A great choice for those wanting to test the Ultra HD 4K waters
What is the PUT6400?The Philips PUT6400 is the manufacturer's latest entry-level Ultra HD 4K LED LCD TV, which can now finally be released. Sadly, through no fault of their own, Philips have been rather late to the party this year. Delays to the Android Smart TV platform that the manufacturer now uses have meant that their latest TVs are only arriving in stores in the fourth quarter of 2015. The good news is that Philips TVs are now available from all the major retailers so, unlike in previous years, there's no problem finding them. The bad news from Philips's perspective is that despite some keen pricing their late arrival means that they're competing against heavily discounted TVs from the other manufacturers.
The 50PUT6400 is a 50-inch model that despite its entry-level status includes plenty of features and Philips processing. It uses a direct LED backlight, so although the chassis is a bit deeper than other models, it should mean a more even backlight. There are the usual array of picture features, including Pixel Plus Ultra HD, Natural Motion, 700Hz Perfect Motion Rate, Micro Dimming Pro and Ultra Resolution. There's also the aforementioned Android TV, HDMI 2.0, HDCP2.2 support, extensive file support, a nicely designed remote and even a stand that swivels; although there's no 3D support or Ambilight. The 50PUT6400 can be picked up for £599 at the time of writing (November 2015) but does it do enough to distinguish itself from the competition - let's find out.
DesignThe PUT6400 employs a fairly basic design, with the emphasis on a simple black colour scheme. There's a 1cm wide black bezel around the screen and a clear block at the bottom centre with an illuminated Philips logo, although you can turn it off. At the rear is a black back panel and the overall build quality is reasonable for the price point, but the emphasis on plastic construction betrays the TV's budget status. The stand is metal at least but could be slightly more solid and stable, although it does swivel which makes a nice change. However there's only 7cm of clearance from the bottom of the screen to the bottom of the stand, so bear that in mind if you're planning on using a soundbar. There are standard 400 x 200 VESA wall mounts, whilst the 50PUT6400 itself measures 1124 x 647 x 77mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 14.4kg with the stand.
The design is minimalist and the construction dominated by plastic but given the price that's to be expected.
Connections & ControlThe connections are at the rear left as you face the screen and include a combination of downwards, rearwards and sideways facing inputs. The downwards facing connections include two HDMI 2.0 inputs both of which support ARC (Audio Return Channel) and the first HDMI input also supports HDCP2.2. In addition there's a USB port, along with a digital optical output, an aerial socket and an Ethernet port for a wired connection - although there's also built-in WiFi. Facing sideways, and 12cm from the edge, you'll find another two HDMI 2.0 inputs that also support ARC, two more USB ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a CI (Common Interface) slot. Finally the rearwards facing connections support the legacy inputs with SCART, composite video, component video and analogue audio.
The PUT6400 uses a simplified version of the Philips remote control included with their more expensive TVs. So gone is the QWERTY keyboard on the other side, leaving you with a more traditional design. However the controller is sensibly laid out, includes all the controls you'll need and is easy to use with one hand. The basic black plastic construction matches the rest of the TV but it's a well designed and effective remote control. Of course if you'd rather use your smart device as a controller then Philips also provide a handy remote app.
Features & SpecsDespite its attractive pricing and entry-level status, the 50PUT6400 still manages to include a decent level of specifications and plenty of useful features. Aside from the Ultra HD 4K (3840 x 2160) 8-bit LCD panel, the PUT6400 also uses a direct LED backlight. There's the usual host of Philips processing features with Pixel Plus Ultra HD, Natural Motion, 700Hz Perfect Motion Rate, Micro Dimming Pro and Ultra Resolution but no 3D support or Ambilight. The TV uses HDMI 2.0 inputs, which means that it can accept 4K signals at up to 60p and one of the HDMI inputs also supports HDCP2.2. That means that the PUT6400 can take advantage of the new 4K sources that are being released like Ultra HD Blu-ray, even if it can't deliver things like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider colour space. The Philips has a maximum brightness of 300cd/m2, so HDR will never be an option and the native colour colour space is only as large as Rec.709. So whilst the PUT6400 can deliver some aspects of the new Ultra HD standards, it still has some limits in term of future-proofing.
