Philips 49PUS7101 UHD 4K TV Review
High-end build quality at a budget price point
What is the Philips 7101?The 7000 Series represents the mid-range when it comes to Philips's Ultra HD TVs in 2016 and the 7101 is the budget model within that range. It lacks the full array local dimming backlight of the more expensive 7601 but does include a higher level of build quality than the 6000 Series and a host of other features including support for HDR 10 and Android TV. The 7101 comes in 49-, 55-, 65- and 75-inch screen sizes, it uses a chrome ribbon stand, edge LED backlighting and has 3-sided Ambilight. The 49PUS7101 will set you back £799 as at the time of writing (September 2016) but does it offer enough extra performance to justify its premium over the cheaper TVs in the Philips range?
DesignThe 7101 is a very well built TV that uses a largely metal construction. It has a dark silver metallic bezel that surrounds the screen and is only 5mm wide, whilst the edge LED backlighting results in a slim chassis that is 61mm deep. There is also an illuminated Philips logo in a perspex block at the bottom of the panel, although it can be turned off if you prefer.
The 49PUS7101 uses a chrome 'ribbon stand' with thin feet at either end of the panel, which means you'll need a surface of at least 110cm wide to install it but you also have the option of wall mounting (200 x 200mm VESA wall mount). There is 9cm of clearance beneath the screen and, including the stand, the 7101 measures a 1093 x 709 x 203mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 14.9kg.
The 7101 has an elegant appearance with some nice design touches and a decent level of build quality
Connections & ControlThe connections are all at the rear with some facing downwards, some facing rearwards and some facing sideways, although only the sideways-facing inputs are clearly identified. 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.
At the side 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 but the sideways-facing inputs are only 13cm from the edge of the screen. In terms of HDMI support, only HDMI inputs 1 and 2 (downward-facing) are HDMI 2.0a with support for HDCP 2.2, HDR and 4K/60p, whilst the two sideways-facing HDMI inputs are HDCP 1.4 and are thus limited to 4K/30p and HDCP 1.4.
Philips have given their remote control a make-over this year but it remains solidly built, well designed and comfortable to hold. The various buttons are sensibly laid out and it includes all the keys you would need to effectively control the TV. The keys are flush to the control but responsive and all the important buttons are easy to reach even with one hand. As is typical for a Philips remote, on the reverse side you'll find a full QWERTY keyboard, which makes typing anything into the Smart TV platform much easier.
It includes all the features you expect from Philips like Ambilight, Android TV and a dual-sided remote
Features & SpecsThe 7101 is designed to offer a step-up over the 6000 Series in terms of both build and performance. It uses a metal construction with a chrome 'ribbon stand', along with edge LED backlighting and 3-sided Ambilight (top and sides). 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 a 200 Hz frame rate (100Hz panel and backlight scanning), Ultra Resolution Upscaling, Perfect Natural Motion, Micro Dimming Pro (although no actual dimming zones) and Pixel Precise Ultra HD but, as with all Philips TVs this year, there's no support for 3D.
The 7101 uses the Android Smart TV platform (5.1 Lollipop), which Philips have implemented very effectively. There is also 16GB of built-in memory with an option to expand that via USB storage. The Smart system uses a series of layers that you move down through and then across and it feels responsive and well integrated. The amount of processing power was certainly adequate and the platform was very stable. Philips include a number of popular apps such as BBC iPlayer and 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.
MORE: What is Android TV?
Philips 49PUS7101 Recommended Picture Settings
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-BoxPhilips include an easy-to-use setup wizard that you just follow when you first connect and turn on the 7101. The wizard will take you through setting up the WiFi, Smart TV platform and the various tuners but 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 taken 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 but if you'd rather just set the TV up yourself then you can follow the steps in our PicturePerfect Guide.
The out-of-the-box accuracy on the 7101 was disappointing, especially after the impressive performance of the cheaper 49PUS6501. As you can see in the graph above, there was far too much blue in the greyscale, especially towards the brighter end of the scale, which resulted in visible errors. However the gamma was tracking our target of 2.4 very closely which was good.The colour performance was also disappointing, although the overall under-saturation was easy to address by simply increasing the global colour control to 58 and we used the same approach on the 6501. However the entire colour gamut was being pulled towards blue, which was adversely affecting the overall accuracy and, unlike the colour control, requires the use of the colour temperature control to correct.
