What is the Philips 55PUS7809?
Even our jaded eyebrows were raised when we saw the price of Philips' latest 7800 series of Ultra HD 4K TVs.
Design and Connections
Philips use a slightly different naming convention for some of their picture controls but thankfully the newly updated menu system includes brief explanations for those that are new to the brand. They also include ISF modes, which makes creating a decent out-of-the-box mode pretty easy. You just need to select one of these ISF modes, which automatically turns off almost all the processing, and then set the backlight (which Philips rather confusingly call Contrast), the Brightness, the Contrast (which Philips call Video Contrast) and Sharpness controls.
Philips include a two-point white balance control, which allowed us to remove all the excess green and bring blue back up, delivering a much better greyscale performance with errors mostly below one. However there was an excess of blue in black and just above, which we were unable to correct with the two-point control. As a result there was a slight blue tint to blacks, although this didn't generally impact on actual viewing material. After calibrating the greyscale the colour accuracy immediately improved and the luminance measurements were particularly good. The overall errors were all now below the visible threshold, with the exception of a small error in blue. The CIE tracking chart below shows the performance at different saturation points and here blue is actually tracking better but there is some minor undersaturation in the reds. However, overall the 7809 is capable of a very accurate picture and this was certainly the case when watching actual viewing material.
The 7809 uses an IPS panel which means it has a wider viewing angle than TVs that use a VA panel, however it also means the black levels are poor. We measured 0IRE at 0.2cd/m2 which is high even for a IPS panel and as a result the on/off contrast ratio was only 620:1. However on the plus side, the backlight uniformity was excellent, which meant that whilst the blacks weren't as deep as we would have liked, at least dark scenes weren't ruined by light spill or clouding. The 7809 also managed to retain a decent level of shadow detail, even if the blacks themselves were wanting. The graphic below shows the measurements for the ANSI contrast ratio, which was 594:1, but it also shows the excellent uniformity. The lack of deep blacks to dark scenes aside, the 7809's image still retained plenty of punch thanks to its inherent brightness and well-lit content looked spectacular. Since this is a Philips TV it also has Ambilight, so using the ISF setting can make the blacks look better by adding some biased light behind the TV.
We put the 7809 through our usual battery of video processing tests and overall it did very well, cleanly scaling standard definition images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The Philips also scored well when it came to video deinterlacing and motion adaptive deinterlacing, whilst in the film detail test it correctly locked on to the image resulting in no aliasing. It also correctly detected both 3:2 and 2:2 cadence and had no problems handling film material with both horizontal and vertical scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without any blurring or shredding. When it came to 1080i content the 7809 correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and again detected both 2:2 and 3:2 cadence. When it came to 24p content the 7809 had no problems, replicating the frame rate without introducing judder or other artefacts. The 7809 will certainly do an excellent job of upscaling any content you currently watch to match its 4K panel.
The 7809 delivered an input lag of 80ms when measured in its calibrated ISF mode and, in a first for us, measured higher at 90ms in its Game mode. We certainly weren't surprised to see a relatively high lag in the ISF mode, most of the Ultra HD TVs we have reviewed to date have delivered higher input lags, presumably due to the increased processing. Quite why the Game mode increased the lag is a mystery, everything seemed to be off, but given we had also turned off all unnecessary processing in the ISF mode, we didn't expect there to be much difference. What kind of impact this lag will have will largely depend on how much gaming you actually do. For the casual gamer it won't be an issue and we certainly enjoyed a prolonged session of Killzone on our new PS4 but for the more hard core amongst you it will undoubtedly be too high.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 94W
- Calibrated – Professional Mode: 103W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 138W
Philips 55PUS7809 Video Review
Philips 55PUS7809 Picture Quality
A recent episode of Game of Thrones proved something of a torture test as it took place entirely at night, at Castle Black and with the black garbed men of the Night's Watch. Needless to say the 7809 struggled to deliver the deep blacks that the episode was almost entirely composed of but it did manage to retain enough shadow detail and the excellent backlight uniformity meant the image was free of distracting light spill or clouding. There was some minor banding apparent as the camera panned from side to side in the recent England football matches but this was only because we were looking for it and it certainly didn't detract from our enjoyment. When we moved onto Blu-rays the results were very impressive, with natural colours and beautifully scaled and finely detailed images. Whilst the might not be much 4K content to currently watch, even upscaled Full HD can look spectacular on a 4K panel when processed correctly.
That brings us on to 4K itself and what little test material we currently have looked spectacular on the 7809 with bright and highly detailed images that clearly looked superior to their Full HD counterparts. A screen size of 55 inches is probably about the limit at which 4K really remains effective but, depending on how close you sit to the TV, it can be quite a revelation. As far as the 7809, the lack of any HDMI 2.0 inputs does limit its 4K future-proofing because HDMI 1.4 can only handle up to 30Hz. However, since the standards for 4K broadcasting have yet to be agreed and it could be at least two years before such broadcasts begin, so the lack of HDMI 2.0 might not be such a big issue. The inclusion of HDCP 2.2 on one of the HDMI inputs does mean that if we ever get a 4K Blu-ray format the 7809 should be able to handle it, assuming the discs are encoded at 24p. The bigger concern is the lack of built-in HEVC decoding because that precludes Netflix 4K, which is currently the main source of 4K content. Although once you've watched season two of House of Cards, you quickly run out of 4K programming and it's possible that an outboard solution will become available, so that HDCP 2.2 input could come in handy again.
The 7809 uses passive 3D and this is one area where the native 4K panel adds immediate value because it allows a Full HD image to be delivered to each eye. As a result, the 3D on the Philips was excellent, with bright, natural looking images that were highly detailed. There was no distracting flicker and an absence of crosstalk, which resulted in a hugely enjoyable and genuinely immersive 3D experience. We put on Hugo purely to test some scenes but were so captivated by the film and the fantastic 3D that we ended up watching the entire movie. That says it all really.
- Excellent screen uniformity
- Impressive video processing
- Accurate image after calibration
- Superb 3D performance
- Wide viewing angles
- Ambilight can be a useful feature
- HDCP 2.2 included
- Good sound
- Fantastic price
- Mediocre blacks and contrast ratio
- Some very minor banding
- No HDMI 2.0
- No HEVC decoding
- High input lag
Philips 55PUS7809 4K TV Review
It's not all good news of course, the black levels are very mediocre, robbing the 7809 of much of its dynamic range and resulting in dark scenes appearing underwhelming. This is mitigated to a certain extent by good shadow detail and backlight uniformity and is the price you pay for wider viewing angles. There was some minor banding but not enough to be a real distraction and for serious gamers the input lag will be too high. The main issue with the 7809 is the absence of HDMI 2.0 and built-in HEVC decoding, both of which could limit its potential 4K future-proofing. However much depends on what standards are finally agreed and any 4K broadcasting is probably still a long way off, so the lack of HDMI 2.0 is a moot point currently. It's possible that an external HEVC decoding option may also become available, so even that might not be an issue either in the long run.
In the meantime, the Philips 55PSU7809 remains an excellent TV that delivers great pictures and a taste of Ultra HD 4K at a very attractive price. It might well be a gamble but at £1,500 the 7809 could be a gamble that's worth taking.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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