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Philips 55POS901F (901F) UHD 4K OLED TV Review

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OLED, Android and Ambilight, now that's a combination!

by Steve Withers Feb 1, 2017 at 11:17 AM

  • SRP: £2,799.00

    What is the Philips 901F?

    The Philips 55POS901 is the company's first OLED TV and, since it's a Philips TV, that also makes it the world's first OLED TV with Ambilight and Android. The POS901 comes in a single 55-inch screen size, it uses a flat 4K panel with support for High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut and is certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. The 901, which also includes a 'razor-slim' design and a built-in soundbar, has a suggested price of £2,799 and can currently be bought exclusively from John Lewis. So the question is, with last year's LG OLEDs currently being discounted and new models on the way from LG, Sony and Panasonic, can the Philips 901 hold its own in a crowded and competitive market place?

    MORE: What is an OLED TV?



    Design

    Philips 55POS901 Design
    The POS901 uses what Philips refer to as their 'razor slim' design and since it uses an OLED panel, it won't come as a surprise to discover that the TV is incredibly thin in parts. At the top the panel is only 5mm deep, although this increases to 49mm further down where all the electronics, Ambilight, amplification, speakers and connections are housed. The build quality is excellent, with a solid construction and an attractive silver brushed metal finish at the rear. The 901 has a built-in soundbar that uses the same silver finish as the rear and there is an illuminated Philips logo at the bottom of the screen, although this can be turned off. Aside from that the design is very minimalist with only a 1cm black border around the screen and a silver trim around the outer edge.
    Philips 55POS901 Design
    As has become very fashionable these days, the POS901 uses a pair of feet rather than a central stand. How attractive you find this approach is very much a matter of taste but in practical terms you'll need a surface that is at least 122cm wide on which to place the Philips. However, you also have the option to wall mount the 901 and the TV is compatible with a standard 400 x 400mm VESA bracket. Although the 901 includes its own built-in soundbar, you might have one of your own that you'd prefer to use or perhaps a centre speaker, in which case it's worth knowing that there's only 6cm of clearance beneath the screen itself. In terms of measurements the 55POS901 is 1229 x 818 x 233mm (WxHxD) in size and weighs 21.18kg with the stand and is 1229 x 752 x 49mm and weighs 17.42kg without.

    The 901 is well made and attractively designed with a silver brushed metal finish

    Connections & Control

    All the connections are at the rear and include a full compliment that should cover every eventuality. The POS901 comes with a removable cover that allows for tidier cable management. There is a combination of downwards and sideways facing connections, with the latter only 19cm from the edge of the screen. From a practical perspective, it is easier to use the downwards facing connections with the cover on because access is from the bottom but depending on the type of cables you use there should also be room to use the sideways facing connections when covered.

    In terms of the actual connections there are four HDMI 2.0a inputs, all of which support ARC (Audio Return Channel), with two facing downwards and two facing sideways, one of which supports MHL (Mobile High-definition Link). There are also three USB ports, one 2.0 port facing downwards and one 2.0 port and one 3.0 port facing sideways, with the latter intended for use with a HDD for recording and time shifting TV programmes. The 901 has dual terrestrial tuners, which support Freeview HD, and dual satellite tuners, which are generic rather than Freesat, with all of these connections facing downwards. There's also a downwards facing digital audio out and a LAN Ethernet port for a wired connection, although the Philips includes dual band WiFi 11n 2x2 wireless capability. Facing sideways you will also find a headphone socket and twin Common Interface Plus (CI+) sockets.
    Philips 55POS901 Connections & Control
    Philips 55POS901 Connections & Control


    The POS901 actually comes with two remote controls, the first of which is Philips's proprietary dual-sided controller. This uses Bluetooth and has all the controls on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other and uses gyroscopes to establish the correct configuration. The buttons themselves are sensibly laid out and responsive, with easy to understand icons and the name of the control written beneath in case they aren't so easy to understand. The remote is reasonably comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand, although it is quite large and heavy, so people with smaller hands might find this more difficult.

