First, a brief preamble about Philips TVs and me...
... or skip to The Actual Review... it’s all about the pictures for me.
I’ve been a fan of Philips TVs as they have certainly tried hard for decades to improve TV pictures since introducing Pixel Plus for CRTs. As there didn’t seem to be any major improvements in pure picture quality, yes I have looked and ignoring 3D that didn’t impress me, from 2006 I’ve only needed to upgrade a few times since the introduction of LCD. So I’ve had:
2006 - 32PF9830/10 2008 - 42PFL9803H/10 2010 - 40PFL9704H/12, the best pictures so far, and the longest I’ve ever kept a TV for main room viewing...
... as the first two digits indicate the screen size you can see I actually downsized from 42 inches to 40. Programme source quality and the various types of delivery can compromise pictures, even for even some HD content, that simply were just not good enough for me back then. Hence, I was more than happy to drop to 40 inches - with improved colour and artefact reduction. Over the years most broadcasters and other forms of delivery improved their pictures to one degree or another, with Blu-ray being the best source. Being content with the best home TV pictures I’ve seen for years I kept an eye out for the emerging 4K and then OLED.
Then, at the start of this year, I became very interested in the reviews of the first Philips OLED, the 55POS901F. Having always had a 9000 series (for Philips a 9000 model number always denotes utmost quality) I was reticent about a 901F model number - was there more to come from Philips? As my viewing distance is around 3.5 metres I waited for a smaller screen similar to my current 40 inches. Then comes details followed by amazing reviews and industry awards of the 2017 55POS9002/12... but I decided to wait for the UK variant, the /05, for Freeview recording and other compliance.
It was like the old days, just being able to rely on Philips to ‘get it right’ again for TVs...
... the wait from March to November was rather taxing and I almost shipped in a /12 version. Then, finally, after poking Phillips and John Lewis for a month, I managed to order what seems to be only one of a few that initially became available at the end of November.
The Actual Review... it’s all about the pictures for me.
The reason for the above preamble, and it could have been longer, is to get over just how blown away I am with the pictures - simply stunning - and that’s on good HD quality from the best of the BBC programming. When it comes to the limited 4K HDR content on Netflix, it’s a quantum leap across films and even TV programmes. Wanting to retain high quality audio above Dolby 5.1, and not being able to afford a new AV Amplifier, within days I’d jumped into 4K Blu-ray - obtaining one of the helpful products that provide a separate HDMI output for audio only, as well as one for video. This has provided well beyond what I’ve seen in any demo that’s available to general consumers - I intended to wait a while before considering a 4K Blu-ray, but I simply had to push the TV to its limits. The industry awards and ‘blind tests’ for this TV, when not knowing who’s products who’s’, competition winning, refer to AV Forums content, are certainly well deserved. Even the lower quality programme content that I watch is good enough with the gorgeous 55 inch OLED screen and the behind the scenes Philips P5 multifunction chipset. Only the worst of the standard definition programme content is not nice to watch, but it’s definitely perceived better than my previous 40 inch LCD at the same distance. Good quality HD content is glorious, with most 4K content that I can obtain from Netflix built into the TV Apps or via HDMI connected 4K BT TV net-box and Blu-ray are simply stunning.
The keys items are... the clear detailed resolution and stable pixel level definition, no juddering, beautiful and natural colours - mostly being able to forget about the distractions of artifacts and compromised bit rates for HD, and even 4K media, and just be emersed in the films and programmes being watched for the pure sheer enjoyment of them.
