This review is especially focused on AmbiLux and the image quality of 65-inch Philips 65PUS8901 LCD LED TV with a price tag of 4,999 euros.
Philips PUS8901 – specifications
The unique feature of the Philips 8901 series is the new Ambilight technique, called AmbiLux. This technique was already extensively demonstrated in 2014 and we were very impressed. Because everyone was so impressed, Philips decided to equip one series with them in 2015/2016.
AmbiLux consists of two parts; the standard Ambilight with LEDs around the screen but in addition there are nine projectors built in the back of the TV that project the image (or an impression of it) on the wall. Approximately one meter at the top, left and right side an impressive projection with colors and details is shown, based on the image that appears on TV.
The ultra-thin edge ensures that the Ambilight projection fits seamlessly with the 4K Ultra HD image. The screen comes with the Ultra HD resolution, edge lit LED lighting and HDR support. Android TV is also on board, accompanied by a quad-core processor, 16GB of storage memory, WiFi and a new remote control. The TV is also equipped with a slim frame and flat wire base, made of high quality materials.
Specifications Philips 65PUS8901
- 4K Ultra HD
- Edge LED
- Perfect Pixel Ultra HD
- 2000 PPI (Picture Performance Index)
- HDR Plus
- Ultra Resolution upscaling
- Perfect Natural Motion
- 30 Watt speakers
- Android 5.1 Lollipop (Android TV)
- Quadcore processor
- 16GB storage memory
- Remote control with keyboard
- Triple Ambilight Projection (AmbiLux)
- Four HDMI 2.0 ports (1x HDCP 2.2)
- Three USB ports (1x usb 3.0)
- Twin Tuner
For this review we used other equipment than normal. We had a UHD player from Philips with various demonstration films at our disposal, plus access to Netflix, among others.
Philips PUS8901 – design
In terms of design, TP Vision hits the mark this year, as far as we are concerned. The new models feature a minimalist and sleek design. The Philips 65PUS8901 comes with a very thin black frame around the screen, a white back, a silver frame around the TV and silvery aluminum feet that make the TV float in front of the wall.
The slender frame works in favor of the AmbiLux technique, of which more later. The overall finish is high-quality, connections are neatly concealed and because of the minimalist design this model will be out of place in a few living rooms.
In terms of connections, we see the CI slot, two HDMI ports and two USB ports pointing to the side. The other hdmi and usb ports can be found on the back, which are placed in a notch and point downwards. 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.
The remote control Philips provides with this model has had a small make-over. He seems to have become a bit bigger and heavier, which is positive since the accessory is now well in hand. The buttons have more space, especially on the keyboard that is located at the rear. Philips does not take part in the trend of ever smaller remote controls with touch surfaces, although there is a small touch area on the front where you can swipe. This swiping is rather irritating than convenient. The plane is much too sensitive and since here the ‘normal’ buttons are incorporated you quickly swipe unintentionally through the settings of the TV. Apart from this point, the remote control is finally a nice feeling strong accessory that allows you to operate the TV comfortably and quickly. On the front are also shortcuts for Netflix, Android TV and Ambilight present.
Philips PUS8901 – ease of use
As far as ease of use is concerned, we can say that TP Vision has the general menus and quick settings when you turn on the TV for the first time. The Philips 65PUS8901 can be set up quickly and easily, 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.
TP Vision has also given the general settings menus a make-over. They look a bit quieter and clearer this year, but the functionality remains the same. All functions are logically ordered and quickly accessible this time, and we like the (simple) explanation of the most important settings. As a novice user, you immediately know what an image changes to your image or sound.
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. The software is the same as last year (Android 6.0 Marshmallow is not on it yet) but it seems that everything runs a lot more stable and faster. The few hours that we worked with Android TV, only one app crashed and we were able to browse all apps, options and menus easily. This is a significant improvement compared to last year.
Philips PUS8901 – 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. Users (including us) often complain about the slow work, the many bugs and also the lesser user-friendliness. But, TP Vision and Google promise to change that, something that should already be visible with Android 5.1 Lollipop. This version is a minimal update of Android 5.0 but must in any case improve the user experience. Fortunately, as far as we are concerned, this is also the case. As indicated above, the platform responds more quickly to input, browsing the options and apps goes smoothly and we have hardly encountered any problems. The wait is now on Android 6.0, an important update that should appear later this year.
The Android TVs, including the Philips 65PUS8901, 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 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. 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 65PUS8901 is a real smart TV and of course various smart functions. So you can easily share media (tones) within your home network thanks to WiFi and DLNA, you can play media through the built-in media player and you can use WiFi Smart Screen to send a TV channel to your smartphone or tablet when you use the CI + module. Bluetooth is also present, for example for connecting a wireless speaker, and you can place recordings on a USB hard drive.
Philips PUS8901 – picture quality
One of the most important parts is of course the image quality. TP Vision has equipped the Philips 65PUS8901 with various premium techniques and features, including a 4K Ultra HD panel with edge lit LED lighting, HDR support, a 2000 PPI (Picture Performance Index), Perfect Pixel Ultra HD and Ultra Resolution Upscaling. 3D display is no longer present this year.
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 and MPEG artefact reduction. Under the heading Scherpte we have the Ultra Resolution for low resolution content enabled and for high resolution content (4K content) switched off. The color enhancement is off with the Color cup because the colors are too saturated and the color temperature is warm. We switch off the light sensor as always and the advanced settings we take ‘Optimum image’ as Contrast mode. Clear LCD is an option that can be turned on or off, depending on how you experience it. When you switch it on, fast movements become smoother, but the backlight needs to be adjusted slightly higher to compensate for the lower brightness. If you turn on your Clear LCD, you can also experience some flickering if you are sensitive to it.
