Philips and TP Vision - The journey continues...

Philips introduce their new TV line-up for 2013 at a press event in Amsterdam

by Steve Withers Feb 28, 2013 at 9:33 AM

  • It’s been an eventful year for Philips, with the creation of an entirely new company through a joint venture between TPV and Philips themselves.
    The new company was formed in April 2012 and is called TP Vision and is 70% owned by TPV and 30% owned by Philips. The idea was to create a company that was dedicated to TV, without any distractions from other products, and combine Philips expertise with that of TPV, the fourth largest panel manufacturer in the world. Whilst the company may be called TP Vision for business to business purposes, when it comes to facing the consumer the name will remain Philips, which retains a strong brand presence, especially on the continent.

    The new company has a presence in 93 countries, a total of 3,300 employees and research and development facilities in Eindhoven, Singapore and Bangalore. 2013 will see Philips 85th year as a European brand and in a recent survey it was voted the 41st most valuable brand in the world. The company is looking to position itself as a full-range player with models across all price points and screen sizes and a top three position in key markets. They are also looking to expand their distribution outlets, especially in the UK, through relationships with John Lewis, Richer Sounds and Amazon and also improve staff training at point-of-sale. Whilst the brand is very strong in many European countries, the company admits it has lost ground in the UK and has ambitions to grow their presence here in 2013. They hope to achieve this by listening to consumers, learning from previous experiences and adapting quickly to changes in the marketplace.

    The reason for this press trip to their offices in Amsterdam was for the company to show the new Philips line-up for 2013, all of which will be launched during the first half of the year. The event was introduced by Maarten de Vries, the CEO of TP Vision and he was keen to stress the company’s strong heritage, especially in the area of picture quality. He said that the company was excited about their 2013 line-up which delivered a great viewing experience for their users through a combination of meaningful innovations like Ambilight, combined with attractive designs, Smart TV and interactive features. They hoped that the new line-up would help to continue the profitable growth that the company saw in the last quarter of 2012.

    TP Vision and the Philips brand hope to grow their market share through a number of innovation priorities that centre on four key areas - Design, Ambilight, SmartTV and Smart Interaction. All of the TV models that were launched yesterday will incorporate these priorities to some degree or another. In terms of design, they have concentrated on a new look for the bezel and stand, whilst in terms of the SmartTV platform they are adding more apps for the UK, especially in terms of video-on-demand and catch-up services. They also hope that their membership of the Smart TV Alliance - which involves most TV manufacturers with the exception of Samsung - will help expand their current platform. Finally in terms of smart interaction, they're looking to improve the user interface and add more features to their remote app. We’ll come back to some of these features in more detail later but first let’s go through the new line-up.

    Whilst there is no question that the demand for larger screen sizes is growing, there is still a healthy market for small screen TVs, especially in the UK. However Philips said that this market is dominated by ultra-budget models and 75% of all small screen TVs sold are supermarket own labels. Rather than get caught up in this high volume-low margin business, the manufacturer is looking to offer a premium small screen TV in the UK. The 4200 will come in screen sizes of 22 and 24 inches and will include as standard a Freeview HD tuner, the new SmartTVplatform, an LED backlight, 200Hz Perfect Motion Rate, built-in WiFi and a USB port. It also comes with an aluminium trim along the bottom, a new stand and a choice of a black or white finish. These models will be launched in June and will retail for around £300.

    Moving on to the larger screen sizes, Philips entry level model will be the 3200, which will also include a Freeview HD tuner, the new SmartTV platform, a direct LED backlight, 100Hz Perfect Motion Rate, it will be wireless LAN ready, have a USB port and comes in screen sizes of 32, 39, 40 and 46 inches. It uses a glass stand and has a metal foil trim along the bezel to catch the light. The 3200 will be available from various mass market channels in the UK, it will begin shipping in April and prices will range from £380 to £699.

    Moving up the line we have the 4200 again but this time with larger screen sizes. As with the smaller models there is the Freeview HD tuner, the SmartTV platform, edge LED backlight, 200Hz Perfect Motion Rate, built-in WiFi and a USB port. The bezel uses a black metal effect combined with an all-glass stand and the screen sizes are 32, 39, 42, 46 and 50 inches. The larger screen sizes in the 4200 series will begin shipping in April and prices will range from £480 to £999.

    Next we have the 5000 series which now adds two sided Ambilight and Easy3D (Philips name for passive 3D) and includes two pairs of glasses. As with the other models there is a Freeview HD tuner, the new SmartTV platform, 200Hz Perfect Motion Rate, built-in WiFi and USB ports. The 5000 uses a tight metal bezel with a black wrap and a ‘u-frame’ stand combining a steel front and aluminium back. Screen sizes are 32, 42, 47 and 50 inches, the 5000 series begins shipping in April and prices will range from £600 to £1,299.

