Experienced users can also adjust the ISF menu to the color temperature. A nice extra feature is that if you have Hue lamps, they can color with the Ambilight colors of the TV, giving you a unique and impressive experience. Coincidentally, we have provided our test room with Hue and that’s why you get a cold feeling in the whole room through the appropriate cold colors.
Philips 65PUS7601 – audio quality
As far as audio performance is concerned, we know that Philips has paid extra attention this year, with newly designed drivers that offer more quality in a compact housing. Now we can immediately say that the audio quality is very good for a flat screen TV, but unfortunately the drivers point backwards so the sound is reflected behind the TV through the wall. This does have some influence on the sound, because dialogue sounds something duller and music sounds a bit dull. It is purely the placement of the speakers because the sound that comes out is provided with sufficiently low, clear highs and warm but clear midtones. Even at a reasonable volume, the speakers hold up well and there is also a fairly good stereo image to observe. It is therefore a pity that the speakers point backwards, but you hardly get away with that. For normal TV viewing, the Philips 65PUS7601 offers excellent audio reproduction, but if you like the films and series, an external audio system is still a must.
Philips 65PUS7601 – conclusion
If we take everything together we have to conclude that the Philips 65PUS7601 offers great value for money and despite its relatively low price is a top model. Yes, the lesser color range and the low peak brightness are two things that still give the real top models a head start, but due to the use of direct LED and good image processing techniques, this model is not far behind. We are very satisfied with the image quality, apart from a small banding problem. All kinds of content, from low-resolution SDR to high resolution HDR, are displayed almost effortlessly in an impressive way. In addition, the TV with a sleek and beautiful design, an extensive Android TV platform and of course not to forget; Ambilight. We see improvement points especially in the stability and speed of Android TV and the placement of the speakers. We also hope that users can quickly access HDR content from Netflix. That said, in our view for less than 3,000 euros, you will not easily find a 65-inch TV that offers better performance.