One of the PUT6400's big selling points, and conversely the reason for its delay in hitting stores, is the inclusion of the Android Smart TV platform. The operating system is Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and the platform comes pre-installed with Google Play Movies, Google Play Music and Google Search. There's also BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix with 4K support. The TV comes with the option of a wired or wireless connection and includes support for WiDi, Miracast and DLNA. It also includes 8GB of built-in memory although that can be expanded using USB storage for programme recording. The Philips also has plenty of file support with video playback for AVI, MKV, H264/MPEG-4, AVC, MPEG 1, MPEG 2, MPEG 4, WMV9/VX1 and HEVC; audio playback for AAC, MP3, WAV and WMA; and JPEG, BMP, GIF, JPS, PNG, PNS, BMS and MPO support for photos.
This all looks very impressive on paper but there is one stumbling block and that's the power of the processing built into the PUT6400. Unfortunately Philips are only using a Dual Core processor and given all the new features and the capabilities of the Android platform, the TV simply struggles to keep up. We like the basic Android layout and navigation is very intuitive but in terms of responsiveness it was slightly slow in places and the TV actually crashed at one point, resulting in us having to reboot it. This criticism isn't aimed only at Philips because Sony, who also use Android, have had problems with slow response times and crashes. So although Android definitely has potential, the manufacturers need to sort these problems out in order to deliver the platform's full potential. We expect various bugs and other issues to be addressed in the coming months and we will cover Philips's Android platform in detail in a separate review.
The Android smart platform certainly has potential but the TVs need more processing power to take advantage of it.
Picture Settings Out-of-the-BoxThe PUT6400 ships in the Standard picture style and whilst this is far from ideal in terms of image accuracy, it's easy to fix. All you need to do is select one of the two available ISF picture styles and, as their names suggest, the reason there are two is so that you can create a night setting with one and a brighter day setting with the other. By simply selecting one of the ISF picture styles, the TV immediately defaults to the settings that are closest to the industry standards and it turns off almost all the unnecessary picture processing features. Then all you really need to do is make sure that you select the Original aspect ratio in the Advanced sub-menu of the Picture Format menu and set the backlight to suit your viewing environment.
The Philips menu system can be unnecessarily complicated and they have chosen unusual and rather confusing names for some of the more common picture controls. So for example the Contrast control is actually the backlight control and thus adjusts the overall brightness of the image. The control that would normally be called contrast is actually called Video Contrast, so bear that in mind when setting up your PUT6400. Otherwise the majority of the controls are fairly self-explanatory but if you want to know more take a look at our PicturePerfect page and you can also find our detailed recommended settings in the video below.
As the graphs above can testify, after only a basic setup the PUT6400 delivered a fairly accurate out-of-the-box image - which is important for a number of reasons. First of all it's unlikely that anyone is going to pay for a professional calibration when the TV only costs £599. Secondly even if they did, there's little a calibrator could do because, as we'll find out later, the colour management system doesn't work properly.
As you can see in the graph on the left, green and blue are tracking fairly well but there is a deficit of red across most of the image. This means that that whites had a slight cyan push and an excess of blue energy at 10 IRE gave just above blacks a slightly blue tinge. However the overall errors were at or below the visible threshold of three, so they weren't really visible with most viewing material. Moving on to the gamma, that tracked around our target curve of 2.2 until 70 and 80 IRE, where it dipped down to 2.0 but again, this didn't appear to overtly affect actual viewing material and the image wasn't clipping white or the primary colours.
The colour performance was also very good and as you can see from the graph on the right, the majority of colours are reasonably close to their targets for Rec.709 and the luminance measurements are good for both the primary and secondary colours. You can see that white is hitting its target for the industry standard of D65 and the overall errors are mostly below the threshold of three. There is a slight over-saturation of green and an under-saturation of red but the main errors are in blue. However since this is the smallest part of the visible spectrum and thus the colour our eyes are least sensitive to, the errors really aren't noticeable with actual viewing material.