    The addition of a backlight would have been useful and the touch sensitive central navigation control is overly responsive but this can be addressed by changing it to pressure sensitive rather than touch sensitive in the menu. There is voice control as well, which will undoubtedly become more and more common as a way of controlling TVs, but we generally found it was just quicker and easier to point the remote at the TV and press a button. The inclusion of a QWERTY keyboard on the reverse side is a nice touch and certainly makes typing anything into the Android Smart TV platform easier and quicker.
    Philips 55POS901
    Philips 55POS901

    The second remote is essentially a stripped down infra-red version of the main controller with the all the main buttons but no voice control or QWERTY keyboard. In reality we found ourselves using this remote most of the time because it has all the buttons that you'll need to effectively control the TV but it's smaller and lighter, making it more comfortable to hold and use. It also has pressure sensitive buttons, so it's less sensitive to your hand passing over it than the main controller. Both remotes include a big Netflix button for direct access to the video streaming service but you'll need to take a slightly direct approach to access other services like Amazon and YouTube. Of course if you find the whole idea of even using a normal remote control hopelessly outdated, Philips also offer the option of a remote app for use with your smartphone or tablet.

    The Philips has all the connections you'll need and even comes with two remote controls

    Features & Specs

    Philips 55POS901 Features & Specs
    The Philips 55POS901 includes all the features that you would expect from a modern TV but the main one is the fact that it's an OLED TV. This means it can deliver the deep blacks and massive contrast performance (difference between black and white) for which OLED is justifiably famous. However it also uses a flat screen native 4K Ultra HD panel and it supports both a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR 10. The 901 also meets the minimum requirements needed for an OLED TV to be certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. It also includes a full suite of Philips picture processing features with the Perfect Pixel Ultra HD image engine and Ultra Resolution processing and Perfect Natural Motion. In terms of picture features that you won't find on the POS901, there's no 3D and there's no support for Hybrid Log-Gamma or Dolby Vision, which are additional types of HDR.

    MORE: What does Ultra HD Premium Certification mean?


    Since this is a Philips TV, the POS901 also includes the company's proprietary Ambilight technology, which is essentially a series of tiny LED lights built into the rear of the panel that illuminate the wall behind the TV. There are a number of different settings that allow the Ambilight feature to respond with colours that match the image or to create mood lighting based on different settings. You can even set the Ambilight to dynamically change in time to any music you're listening to on the 901 or whilst gaming. Some people like this multicoloured approach but we find it a bit gimmicky, however we do like the ISF Warm White Ambilight mode which creates a static and neutral bias light behind the TV that can make for a very comfortable viewing experience at night. The 55POS901 has 3-Sided Ambilight, which means there are LED lights along the top and the sides but not along the bottom – which is a shame as 4-Sided Ambilight would have looked impressive on the flagship 901, especially when wall mounted.
    Philips 55POS901 Features & Specs
    As mentioned in the design section, the POS901 includes a built-in soundbar which uses forward-firing drivers and triple ring technology. There is 30W of built-in amplification and the onboard decoder can handle both Dolby and DTS sound formats. There are also a number of sound processing features such as Clear Sound and Smart Sound. The 901 supports DLNA and is compatible with a number of different file types including AVI, MKV, H264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9/VC1, HEVC and VP9 for video; along with AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA (v2 up to v9.2) and WMA-PRO (v9 and v10) for audio; and JPEG for photos.

    Philips have been using the Android Smart TV platform for the last two years, so naturally the 55POS901 also includes the latest implementation. The TV supports Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) and includes quad-core processing and 16GB of built-in storage that can be increased using additional USB storage. There is a well designed Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and we found the built-in Freeview HD tuner to be quite effective, whilst there's also the option of adding an HDD and using the 901 as a PVR. The Android TV platform itself uses a series of selectable cards that are grouped into five main sections – Recommendations, Philips Collection, Apps, Games and Settings. You can scroll down through these sections and then scroll across to access something that interests you.

    The Recommendations section offers recommendations for various content based upon your viewing habits, whilst the Philips Collection is a selection of apps provided specifically by Philips themselves. The Apps section is more generic and here you'll find Google Play Store, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music and Google Play Games. There is a good selection of video streaming apps including Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and BBC iPlayer. The Netflix app currently supports HDR and Philips have said that they will add HDR support to the Amazon app soon as well. The Games section provides access to gaming providers like Gamefly, whilst the final section provides access to the settings menu. We generally found the Android platform to be responsive and robust and we like the way that you access content, although we did lose the settings menus at one point, requiring a reboot.

    MORE: What is Android TV?



