It's been a long time coming but was it worth the wait?
What is the Philips PUS7601?The PUS7601 is one of Philips's high-end Ultra HD 4K LED LCD TVs that uses a flat screen with a full array backlight and 128 local dimming zones. The PUS7601 comes in only one screen size, the 65-inch 65PUS7601 and it uses an open chrome 'V' stand. The 7601 has support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) with 500 Nits of brightness and 700 Nits of peak brightness, along with Micro Dimming Premium. It also has 3-sided Ambilight, Android TV, Ultra Resolution Upscaling, 200Hz frame rate, Perfect Natural Motion, Premium Colour and Perfect Pixel Ultra HD. The 65PUS7601 retails for a tempting price of £2,000 as at the time of writing (October 2016), making it one of cheapest TVs on the market that uses a full array LED backlight. This particular TV was supposed to be released in 2015 as the 9000 series but was delayed indefinitely and has now emerged this year in a slightly revised form. So was it worth the wait and is it the bargain the specifications and price would seem to suggest? Let's find out.
DesignThe 7601 uses a simple design with the emphasis on minimalism and build quality. There is a 1cm wide brushed metal frame around the screen, which extends to the outer edge. At the middle bottom of the screen is an illuminated Philips logo that can be turned off if you'd prefer. Be careful though, the logo is quite fragile and exposed, making it easy to accidentally knock off. Aside from that there is nothing else to see, except the chrome 'V' stand, which is actually composed of two feet. These feet are attached at either end of the screen and there is 9cm of clearance under it for those thinking of using a soundbar.
You will need a fairly large surface on which to place the 7601, ideally one that is at least 111cm wide and 26cm deep. Although of course you can also wall mount the TV using a 400 x 400 VESA bracket. The TV itself measures 1449 x 904 x 261mm (WxHxD) with the feet and 1449 x 835 x 67mm without. It also weighs in at 27.5kg with the feet and 26.3kg without. The build quality is very good and overall the 7601 has a solid and well engineered feel, aside from the aforementioned illuminated logo. Since the Philips uses a full array LED backlight it is a bit deeper than some of the competition but that's too be expected.
The 7601 has an attractive but minimalist design, great build quality and plenty of connections
Connections & ControlAt the rear of the 7601 you'll find all the connections, some of which face downwards, some of which face rearwards and some of which face sideways. All the connections are clearly identified and 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 downwards facing inputs are the ones that you're likely to use the most, whilst the rearwards-facing inputs are less likely to be used because they include a number of legacy connections such as SCART, composite video, component video and analogue audio.
Finally at the side are the inputs that you might use occasionally and thus need easy access to, here 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 15cm from the edge of the screen, which might be too close, depending on the type of cables you use. 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. Also at the rear you'll find the connection for the provided three pin power cable.
The included remote control is the same dual-sided version that came with the 8601. On one side you have the usual buttons for controlling the TV and on the other there's a QWERTY keyboard to make using the smart TV platform easier. The remote itself is comfortable to hold and well laid out; making it relatively easy to access buttons, even with one hand. Our only real complaint is that the central navigation pad for direction and enter keys is touch sensitive, so you can either run your finger over it or actually press down. We found this was a bit too sensitive and, on occasion, found ourselves zooming past where we wanted to be due to our finger inadvertently brushing over the pad.
The features include 3-sided Ambilight and Android TV, along with a dual-sided remote control
Features & SpecsThe 7601 is one of Philips's higher-end models and as such it incorporates many of the company's key proprietary technologies. As already mentioned the TV includes 3-sided Ambilight and at the rear of the panel you'll find LEDs along the top and both sides. This allows the TV to create a bias light behind the panel and although there are a number of different effects, we would recommend using the ISF option which creates a neutral light that you can then adjust in brightness to suit your needs.
