In 2016, Philips will launch more 4K TVs than ever and start supporting HDR. The company continues to back Google’s efforts to establish Android TV as the TV operating system and Ambilight is integrated in most of the TVs. 3D and curved TVs are dead to Philips. FlatpanelsHD presents a full overview of Philips’ 2016 European TV line-up.
Philips will launch its first OLED TV in autumn 2016. That is big news for the company but before we get to that Philips will launch a range of new LCD TVs in sizes ranging from 32 to 75 inches. More than ten TV ranges in all price classes will be made available in Europe. Philips in the US is managed under a different company and the line-up is very different so we have not included the US line-up here.
If we start by looking at the major themes, Philips says that Android TV remains a top priority. Google launched its TV operating system in late 2014 in an effort to establish it as a cross-manufacturer platform. Philips was one of the first to embrace it and it will remain dedicated to Google in 2016. The majority of the new TVs will run Android TV.
Android TV continues to be one of the big themes for Philips
Philips is also prepared to make a big comeback. The company announced that it intends to return as the number one TV manufacturer in Europe. It has been almost a decade since Philips held that title. Back then, Philips TVs were produced by the Dutch Royal Philips company and even though the TV division has been sold to a Hong Kong-based company, the team believes that the Philips brand is so strong that it can help them recapture Europe.
The new TVs will obviously run Android 6.0 - also known as Marshmallow - but Philips explains to FlatpanelsHD that the TVs will launch with 5.1 and receive a software update for 6.0 later in the year. There is a growing catalog of apps and games in the Google Play store and although we still miss some important apps Philips and Google assure us that Android TV is on the right path. Until more apps are released, you can use the built-in Google Cast to push content wirelessly to the TV just like you would with a Chromecast.
If you want to experience 4K you can enjoy Netflix’s TV shows and movies in 4K via streaming. The Amazon Video app will also soon be available on Philips’ Android TVs with support for 4K and HDR streaming. The TVs have hardware support for HEVC and VP9 decoding. The latter format will make it possible to stream in 4K quality from YouTube. However, Philips’ 2016 TVs will not have support for VP9-Profile2, which is required to enjoy HDR quality from YouTube.
A Philips-branded UHD Blu-ray player will launch in the US soon but Philips in the US and Philips in Europe is not the same company. So far, there are no official plans to launch a UHD Blu-ray player in Europe. It will of course be possible to connect other manufacturers’ players to Philips’ TVs via HDR and enjoy 4K and HDR in all of its glory.
For its 2016 models, Philips has developed a new remote control. It is flatter and more rectangular in form. There is large Netflix button right in the center. However, besides the new design the layout is largely unchanged. Philips believes that the future of TV is smart - or more specifically a future powered by Android TV - but the company is not yet ready to take action and kill off all the legacy buttons on the remote. If you turn around the remote there is a full QWERTY keyboard on the back. Text can also be input via an app for smartphones. Some of the TVs will still use the old remote.
Let us move on to talk about picture quality. In 2016, Philips will make 4K resolution available on almost every TV. Only a few HD models will be available. For the first time, Philips will also start supporting HDR (high dynamic range). The original plan was to start in 2015 but the company decided to cancel the launch of the high-end 9 series. Instead they have implemented much of the same picture technology in the new 7601 series - a 7 series model. The best thing about 7601 is that it will be significantly cheaper than the 9 series.
When talking about HDR - or high dynamic range - it is important to note that only 7601 will have the hardware to reproduce HDR. That is the case because 7601 is the only TV in Philips’ 2016 line-up to offer a full-array local dimming system. Later this year, Philips will release its first OLED TV. The OLED technology is ideal for HDR and Philips’ model is very likely to fully support it. Philips has yet to confirm details on the TV but we know that LG.Display will supply the panel, meaning that it will almost surely include both 4K and HDR.
None of the new Philips TVs are "UHD Premium" certified but Philips believes that it will be able match the quality on many other LCD TVs - and then take it to the next level with OLED very soon.
