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What is the Philips 55PFL6008?Ever since TP Vision got involved with the brand in 2012, there’s been the sense that Philips TVs are going places. Both the designs and marketing have improved and, more importantly for us, the UK market isn’t being treated like some poor relation. More importantly still, the actual displays we’ve seen this year have been performing very well indeed with both the PFL9707 and PFL8008 comfortably winning AVForums awards. The PFL6008 under scrutiny here is a slightly different beast, however, as it features passive rather than active 3D and, therefore, an IPS panel with quite different characteristics to the VA panels used in the higher-end TVs. The 6008 isn’t short of features, however, and includes the full Philips Smart TV platform as well as Ambilight and a swanky design. Let’s see how Philips copes with the transition.
Design and ConnectionsThe 55PFL6008 may be a few levels down the Philips hierarchy but we think it more than holds its own in the looks department, with its micro-thin bezel underscored by a gun metal strip at the bottom. Perhaps the most striking element of the design is something that’s nearly not there. Floaty designs are currently all the rage and the PFL6008’s skeletal base stand is up there with the best of them, holding up the chassis effortlessly whilst giving the screen a detached appearance. It also allows for some swivel, too, something most of the fancier stands out there don’t. Philips is also to be congratulated for their wire tidy system, too, which can very effectively conceal even a large number of cables behind the middle of the supporting stand. It’s nothing particularly clever – just a couple of Velcro strips attached to the back of the base – but it works extremely well and maintains the sleekness of the design without unwanted spaghetti on show.
We’ll also award a pat on the back for the generous connectivity options, including 4 HDMI ports, 3 of which are down facing which will help the wall-mounting crew. Other connections include three USB ports, a CI slot, a SCART connector (via adapter), a LAN port, a headphone socket, a component video input and an optical digital out. There is also an aerial socket, a satellite socket and a connector for the mains cable. The provided remote control uses the same gun metal finish and is well built, with enough weight to suggest quality, whilst remaining comfortable to hold. The layout is suitably ergonomic and the choice of buttons is comprehensive without appearing crowded. Best of all on the back is a full QWERTY keyboard, which makes typing into the web browser much easier. The remote has gyroscopes inside to know which way round it is orientated, thus you can't accidentally hit the buttons on one side whilst using the buttons on the other.
MenusThere’s mixed opinions about the menu system employed in the 2013 Philips’ TVs amongst the AVForums Hardware Review Team but I’m right and Steve is wrong; they aren’t very well planned for those that like to have easy accessibility to important settings. It will take you 8 clicks (yes, I counted) to get in to the Picture Settings menu and that’s an unnecessary amount of thumb activity for such a basic function. More annoying still is that pressing the Home button defaults to source every time; if I wanted to change source, I'd press the Source button directly above it. We (I) would suggest that the Home Menu should default to the last used set of Menus to avoid at least some of the frustration. OK, the UI is quite pretty but there’s a definite feel of bloatedness and a lack of testing throughout.
Almost all of the most important picture controls can be found in the Picture menu, navigated to by entering the Setup Menu from the Home page. There’s a number of ‘Picture Styles’ available but stick with Movie for the best out of box performance. Most of the mundane options are present on the first page but unusually the (Video) Contrast and Brightness controls are secreted in the Advanced picture sub-menu. We actually think that’s not a bad idea as you can’t set either properly without patterns and most don’t understand the confusing naming convention for these controls.
There’s no ISF Expert Settings, as per the higher-end models, but you can at least perform a 2 point white balance calibration by choosing the Custom Colour Temperature setting. In Advanced we also have some gamma pre-set choices and an option to enable the Light Sensor to change picture level in accordance with ambient room conditions so we turned that off. The Pixel Precision HD sub menu has some very exotic sounding options including Perfect Natural Motion, Clear LCD and Advanced Sharpness we’ll look at later on but you’ll probably not be surprised to learn we disabled all of them after testing.
FeaturesThe 55PFL6008 includes the Philips Smart TV system, a detailed review of which can be found here. Overall we found it to be very good in certain areas such as networking and connectivity but limited in others, such as the number of apps and video on demand services available.
