Philips 58PUT8509 4k TV Review- Glow(ry) awaits
• Stunning on 4K content
• Unique adaptive rear lighting works great mostly
• Multiroom client server support
• Old-fashioned interface
• SD upscaling not very impressive
Not long ago, Philips ejected out of the Displays game from a very average stand. When it comes to TVs, clearly, no one settles for average. Competing against low cost alternatives like Sharp, Lloyd and Videocon, the company struggled to get a big share of the TV market. But with its recent launch it creates a stronger mark with big size TV in the 4K segment. The Philips 58PUT8509 is a 58 inch UHD TV with high end specs and some unique features like Ambilight.
But it hasn’t got the ‘affordable’ tag though, that Philips usually used to bet on. The 55 inch LG 55UC970T, for example, that is priced very similarly is a curved UHD TV, or the slightly costlier 55 inch Samsung 55F9000 that apart from having a pop up camera, intuitive gesture control, has a one connect box (having all connections on box can be kept on the table).
Philips 58PUT8509 is priced at Rs 2,35,000. It’s Ambilight feature is very unique and we think this to be the reason why its cost would have elevated, as you would know from the review.
The 58 inch Phillips 58PUT8509 would sit dominantly in any room its placed. But its not quite big for a UHD TV. And there is nothing exquisite about its design.
It can comfortably accommodate a viewer toll of over 7-8 people, provided the optimal minimum distance for immersive viewing is ignored. This anomaly comes from two facts- viewing distance is less for ultra HD Tvs; and if its a small TV than it is lesser still. Technically, for a 4K TV of this size, the optimal viewing distance is around 6ft. At this distance, the clarity is great and you can really let the picture quality engage you. Though not as immersive as a curved TV, it still does a great job at that.
Go farther, and you will if there are more number of viewers; and if one shall make use of its ambient lighting to the fullest, then its 4K capability remains utilized. During the review, we found that it’s hard to choose between the two, if you are a single person watching. But due to lack of general 4K content on the cable TV and otherwise too, this proposition (watching from a normal distance- around 14ft in this case) seems much better.
The TV is mounted on a swivel stand that can rotate it by small degrees to the left and right. Though its rarely needed for a big TV of this size and most of them find their place on a wall, we think a swivel stand isn’t so much an asset generally. But that may vary.
Most commonly used ports are placed on the back, upper left side like the HDMI, USB while composite, digital audio and LAN ports protrude out of the back. Two extra HDMIs and one USB are put at the bottom, parallel to panel. In total there are 4 HDMIs, 1 Composite, 2 USBs, 1 optical and 1 headphone out among others. There is a small joystick style controller button placed on the right bottom if you ever need to handle your TV without remote.
The speakers are also placed at the back and have plenty of sound to take care of STB TV playback.
Talking about the controller, its not less a muse than the Ambilight.
Controller- No pointer
In the bid to make the interface more intuitive, most big companies had introduced pointer based palm-sized Smart remote controllers that take care of everything on screen via a mouse like pointer. Just hover the remote and a button takes care of everything. Though this resulted in a chaotic UI on LG TVs at first, it was drastically improved by the end of 2014, now popularly knows as the WebOS. Samsung tops the charts with its most intelligent interface on a TV yet.
What the phillips TV offers instead is a big conventional remote control, (its quite big) with a keyboard sprawled out at the back. Smart TVs often need keyboards but keyboard studded controllers don’t fill in the shoes of a pointer based controller. A pointer controller is more useful as a navigational tool than the keyboard is as a text filler.
However, the controller works fine as a keyboard and has plenty of controls on the front face to take care of everything directly, from USB playback, source selection to Ambilight control. Except the D pad and few buttons around it, most buttons are quite small and aligned in a “stripes” fashion, instead of common chiclet style. When using for the first time, the remote needs to be registered so don’t panic if it doesn’t work. Read the manual instead, for this and many more other things, you should.
The Ambi-light feature of 58PUT8509 is its selling point. Its unique, but it also looks awesome at times. A dozen LEDs on each side of the TV glow with multiple colors matching ones that appear on the screen at that moment of time to create a colorful background. Most of the times, its complementing the overall experience making up to a more immersive scene.
And the transition to different shades that you see on the back wall is quite smooth, as fast as the ones happening on screen.
But its not for every scene. We found it useful only in particular cases- like running landscapes or action sequences. Otherwise it can get overly dramatic and overpowering. When Alfred tells Bruce Wayne that he should be wary of his adventures in the night and stay within his limits, a dark purplish light springs up at the background, kind of making the whole scene very serious and rather gloomy. The scene is on contrary is quite motivational when bruce hits back saying Batman has no limits and shows off his broad, bare and bruised back.