    From the 6000 series onwards we move into the premium part of the line-up and now Philips also include dual core processing, the two-sided keyboard remote control and Miracast. There is also two-sided Ambilight, a Freeview HD tuner, the new SmartTV platform, Easy3D with four pairs of glasses, 500Hz Perfect Motion Rate, built-in WiFi andUSB ports. The 6000 series uses an edgeless bezel and brushed aluminium design, the screen sizes are 42, 47, 55 and 60 inches and the 6000 series begins shipping in March with prices ranging from £999 to £1,999.

    With the 7000 series we see the inclusion of ISF controls and a built-in Skype camera with a sliding cover for greater security. We also get three-sided Ambilight, dual core processing, Miracast, the keyboard remote, a Freeview HD tuner, the new SmartTV platform, Easy3D with four pairs of glasses, 700Hz Perfect Motion Rate, built-in WiFi and USB ports. The 7000 series uses an edgeless bezel and a choice of a black and silver or white and silver finish. The screen sizes are 42, 47 and 55 inches, the 700 series starts shipping in March and prices range from £1,200 and £1,999.

    Finally there is the 8000 series, which includes 3DMax (active shutter 3D) and two pairs of glaseses, three-sided Ambilight, a Freeview HD tuner, the new SmartTV platform, 1400Hz Perfect Motion Rate, built-in WiFI, a built-in Skype camera, the keyboard remote, Miracast and USB ports. The edgeless bezel is combined with a dark chassis and a polished metal finish. The screen sizes are 40, 46 and 55 inches and the 8000 series begins shipping in April with prices ranging from £1,800 to £2,499.

    Whilst Philips announced models ranging from the 3000 to the 8000 series, for the moment the current 9000 series launched towards the end of last year will remain the flagship model. It is interesting to note that all the new line-up uses LED backlighting, so CCFL has been completely replaced. In addition on the 8000 series, Philips are one of only two manufacturers to use a native 200Hz panel, the other is Samsung who actually make the panels. Philips will include a basic version of Micro Dimming on the lower models, whilst the 6000, 7000 and 8000 series will use Micro Dimming Plus, which includes a light sensor that is used to adjust the micro dimming depending on the environment. All the new models use edge LED lighting, whilst the 9000 series uses a full array LED backlight. In addition the 9000 series is the only model to use Micro Dimming Premium which includes 6,400 different dimmable zones.

    Interestingly the fate of the incredible Moth Eye filter used on the current 9000 series remains in doubt. It isn't being used on any of the other models and whether it will be used on any future 9000 series remains to be seen. Another casualty is the idea of including speakers in the stand and although we thought it worked very well, it would seem that Philips will no longer be taking that approach. The expansion of their SmartTV platform is welcome news and the manufacturer expects that by the end of this year they will have Netflix and LoveFilm, along with BBC iPlayer, ITV, 4OD and C5.

    There are plans to launch a new 9000 series flagship model at IFA in September and whilst details are currently limited, we can reveal that the new TV will have a screen size larger than 60 inches and use a 4K panel. Philips view on 4K is that for it to be a success in the market there needs to be more 4K content and they feel that one of the reasons for the failure of 3D was the lack of quality content. Philips think that broadcasters are putting more effort into 4K than they did into 3D and thus are more optimistic for the higher resolution format’s future.

    In terms of their new 4K or Ultra High Definition TV there will be a feature called Ultra Resolution which will upscale 1080p content to match the native 4K resolution of the panel. Philips feel that the quality of the upscaling will be vital in the early stages of the 4K rollout because everyone will primarily be watching upscaled 1080pcontent. They mentioned that the new UHD TV will use a HDMI 1.4 connector, as do all UHD TVs to date, which can pass 4K at up to 30Hz. We will have to wait for HDMI 2.0 in 2014 before we can pass 4K at 60Hz. Philips wouldn't confirm who was making their 4K panel, nor would they say whether it would use active or passive 3D but they did say there are now '3 or 4' 4K panel manufacturers.

    They are still working on their new glasses-free 3D TV, which we saw demonstrated at CES back in January. The company said that since then they have made some improvements using 'cyclic rendering', which they say makes the 3D more tolerant to people not being in exactly the right spot. They also mentioned that they will no longer be making any 21:9 TVs due to a lack of industry support. In addition, Sharp and LG were the only manufacturers making 21:9 panels and whilst LG are still making small screen sizes, no one is making the larger screen sizes any more.

    As far as OLED is concerned their view is, like much of the market, to wait and see. They said that only Samsungand LG are currently making OLED panels and their viable yields are so low that what panels they do make they're keeping for themselves. Which basically means there aren't any to buy and initial pricing is going to be very high. There are also concerns about the life span and reliability of the panels, so for the time being they are happy to sit back and see how things pan out for Samsung and LG. In the meantime they're concentrating on their new LED LCD line-up, with 4K and glasses-free 3D waiting in the wings.

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