    The 55POS901 has decent selection of features, including HDR, Ambilight and Android TV

    Philips 55POS901 Recommended Picture Settings

    Picture Settings – Out-of-the-box

    Philips include an easy-to-use setup wizard that you just follow when you first connect and turn on the POS901. 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, game 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.
    Philips 55POS901 Picture Settings – Out-of-the-box
    The out-of-the-box greyscale performance was reasonable but could have been better. There was an excess of both red and green and a deficit of blue, which resulted in noticeable errors and a slight yellow tinge to whites. We would have liked to have seen a better performance in the ISF modes, especially for a flagship model, but we have certainly seen a lot worse. The gamma curve was tracking our target of 2.4 very well, aside from a slight increase at around 80 and 90IRE, and overall the 901's out-of-the-box greyscale performance falls in to the good but could have been better category.
    Philips 55POS901 Picture Settings – Out-of-the-box
    The out-of-the-box colour performance of the POS901 was actually very good and any errors were the result of the greyscale rather than the colour gamut. As you can see the colour of white is skewed towards yellow, rather than the its target of D65 (the square in the middle of the triangle). However the colours themselves are all within the Rec. 709 colour space (the triangle itself) and they all track their respective targets quite closely. What this essentially means is that once we've calibrated out the errors in the greyscale the colours will be very accurate indeed.

    The 901 delivered some impressively accurate colours in both SDR and HDR

    Picture Settings – Calibrated

    The POS901 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. Since the 901 is a premium product, it would be nice to see Philips introduce a 10-point white balance control as all of their competitors have done and the CMS could be expanded to allow for calibration of saturation, hue and luminance. However, at least these controls work properly and the TV is capable of an excellent level of accuracy.

    MORE: Should I get my TV professionally calibrated?


    Philips 55POS901 Picture Settings – Calibrated
    We used the Warm colour temperature setting in the out-of-the-box measurements because, despite any errors, it was the closest to the industry standards. However for the calibrated settings we used the Custom colour temperature setting and then adjusted it using the two-point white balance control. Interestingly the Custom setting initially had far too much blue in the greyscale but this was easy to reduce and after a few minutes we had a greyscale that delivered an impressive level of accuracy. There was a smooth transition from black to white, with even amounts of red, green and blue, and the errors (DeltaEs) were all below two, which should be imperceptible to the human eye. The gamma was still tracking around our target of 2.4 and aside from a minor bump at around 80 and 90 IRE, this was an excellent overall performance.
    Philips 55POS901 Picture Settings – Calibrated
    As we suspected, as soon as we had calibrated the greyscale, there colours all fell into line and the resulting performance was impressive. The colour of white was now hitting its target of D65 and all the primary and secondary colours were tracking their saturation targets precisely. In fact all we needed to do was tweak the hue of yellow and we had an absolutely reference colour performance – well done Philips.

    Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range

    The POS901 did an excellent job in terms of tracking the PQ EOTF used for HDR. The measurements shown below are for an out-of-the-box performance using the HDR Movie mode and based upon a simple setup. As you can see the panel is tracking the EOTF very closely and rolling off at around 70IRE. The greyscale is tracking very well, aside from a slight excess of red and overall the errors were below three, until the curve rolls off at 70IRE, when it goes up to just over six.
    Philips 55POS901 Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range
    We measured black at 0.000nits and peak brightness at 730nits on a 10% window in the least accurate HDR Vivid mode, which means the 901 does indeed meet and exceed the minimum criteria for Ultra HD Premium certification. The Philips can reach an accurate peak brightness of around 640nits in the HDR Movie mode and since we could only get around 560 nits from the HDR ISF modes, we decided to use the former setting which certainly delivered an excellent performance. Using a full-field peak white test pattern the POS901 measured 120nits, thanks to the ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) and all these measurements confirm that Philips are using a 2016 LG Display OLED panel. An HDR TV is supposed to map content mastered at a higher peak brightness to its native capabilities without clipping but it was clear that the 901 was clipping above 600nits.

    MORE: What is High Dynamic Range (HDR)?


    Philips 55POS901 Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range
    The POS901 delivered a wider colour gamut, with a native measurement that was 96% of DCI-P3 using xy and 98% using uv coordinates, which equates to 71% of Rec.2020. The latter standard is the container that delivers the Ultra HD content, even though the original source content used DCI-P3, which was developed for professional cinema use and is not a recognised colour space for domestic displays. We were pleased to discover that the 901's colour accuracy not only applies to Rec.709 and in terms of the saturation points of Rec.2020, as the graph above shows, the 901 tracked the targets every closely within the limitations of the panel's native colour gamut.