Ambilight can be turned off, but it would be a sad news if, because of this feature, the TV had to battle brands like LG and Samsung. It is a unique feature again, but the cost is quite high for the kind of interface and controller, smart features and 3D prowess the TV has to offer. It has good picture quality to show off, as you will know.
So the interface is not enticing, in the least and the Ambilight feature is ridden with anomalies. But a TV heavily relies on is its picture quality to beat all competition. If the company gets that right, everything is not lost.
Phillips 58PUT8509 is fitted with an LCD backlit panel that has resolution of 3840×2160 with a host of picture enhancement technologies onboard. It is essentially an edgelit LED with normal RGB subpixels arranged closely enough to get the 4K resolution (some dozen millions of them) right. The picture below shows the microscopic image of the matrix on 58PUT8509.
The best results are obviously delivered with a UHD input source. Apart from some demo videos, we used the Videocon 4k STB’s only 4k channel to analyse the 4k output, though demo videos were our best bet to check the extent of flattery the TV is capable of.
The TV has a very soft color portfolio but a very subtle sharpness is maintained overall in the images. Shadows aren’t weak and though the contrast isn’t as sharp as the Samsung’s “local diming” backed UHDs, it’s quite satisfactory with the panel this bright.
Black levels are also very respectable but the TV relies heavily on the input quality for HD and SD resolution in this matter. In fact, we didn’t find the Full HD playback any better than the LG LB750T launched last year. Scarcity of UHD content is partially to blame, but truth isn’t an extinct animal here.
User Interface and Features
I have already said quite a bit about the Phillips’ “Smart TV” interface. Well, the remote controller and the way menus are arranged doesn’t quite give you a friendly way to navigate. But atleast the color combinations and icons are sober; and a keyboard at the back of the controller gives you some relief.
There is a dedicated button for “smart TV” on the remote that takes you to the ‘apps’ screen after a couple of seconds. All the apps are listed neatly in squares and more can be downloaded from the store. Currently the store has only 40 odd apps with only a handful worth using. You will find YouTube, Facebook, Picasa and spotify among a couple other quite handy. Since the TV doesn’t come fitted with a camera, you can’t fully use Skype out of the box.
The USB playback interface is also quite neatly arranged with segregation based on file types can be done from a bar at the top. Folders open up in sliding layers to fill content on screen. The TV supports a wide variety of multimedia formats, including MPEG for 3D, MKV for video and GIF for image among many others.
While on USB playback, source can’t be shifted directly to previously used one. You need to enter the source menu, reach for the correct source and then shift to it. In short, there is no “minimise-the-window” arrangement where you can keep the previous input readily accessible.
Its Multiroom client and cloud TV are some rare features that enable you to connect to media servers for streaming video directly (both local and remote). The TV connects to networks wirelessly and through LAN. Process for setting up both is quite nicely assisted, in-menu and you get the option for saving the Ids.
For the price, the interface lacks friendliness or rather imaginative ways to keep everything easily accessible to the user. That said, its loaded with helpful guidelines as to how you can “swim the river” of menus properly to get results!
Watching 3D in Philips 58PUT8509 was full of surprises. To start with, only one pair of 3D glasses is bundled with the TV, rest you would need to buy separately. While we were making sense to that, it turned out to be an active shutter type technology with glasses running on button cells. Compared to passive 3D, active 3D has its own advantages but adding batteries to your 3D glasses means Phillips discourages watching 3D big-time. I mean who keeps a tab on how much battery is left in their 3D glasses?
The quality of 3D is no better than what 3D TVs generally offer. And I personally despise active 3D technology since the passive has improved a great deal. You don’t need battery powered glasses that stutter every now and then the scene changes and no pairing needed.
Their cost is also bit higher.
There is no pairing information shown on the TV when the Philips 58PUT8509 3D glasses are paired. So initially you will have no clue if the 3D is working or not. The buttons on the glasses are somewhere lit with a weak green and red light to signify pairing success. That’s your only hint; and even this is missing when it comes to knowing how much battery is left.
Philips 58PUT8509 has no problem playing 3D content. Infact, during gaming too, its refresh rate was adequate to get every high paced game through with ease. But it overall 3D experience wasn’t at par or even equal to what its rivals has to offer near this price point.
With an old-fashioned interface and limited smart features, the Philips 58PUT8509 Smart UHD TV tries to make it big in the limited rush of 4K TVs, all based on its picture quality. While the images it can produce in 4k is quite impressive, mated to its Ambient light feature it can get immersive in HD as well. But like every first TV from any company, the Philips 58put8509 is expensive. Philips would need to pay attention not only to the quality picturised by its panel but also to the interface, and every other thing that's linked to a TV for a satisfying experience available at this price.