First of all, we always look at the general characteristics of the image, for example by displaying uniform colors and showing dark scenes with light objects. This shows the uniformity of the screen, the possible problems with backlight bleeding and halo effects around objects. The Philips 65PUS8901, however, does not disappoint in these areas. Left and right we see a slightly darker view, especially when you look at the screen, but for the rest there is little negative in terms of uniformity. Even light objects on a dark background are displayed without noticeable clouding or halo effects, which means that you will not encounter light spots around these objects.
Black is deep and even across the entire screen, not as deep as the top models of Samsung or Panasonic but convincing enough, especially in a dark environment. The same applies to the contrast; this is above average level. 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. It is recommended to select Optimum Image as Contrast Mode.
We have had various media at our disposal for testing image quality, including HD material, including via streaming services. In this area the Philips 65PUS8901 knows how to perform particularly well. HD content is scaled up to the high 4K resolution without artifacts or noise and the content is razor-sharp. The color reproduction is above average level, but here the TV leaves a bit when we look at red tones and skin tones. Faces can easily turn pink. The colors of the screen do splash, which creates a dynamic and lively picture. Fast movements are still not perfectly taken care of, something that we already saw with previous Philips TVs. If you open up Natural Motion completely, it will be a lot smoother, but this option adds a noticeable home video look to the image in our option.
The Philips 65PUS8901 is a 4K Ultra HD with a 65-inch format and therefore ideal for displaying 4K content. This is what makes the model very good. Native 4K material splashes off the screen through the subtle details that bring more dynamics into the image. 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. Combined with the good contrast, the high resolution ensures a lively and convincing picture. Content via a 4K media player is the most impressive because via services like Netflix it quickly becomes clear that there is a compression.
Reflections and viewing angles
Unfortunately it was somewhat difficult to test with regard to the reflections of the Philips 65PUS8901, but at first glance the TV seems to have a good coating, so reflections are not very noticeable. A lamp or window in the back of the room will hardly disturb the viewing experience. If you put the TV directly next to a window, direct incident light can provide a lesser experience. The viewing angles are of average level. If you go a bit further out of the middle, the contrast will decrease slightly, just like the brightness. The places where the LED lighting is hidden will be slightly clearer. But, complaining about this we do not because from the normal viewing angles is still fine to enjoy the image.
Philips PUS8901 – AmbiLux
Perhaps the most striking part of this TV is AmbiLux, also known as Ambilight 2.0. AmbiLux is a new technique where instead of LEDs around the screen, the back of the TV is equipped with nine small pico projectors that project the image that appears on the TV (partly) onto the wall behind it. This is not about small and sharp details, but about colors, contrasts, effects and atmospheres. The goal is to increase the viewing experience by giving you the feeling that (almost) the whole wall is your image.
As you may have read in our hands-on before, we are impressed by AmbiLux. It is a big next step in the Ambilight technique and actually adds something to the experience. The image of your TV is emotionally larger because of the projection on the wall behind it, but here also the first drawbacks arise. You do need a (preferably white) back wall that offers space up to one and a half meters, both left and right and above the TV, for projection. How with space, the better and the more impressive the experience. AmbiLux is also much more realistic and ‘sharper’ than Ambilight because of the projection, so that you can see objects in the projection. This ensures that the projection sometimes distracts from the image.
However, there are different AmbiLux modes on the TV that you can use it to your own taste. For example, Extreme is the most realistic and striking option since the projection almost literally shows the action on your wall. The Relax mode gives slightly less sharp images and is quieter. You can also choose certain effects, including the Dome mode that offers a kind of fish-eye view, and the Cube mode that offers a kind of cube view with large pixels. It is just the content that you look at and what your taste is. We have experienced that Extreme works very well with action films and does not distract quickly, but in ‘quiet’ series or TV programs the Relax mode is a lot nicer. There is also a special mode where the projection responds to music, and important to know is that the technique ignores the black bars below and above in view, so you do not get a black projection above your TV.
AmbiLux really takes some getting used to and in the first instance the projection will distract you a lot anyway. But, once used to it, it emotionally enlarges the screen of your TV and attracts you more in the action. We hardly used the effects modes and see the Relax mode as the most obvious mode for the average user. Note that AmbiLux works best when your room is dark. In full daylight the projection quickly disappears and you lose the added value.
Philips PUS8901 – audio quality
At the back of the Philips 65PUS8901 we see two relatively large speakers, for a flat screen TV at least. These speakers point backwards, which we never really like, but offer above average good audio reproduction. There is enough noise in the sound for normal TV viewing and even at high volume the speakers do not transmit fast. Listening to music or watching a movie would be done with an external speaker system, but for a flat screen TV on which you watch a series, a TV program or a soap opera, the Philips 65PUS8901 performs more than enough.
Philips PUS8901 – conclusion
All in all, we have very few negative reports about the Philips 65PUS8901. The touchpad of the remote control is annoying when navigating through menus, but according to TP Vision it can be switched off (we did not find it), the catching of fast movements is still not completely smooth and AmbiLux is a technique that requires a lot of space. Apart from these points, the Philips 65PUS8901 offers an impressive image, with an excellent contrast, deep black and a sharp display. Android TV is fortunately more stable and faster, and in design TP Vision shows to hear at the top. However, AmbiLux is the eye-catcher of this model and we are a fan of it. If you have the space and you want to take the time to get used to it, then it actually adds something to the movie experience. It enlarges your image with beautiful effects, something that, together with the 65-inch screen, provides a nice cinematic experience. But, this model costs you 4.999 euros and that is a considerable amount. Is AmbiLux nothing for you? Then there are less money to find models that perform just as well.