After toning down the still well over bright and vivid built in ‘at home’ settings, which was just a bit of mostly contrast and colour settings, I’ve been amazed at the colours and often ‘3D like’ images this TV can produced. I’ve steered well clear of standard definition programming since getting HD and it’s the same with this TV, however, if the only source for a programme I really wanted to watch was standard definition it’s more than acceptable. As an aside, it would be a great feature if Philips would provide a ‘zoom out’ feature that made the current picture source smaller. I can see why from a marketing point of view this is not ideal, however, making pictures smaller from a given seating distance always make them look better in terms of resolution. HD programming, as always, depends on the material being shown. All seems at least as good from my viewing position, which is remarkable considering going from 40” to 55” and some HD pictures on the 40” were compromised. When it comes to the best of HD programming the pictures just seem to come to life, with much stronger perceived resolution and colours that are the best I’ve seen anywhere - from toned down natural colours when the BBC have low colourisation with period dramas to the most intensely bright that animation and the extreme colours that nature can provide at times.
I’ve not had the TV professionally calibrated as, so far, I’ve not ‘actually seen’ anything that requires it in terms of colour registration that seems to be less and less needed, plus the ISF day and night settings are not what I need. I prefer to use some of the Philips new P5 image processing chip to provide smoother motion - it doesn’t seem right to have all that power and most being turned off when ISF is used? I can post my settings if helpful - I’m still tweaking just a bit. The TV location is in a typical living room with windows behind the TV and no significant sunlight as the widows face east. Most TV and certainly quality programmes are watched late afternoon into the evening, or on dark winter days, also with light cream curtains behind the TV providing a near whole wall for the Ambilight to glow against - folk either don’t get Philips Ambilight or love it... I love it so there’s more on this below.
As it’s all about the pictures for me, and unquestionably this TV can produce the best I’ve ever seen... I’m really pleased Philips have remained in the market and produced this TV - and that I could just about afford it.
I’ll see about an update to this review depending on how the first month goes...
Visual Design of the TV...
It’s simply stunning, jet black screen with just a couple of millimetres of a grey steel surround. When turned on there’s around a centimetre of black border, which actually adds to the look by providing a thin but defined jet black frame for the glorious pictures. Personally I’d preferred the whole set to be 47.5mm deep as, while it’s initially very impressive to see the top quarter of the TV only a few millimetres thick, it actually looks a bit flimsy which, hopefully, it isn’t. Unless placed in the middle of a room no one sees this ‘razor thin’ screen, so not sure it was a wise design choice.
This is my fourth TV with Ambilight and it’s certainly the best with the array of side and top LEDs being like mini projectors - they can be very bright, extremely colourfuland extend the colours at the end of the TV picture. It’s like having a massive visual stage, to match my large AV kit sound stage, without compromising actual picture definition. In my view Philips do not get the credit they deserve for this massive evolution of the known for decades use of ambient lighting - i.e. a low level light source behind the screen of CRTs and then LCDs. This relaxes the viewing for serious or casual watching and still allows for dark scenes to be enjoyed. With Philips Ambilight, once the massive depth of TVs dropped from CRTs, matching the colours at the edge of the screen to shine on the wall surface behind provides both the eye relaxing ambient lighting and extends the perceived screen size - which for the 55POS9002 means the whole wall! Plus, with the latest version of Ambilight, you can also use it with the TV off to provide colourful wall colour or match the music being played. For the latter, you need the TV to have access to the audio being used.
1: Audio Capabilities...
With the TV able to use high end audio from its built in Apps like Netflix, which by the way can look amazing, it’s a shame there’s not an HDMI audio output just for high end audio that the TV can access from inbuilt Apps like Netflix. Yes it has ARC on all its HDMI inputs, but it only has an Optical audio out that limits the surround sound to simple Dolby 5.1. As my, too expensive for me to replace, AV Amp does not have ARC so without a dedicated HDMI audio out I’m limited to simple Dolby 5.1 fed to my AV Amp. It would appear some 4K media boxes including the new Apple TV have no audio out, while others just have a simple Optical. Most high end 4K Blu-ray players do seem to have a second HDMI out just for audio, so that’s perfect for old AV Amps that can’t switch 4K Video or use ARC or audio - hence the new 4K Blu-ray. The current available HDMI audio extractor or splitter boxes don’t seem to be able to extract high end audio like Dolby True HD and provide this as a source for AV Amps that don’t have ARC. With yet more devices needed it would also have been ideal to have 6 HDMI inputs, one more than my over 7 year old TV had, rather the one less of 4.