The 6008 also features Philips' Ambilight technology which, when used right, is highly impressive. Unfortunately there’s no ISF Warm White setting in the 6 series but by choosing the right preset we were able to get an colour temperature pretty close and the effect late at night, with all other room lighting off, is very beguiling and, well, just downright cool. Even Mrs H likes it and that’s the ultimate sanction as far as this reviewer is concerned.
Test ResultsThe Philips 55PFL6008 showed a noticeable green cast in the out of box Movie mode and with gamma tracking quite a bit below our ‘intermediate’ 2.2 target, was also a little washed out tonally speaking. To be fair, the images pre-calibration were nowhere near as bad as the greyscale charts might suggest, thanks in some part to the very decent colour gamut which got very close to the HD Rec.709 standard.
Once we’d lifted the smog created by the excess of green energy, it would be fair to say that pictures were dramatically improved and with Delta Errors averaging well below 2, we’re in excellent shape. As we would expect, correcting the white balance had the fringe benefit of aligning the secondary colours (Cyan, Magenta & Yellow) pretty much spot on in terms of hue and the only real frustration came from the fact there was an imbalance of luminance amongst the colours. Whilst red had the tendency to run ‘hot’, green was underdone so it was a case of balancing the errors as best we could with the Colour control. We could have improved green a bit more but only at the expense of making red too bright for comfort. We’ll take some slightly under-lit grass and foliage against over-ruddy skin-tones any day of the week.
As the CIE Chart below demonstrates, even at less full saturations, the 55PFL6008 maintains excellent reproduction with Delta Errors at 25,50 and 75 percent still in the acceptable threshold of human tolerance, barring green which showed an error just over 3 throughout the saturation sweep.
The 55PFL6008 was an adequate performer here with black levels and dynamic range much in line with most IPS panels we see. The Philips actually performed better with a checkerboard pattern than it did with an all black pattern, with an ANSI contrast just over 920:1 from an averaged black level of 0.115 cd/m2. The less revealing On/Off figure was just below 700:1 with full screen black measure at 0.17cd/m2. For reasons we discuss in the Picture Quality section on the first page, the local dimming wasn’t considered useable so no measures were taken with it engaged. Screen uniformity was generally good with some mild light distribution problems from the corners and only the odd spot of panel array banding visible – almost exclusively with bright white backgrounds.Like the 46PFL8008 the 6008 performed very well in our tests, with cleanly scaled standard definition images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The Philips also scored well when it came to video deinterlacing with jaggies only appearing when the line was at an acute angle in the test and with motion adaptive deinterlacing was also very good, with slight jaggies only appearing on the bottom bar of the three moving bars. As per the higher end sets, the 6008 failed to lock on to the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. So there is some unnecessary deinterlacing introduced and with it some resolution loss. With 24p content it was better but we could see the odd hiccup without putting the Perfect Natural Motion Control on but doing so created an overly smooth look to film. The other controls in the Pixel Precise suite, including Clear LCD, Colour Enhancement and Dynamic Contrast were of no use whatsoever and we’ll look at the Dynamic Backlight control in another section.
Without putting the 55PFL6008 in to either Game or PC Mode in the Picture Menus, it returned quite horrific lag times in the 130-135 millisecond range. Minimising the background processing resulted in latency dropping to the mid 50 milliseconds, which is far more acceptable if quite a bit higher than some competing displays.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode (Ambilight On): 73W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode (Ambilight Off): 66W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode (Ambilight On): 125W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode (Ambilight Off): 115W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 165W
Philips 55PFL6008 Picture Quality - 2DBearing in mind the fairly modest contrast performance of the 55PLF6008 is what somewhat disappointing the ‘local’ dimming control - labelled Dynamic Backlight in the Menus - couldn’t really offer any credible assistance in increasing the perceived dynamic range. It’s not that it isn’t capable of making the dark areas of the image less milky, just that it does so at the expense of causing highly noticeable fluctuations of image brightness with changes in scene. That was applicable to all intensities of the control so we had to disengage it entirely. The Dynamic Contrast option was even worse, for anyone curious, and only succeeded in losing lots of detail both in the shadows and brighter portions of the screen. On a more positive note, Ambilight does genuinely help increase the apparent contrast; even if it is a trick, it works!
