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Philips 854 4K OLED TV Review

Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG and the best image processor on the market?

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,799.00

What is the Philips OLED854?

The Philips OLED854 is a midrange OLED TV in the company line-up that at the time of this review in October 2019 is available through Costco in the UK and in 55- or 65-inch screen sizes. The OLED854 is identical to the OLED804 with the only difference between the models being the design of the stands. The OLED804 has two small feet that sit flush with the bottom of the panel and mounting surface. The OLED854 has a traditional centrally mounted raised stand with a straight metal bar design to the front. Everything else is identical between the two models.

The OLED854 features the P5 Pro Picture Engine for picture processing performance along with both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata HDR formats along with claims of 99% Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) coverage. Unique to Philips TVs is the Ambilight system that uses three sides of the OLED854 to provide mood lighting, motion effects or accurate bias lighting behind the TV. Smart TV is provided by Android TV (Oreo) at the time of our review.

Unlike the higher-end models in the Philips range for 2019, there is no Bowers & Wilkins soundbar provided with the 854 or 804, but there is Dolby Atmos decoding and playback through the downward-firing speakers built-in.

Those less interested in image accuracy to the standards or the director's intent will have a field day with the picture processing modes available via the P5 picture engine including super-bright HDR picture modes, vivid modes, image processing, edge enhancement and sharpening features, along with what Philips calls Perfect Motion frame interpolation which adds in image smoothing and soap opera effect. As this is an AVForums review, we will be testing the 854 against the industry standards for SDR and HDR image quality to see how accurate it can get in order for content to be seen as intended.

Philips OLED854 Video Review


Design, Connections and Control

The Philips OLED854 has a bezel-less style panel with a thin 1mm metal strip around the top, sides and bottom and is a gunmetal grey colour. As mentioned in the opening of the review, the OLED854 is identical to the OLED804 and the stands are the only difference between the two sets. The raised design of the 854’s stand is attractive and adds a nice lift to the height of the panel from your mounting position by 30mm. The other unique feature of the stand is the ability to swivel the screen left or right by around 20 degrees each way. However, there is no cable management available.

Philips 55OLED854

Around the back of the OLED854, we have the three sides of Ambilight LEDs which are attached to the main raised area that holds the electronics and connections of the set. We also have the three woofers that are part of the audio system on the TV in the centre, with the detachable power cord to the left and the connections to the right when looking from the rear.

Philips 55OLED854

We have sideways- and downward-facing connections with a good spread between types and positions. Sideways we have a Common Interface, two USB slots, Headphone output and three HDMI 2.0B ports. Downwards we have a further HDMI 2.0B input, YPbPr and audio inputs, digital audio out, RF and twin satellite antennas and an Ethernet port. All four HDMI inputs are ARC compatible and support Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10 and HDR10+ HDR signals along with 60p 4K 18Gbps video.

Philips 55OLED854

The remote control supplied with the OLED854 is a smaller version of the double-sided Philips unit seen with last year's models. It is made from high-grade plastic and has a QWERTY keyboard on one side for use with Smart TV apps and so on, with the main controls on the other side. The top of the remote has the most important keys for Ambilight and the directional and enter keys, along with the settings and home buttons. The rest of the keys are logically laid out in an intuitive manner and the remote fits neatly in the hand.

 The raised design of the 854’s stand is attractive and adds a nice lift to the height of the panel

Measurements

Out of the box

As we always do within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.

Calibration is not always an option for end users, so actually knowing how accurate the out of the box presets are is very important in any honest TV review. We see absolutely no point in assessing and reviewing TVs in only the perfectly calibrated picture modes as this doesn’t reflect what the vast majority of buyers will experience with the TV. We don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums.

Philips 55OLED854

Using the most accurate ISF Night mode for dark room viewing, colour temperature Warm and gamma tracking 2.4, we can see that the out of the box greyscale results are not quite as accurate as we would have hoped for. Having said that, despite a slight yellow tint in the brighter areas of the image, gamma tracks well with just a brightening at 80- and 90% stimulus, plus our DeltaE errors are under three until around 70% stimulus where it rises to around four which is why we can see the slight yellow tint.

Philips 55OLED854

The Rec.709 colour gamut for HD is also decent with a few slight errors in saturation tracking and hue. Magenta is the most obvious issue where its hue tracks towards red, and green hue is also slightly off target above 75% saturation too. Everything else is there or thereabouts and with actual viewing material, we didn’t notice any obvious issues caused by the errors, with skin tones still looking natural. It could be more accurate out of the box, but for the vast majority of end users, the image errors are slight and probably not noticeable.