    MORE: What is Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)?



    Philips 55POS901
    The second graph above shows how the POS901 tracks the DCI-P3 saturation points within the Rec.2020 container and in this test the Philips does an excellent job, with the primary and secondary colours tracking their targets very closely. The only TV we have reviewed so far that delivered a more accurate performance was the Panasonic DX902, so Philips are to be congratulated in delivering an OLED TV that can reproduce the wider colour gamut of HDR content with such precision.

    The Philips delivers a great picture that takes full advantage of the benefits of OLED

    Picture Quality

    All these measurements and graphs can be useful but the real question is does the Philips 55POS901 look any good when it comes to watching actual content? The good news is that 901 is excellent, delivering a superb image that makes full use of all the benefits that OLED has to offer. Let's start with the obvious benefit, those deep blacks. As with any OLED the POS901 was delivering a black level of 0.0000nits on a 0IRE window whilst also hitting our 120nits target for a nighttime setting. For those of a mathematical bent that's an on/off contrast ratio of infinity but the 901 also managed to deliver 0.00001nits black measurements on a checkerboard pattern too, so effectively the ANSI contrast ratio was approaching a 1,000,000:1.

    Those are some serious numbers but they mean nothing if the picture is riddled with artefacts. Thankfully this wasn't the case and although there was a tiny bit of crush just above black, this is largely to be expected from a 2016 OLED panel and it didn't impact on actual viewing. The same was true of the banding just above black, which although present very slightly in test patterns, was never an issue with real world content. There was absolutely no sign of any vignetting, which has affected OLED panels in the past and the same goes for discolouration and visible banding on things like football pitches. It would seem that Philips are choosing their panels carefully and the results are impressive.

    When it came to watching actual content the benefits of OLED were there to see, with the deep blacks and inherent dynamic range giving images a solidity that LCD TVs just can't achieve. The viewing angles are incredibly wide, the calibrated greyscale, effective gamma and accurate colours all played their part and Philips's video processing was just as impressive, upscaling lower resolution content to match the 4K panel. The result was that whatever the content we were watching was beautifully delivered, even when it came to standard definition. The return of Agents of SHIELD on E4 meant we had to suffer standard definition, which isn't something we do often, but the 901 handled the image with real skill.

    Of course as soon as we moved back to a high definition channel the improvements were immediately obvious with dramas, documentaries and even the BBC News looking very impressive. Naturally the kind of high quality documentaries that are on both BBC2 and BBC4 gave the POS901 the chance to really shine, producing wonderfully detailed images that retained a natural and realistic appearance. The 901 also handled the video streaming services well, with both Netflix and Amazon delivering marvellous looking images. We watched both Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Tale of Tales on Netflix and the latter was particularly impressive with its opulent production design and photography.

    The other important area when it comes to broadcast TV is sport and for those of you who spend a substantial amount of your spare time watching 22 mercenaries kick all ball around a big lawn the news is good. The motion handling, often a strong point of Philips TVs, is excellent on the 901 and as a result any fast moving sport, but particularly football, really benefits. The same is true of movies and as long as you don't turn on the Perfect Natural Motion frame interpolation feature, the motion retains a lovely film-like quality. This was especially apparent when we moved on to Blu-ray, with an old favourite like Gravity looking stunning on the POS901, although a recent purchase like Snowden was equally as impressive.

    So what about the new kid on the block – HDR? Well it is true that OLED TVs can't deliver the levels of peak brightness of which an LCD panel is capable but at 640nits in an accurate picture mode, the 901 was no slouch. The problem that OLED TVs often have with HDR is that their dynamic range is so good in SDR that there isn't as obvious a difference as there is with LCD TVs. However an OLED TV is still capable of delivering a superb HDR performance, especially when you take into account all the different aspects that make up an HDR image.

    First of all there's the added detail of a native 4K image, which the Philips takes full advantage of, as well as the 10-bit video depth that can banish troublesome banding. Once you add in an accurate and much wider colour gamut, you start to really appreciate the image potential of HDR before you even consider the peak brightness. Whilst the 901 might not be able to hit 1,000nits, it can deliver its 640nits at a pixel level, delivering specular highlights with remarkable precision. All of these benefits were made obvious watching Sully, which displayed an incredibly clean and detailed image, realistic colours and lovely specular highlights such as reflections on the plane's fuselage. At times the image was simply breathtaking.