Despite the fairly average black levels, the PFL6008 is still capable of serving up some delicious pictures, particularly once calibrated. Colours were extremely convincing with flesh-tones entirely natural looking and the lack of any noxious screen uniformity problems was another bonus. Detailing in the shadows was also a lot better than some IPS panels we’ve seen and whilst motion handling could be better, we’ve no serious complaints in that direction. A large(ish) screen like this will always highlight any issues with poor processing and/or content more than something more modest but the 6008 was even capable of making some standard definition content look entirely acceptable; the currently running documentary seriesRome: A History of the Eternal City on BBC 4 was a good example of this and we felt no need to move the recliner further back in horror.
In terms of overall picture quality and compared to many of the LED panels we get in for a review, and in particular the IPS variants – of which there are many – we’d put the Philips 55PFL6008 in the top-tier with size and pricing considered. In other words we’ve seen smaller more costly televisions with inferior images and if they could sort out a decent dimming mechanism, Philips would have a truly excellent performer on their hands. Other plus points included a good resistance to bright room lighting and generous viewing angles, although we’d have expected both in any case.
There were a couple of unexpected items, however, in the form of software glitches; where the Perfect Natural Motion processing would sometimes engage, when it shouldn’t, and switching on from standby to a HDMI input with a TiVo plugged in caused a colour space issue with everything given a shocking pink tinge. Both were rectifiable easily; the former by toggling on and off and the latter by switching into standby and back but it would nice if Philips could address them and we’ll be feeding the information back to them in the hope that they can.
UPDATE 08/07/2013: Philips is to very shortly issue a software update to all Series 6 and above TVs to fix the bugs mentioned above.
Philips 55PFL6008 Picture Quality - 3DAs we’d expect from a 3D TV with passive technology, 3D pictures are nice and bright with vibrant colours and an almost total absence of crosstalk. We ran through a few of our favourite 3D Blu-rays – The Hobbit/Dredd/Avatar – and did notice a little bit of judder at 24p and we actually found engaging the motion processing at its lowest setting helped with the judder without making it too video looking. The PFL6008 certainly excels at bringing depth out of 3D content, although perhaps lacks a bit of the pop we’ve seen with other displays. At 55-inches the 6008 is an excellent size for 3D but unusually we could see the so-called scan lines from around 7ft so we’d advise a viewing distance of 8ft and beyond for this particular TV, although personal tolerances will vary.
- Very accurate colours
- Attractive price
- Lovely design
- Clever cable tidy system
- Ambilight can work very well
- Decent feature set
- Dual sided remote is good
- Comfortable 3D
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- Average black levels and contrast in low light
- Dimming system is flawed
- Some software glitches
- Menus are cumbersome
- Not as many apps as some
Philips 55PFL6008 TV ReviewWe certainly can’t fault the design team back at Philips HQ, the PFL6008 is a beauty with a ‘frameless’ appearance and a skeletal base-stand that gives the impression the screen is detached from it, in very stylish order. There’s also a rather clever but exceedingly simple cable tidy system employed behind the panel, with which you can very effectively conceal wires from numerous sources. The remote is pretty stylish too with a weighty feel and dual-sided buttons where one side is a QWERTY keyboard to aid Smart functions. Said connected features aren’t the most expansive but we know there’s work going on behind the scenes to improve matters and what is there performs well.
The calibration controls contained in the difficult to reach Picture Menus aren’t the most comprehensive but allowed us to extract a very accurate image from the 55PFL6008 nonetheless. Colour fidelity was particularly satisfying and helped the 6008 deliver some truly engrossing images, whether high or standard definition. Video processing was also generally impressive although all of those ‘extras’ under the Pixel Precise HD banner had their various flaws and shortcomings. Particularly frustrating was the lack of an effective local dimming system; the one that is there causes too many brightness fluctuations to be considered usable. As a result, black levels and contrast never really impressed that much but the Philips can certainly hold its own in the average living room and the inclusion of Ambilight provides a welcome boost to perceived dynamic range. The 55PFL6008 performed typically for a polarised panel in its 3D mode, producing bright, crosstalk free pictures that are very easy on the eye but the limitations of the technology could be seen from 7ft and under.
The Philips 55PFL6008 delivers a lot of screen real estate, more than a touch of design panache and a splash of Smart TV fun for a very reasonable asking price. In terms of outright picture quality, it can’t touch its more expensive stable-mates but would make a good choice as a family TV with its solid all-round abilities.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level5
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality7
Ease Of Use5
Value for Money7
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