The Ultra HD 4K (3840 x 2160) 10-bit panel has a 200Hz frame rate and full array LED backlighting. The 7601 also includes support for High Dynamic Range (HDR 10) with up to 500 nits of overall brightness and 700 nits of peak brightness, along with Micro Dimming Premium local dimming. There's also plenty of image processing technology, including Ultra Resolution Upscaling, Perfect Natural Motion and Perfect Pixel Ultra HD, although there's no support for 3D.
As with all of Philips's higher-end models, the 7601 uses the Android Smart TV platform (version 5.1 Lollipop), which the company has implemented very effectively. There is Quad Core processing and 16GB of built-in memory with an option to expand that via USB storage. The system itself 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 65PUS7601 Recommended Picture Settings
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-BoxThe 7601 comes with both Day and Night ISF modes, which made setting the TV up relatively easy, although accessing the picture menus can be laborious and Philips do use some unusual names for certain familiar controls. However choosing either of the ISF modes immediately turns off most of the special features that might affect image accuracy, leaving the user to just set the other controls to suit their viewing environment. 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 greyscale performance was very disappointing, with far too much blue in the greyscale. As a result the whites and just about everything else had a blue tinge, that could be very noticeable at times. Whilst it is quite common for manufacturers to deliberately skew the greyscale towards blue in some of their picture modes – adding blue to white gives the impression that whites are whiter – we would expect the ISF modes to be closer to the industry standard of D65. The out-of-the-box accuracy on the budget 6501 was much better and we suspect this problem could easily be addressed with a firmware update. The ISF modes are currently using the Custom Colour Temperature as a starting point, rather than the kind of pre-calibrated setting we saw on both the 6501 and 7101, so all Philips would need to go is apply a generic calibrated setting for the ISF modes.The huge amount of blue in the greyscale is adversely affecting the colour gamut, as you can see in the graph above, and is pulling everything towards blue. This really does suggest that the out-of-the-box greyscale is the result of a firmware glitch because none of the other Philips TVs that we've tested have had this level of inaccuracy in the greyscale. However the 7601 includes a 2-point white balance control, so we should be able to correct the errors in the greyscale fairly easily and once we have, the colour gamut will fall back into line.
Picture Settings – CalibratedThe 7601 includes the ISF-certified 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. However it would be good if Philips could also include a ten-point white balance control because the greyscale results do reveal the limitations of a two-point control.Although the out-of-the-box greyscale performance was very disappointing, it was relatively easy to address this using the two-point colour temperature control. All we needed to do was reduce both green and especially blue and the resulting measurements were now delivering errors that were mostly below the visible threshold. There was still an excess of blue at 10 and 20 IRE but without access to a ten-point control there was very little we could do about this. We also couldn't improve the gamma further, although it was tracking around our 2.4 target. Ultimately the calibrated greyscale was good but we've seen better on other, cheaper, Philips TVs.As we suspected, once we had calibrated the greyscale the colour gamut was much improved, as the graph above shows. White was now hitting its target of D65 (the square in the middle of the triangle) and that heavy skew towards blue has been eliminated. All the colours were tracking the majority of their saturation points quite closely, although there was an under-saturation of red and an over-satuartion of green and cyan at 100%. Magenta was also slightly skewed towards red at 75 and 100%, which could result in flesh tones occasionally looking a bit flushed. However overall this was a very good colour performance against the industry standard of Rec. 709 and the luminance measurements (not shown on this graph) were also very good.
The out-of-the-box greyscale was disappointing but easy to correct using the calibration controls
Picture Settings – High Dynamic RangeThe 7601 supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) and, more specifically, the open source HDR 10 format. Although not as bright as some of the competition in terms of peak highlights, the Philips can deliver a fairly decent peak brightness and the full array backlight and local dimming should result in a better HDR performance than many edge-lit HDR TVs.After properly setting up the HDR picture style so that the whites look white rather than blue, the peak brightness measured 625 nits on a 10% window. As you can see from the graph above the 7601 tracks the PQ EOTF reasonably well, beginning to roll off at around 50 IRE. As a result the Philips had more head room than some TVs and it could tone map 1,000 nits content quite well, with limited clipping of content graded at higher than 1,000 nits.Although the 7601 delivered a reasonable performance in terms of its peak brightness and tone-mapping, it did have a surprisingly limited colour gamut that was only 54% of Rec. 2020 when using xy coordinates. This means it can't fully reproduce the wider colour gamut that forms part of HDR content and, as a result of this limited colour gamut, it also struggled to track the saturation points for Rec. 2020 correctly, as shown in the graph above.