Calibration

Thankfully, it was possible to use the provided calibration controls to get extremely good results from the 854 with a new 20-point white balance control being added for 2019 sets.

Philips 55OLED854

We managed to get reference levels of accuracy from the greyscale after calibration with superb tracking and average DeltaE errors of 0.5. Gamma was our only issue with a slight brightening at the brightest end of the image scale that couldn’t be tamed. This will not cause too many issues with most content, but it does mean that some detail may be missing in bright areas of the image.

Philips 55OLED854

Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut and, with the greyscale calibrated, we were able to make some slight adjustments in the Colour Management System to have almost all the points in the saturation chart where they should be. We obtained an average DeltaE error of 1.62 with the largest error at 3.09. SDR image accuracy after calibration is excellent on the Philips 854.

 ... it does mean that some detail may be missing in bright areas of the image

HDR Results

As we have found with most of the 2019 OLED TVs, the peak brightness and use of dynamic tone mapping has improved HDR playback to provide stunning levels of dynamic range with peak white against absolute blacks at the pixel level.

Philips 55OLED854

The Philips 854 measured over 750 nits with 2 and 5% windows and at 706 nits on the industry-standard 10% window. As we keep stressing within our reviews, peak brightness measurements are just one small part of the overall picture when it comes to HDR playback, with dynamic tone mapping and other factors also impacting on image quality.

Philips 55OLED854

In the most accurate picture mode for HDR, we can see excellent greyscale tracking to D65 and the PQ EOTF also tracks well before rolling off and hard clipping at just over 700 nits around 90% stimulus. The Philips 854 does not change its measured tone map based on static metadata, instead, it has a fixed response curve as seen in our graph here with HDR Perfect switched off. You can make adjustments in the HDR Perfect Menu with Minimum being best for most 1000 nit mastered content, but you should ignore the higher settings as they clip more detail and get brighter as you make more adjustments. The 854 defaults to Minimum in the HDR Perfect menu for all HDR settings and this is the best catch-all setting for most users.

Philips 55OLED854

Colour gamut coverage for P3 is also excellent out of the box with the 854 nearly able to hit every point within the saturation tracking. This is an excellent result out of the box and points to decent wide colour gamut coverage.

Overall, the measured results were very good for HDR10 with a stable tone map and gamut coverage. We measured BT2020 at 70% XY and 73% UV with P3 coming in at 96% XY and 97% UV.

Performance

Like all other 2019 OLED TVs, the Philips 854 offers stunning black levels with superb shadow detail and excellent dynamic range with strong natural-looking colours. We compared it with the LG C9, Panasonic GZ2000 and GZ950 and the Sony BVM-X300 mastering monitor as well as putting it through our normal testing.

Philips is renowned for its video processing and the new 3rd Generation P5 chip is onboard the 854. Upscaling is good with 576i SD broadcast looking as good as you can expect for such a low resolution on a 4K panel. HD Blu-ray and streaming looks nice and sharp with good line definition and no obvious signs of edge ringing within the content. We didn’t notice any artefacts with upscaled images in the accurate modes, even with test patterns. Obviously, with the P5 chip, you have lots of image manipulation options including extra sharpening and edge enhancement settings if you really want to go to town with these settings, but when set to off we didn’t see anything being applied that shouldn’t be there.

Motion is also good with no obvious issues with 24fps material, with correct pulldown applied when the Motion Style is set to Movie. You can also set it to off to achieve correct motion with most other viewing material. All other motion options add in interpolation and soap opera effect even in the minimum settings and should be handled with care if you decide to use them for fast-moving video and sports footage.

SDR picture quality was very good out of the box with decent skin tones and colour performance, even though the measured results were not perfectly accurate. However, once calibrated the image takes on a slightly richer and deeper tone with film content looking incredibly cinematic with excellent detail and sharpness. Skin tones yet again are natural and lifelike with superb blacks, shadow detail and colour performance.

Moving to HDR and we see some small improvements on last year's HDR performance from Philips with better tone mapping, superb colour reproduction and no sign of posterisation, which was a small issue with some material last year. Some users may find the more aggressive Automatic Brightness Limiter an issue when HDR Perfect is switched off. The tone map used tries to roll off to retain detail in the specular highlights, which does also impact on image brightness when compared to its peers, but in isolation, this would be less obvious. This is very similar to the approach Sony takes to provide a more consistent HDR look. The HDR Movie preset does default to HDR Perfect Minimum which is the best catch-all setting for 1000 and 4000 nit content.