Picture Settings – CalibratedThe 7101 includes the standard calibration controls found on all Philips TVs with a two-point white balance control (Colour Temperature) for adjusting the greyscale and a colour management system (CMS) that provides hue and saturation controls over the primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, yellow and magenta) colours.Although the out-of-the-box greyscale performance was disappointing, it was easy to address using the two-point colour temperature control. All we needed to do was reduce both green and especially blue and the resulting measurements were almost identical to the 6501, although again there was a bit too much blue in the blacks and slightly too much red in the peak whites. However the errors were all below the visible threshold and most were below one, especially in the middle part of the scale.Once we had calibrated the greyscale, white fell back into place and the overall pull towards blue had been eliminated. By increasing the global colour control we also addressed the under-saturation and the resulting colour tracking was excellent, aside from some over-saturation at 100% for green and cyan.
The 7101 is certainly capable of an accurate performance against the industry standards of Rec. 709 and D65 but at this price point would anyone actually pay for a professional calibration? For that reason the cheaper 6501 has the edge because it delivered a better out-of-the-box performance.
The out-of-the-box performance was disappointing, although the image could be successfully calibrated
Picture Settings – High Dynamic RangeAs with many cheaper 4K TVs this year, the 7101 also supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) and, more specifically, the open source HDR 10 format. Whilst the Philips can take advantage of native 4K content, wider colour gamuts, HEVC encoding and 10-bit video depth, with a claimed peak brightness of just 400 nits the TV will be limited in its performance.After properly setting up the HDR picture style so that the whites look white rather than blue, the peak brightness measured 310 nits, which means that you just won't get the full impact of a 1,000 nits or higher TV. Naturally those TVs are much more expensive and, although the greyscale accuracy was quite good, you can see from the graph above that the 7101 struggles to track the PQ EOTF accurately. On the plus side, the Philips could tone map 1,000 nits content quite well, although as with most current TVs it does clip content that is graded above 1,000 nits.The native colour gamut on the 7101 was wider than the cheaper 6501, delivering 64% of Rec. 2020 when using xy coordinates. This means it can better reproduce the wider colour gamut that forms part of both Ultra HD 4K and HDR. However the TV did struggle to track the saturation points for Rec. 2020 correctly, as shown in the graph above.
Things were better when it came to tracking DCI-P3 within the Rec. 2020 colour gamut and we measured the 7101 at 81% of DCI-P3 with xy coordinates and 90% with uv coordinates. The tracking against the DCI-P3 saturation points wasn't perfect, especially in the case of magenta, but they were at least in the ball park. As a result the colours looked suitably natural with HDR content.
The SDR performance was solid but the HDR image did lack impact in the peak highlights
Picture QualityThe 7101 boasts many of the strengths we would expect from a Philips TV with excellent video processing and motion handling. The manufacturer does have a tendency to include quite a few processing features, some of which are more useful than others but the ISF picture styles actually turn off most of them, which is handy. The TV was extremely capable when it came to deinterlacing and upscaling lower resolution content to match the 4K resolution of the panel, so both standard and high definition content looked very good. As far as the frame interpolation features were concerned, we would recommend avoiding Perfect Natural Motion with film-based content but it's certainly worth experimenting with when it comes to sports-based action.
The accurate colour gamut, after calibration at least, resulted in some natural-looking images and the excellent greyscale and gamma performance delivered a very solid picture. Despite the use of edge LED backlighting the screen uniformity was decent and the 7101 produced a reasonably good sense of contrast with standard dynamic range content. The black level was measured at 0.09 nits and, when combined with our usual 120 nits white level target, the on/off contrast ratio was 1,333:1 and the ANSI contrast ratio was 896:1. These numbers are OK for an LCD panel but more expensive models can produce a far better contrast performance, even without resorting to local dimming.
Of course since this is a Philips TV the 7101 includes Ambilight and this can be very useful when it comes to improving the perceived black levels. If you're unfamiliar with Ambilight, it's essentially a series of small LEDs built into the rear of the chassis that light up the wall behind the TV. We're not really fans of the various modes of Ambilight that create different colours to match what is on screen, that makes it look like there's a disco behind your TV but the ISF mode is very useful. This produces a neutral bias light behind the TV that not only results in a more comfortable viewing experience at night but also improves the perceived black levels, making them look better.