3D on the other hand is dead to Philips. Not just as in "we are phasing out the technology" but completely dead. None of the 2016 models will support 3D. Philips used the same opportunity to declare curved screens "a fad". As you are getting to know Philips’ 2016 line-up you will notice that there are simply no curved screens. In previous years the company offered at least one range of curved TVs for the sake of “choice” but that is over.
Philips takes Ambilight to the next level with AmbiLux
Philips also assured us that it has made it a priority to reduce so-called "input lag", meaning the lag between the input signal and the picture on screen. This is important when connecting a game console such as PlayStation or Xbox to the TV. In addition, games are available from the Google Play store on Android TV. A new generation of game services is also emerging. By subscribing and paying a monthly fee you can stream the latest games - just like you would stream a movie from Netflix.
And then there is Ambilight. Philips’ mood lighting system will be included in most of the TVs and with the high-end 8901 Philips takes Ambilight to the next level. The company has named it "AmbiLux" and replaced the small light diodes with pico projectors that can cover a much larger area of the wall.
Just like Ambilight, you can adjust all kinds of settings for AmbiLux. Both systems can integrate with music apps such as Spotify by matching the flow of Ambilight to the rhythm of the music. If you want a full light show in your living room you can set up Ambilight to control your Hue lamps.
Philips prides itself on its European design heritage
Philips prides itself on its European design heritage; something that will continue in 2016 and coming years. The TVs are the epitome of minimalism. The frames and bezels have been reduced to almost nothing and the speakers are hidden. The distinctive 8601 TV makes it possible to disconnect the magnetically side-mounted speakers and place them on two floor stand. The speakers are wireless and the floor stands have built-in woofers in the sockets.
As TVs become thinner the cabinet leaves little extra room for rich sound. Philips recognizes the challenge but assured us that several models still offer decent speakers. As mentioned, 8601 has a flexible speaker solution and the 7101 will exist in a 7181 variant with a built-in "soundbar".
The 8 series models will include a twin-tuner. If you buy and connect an external USB hard drive you can record a TV show while watching another. The same USB hard drive can be used to expand the storage capacity for apps and games, which might be useful since even the high-end TVs come with just 16GB of storage capacity, part of which is reserved for the operating system.
Philips will also preload Android TV with in-house apps, like it did in 2015. The “Cloud TV” app will make it possible to stream select channels over the internet. The “Remote recording” app allows you to schedule recordings from your phone. The "Cloud Explorer" app provides access to your Dropbox’s photos and videos.
Most of Philips’ new TVs will go on sale in spring. Philips will add high-end models in the fall, including the company’s first OLED TV.
Philips 8901 (Ambilux)
Philips will take Ambilight to the next level with Ambilux in the 8901 series. Instead of using small light diodes to illuminate the wall it uses pico projectors to extend the range. It also offers Android TV.
Perfect Pixel processor
Wide color gamut
Remote (keyboard, voice, swipe)
65" Philips 65PUS8901
Philips 8601 is one of the high-end TVs with emphasis on design. The speakers are mounted magnetically on each side of the TV and can be detached and placed on floor stands. The TV also offers Philips’ most advanced picture processing.
Philips 7601 is a unique TV in the line-up. It incorporates picture systems (local dimming) from the previous 9 series but at a much lower price. This allows the TV to fully support HDR. 7601 also comes packed with Android TV and Ambilight but no twin tuner.
Full-array local dimming (128 zones)
Perfect Pixel processor
Wide color gamut
Remote (keyboard, voice, swipe)
65" Philips 65PUS7601
7101 is a mid-range TV with 4K resolution and HDR processing. However, it does not have the hardware to reproduce HDR. Additionally, it offers Android TV and Ambilight. A version named 7181 will be available with more powerful speakers.
6501 is another mid-range TV with 4K and HDR processing but no wide color gamut. It still offers Android TV but only two-sided Ambilight. This series will also exist as 6551 (Center stand) and 6581 (3-sided Ambilight).