Philips 50PUT6400 Picture Settings
Picture Settings CalibratedThe PUT6400 includes a two-point white balance control that allowed us to correct the deficit of red energy, bring all three primary colours into line. Unfortunately we couldn't correct the minor excess of blue just above black but we were able to eliminate the slight cyan push to whites and get the overall errors at or below two. The gamma controls are limited so we weren't able to correct the dip around 70 and 80 IRE but in general this is a very good greyscale performance.
As far as the colour gamut was concerned, the PUT6400 also includes a colour management system (CMS) that allows you to adjust the saturation and hue of the three primary colours (red, green and blue) and the three secondary colours (cyan, magenta and yellow). Although we would have preferred controls for luminance, saturation and hue, we initially thought that the CMS was able to deliver a much improved level of colour accuracy, aside from the under-saturation of red.
However as soon as we put on some test material it was clear that, whilst the image was measuring accurately at 100% saturation, the lower saturation points were totally desaturated. So unfortunately the out-of-the-box colour performance is the best that can be achieved with this TV but thankfully it's actually pretty good and the colour tracking at lower saturation points was also very effective. So despite not being able to use the CMS, after calibrating the greyscale we had an accurate and natural looking image that closely matched the current industry standard of Rec.709. The native colour gamut is no larger than Rec.709 but at this price point no one is really expecting the TV to deliver a wider colour space.
The out-of-the-box accuracy is good which is just as well because the CMS doesn't work properly.
Picture QualityThe 50PUT6400 uses direct LEDs as opposed to edge lighting, which is good news because that usually means a more even backlight and less problems with issues like bright edges and corners. So it proved with the Philips, which delivered an impressively even backlight that managed to avoid many of the usual pitfalls including banding, clouding or bright edges.
Philips prefer to use VA panels and that decision was certainly justified by the native black measurements, which came in at 0.03cd/m2. That's good for an LCD TV and since the PUT6400 had no problems hitting 120cd/m2 on a 100 IRE screen, the sequential contrast ratio is 4,000:1. What was really impressive was that the Philips managed to deliver an ANSI contrast ratio that was almost as good, measuring 3,516:1. So the TV could deliver decent native performance in terms of dynamic range, which mitigated the absence of more advanced features like local dimming.
The upscaling was also very good, handling our tests very effectively and delivering plenty of detail from lower resolution sources. There is a lot of picture processing on the Philips, most of which we'd recommend turning off but certainly with a good quality source the TV can be impressive in its ability to deinterlace and scale content to match the Ultra HD 4K panel. Of course if you have access to native 4K content, that will show the PUT6400 at its full potential but Full HD broadcasts and Blu-rays looked almost as good.
The motion handling was what we would expect from an LCD TV with about 300 lines of motion resolution. Of course you can use the Natural Motion feature to improve this but any film-based content will immediately look like cheap video, so we would always recommend leaving it off with movies and TV dramas. However there is certainly room to experiment when it comes to televised sports, where the video cameras used and fast motion involved might benefit from frame interpolation.
We were genuinely impressed at the performance of the 50PUT6400, especially when you consider the £599 price tag. The combination of a decent backlight uniformity and dynamic range, along with good upscaling and natural colours meant that Full HD broadcasts, especially BBC nature documentaries, looked great. The Philips handled the deliberately grainy images of The Walking Dead well, whilst the DayGlo look of American Horror Story: Hotel was also nicely replicated. When we moved on to Blu-rays the PUT6400 was again capable of a lovely performance, handling the 24p frame rate and showing films like Gravity, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World and Dracula at their full potential.
The 50PUT6400 delivered a decent picture, with good upscaling, natural colours and impressive native blacks.
Sound QualityDespite its rather plastic construction and budget price point, the 50PUT6400 produced a surprisingly good audio performance. This was undoubtedly due to the deeper chassis allowing Philips to fit in slightly larger speakers and as a result the PUT6400 delivered a clear and well defined level of sound quality. The 20W of built-in amplification meant that the TV could go fairly loud without distorting, dialogue was clear and music nicely rendered. The 50-inch screen size limited the amount of stereo separation but the Philips still produced a reasonably open front soundstage. The mid-range was pretty good and the higher frequencies weren't bad either but there was limited bass presence. The overall sound quality is certainly good enough for general TV watching but those looking for a bigger, more immersive sound experience are probably best off seeking an out-board solution like a soundbar.
