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Philips OLED+934 OLED TV Review

Second from top doesn't mean second best...

by Phil Hinton - Updated:
SRP: £2,200.00

What is the Philips OLED+934?

The Philips OLED+934 sits just below the flagship OLED+984 in the 2019 range and sports a European style design and a stand-alone soundbar from Bowers & Wilkins. This soundbar features proprietary B&W drivers with a 2.1.2 layout with upward-firing drivers and it has a bass port to the rear. It sits out in front of the TV and uses a special bracket that turns the whole thing into a stand for the 934 when table mounted. You get a second stand in the box for wall mounting the soundbar with the TV.

The OLED+934 also features HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ high dynamic range systems along with Dolby Atmos sound. The TV uses the 3rd Generation P5 picture processor which Philips claims delivers excellent noise reduction, upscaling, and motion handling, while pulling more detail from SDR and, thanks to superior tone mapping, HDR content.

There is also the Android OS (v9 or P for Pie) which has a decent complement of apps with Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube 4K HDR services with more available via the Google Store. There is also voice assistant capabilities using Google Assistant and Alexa. We did notice some bugs with apps, which have been reported back to Philips and these will be fixed as soon as possible. They were slight lip-sync issues with Netflix and Prime video and no sound on the BBC iPlayer app within the TV smart system. We had no issues with off-board sources.

As this is a Philips TV, you also get the now-familiar (and extremely useful) three-sided Ambilight which can be used as a static bias light to keep your eyes less fatigued when watching in dim surroundings. You can also select modes that follow the video on screen and as such change the colour to suit whatever is on the screen such as blue for the ocean or green for a football pitch. This does get quite distracting as does the follow sound option that can turn your living room into a disco from the 1970s.

So does second from the top mean second best? Let’s find out…

Philips OLED+934 Video Review


Design, Connections and Control

While the design of a product is a subjective subject, we did find the 934 to be a very good looking TV with a unique design compared to all the other OLED models on the market. There is a minimalist look to the actual panel with a 1mm silver strip around the entire edge of the bezel-less screen. Between this edge and the picture is a 10mm black portion of the screen surface, so the image doesn’t quite reach the full edge of the screen.

Philips 55OLED934

When table mounted, the OLED+934 sits on a stand which is designed to integrate with the Bowers and Wilkins soundbar. This bar sits to the front of the panel with the rear of the stand attaching to the TV at the rear centre. The soundbar has a distinctive lean back style with a grey-coloured grille that runs from the front to the top of the unit and finishes with a top facing silver strip at the rear. This strip has the Philips logo to the left and the Bowers & Wilkins name to the right side. The side edges of the bar look like wonky squares that are the same grey colour as the grille. The soundbar also doesn’t cover the entire width of the panel, instead, it only covers around three quarters with space at either end, but this also adds to the unique design and looks.

Around the back, the TV doesn’t have the usual central bass driver and two passive radiators featured on the models below the 934, as the soundbar now takes care of that aspect of the sound system, so the OLED+934 has a smooth rear panel with the stand attachment in the centre. The connections are positioned on the rear right when looking from behind and feature sideways and downward-facing inputs. You also have the LED strips on the back for the three sides of Ambilight illumination.

Philips 55OLED934

Sideways we have a CI slot and two USB ports, with a service port in between these. Below those are three HDMI 2.0b ports. Then, downwards facing, is the fourth HDMI 2.0b port, two 3.5mm breakout ports for audio and component video inputs, an RF and two satellite antenna along with an Ethernet port and an RCA subwoofer output for adding an external sub.

All the HDMI ports support ARC and are also full-bandwidth 18Gbps 4K 4:4:4 60p ready with HLG, HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision compatibility.

Philips 55OLED934

  ...we did find the 934 to be a very good looking TV with a unique design compared to all the other OLED models on the market

The remote control supplied with the 934 is identical to the one used with the OLED854 and is a full-sized plastic affair with a QWERTY keyboard on one side and the remote on the other. All the keys are well laid out and in a logical manner and the remote fits neatly in the hand and is easy to use.

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 view 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 55OLED934

Using the most accurate ISF Night mode for dark room viewing, colour temperature Warm and gamma tracking 2.4, we found that the greyscale tracking was really quite accurate to the industry standards. We do have a slight lack of blue within the brighter parts of the scale, and red and green are around 1-2% out at some points, but these are imperceivable to the eye and with viewing material on screen as our DeltaE errors are well under the visible threshold of three. Gamma tracking was good but we once again have a brighter than wanted higher end of the scale with gamma dropping to around 2.3 at 90% stimulus, but again this will unlikely cause any visible issues that viewers will see with actual film and TV content.