2: TV Sound Quality, not good...
As this TV is so thin (<5mm for the top quarter of the TV height and < 5cm for the electronics ‘bump’ below) there’s not much room for the three speakers. The left and right speakers are hidden in the bottom of the cabinet with sound appearing to come from two grills around 18cm long and 3cm wide. There is also a visible complex bass unit in the middle of the back of the TV. As I’ve mounted the TV on a VESA tabletop stand, so that there’s room for a fairly large centre AV speaker directly under the TV, part of the cross mount arm of the stand goes across this speaker from 2 to 4cm from it. This is obviously not ideal, however, there was a sound setting to indicate stand or wall mounted, so Philips must have been aware of this arrangement. I’ve tried both settings and stand mounted sounds the best, however, the sound is still rather poor when compared with all previous Philips TV’s I’ve had. After googling I found that folk suggested running the built in ‘demo’ for pictures and sound a few times. Not sure if it was this that helped or just using in the first week, as it does seem to be ‘a bit’ better.
The TV sound is not a major issue, as I use a separate AV Amp and set of 6 large surround speakers, but for general use I do also like to use the TV’s built in speakers. I’ve used a bit of bass and treble boost but the sound is still ‘small’, quite good but like it’s from a portable radio, and not an overly big one at that - maybe more like a big laptop computer. I thought I might have a fault but the comments from others seem to suggest it’s the compromise of the ultra thin design of OLED TVs, not just this Philips. This doesn’t seem to fit with the Philips marketing quote of “Hear every detail with DTS HD Premium Sound”? Just how? The TVs speakers are not good enough by far and I can’t get the high end send sound that the TV pulls in over the net out to my AV Amp.
I have lost all TV sound output twice in first week of use, on both occasions this seems to be connected to changing the Ambilight settings. As well as no sound from the TV it also affects the TV Optical output, with the only way to get it back being to turn the TV off and the using the on switch at the back of the TV? Googling seems to suggest this and similar issues have been heard by owners and reviewers. So far the only other issue is sometimes having to switch Aerial TV channels, up and then back down, when using the TV Optical output to my AV Amp in order for sound to get through - i.e. my Amp’s display for incoming Optical sound flashes on and off until I switch TV channels, then it’s fine.
3: Top third of the TV is only a few millimetres thick - seems a little curved at the very top?
After googling, it appears that some owners and reviewers have spotted a minor curve to the top line that’s so thin. Some call theirs ‘a bit bent’, however, for mine I’d say it just has a slight curve in the middle. This in no way affects the pictures on screen and is not visible from any viewing position, which indicates just how minor it is. I will be asking Phillips for their opinion, in terms of is it a known aspect of the design, manufacture or how it might become slightly curved as originally boxed in transit. The packaging seems to hold it very firmly, with separate mouldings in substantial polystyrene sections at the bottom, top and sides. There is a fairly thick cardboard sheet that comes up along this thin part of the screen - so maybe this could account for it. The delivery guy for mine, there was two of them but just one decided to carry it, held the box from one top corner to bottom corner of the box was very confident but maybe it should have taken the two of them each using the box handles? Personally, both for integrity and aesthetic reasons, I would have preferred the whole case to be 47.5mm deep, with even a deeper bulge for a larger speaker, and not have an exposed quarter that’s a few millimetres... time will tell about this design feature as the usage volume rises.
Philips 55POS9002 User Review
Stunning picture, a definite quantum leap...Review of Philips 55POS9002 OLED TV by AdtAdt57, Dec 13, 2017.This item was purchased for £1799 from John Lewis, price matched. in 2017. The reviewer still owns this product.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
SDR Picture Quality8
HDR Picture Quality10
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease of Use9
Value for Money10