Philips 49PUS6501 UHD 4K TV Review
Delivers the goods right out-of-the-box
What is the Philips 6501?The 6501 is part of Philips's 6000 Series of entry-level Ultra HD TVs. The range is designed to offer 4K, HDR 10 support and Android TV at a competitive price. The 6501 come in 43-, 49- and 55-inch screen sizes and the range uses a slim frame with a silver finish and a chrome 'arc stand'. There's also a direct LED backlight and 2-sided Ambilight which is unique to Philips. The 49PUS6501 can be picked up for £599 as at the time of writing (September 2016), which means it sits firmly in the budget TV range, so if it can deliver a decent performance it might well be a bit of a bargain. Let's find out.
DesignThe 6501 has been built to a specific price point, so the chassis is largely constructed of plastic. However Philips have kept a decent level of build quality and included some nice touches to add a degree of elegance. There's a silver finish to the 1cm wide bezel that surrounds the screen and an illuminated Philips logo in a perspex block at the bottom of the panel, which can be turned off if you prefer. As mentioned the 6501 uses a direct LED backlight, so the chassis is quite deep at 79mm.
The 49PUS6501 sits on what Philips call their 'Arc Stand', which is essentially two chrome feet, one at either end of the panel. This means the TV can't be swivelled and you'll need a surface that is at least 110cm wide to install it, although you also have the option of wall mounting (400x200mm VESA wall mount). There is 7cm of clearance beneath the screen and, including the stand, the 6501 measures a1099 x 693 x 220mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 12.5kg.
The 6501 has been built to a price point but includes some nice design touches and plenty of connections
Connections & ControlThe 6501 comes with a reasonable set of connections, all of which are at the rear with some facing downwards, some facing rearwards and some facing sideways. The downward-facing inputs include two HDMI connectors, a USB port, a terrestrial and a satellite tuner, an optical digital output and an Ethernet port, although there is also built-in WiFi. The rearwards-facing inputs include a number of legacy connections such as SCART, composite video, component video and analogue audio.
Facing sideways you'll find two more HDMI connectors and two more USB ports, along with a 3.5mm headphone socket and a Common Interface (CI) slot. The sideways-facing inputs are only 10cm from the edge of the screen, so bear that in mind if you have fairly chunky HDMI cables. The downwards-facing HDMI inputs (1 and 2) are HDMI 2.0a with support for HDCP 2.2, HDR and 4K/60p, whereas the two sideways-facing HDMI inputs only support HDCP 1.4 and are limited to 4K/30p.
The 6501 comes with the latest version of the Philips remote control and it is well made, nicely designed and comfortable to hold. The buttons have been sensibly laid out and include everything you will need to control the TV. There's a nice large section for the navigation keys and all the important buttons are within easy reach, even when using the controller with one hand. On the reverse side you'll find a full QWERTY keyboard, which is very handy for typing anything into the Smart TV platform.
There is a decent set of features and the Android TV platform is simple but effective
Features & SpecsAs already mentioned, the 6501 uses a slim frame with a silver finish and a chrome arc stand. It also uses a direct LED backlight and includes 2-sided Ambilight. It also has Quad-Core processing, support for High Dynamic Range (HDR 10) and can produce up to 400 nits of peak brightness. There's also Ultra Resolution Upscaling, a 200 Hz frame rate (100Hz panel and backlight scanning), Perfect Natural Motion, Micro Dimming Pro (although it doesn't have actual local dimming zones) and Pixel Precise Ultra HD. In case you were wondering Philips, like Samsung, no longer support 3D on their TVs, so if that's still important you'll need to look elsewhere.
As with all of Philips's TVs, the 6501 includes Android TV (5.1 Lollipop) and we like the way that the platform has been implemented, especially when compared to Sony. The basic layout is the same, with a series of layers that you move down through and then across but the system just feels simpler and better integrated on the Philips TVs. They also seem to have more processing power because we found the Android platform more responsive and much more stable. There are a number of popular apps such as BBC iPlayer available but importantly there are also the main 4K sources such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, with HDR to be added to the latter two services with a firmware update in the near future. The 6501 also includes 16GB of built-in memory that can be expanded via USB storage.
MORE: What is Android TV
Philips 49PUS6501 Best Picture Settings
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-BoxThe 6501 was very easy to setup, with a simple wizard to follow when you first turn connect up and turn on the TV. When it comes to the picture settings, the TV will default to the standard picture style, so you'll need to switch to either the ISF Day or Night styles for the most accurate performance.
All our measurements were done with a Klein K-10A colour meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN Ultimate calibration software. You can find our recommended picture settings for day, night and HDR modes in the video above. Although if you would rather just set the TV up yourself then you can follow the steps in our PicturePerfect Guide.