Philips 55OLED934

The Rec.709 colour gamut coverage was a little bit odd in that we had massive saturation errors with green, as well as cyan, blue and red being too saturated at the various stimulus levels for saturation in the graph. We double-checked that we did have the normal gamut size selected in the menus, and not the wide setting, but it appears to be a fault with the SDR colour gamut selection on the 934. We should be able to calibrate this out, but for an out of the box preset, it is oversaturated. This does show up with some viewing materials where colours do look a little on the saturated side. This may be a bug with this review sample, but we didn’t have an opportunity to test another set to clarify.

Calibrated

As you would expect, given the calibration controls we have for 2 and 20-point greyscale correction and a full Colour Management System (CMS), we were able to dial in reference levels of accuracy.

Philips 55OLED934

With the greyscale, the only issue we continued to have was the brightening of the gamma curve at around 80-90% stimulus which drops to 2.3 but, again, this wasn’t overly noticeable with most content, but it is something we would want more control over. It would be beneficial to calibrators if Philips added in a gamma editor. Looking at the greyscale tracking, we now have a very flat tracking which is accurate with DeltaE errors all under one, so well below the visible threshold of three.

Philips 55OLED934

We were also able to bring in the Rec.709 colour points so they were far more accurate for saturation and brightness. We also tested that the CMS wasn’t introducing posterisation or gradation issues to viewing material and are happy to report that we have no issues using the system or its results. Sometimes a processor can run out of power and introduce issues, which we have seen with some OLEDs over the years. So after calibration, the Philips OLED+934 is almost perfect.

 It would be beneficial to calibrators if Philips added in a gamma editor

HDR Results

Philips 55OLED934

The Philips OLED+934 measured over 750 nits with 2% and 5% windows and at roughly 710 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. These results are also identical to the OLED854 we tested recently.

Philips 55OLED934

The OLED+934 defaults to HDR Perfect Minimum for HDR playback and this has a roll-off that is designed to display as much specular highlight detail as possible before it clips given the capabilities of the TV. There is also a degree of dynamic tone mapping also applied. Looking at the PQ EOTF tracking, we can see the 934 tracks the ST.2084 standard precisely until it starts the roll-off at around 400 nits before it reaches the peak here of 700 nits.

Philips 55OLED934

Looking at the P3 saturation tracking we can see that, once again, the results are almost identical to those seen with the 854, which shouldn’t be a shock as Philips says the image quality is the same, given panel variance, across the range with just cosmetic design differences. We measured BT2020 at 69% XY and 73% UV with P3 coming in at 94% XY and 97% UV.

  ...for an out of the box preset, it is oversaturated

Performance

We found the performance of the OLED+934 to be identical to that of the previously reviewed OLED854 for image quality. The differences were, of course, with the design and the sound systems, with the 934 winning out with the Bowers & Wilkins soundbar.

Panel uniformity at 5% stimulus was very good indeed with no obvious visible banding seen and full white was also good, however, the ABL circuit which controls full-screen brightness does work in a more aggressive manner than other OLED TVs from Panasonic and LG for example and dims the brightness. This wasn’t really noticeable in isolation with normal content but watching sports over time will see it dim as time goes on. The overall brightness is also noticeable in side-by-side testing against the Panasonic GZ950 and LG C9 with both being marginally brighter than the 934. The direct competitors for the OLED+934 are the LG C9 (although it could also be seen as the E9 given the more direct speakers) and Panasonic GZ1500 (which is identical to the GZ950 for picture quality, but adds a soundbar).

As this is a 2019 Philips OLED TV, it features the new 3rd Generation P5 Processor. Motion performance is good with no obvious induced judder with 24fps material as correct pulldown is applied when the Motion Style is set to Movie. You can also set to off to achieve correct motion with most other viewing material. All other motion options add in frame interpolation and soap opera effect and should be handled with care if you decide to use them for fast-moving video and sports footage. Some experimentation will be required as adding too much adds in artefacts.

Upscaling was also very good with HD Blu-ray and streaming looking nice and sharp with good line definition and no obvious signs of edge ringing within the content. The P5 chip gives you lots of image manipulation options including extra sharpening and edge enhancement settings if you really want to go to town with these, but when set to off we didn’t see anything being applied that shouldn’t be there.

 HDR content is also very good with good colour reproduction that looks saturated but again natural and balanced with excellent skin tones

Out of the box, we found SDR content to look generally fine with excellent dynamic range and superb black levels. We thought that the just above black detail retrieval was very good and the colours were, for the majority of the time, good. We did, however, notice some instances of slightly more saturation than we would like with the likes of football pitches and the colour of the kits. Moving to calibrated settings and the OLED+934 looks incredibly nuanced and accurate with a nice cinematic feel to film content. Skin tones are lifelike and natural with believable tones, and colour now looks balanced.