    Sound Quality

    One of the big selling points of the 55POS901 is the built-in soundbar, so we would expect the Philips to sound better than your average TV. Thankfully this proved to be the case and the use of six larger, forward-firing drivers certainly helped with the audio performance. The use of triple ring technology and 30W of amplification also helped, as did the DTS Premium Sound, Clear Sound and Smart Sound enhancement features. The overall audio performance was actually very good, considering the depth of the chassis and, thanks to the larger screen size, there was a reasonable amount of stereo separation, with a wide and open front soundstage. 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, although the bass was rather lacking. However the 901 could also go reasonably loud without distorting, thanks to the 30W of amplification, and overall it was a decent performance.

    The built-in soundbar delivered an impressive audio performance but the input lag is too high

    Input Lag & Energy Consumption

    When it comes to gaming on the POS901, the good news is that there are dedicated gaming modes for both SDR and HDR gaming but the bad news is that despite these modes, the input lag is still quite high. As usual we tested the Philips with our Leo Bodnar tester and in both the SDR and HDR Game mode we measured the input lag at around 55ms, which is probably too high for serious gamers, who would prefer a number below 30ms. We didn't find it a problem at all but then we aren't as demanding in terms of input lag and any issues we may have had with latency were offset by the lovely images produced by the 901 as we played our way through No Man's Sky and Star Wars: Battlefront. The detail and motion handling were particularly impressive, so as long as you aren't looking for a super low input lag, the Philips is bound to please.

    In terms of energy consumption the 55POS901 was reasonably efficient and using a full window 50% white pattern we measured the Standard picture style at 135W and our calibrated ISF Night style at 100W. Naturally once we moved on to HDR the level of energy consumption increased, with the Philips drawing 176W with our optimal settings.

    How future-proof is this TV?

    4K Ultra HD Resolution
    HDR Support
    Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 71%
    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?

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    The Good

    • Superb blacks and contrast ratio
    • Fantastic dynamic range
    • Impressive colour accuracy
    • Excellent video processing
    • Wide viewing angles
    • Ambilight a useful feature

    The Bad

    • Minor banding just above black
    • Slight crush in shadow detail
    • Clipping with HDR 10 material
    • Input lag too high
    • No Dolby Vision
    You own this Total 2
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Philips 55POS901F (901F) UHD 4K OLED TV Review

    Should I buy one?


    When you consider that the 55POS901 is Philips's first OLED TV it's an impressive addition to their line-up. The design is attractive and the build quality is excellent, whilst the built-in soundbar delivers a superior audio performance compared to most ultra-thin TVs. There are two included remote controls and the Android TV platform is improving all the time – proving effective and responsive, even if it could be more robust. The inclusion of Ambilight is sure to please fans and even video purists will like the ISF Warm White option. In terms of picture quality, the POS901 is a superb performer that delivers the deep blacks we expect but without visible artefacts. As a result the contrast performance is excellent and when combined with the accurate colours, the results are genuinely impressive. This accuracy also applies to HDR content and, along with the precise delivery, resulted in some lovely and highly dynamic images. Overall the images produced by the Philips are natural and detailed, whilst the manufacturers skill with motion is sure to please sports fans. Whilst there are SDR and HDR game modes, our only real complaint about the 901 would be that the input lag is too high. However the Philips 55POS901 remains class act and is certainly worthy of a recommendation.

    What are my alternatives?


    You might be wondering why the Philips 55POS901 didn't get a highly recommended badge and the reason is that since it uses a 2016 panel there are simply too many excellent alternatives for less money. The 901 doesn't support 3D and if that's of no interest to you, then you could get the LG 55B6 which can currently be picked up for a price of only £1,749. Yes the B6 doesn't have the higher build quality, Ambilight or built in soundbar but it does have a lower input lag and it supports Dolby Vision. The same is true of LG's 55E6 but that also has passive 3D and a built-in soundbar, making it very tempting at its current price of £2,499. The Philips does have the edge in terms of overall image accuracy compared to the E6 but, when you consider the differences in features, it's hard not to be swayed by that £300 saving.

    MORE: Read All OLED TV Reviews



    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

    9

    Screen Uniformity

    9

    Colour Accuracy

    10

    Greyscale Accuracy

    9

    Video Processing

    9

    2D Picture Quality

    9

    Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box

    8

    Picture Quality Calibrated

    9

    Sound Quality

    8

    Smart Features

    8

    Build Quality

    9

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Value for Money

    7

    Verdict

    8

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