Although the colour gamut obviously remained limited, the performance was better when it came to tracking DCI-P3 within the Rec. 2020 colour gamut and we measured the 7601 at 74% of DCI-P3 with xy coordinates and 86% with uv coordinates. The tracking against the DCI-P3 saturation points wasn't perfect, especially in the case of green and magenta, but they were at least in the ball park. As a result the colours looked suitably natural with HDR content and overall the performance was generally good.
Despite a limited peak brightness and colour gamut, the HDR performance was generally good
Picture QualityAs usual we started with the black level and contrast ratio performance and here the 7601 produced an excellent performance for an LCD TV. The Philips uses a VA panel and as a result the native black level was measured at 0.029 nits and, when combined with our usual 120 nits white level target, the on/off contrast ratio was 4,138:1 and the ANSI contrast ratio was 2,558:1. These numbers are very impressive for an LCD TV and that was without even engaging Micro Dimming Premium, which obviously brought the black level down to 0.001 nits.
We have reviewed a number of Philips TVs recently and the 7601 has many of the strengths that we would expect such as excellent video processing and motion handling. The TV was extremely capable when it came to deinterlacing and upscaling lower resolution content to match the 4K resolution of the panel itself, so when it came to standard and high definition content both 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 decent greyscale and gamma performance delivered a very solid picture. Thanks to the use of a full array backlight with 128 zones, the screen uniformity was excellent and aside from some minor banding on camera pans the screen was pleasingly free of other annoying artefacts like DSE, clouding, bright corners or bright edges. We have yet to see a TV that uses a full array direct LED Backlight that doesn't have banding to some degree or another, so it was to be expected and forgivable considering the 7601's price.
Since this is a Philips TV the 7601 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 comfortable viewing experience at night but also improves the perceived black levels, making them look better.
The 7601 delivered a great picture when it came to standard dynamic range content and whether it was standard or high definition content, the excellent video processing deinterlaced and scaled the content to effectively match the native 4K resolution of the panel. The resulting images retained all their inherent detail and the decent colour accuracy and motion handling meant that whether you were watching broadcast TV, streaming services or Blu-ray the results were always highly enjoyable. Naturally the better the source content the better the image but the 7601 proved a very solid all-round performer.
When it came to Ultra HD content the 7601 could use its 4K panel to take full advantage of the extra resolution to reveal every detail, with the larger 65-inch screen size helping to create a more immersive experience. Although the peak brightness isn't as high as some other TVs, the 7601 uses the specular highlights effectively, so the HDR images still had some impact and were free of haloing. The same was true of the colour gamut and although it was somewhat restricted, the Philips still managed to tone-map the content and track DCI-P3 with a reasonable degree of accuracy, resulting in some very watchable images.
Philips 65PUS7601 Video Review
Sound QualityPhilips's efforts to deliver a superior sound experience with the 7601 have certainly paid dividends, with a decent audio experience from a modern TV. The 65-inch screen size resulted in plenty of stereo separation that produced an open front soundstage. The deeper chassis provides space for larger speakers and as a result dialogue remained clear and the mid-range and higher frequencies are well rendered, allowing music to retain a sense of clarity with good localisation. The use of Philips's Double Ring technology created a deeper sense of bass, thus enabling effects and lower frequencies to have more presence, although obviously not as much as you would get from a soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer. However for basic TV watching the 7601 was certainly up to the job, the 30W is sufficient to fill the average living room and the TV could go quite loud without sounding shrill or harsh. If you enjoy the big bombastic surround experience of today's blockbuster films, then you're going to need an outboard audio solution but for watching The Great British Bake Off, the 7601 has got you covered.