When it came to Ultra HD content the 7101 could use its 4K panel to take full advantage of the extra resolution to reveal every detail, although it is debatable just how noticeable this would be on a 49-inch screen. The limited peak brightness meant that the Philips did struggle when it came to HDR, although at least it could take advantage of other benefits of the format. So whilst the specular highlights didn't have the kind of impact we would expect from a more capable HDR TV, the wider colour gamut did result in more saturated images. We don't think that HDR is a strong-point of the 7101 but at least it does offer the opportunity to enjoy certain aspects of the new format, whilst also delivering a solid picture overall.
Philips 49PUS7101 Video Review
Sound QualityThe 7101 includes an enhanced audio performance over the 6000 Series thanks to the inclusion of triple ring technology and a woofer built into the rear of the chassis. There is also more amplification, with 30W in total, as well as DTS Premium Sound, Clear Sound and Smart Sound enhancement features. The overall audio performance was actually rather good, considering the depth of the chassis and although the screen size limited the amount of stereo separation the soundstage created by the Philips was fairly open. Dialogue remained anchored to the screen and was clear on news broadcasts, entertainment programmes and documentaries. The audio was nicely defined with a decent mid-range and high-end, along with some bass thanks to the larger woofer. The 7101 could also go reasonably loud without distorting, thanks to the 30W of amplification, and overall it was a decent performance, even if we would still recommend looking at a soundbar solution.
The sound quality was decent, the input lag low and the energy consumption efficient
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionAs usual we tested the 7101 with our Leo Bodnar tester and in Game mode we measured the input lag at 36ms, which should be acceptable to all but the most demanding of gamers. Whilst that certainly doesn't describe us, we found gaming on the Philips to be a responsive and enjoyable experience as we played our current game of choice, No Man's Sky on our PS4.
In terms of energy consumption the 7101 was reasonably efficient and using a full window 50% white pattern we measured the Standard picture style at 83W and our calibrated ISF Night style at 72W. Naturally once we moved on to HDR the level of energy consumption increased, with the Philips drawing 127W with our optimal settings.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 64% 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) 7 What do these mean?
- Excellent picture processing
- Accurate image after calibration
- Simple to setup and use
- Decent smart platform
- Ambilight can be effective
- Great build quality
- Poor out-of-the-box accuracy
- HDR performance limited
- No 3D support
Philips 49PUS7101 UHD 4K TV ReviewThe Philips 7101 delivers a solid performance overall, with a decent level of build quality and nice set of features. The greater use of metal in the construction of the chassis does differentiate this range from the 6000 Series but the currently in vogue feet mean you'll need a wide surface on which to position the 7101. The Android TV platform is effective, responsive and robust, there are plenty of useful connections and the dual-sided remote control is well-designed and handy. The sound quality was very good, the energy consumption quite efficient and the input lag low enough for most gamers.
The out-of-the-box accuracy was disappointing and given that owners are unlikely to get a TV in this price bracket calibrated, we would have liked to see a better performance in this area. However once we had adjusted the greyscale and colour gamut, the image with standard dynamic range content was very good. The video processing and motion handling were both impressive, whilst the backlight uniformity was also acceptable. The black level and contrast ratio could have been better but without local dimming there is little Philips can do to improve this, although Ambilight can help improve the perceived blacks.
The limited peak brightness meant that the HDR performance was never going to be in the same league as brighter and more expensive TVs but the 7101 was able to take advantage of many of the benefits of Ultra HD HDR content such as increased resolution, wider colour gamuts, 10-bit video and HEVC encoding. The peak brightness lacked impact but at least the Philips offers a taste of the new format at a more accessible price point. This makes the 49PUS7101 a solid all-round performer that has plenty to recommend and it's cheaper than competitors like the Panasonic TX-50DX700B. However it just loses out on a badge because you can pick up Philips's own 49PUS6501 for £200 less and that TV delivered a better out-of-the-box performance.
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Suggested retail price when reviewed: £799.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated8
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money8
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