 The important comparisons are with its peers and in this respect, the 854 holds up very well

In comparison with the Sony BVM-X300 professional 30-inch monitor, it was also very good, especially with SDR content, with just the slight cyan white of the Philips WRGB panel looking slightly different to the monitor's RGB OLED panel. But skin tones and other hues do look very similar, along with black levels and shadows. With HDR, like every other 2019 OLED against the Sony monitor, the differences were more apparent with cleaner whites and better specular highlights on the monitor, with the Philips looking darker and bluer. But we don’t expect a consumer TV at this price point to get anywhere close to a £35K professional panel, the comparison is fun and we can see how close they get, but don’t read too much into these results.

The important comparisons are with its peers and in this respect, the 854 holds up very well, with only very slight differences in performance. When calibrated, all the 2019 OLEDs look incredibly similar with just different approaches to tone mapping with HDR standing out, along with differences with ABL circuits and how they are implemented from brand to brand. The 854 is slightly dimmer in HDR against its peers, and the ABL cuts in earlier than other screens. But it also produces a consistent performance with good highlight details and image balance. Colours are also excellent in HDR with no issues in brightness or contrast. Blacks are superb with just a hint of black crush seen in some content, and the 854 also performs to a high standard with superb dynamic range and image sharpness. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are also excellent on the Philips 854 with a brighter and slightly better image consistency with Dolby Vision content via streaming or disc. Dolby Vision Bright mode on the Philips has lots of image processing applied and motion interpolation, so if you want to see things as intended you need to select Dolby Vision Dark or switch off all the processing.

Gaming wise the input lag was measured in the Game mode at 33ms, which is not quite as fast as its OLED peers and, while most casual gamers will probably never notice that level of lag, if you are the more competitive type you may well notice it. It is certainly an area Philips can improve for future TVs.

Smart TV is Android TV (version 9) which was fast and stable with a good line-up of apps. We didn’t have any issues with crashes or hanging. We did, however, have issues with the BBC iPlayer where we didn’t have any sound. No matter what we tried we couldn’t fix this issue (it is also the same on the OLED+934). The menu system of the 2019 Philips TVs are complex, expansive and get in the way of the user. We also didn’t like the UI for using the TV's in-built tuner. None of the interfaces are intuitive for users and could do with a redesign to simplify.

Finally, we have a unique feature provided with all Philips TVs and that is Ambilight. This is a bias lighting system provided by three strips of coloured LEDs behind the panel. As a purist, I prefer to use it in the D65 ISF mode with brightness set low to avoid missing shadow details in the image. However, you can set the three-sided system to bright levels and have it follow the video on screen changing colours to match, or to the audio and turn your living room into a nightclub. As a bias light, used properly in the ISF setting, it does have good intentions and scientific backing for relaxing the eye when watching a TV, especially in a dark room.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Excellent calibrated image quality
  • Good out of the box image quality with SDR and HDR10 content
  • HDR10+ compatibility
  • Dolby Vision compatibility
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Three-sided Ambilight
  • Excellent video processing and motion
  • Good build quality
  • Decent Smart TV

The Bad

  • No adaptive tone mapping depending on metadata for HDR10, you need to manually switch
  • Dolby Vision Bright is not accurate and has image processing and interpolation added
  • Could be slightly more accurate out of the box for SDR

Philips 854 4K OLED TV Review

The Philips OLED854 is a solid OLED TV which competes with the very best on the market. It has a very nice design, with excellent features like Ambilight for creating a bias light while watching the TV in a dark room.

It is not quite as accurate out of the box as some the best screens out there from LG and Panasonic, but once calibrated it looks incredibly similar and offers exactly the same performance for the majority of content. There is the occasional black crash with some content and the HDR image can look a little dark in comparison to its peers due to more aggressive ABL limiter and a bigger roll-off in the tone map for the most accurate to the standards picture modes. However, Philips does provide the end-user with a mountain of image processing settings where you can set HDR brighter and add in frame interpolation and edge enhancements, but doing so takes you away from being accurate and seeing content as it was intended. That said, the Philips processing is better than most on the market and at least as a user you are given the choice. The 854 can be very accurate in terms of image quality in the correct settings.

Overall, the Philips OLED854 is identical to the OLED804 apart from the stand used and it offers excellent image quality and good features. It is in a very competitive market place with screens from LG, Panasonic and Sony all offering very similar features and slightly different image performance with HDR content. The Philips 854 offers the same performance attributes as its peers and comes recommended.

Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
.
8

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Video Processing

.
9

Picture Quality

.
9

SDR Picture Quality

10

HDR Picture Quality

.
9

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
.
8

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease of Use

.
.
.
7

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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