The input lag on the 7601 should be low enough for most gamers and you can use Game mode with HDR sources
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionWe tested the 7601 with our Leo Bodnar tester and in the ISF mode we measured an input lag of 64ms but in the Game mode the lag dropped to a respectable 38ms, which should be acceptable to all but the most demanding of gamers. Importantly for those who are interested in HDR gaming, the 7601 can still use its Game mode even with an HDR signal. Although we aren't currently able to test the input lag with an HDR signal that does mean you should be able to benefit from a lower lag with HDR gaming.
In terms of energy consumption the 7601 was extremely efficient for such a large TV and using a full window 50% white pattern we measured the Standard picture style at 91W and our calibrated ISF Night style at 75W. Naturally once we moved on to HDR the level of energy consumption increased, with the Philips drawing 134W with our optimal settings but even so that's still an impressively low power number when you consider the screen size.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 54% 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) 5
- Good black levels and contrast ratios
- Excellent backlight uniformity
- Impressive video processing
- Ambilight can be a useful feature
- Great onboard audio
- Decent level of build quality
- Energy efficient
- Out-of-the-box accuracy poor
- HDR performance limited
- Minor backlight banding
- Oversensitive remote control
Philips 65PUS7601 UHD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?
If you're in the market for a full array LED TV with local dimming then you should definitely consider the Philips 65PUS7601. It isn't the best performing TV that we've seen this year and it certainly isn't perfect but for the price you'll be getting a really solid TV that does just about everything and does most of it well. The design is minimalist but the build quality is excellent, whilst the connections should cover any eventuality. There are plenty of features including 3-sided Ambilight, Android TV and a dual-sided remote control, although in the case of the latter it was a bit oversensitive sometimes. The sound quality was actually very good, the energy consumption was excellent for a screen of this size and at 38ms the input lag should please all but the most demanding gamers.
The biggest disappointment when it came to the 7601 was the out-of-the-box greyscale, which had way too much blue in it. Although we suspect it's a firmware glitch that could be easily fixed and we were able to correct it using the calibration controls, there's no doubt the Philips lost points because of this aspect of its performance. However, the colour accuracy was much better and the image processing was excellent, so once we had calibrated the greyscale the performance of the 7601 was much improved. The black levels, contrast ratios and backlight uniformity were equally as impressive, aside from some slight banding. So whether we were watching standard or high definition content, the Philips was capable of lovely looking images.
When it came to High Dynamic Range (HDR) the performance was good but not quite as good as with standard dynamic range content. The 7601 could deliver a peak brightness of over 600 nits and it could do so without producing haloing or other unwanted artefacts. The images didn't have quite the impact when it came to specular highlights as brighter TVs and the colour gamut was rather limited but overall the Philips was still able to deliver an enjoyable HDR experience. So if you're looking for a large screen TV with a full array backlight and local dimming that can handle both standard and high dynamic range content effectively, whilst also delivering plenty of other features at an attractive price, then take a look at the Philips 65PUS7601.
What are my alternatives?
At a price point of around £2,000 and a screen size of 65 inches there really aren't that many alternatives. In fact the only viable option when it comes to full array backlight models is the Panasonic DX902. You can pick up the TX-58DX902 for £1,849 and the TX-65DX902B for as little as £2,499, which is incredibly cheap for 65-inch THX and Ultra HD Premium certified TV with active shutter 3D. The DX902 isn't perfect but you won't find a better TV in terms of colour accuracy and the Panasonic can deliver fantastic images for both standard and high dynamic range content. So depending on your budget the Panasonic DX902 could make a great alternative, although in terms of price the Philips 65PUS7601 remains a hard act to beat.
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Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box5
Picture Quality Calibrated8
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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