The 6501 delivered an excellent out-of-the-box performance when it came to the greyscale and gamma. All of the errors were below the visible threshold of three and most were below one which is impressive, especially for a budget TV. There was a bit too much red in the peak whites and bit too much blue energy in the blacks and dark shadows but between 30 and 80 IRE the greyscale was spot-on. The gamma was also tracking our target of 2.4 very closely and although the 6501 has a two-point white balance control, we doubt we'll be able to improve on this greyscale and gamma performance.The excellent out-of-the-box performance wasn't just restricted to the greyscale and gamma, the 6501 was also impressive when it came to the colour gamut. You will need to increase the colour control to 60 but once you've done that, you'll find that the TV tracks the saturation points for Rec. 709 very closely. The luminance performance, which isn't shown on the graph above, was also very good and overall this is an impressive out-of-the-box performance from the Philips.
Picture Settings – CalibratedPhilips TVs don't have quite as many calibration controls as much of the competition but the 6501 includes a two-point colour temperature control and a colour management system (CMS) that allows control of the hue and saturation of the primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, yellow and magenta) colours. When you take into account the price point that's actually a decent set of calibration controls, especially when you consider that even a flagship Sony TV doesn't include a CMS.The out-of-the-box greyscale performance was so accurate that even after calibrating the greyscale using the custom mode and the colour temperature controls we could couldn't actually improve upon it. The results were almost identical, so you might just as well select the Warm colour temperature setting and leave it at that.The same was true of the colour gamut, we were able to perform some minor tweaks but the CMS couldn't really do anything about the small hue errors in green at 75 and 100% saturation. So basically if you just use the Warm colour temperature setting and set the colour control to 60, you'll get a really impressive level of out-of-the-box accuracy.
This is important because owners are unlikely to get a TV that costs less than £600 calibrated, so it needs to be accurate out-of-the-box, which makes the 6501 a strong contender at this price point. In fact we have seen TVs that cost nearly ten times as much that didn't deliver as accurate an out-of-the-box performance!
The out-of-the-box greyscale and colour performance were both impressively accurate
Picture Settings – High Dynamic RangeWhilst the performance with SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content using the Rec. 709 colour space was impressive for a budget TV, the HDR (High Dynamic Range performance) shows that at the lower end of the price scale it's a nice-to-have feature rather than a revolution in performance. Naturally the 6501 can take advantage of native 4K content, HEVC encoding and 10-bit video depth but with a peak brightness of just 400 nits, the performance with HDR was always going to struggle.In fact in a properly set up and accurate HDR mode where whites look white rather than blue, the peak brightness is only 300 nits, which means that you just won't get the impactful peak highlights of a 1,000 nits or higher TV. Of course there is a big difference in price and the greyscale accuracy was quite good, aside from at 60 IRE where the roll off is largest but you can see from the graph above that the 6501 struggles to track the PQ EOTF anywhere near accurately. However the good news is that the Philips actually tone maps 1,000 nits content quite well, although as with most current TVs it clips content that is graded above 1,000 nits.The native colour gamut on the 6501 is also limited, only covering 50% of Rec. 2020 when using xy coordinates. Which essentially means that it can't fully reproduce the wider colour gamut that forms part of Ultra HD 4K and HDR. As a result the TV really struggles to track the larger colour gamut with anything approaching accuracy.
Of course although Rec. 2020 is the container used to deliver HDR content, the actual content is graded using the DCI-P3 colour gamut which the graph above shows within the larger Rec. 2020 colour gamut. We actually measured the 6501 at 68% of DCI-P3 with xy coordinates and 80% with uv coordinates, as a result the TV still struggled to accurately track this colour gamut. It is certainly a reminder that not all HDR TVs are equal but when you consider the price and the accuracy with SDR content, which will make up the majority of your viewing for the foreseeable future, the HDR capabilities on a TV like the 6501 are really just to give you a taste until the format becomes more mainstream.
The 6501 delivered a great picture with SDR and a solid all-round performance
Picture QualityConsidering its budget status the 6501 was surprisingly strong in certain areas. The use of a direct LED backlight meant that there was good screen uniformity and the viewing angles were wider than many TVs that we've seen this year. The video processing was also excellent, which has often been a strong point of Philips and the motion handling was equally as impressive. There are always a lot of processing options on a Philips TV, most of which can be turned off but even without engaging all the bells and whistles, the TV was able to deliver a great overall picture.
There's no doubt that the excellent out-of-the-box accuracy played its part and the only real area of weakness was in terms of its black levels. That isn't surprising at the this price point and the 6501 measured at 0.13 nits at 0 IRE but it had no problems hitting our 120 nits target for night time viewing, giving an on/off contrast ratio of 923:1 and an ANSI contrast ratio of 638:1. These numbers aren't great but fairly representative of the price point. Sadly there's no local dimming feature to help improve the performance in this area, with the Micro Dimming Pro merely being software-based processing. However the ISF Ambilight mode can really help in this regard, using the LEDs in the rear of the TV to create neutral bias lighting to make the perceivable blacks better.
