Philips PUS8601 4K TV with 4-sided Ambilight evaluate: Color us

(Pocket-lint) – It may take rather a lot for a TV to stand-out from the gang. Philips’ strategy? Plonk some LED lights round all 4 sides of its rear – aka Ambilight, used to real-time mission colored lighting in sync with the picture on display – and, little doubt, you’ve got bought one stand-out 4K UHD telly within the PUS8601.

However is all of it only a little bit of a gimmick? Or maybe there to distract you from image blemishes? Some might imagine it is one, different, or each. However through the years, as we have watched Ambilight progress, we discover it an actual lure – particularly in case you dwell in some arty chateau the place you may wall-mount a large display in opposition to your turn-of-the-century chimney stack (we, for the document, haven’t got such an area; strive a terraced maisonette the place even this TV’s toes are too wide-apart to suit on our normal TV stand, therefore having it ground degree for many of this evaluate).

Philips has been studying and progressing too. From the times of its ill-equipped 4K TVs, which lacked future-proofing, the PUS8601 is now up-to-date (i.e. there are two HDCP 2.2 licensed HDMI ports, alongside two non-compliant ones), runs an Android working system, will replace sooner or later to help excessive dynamic vary (HDR; though to what brightness is unclear – it will not be Extremely HD Premium licensed anyway), and appears usually moderately superior. It is £1,700 on this 55-inch kind, too, so it is nicely set to rival even the likes of the Panasonic CX802.

The identify remains to be pretty ridiculous although. The grand title of “Philips 4K UHD Razor Slim TV powered by Android” alongside our “with 4-sided Ambilight” within the head may sound overly pompous, but it surely’s eager to level out all its excessive factors. Of which there are a lot. This is what we now have to make of the 55PUS8601 after dwelling with it for per week.

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Our fast take

In order for you a 4K TV to stand-out from the gang then Amblight is one surefire technique to do it, particularly in case you can wall-mount it. Plus the Philips PUS8601 does a grand job at trying elegant even when it is switched off, and it all the time sounds nice too.

Does it supply the easiest image high quality on the market? Not fairly, however then at £1,700 for the 55-inch set it is not fairly up there with the uber-cinema-chin-stroker tellies that price upwards of £4k. It is not going to be Extremely HD Premium licensed, however that is arguably a complicated/wishy-washy idea anyway (Sony is not taking part in ball with that certification, for instance), and stays aggressive in opposition to the likes of the Panasonic CX802 (each in value and skill).

You will know in case you suppose Ambilight is gimmicky or not and that, realistically, is more likely to dictate whether or not this TV is for you. After we purchase that (imaginary) arty chateau within the hills we might be tempted to go for this speaking level TV past a few of its friends, as a result of it is a design delight that, lastly, reveals Philips has caught up with the place it must be when it comes to 4K.

Philips PUS8601 4K TV with 4-sided Ambilight review: Colour us impressed

Philips PUS8601 4K TV with 4-sided Ambilight

4.5 stars – Pocket-lint really useful


  • 4-sided Ambilight is an actual visible deal with
  • Slim design seems nice
  • Future-proofed for 4K content material
  • Android OS a step-up for Philips
  • Nice sound because of speaker separates
  • Reasonably priced and aggressive

  • Not class-leading image high quality
  • Will not be Extremely HD Premium licensed (if you would like better of greatest you may must pay extra and look elsewhere)
  • Toes are actually wide-apart (choose stand rigorously!)

Philips PUS8601 4K TV evaluate: Design

As we alluded to above, the toes of this TV are actually wide-apart – a trait that appears more and more frequent in latest tellies. It makes for a sizzling look, if, after all, you will get it to take a seat in your TV stand. Which we could not. The TV’s entrance measures 127cm throughout, with audio system included, however you may want a stand a minimum of 134cm vast to accommodate the toes.

As an alternative, we suspect, that is the perfect TV for wall-mounters, as a result of with 4-sided Ambilight you may get a beautiful protrusion of color from all sides, giving an actual further high quality to the viewing expertise. Nevertheless, there isn’t any wall-mount included within the field, so you may have to purchase that individually in case you select – which is greater than honest.

It is a slim set too, therefore the “Razor Slim” pomp on the 8601’s official gross sales web page. The highest, most seen, edge is 17mm deep, however because the processor and different gubbins should be held inside there’s an additional 30mm to the rear, totalling 47mm. Nonetheless, a TV that is underneath 50mm thick all-in? Not unhealthy, not unhealthy in any respect.

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Apparently Philips has separated out the sound, with two-built in woofers to the again dealing with bass, and two side-mounted magnetic clip-on audio system to the left and proper facet for a large stereo discipline.

These two additions clip on with ease, every plugging in discreetly by way of devoted 3.5mm audio jacks. If you don’t need them since you’re utilizing a separate system for output, you may simply take away them and dwell with out – the selection is yours, not like with Sony’s latest TVs which have large eye-sore (however decent-sounding) audio system everywhere in the store.

Philips PUS8601 4K TV evaluate: Ambilight

Now Ambilight is the true calling card for this TV. Not that it’s important to use it: you may change it off totally, go for picture- or sound-led real-time movement, and even repair it to a single roughly-wall-matched color (full palette seen in our gallery of screens) to present a daring and fairly stunning glow behind the image.

No matter you select, the vividness could be adjusted when it comes to saturation, whereas the underside edge could be individually output-adjusted in comparison with the opposite three – important given how stand-mounted units will seem brighter to this edge with out some adjustment (as you may see in our lead image, our unhealthy for not adjusting fairly proper, but it surely nonetheless seems cool). Disgrace there isn’t any particular person management of every edge, simply in case you mount excessive up a wall or have a near-side wall nearer to at least one edge.