Philips 50PUT6400 Video Review
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionIf there was one area where the PUT6400 let itself down, it was in terms of input lag. We measured the input lag at 64ms in the ISF viewing style with game mode off and bizarrely this increased to 72ms when we turned the game mode on. This is somewhat counter-intuitive and rather negates the point of even having a game mode. We made sure all the processing was turned off but no matter what we did, we couldn't measure the input lag below 60ms. If you're a serious gamer then that will undoubtedly be too high but for those that only casually game or have no interest in gaming at all, it shouldn't really be an issue.
The 50PUT6400 ships in the Standard picture style and according to Philips's own specifications the TV should be using 69W but in actual fact it only used 55W in that mode, so the company is clearly being conservative in their energy consumption numbers. We measured the ISF picture style at 77W, which is actually very good for a 50-inch TV. So if energy conservation is important to you, the 50PUT6400 delivers a suitably efficient performance.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 75% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 8 What do these mean?
- Decent native blacks
- Great backlight uniformity
- Good out-of-the-box performance
- Impressive upscaling
- Attractive price
- Limited future-proofing
- CMS doesn't work
- Android TV still has issues
Philips 50PUT6400 Ultra HD 4K LED TV Review
Should I buy one?
If you're on a budget or just fancy testing the Ultra HD 4K waters without committing too much money, then the Philips 50PUT6400 is definitely a good choice. It provides enough features and specifications to keep it relevant in a fast-changing world, whilst doing so at a previously unheard of price point for a 50-inch 4K TV. In terms of what it does well, the use of direct LEDs means the backlight is suitably uniform and the VA panel delivers surprisingly good native blacks. The out-of-the-box accuracy is very good, the upscaling is impressive and the sound quality is pretty decent. There are HDMI 2.0 inputs and support for HDCP2.2, whilst the file support is also fairly comprehensive and there's Netflix 4K for those that can take advantage of the service.
The build quality is reasonable, although the construction does use a lot of plastic but at least the metal stand swivels. The input lag is too high for serious gamers but if you're concerned about energy consumption the Philips is very efficient. The Android Smart TV platform shows promise but it needs more than dual-core processing to deliver its full potential. In terms of future proofing the PUT6400 only uses an 8-bit panel, its colour space isn't any wider than Rec.709 and although it's reasonably bright it doesn't support HDR. There's also no 3D or Ambilight but you really can't expect everything at this price point. There are calibration controls included but unfortunately the CMS doesn't work, which means the excellent out-of-the-box accuracy is all the more important.
In terms its performance the PUT6400 delivered a very good picture with the decent blacks and backlight uniformity mitigating the absence of more advanced features like local dimming. The motion handling was what we'd expect from an LCD TV but the excellent upscaling and natural colours meant that even lower resolution sources looked good on the Philips and 4K content could really impress. The PUT6400 might not be perfect but it gets a lot right and manages to deliver a very respectable performance. It's also hard to argue with a £599 list price, so if you're looking to take your first steps into a higher resolution world, the Philips 50PUT6400 should certainly be on your short list.
What are my alternatives?
At this stage in the year, the majority of TVs that were released in the second quarter are now being discounted as manufacturers clear their inventory over the Christmas and New Year period. That means some extremely good TVs are currently being offered at very tempting prices. The Panasonic TX-50CX680B is a great example, it offers a very similar set of specifications and features to the 50PUT6400 but uses the Firefox OS for its smart platform and includes a set of calibration controls that actually work. The CX680 can be picked up as little as £650, making it an absolute steal for a 50-inch Ultra HD 4K TV. Another good alternative is Samsung's UE48JU6400 which is also around £650 and although it's 2 inches smaller, it does offer state-of-the-art smart features, a lower input lag and a superior level of accuracy. One thing is for sure, whichever TV you decide to go for, there's never been a better time to pick up a large screen Ultra HD TV if you're on a budget.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use7
Value for Money9
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