The 6501 generally delivered a solid performance when it came to standard and high definition content. The upscaling was excellent, which meant that lower resolution content was effectively scaled to the native 4K panel. The deinterlacing was also very good so if you still watch a lot of standard definition broadcasts and DVDs, you should be pleased with the results. When it came to high definition broadcasts and Blu-ray discs, the Philips was able to make the most of its excellent out-of-the-box accuracy to deliver some very nice looking images. Yes the blacks were weak and the contrast ratio could have been better but given the price point, this was an excellent performance and will serve you well for the majority of your viewing content.
The 6501 could also produce a very nice 4K image, with the panel taking full advantage of the extra resolution to reveal every detail; although it's debatable how much benefit you actually get on a 49-inch screen. However, where the Philips will really struggle though is with HDR content, with a minimal peak brightness and limited colour gamut that means you won't be able to take full advantage of the new format. However given the price, no one is expecting a stellar HDR performance and when you consider everything that Philips has crammed into the 6501, it's impressive that they've managed to keep the price as low as they have. If you're looking for a solid all-round TV and aren't bothered about HDR then the 6501 is a great choice but if HDR is something that is important to you, then you'll need to move up the price range.
Philips 49PUS6501 Video Review
Sound QualityWhilst no one is expecting a superb audio performance from a budget TV, the deeper chassis means that the 6501 sounds better than much of the competition. However its relatively small screen size meant that the amount of stereo separation in the front soundstage was limited and the audio tended to remain anchored to the screen. For much of our TV watching this was fine, with clear dialogue on news broadcasts, entertainment programmes and documentaries. The sound was well defined with a decent mid-range and high-end but understandably the bass was lacking. The TV could go reasonably loud but the 20W of amplification quickly ran out of steam, so don't push it too high. Obviously if you're a movie fan then you'll want to invest in something a bit more substantial but if you decide to go for a soundbar don't forget there's only 7cm of clearance beneath the screen. However for general TV watching the 6501 is a more than capable performer.
The energy efficiency could be better but the input lag should please gamers
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionWe tested the 6501 with our Leo Bodnar tester and in Game mode we measured the input lag at 36ms, which should be low enough for most gamers. We certainly found gaming on the Philips to be a perfectly enjoyable experience as we continued the endless search of the infinite environments found in the game No Man's Sky on our PS4.
In terms of energy consumption the 6501 wasn't as efficient as some of the more expensive, and larger, TVs that we have tested but it still doesn't use that much power. Using a full window 50% white pattern we measured the Standard picture mode at 94W and our calibrated ISF Night mode at 83W. Of course once we moved on to HDR the level of energy consumption increased, with the Philips drawing 147W with our optimal settings.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 50% 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) 9 What do these mean?
- Impressive out-of-the-box accuracy
- Great picture processing
- Simple to setup and use
- Decent smart platform
- Ambilight can be effective
- Excellent value
- Weak black levels
- HDR performance limited
- No 3D support
Philips 49PUS6501 UHD 4K TV ReviewWhen you review a lot of higher-end TVs there's a tendency to forget the more affordable price-points and often an unrealistic expectation of what a budget TV can achieve. The Philips 49PUS6501 has been built to a specific price point and designed to deliver a level of performance that meets the needs of those looking for a cheaper TV. It's reasonably well made, with some nice design touches and a host of useful features. There's a handy dual-sided remote control, plenty of connections and even the Android TV smart platform. The sound quality was pretty good, the energy consumption acceptable and the input lag low enough for most gamers.
However it was in terms of its out-of-the-box accuracy that the 6501 really shone, delivering an impressive performance that is important at this price point. The reality is that even though the Philips includes calibration controls, it is unlikely that anyone will get a TV costing less than £600 professionally calibrated, so its out-of-the-box performance is vital. The 6501 certainly delivered in this area, with natural colours an excellent greyscale and an even backlight. The video processing and motion handling were very good and only the black levels let down what was otherwise an excellent image.
Although the 6501 does support HDR 10, the limited peak brightness and colour gamut means that it can't deliver the kind of impactful higher dynamic range found on more expensive TVs. But that really isn't the point and the 6501 delivers a great performance with standard dynamic range content, whilst also giving you a taste of the new HDR format. If you think HDR is going to be important to you then you'll need to move higher up the price range but if you're not that bothered and just want a solid all-round TV that can deliver a great picture at an attractive price, then the Philips 49PUS6501 is certainly worth a recommendation.
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Suggested retail price when reviewed: £599.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level7
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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