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In the event you’re a Philips Hue consumer (that is the app-controlled colour- and brightness-adjustable lighting system on your dwelling – click on for our full system evaluate) then the PUS8601 may even turn into a commander for that setup. We have seen Philips demo this in motion on older TV units, and it really works a bit like “encompass lighting” (moderately than encompass sound) you probably have a bunch of further Hue gentle sources across the room. Somewhat good enjoyable. Nevertheless the TV cannot be handled as a further gentle supply when on or off, it does not connect with the Hue app in that approach (we have circuitously examined this at dwelling, as we do not function Hue on this home, however have queried this with Philips immediately).

So the massive query: is Ambilight a gimmick or distraction? Completely different folks will reply in another way to this, however we actually do not suppose it is both. Having spent a lot of the final week digging into Life Is Unusual on the PS4 we have discovered that Ambilight has, if something, made the expertise much more immersive and magical. It is a speaking level, it is a stand-out level – and it does not actually price any extra to have it now, which is a plus.

Philips PUS8601 4K TV evaluate: Image high quality

Not that the PUS8601 has the easiest picture high quality we have ever seen. Do not get us unsuitable, it is nice – and much brighter than our normal set (so we’ll have an interest to see how vivid HDR is, which is incoming by way of an replace) – however with OLED panels pushing ahead, an LED edge-illuminated LCD panel (i.e. this one) tends to have its work reduce out.

The primary downer is a few clouding that appears most distinguished in direction of the outer edges on this panel. Edge-illumination moderately than native dimming additionally misses class-leading black ranges, however there’s nonetheless a terrific richness to them. And with Ambilight doing its factor it helps negate any visible lows from being obvious, just about totally.

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There are an entire bunch of different positives. Philips has used a 10-bit panel, which is necessary for 4K color. And whereas the 8601 cannot muster the fullest color gamut in comparison with among the competitors, most eyes aren’t going to see an enormous distinction. In isolation, as you may see from our evaluate pictures, there’s loads of punch to color; it is a moderately luxurious trying display with out being over-saturated (and if it does look a bit an excessive amount of then you may tweak the settings anyway).

There are quite a bit of customisation choices to get the image just about precisely as you need too. The very first thing to do is change off the vast majority of motion-handling applied sciences which “clean” movement to extra: Good Pure Movement being the primary perpetrator. No cleaning soap opera impact thanks very a lot.

To essentially get essentially the most out of the picture you need 4K content material, of which there’s not a lot – not Philips’ fault, per se, simply the trade norm. Nevertheless, there’s Netflix out there in 4K from the off (nicely, a few of its reveals) by way of a direct app, plus some YouTube content material is out there in 4K too, which is the place the 8601’s UHD decision reveals its value. Upscaled content material is ok, however, and like with earlier Philips units, go simple on the sharpness to keep away from issues trying too jaggied.

Philips PUS8601 4K TV evaluate: Android on the controls

Which leads us neatly into the working system. Philips has adopted Android OS, which is able to assist it leap into the most recent supported purposes moderately than having to attend round for an age. Netflix and YouTube are two prime examples, with BBC iPlayer additionally on supply, however with others missing in the interim (that is system vast, irrelevant of producer). Amazon is promised by way of a future replace too, however once we do not know.

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As an working system we do not discover Android our favorite TV OS. That gong goes to LG’s webOS 2.0, which consolidates inputs in a neater method within the one place. Plus LG is making some gorgeous TVs, such because the EF950V OLED.

READ: LG 65EF950V OLED 4K TV evaluate: The most effective TV cash should purchase in 2015

As an alternative Android works on a big scrollable palette, i.e. a single display, with totally different sections introducing apps, sources and different inputs. You’ll be able to transfer issues round, but it surely’s simply not fairly as neat and organised as another techniques in our view. It is approach higher than Philips’ setup of outdated although.

To information by all of that is the included Philips TV distant. Nice for its full keyboard on the rear, however a bit over-sensitive when utilizing its four-way management pad, which has some trackpad-like sensitivity that may be complicated in use – particularly when it will get caught in a scroll for no obvious cause. We would like it to work like, say, a Mac trackpad with finger gestures along with the bodily clicks, but it surely’s not that superior.

Among the quick-access shortcuts additionally do not reveal the complete spectrum of knowledge. For instance there’s an Ambilight button prime left of the controller, however you may solely accomplish that a lot from the menu it offers – for a full breakdown you may as a substitute must go House and scroll all the way in which to the underside to entry Settings and decide issues up from there as a substitute. We get that making an attempt to trim among the fats ought to make a faster consumer expertise, however discovering totally different menus and settings about the identical topic in two totally different areas feels convoluted.

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Nonetheless, that is to nitpick. You do not actually purchase a TV for its working system, you purchase it for its image, sound and, within the case of 4K, assure of future-proofing. And with 4 HDMI ports (two of that are HDCP 2.2 compliant) you can obtain broadcast 4K as and when (and if?) that turns into an ordinary.

To recap

You’ll know in case you suppose Ambilight is gimmicky or not and that, realistically, is more likely to dictate whether or not this TV is for you. After we purchase that (imaginary) arty chateau within the hills we’d be tempted to go for this speaking level TV past a few of its friends, as a result of it’s a design delight that, lastly, reveals Philips has caught up with the place it must be when it comes to 4K.

Writing by Mike Lowe.

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