HDR content is also very good with good colour reproduction that looks saturated but again natural and balanced with excellent skin tones. Dynamic range is impressive with HDR10 content with very good tone mapping. Moving to HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content and the quality takes a slight step up with more details now visible in the specular highlight areas and nicely controlled dynamics. 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 in the bright mode.

When compared to its peers side-by-side, the OLED+934 performs extremely well. Against the LG C9, it was really difficult to tell the two apart when in the most accurate HDR10 modes, with the slight lack of brightness of the 934 the only real defining difference. The same was also true when compared to the Panasonic GZ950 which was run close by the Philips with just the colours and slightly warmer whites standing out on the GZ, but it is very close.

The OLED+934 does have another ace up its sleeve and that is the Bowers and Wilkins soundbar. The Kvadrat fabric-covered, rigid speaker enclosure is constructed from thick-wall-section glass-fibre-reinforced ABS and critically braced with internal rib sections to control any unwanted resonance. There are four 30mm mid-range drivers along with a centrally mounted ported 80mm subwoofer and two decoupled 19mm titanium tweeters to create a forwards firing array while twin 50mm upward-firing Dolby Atmos elevation units mounted on the top of the enclosure give extra scale and immersion. These either work with Atmos encoded content or up-mix non-atmos soundtracks.

In action, the soundbar is very good indeed with a nice weighty feel and excellent separation creating a wide soundstage. It has a nice top end without being sibilant with voices and, with movie soundtracks, it adds a touch more audio finesse and grunt than other TVs in its class. While it has upwards firing speakers, we were surprised that the sound stage remained very front heavy and we were not aware of that much activity going on above us. Subtle is probably the best way to describe the experience. But the inclusion of this quality audio system does elevate the OLED+934 above most TVs in its market segment.

For the gamers out there this Philips 934 is a tad slow with an input lag measurement of 33ms which, for the really competitive types, will be too slow. However, normal casual gamers may not notice this lag and will continue to enjoy their gaming, but Philips should really make an effort in this department and match other OLED TVs that can get as low as 12.8ms (LG C9).

 Moving to HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content and the quality takes a slight step up with more details now visible in the specular highlight areas and nicely controlled dynamics

Verdict

The Good

  • Excellent SDR and HDR image quality
  • Superb sound quality with Bowers & Wilkins Speaker Bar
  • HDR10+ and Dolby Vision compatibility
  • Very good HDR10 tone mapping
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Excellent image processing with 3rd Gen P5 chip
  • Decent features, OS and Smart TV
  • Ambilight

The Bad

  • Could have better accuracy out of the box in SDR
  • Needs a gamma editor
  • Input lag could be better

Philips OLED+934 OLED TV Review


The Philips OLED+934 is another excellent TV from the brand in 2019 with a strong design and excellent sound system from Bowers & Wilkins. It is also competitively priced and offers many of the features we now expect to see on an OLED TV, such as both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata systems. The Android OS and Smart systems are stable and reasonably quick in operation and the 3rd Generation P5 processor certainly has the power to provide a wide range of picture styles and processing. However, at AVForums, we are all about the accuracy of the image to industry standards so we can watch content as it was intended to be seen. In this respect, the OLED+934 could be better out of the box, but it does provide excellent calibration controls which allowed us to dial in some excellent image accuracy. Our only request for the future would be for more gamma control from a dedicated editor.

There is no such thing as the perfect TV and when compared to its peers the Philips displayed some of its strengths against the competition, but it was also possible to see where some of the differences are. The ABL circuit on the 934 is a little aggressive and this combines with a slightly darker tone map that, while creating fantastically detailed highlights, does look slightly less dynamic. This is in no way a dealbreaker as you probably wouldn’t even realise this was the case in isolation, but in our reviews, we like to be complete in our testing and assessment.

The big selling point for the Philips OLED+934 over the other TVs in their range and its peers is the Bowers & Wilkins speaker bar (soundbar). We found this to work incredibly well and, unlike the OLED 903 from last year, where the B&W drivers had to exist in a space within the TV that couldn’t be changed, this year they had a free hand in the design and implementation and it shows! It sounds excellent with all content types with rich and clear dialogue delivery and excellent weight which helps with film presentation. It will not shake the room with its bass response (although you can add a separate subwoofer via the output available) but it has enough punch to fill in the bottom with music and movies. It’s certainly a step up on nearly everything else at its price point in the respect of audio reproduction.

The choice of quality OLED TVs continues to grow and Philips has created a really nice package with the OLED+934. The mix of excellent image quality and weighty sound reproduction from its excellent soundbar gives the market yet another option when it comes to deciding your next TV and in that respect, it comes highly recommended.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Video Processing

.
9

Picture Quality

.
9

SDR Picture Quality

.
9

HDR Picture Quality

.
9

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
.
8

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
9

Sound Quality

.
9

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
9

Ease of Use

.
9

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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