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Entertainment Philips OLED+935 TV

18:00  29 september  2020
18:00  29 september  2020 Source:   techradar.com

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Philips OLED+935 review © Provided by TechRadar Philips OLED+935 review

Two-minute review

Unlike LG, which applies the same picture processing across most of its OLED range, Philips’ new flagship OLED TV gets its own premium picture engine. So while both the OLED+935 and the cheaper new OLED 805 series benefit from a new AI-powered picture enhancement system, the former also gets a brand new chipset and a number of picture quality features thrown in too.

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The OLED+935 is also a step-up in terms of sound. The speakers are built into a large external enclosure that doubles up as a TV stand if you’re not mounting the set on the wall.

This large speaker unit is striking, with an angular shape and Kvadrat felt finish. More importantly, though, it has been designed by UK Hi-Fi brand B&W – a marriage of expertise that’s already yielded spectacular results on previous Philips TVs.

The whole OLED+935 design is gorgeous. You’ll find lots of brushed and polished metal, while the edges of its screen are impossibly slim – and since the screen is slightly elevated above the external sound enclosure, Philips has been able to fit the TV with a four-sided version of its Ambilight technology, so that pools of immersive, relaxing coloured light can appear all around the screen.

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The addition of AI and a new chipset to the OLED+935 results in exquisite images. Essentially it retains the aggressive sharpness and vibrancy Philips images have long been known for and adds new levels of precision and naturalism. That’s especially the case with HDR pictures, which are consistently breathtaking.

The B&W-designed speaker enclosure, meanwhile, produces arguably the finest audio we’ve heard from any TV – aside from, perhaps, a couple of eye-wateringly expensive models from B&O.

The Android smart system Philips uses for its UI isn’t the most user-friendly around, but it does run relatively stable on the OLED+935, and comes loaded up with Freeview Play to provide all the UK’s key catch up TV services.

While £2,700 doesn’t make it a budget buy, the OLED+935 still delivers an astonishing level of picture and sound quality for the price.

  • Check out the whole Philips TV 2020 range

Price and availability

  • The OLED+935s are available in 48-, 55- and 65-inch sizes
  • Available for £1,800, £2,000 and £2,700 respectively
  • Available in UK and Europe only

While you can get high-quality 65-inch TVs with OLED panels for as little as £1,999, the OLED+935’s £2,700 price tag actually looks like excellent value for what’s on offer.

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After all, you’re getting a premium picture processor, a premium design, and a premium sound system that saves you the expense of adding an external soundbar.

The 55-inch model is great value too – so much so that it looks like a no-brainer over the 48-inch option, given that you’re getting seven more inches of screen for only £200 extra.

The OLED+935 is the creation of Philips’ European brand (now owned by TP Vision), and so you won’t see this TV turning up in the US. It is widely available in the UK and Europe, though.

Design

  • Four-sided Ambilight puts on a dazzling light show
  • Outstanding build quality and finish
  • Innovative speaker / TV stand integration

There isn’t a better-looking OLED TV around this year than the Philips OLED+935. While you’re going through the (slightly arduous) job of constructing the set, it will be hard not to notice the beautiful metallic sheen across pretty much every inch of its bodywork. This helps it feel impressively robust, too, for a screen that’s only a few millimetres thick at its outer edges.

The leant-back rectangular design and grey Kvadrat finish of the external speaker enclosure deliver a perfect combination of seriousness and elegance – and its build quality, again, is superb.

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The speaker enclosure isn’t just there to sound pretty, though. It also, cleverly, supports the TV when assembled in a desktop configuration.

The OLED+935 doesn’t just use an external speaker enclosure to look different, of course. Taking the speakers out of the screen’s immediate casing provides B&W with vastly more space for putting together a powerful, direct, multi-channel speaker system – one which, in the OLED+935’s case, includes a pair of upfiring drivers to deliver Dolby Atmos height channel effects, and a large new dedicated bass driver.

We still haven’t got to the most eye-catching aspect of the OLED+935’s design, though: Ambilight. All four sides of the screen can pump out coloured light, making for either static settings or a more active experience where the colour and brightness of the lighting matches the content of the picture you’re watching.

We’d recommend using Ambilight on fairly gentle brightness and response speed settings with OLED TVs. Provided you do that, though, it’s a feature that we think most buyers will learn to love.

The OLED+935 ships with a remote control that’s as refined as the TV. Its rear side is covered in Muirhead leather, and it feels well balanced and substantial to hold. The aptly spaced-out buttons even benefit from backlighting, too.

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The OLED+935’s connections are good – to a point. There are four HDMIs, three USBs, and the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth network options. Unfortunately, though, none of the HDMIs support such next-gen gaming features as variable refresh rates or 4K 120Hz playback.

The set does, though, impressively support all four of the key HDR formats – HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ – via both streaming and HDMI sources.

Smart TV (Android 9.0)

  • Lots of content
  • Freeview Play for UK catch up services
  • No Apple TV support

While Android TV is hardly the most user-friendly smart TV operating system, it’s still easy to see why the likes of Philips, Sony and, most recently, Panasonic have turned to it. After all, it provides a huge one-stop shop of apps, with no need for Philips or others to have to keep negotiating individual app deals for proprietary platforms.

Android TV’s ease of use is slowly improving, too. It’s now decently customisable, runs much more slickly and stably than it used to, and provides a more sensible focus on the sort of video apps most TV users will most be interested in.

If you’re already invested in the Android system with your phones and tablets, it’s simple to cast from those devices to this Android TV too.

One downside, however, is the lack of Apple TV or the Apple TV Plus streaming service. Its full-screen homescreen still feels old-fashioned and occasionally dictatorial, too.

Philips does now support Freeview Play alongside Android, though, adding an umbrella app for the main catch-up apps from all of the UK’s key terrestrial broadcasters.

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Picture quality

  • Outstandingly vibrant and contrast-rich pictures
  • New AI-inspired naturalism
  • Picture optimisation can be complicated

Given the impressive picture quality of Philips’ cheaper OLED 805 models, I was sceptical about just how much better the OLED+935 could do, even with its extra AI features and processing power. That scepticism lasted all of 10 seconds, as the OLED+935 served up far and away the finest pictures I’ve ever witnessed on a Philips TV, if not on any OLED TV to date.

It’s worth explaining what Philips’ new AI processing brings to the table. Its main contribution is that it helps the OLED+935 classify incoming images better, enabling it to apply more appropriate image settings and enhancements. Philips utilised a colossal database of different image types through a neural network processor to find ways of fitting any given image or image element into one of five categories: Nature, Face, Motion, Dark and ‘Other’.

With the first four of these, the OLED+935 applies its latest AI-inspired processing to yield more effective results. Things that end up in the Other category get broadly the same processing Philips applied to images in 2019.

While both the entry level OLED 805 and OLED+935 TVs benefit from the improved AI source detection, the OLED+935 version adds a few more processing features and a whole new chipset arrangement to optimise its processing’s real-time performance.

What all this means in practice is that the OLED+935 takes Philips’ established picture strengths and builds on them with a new-found refinement and naturalism – enabling you to bathe in all Philips’ customary good stuff without having to wrestle against the customary Philips flaws.

When it comes to colour, for instance – especially the wide colour gamuts associated with HDR – we’re used now to seeing exceptionally bold, rich saturations on Philips’ OLED TVs. But thanks to the new AI-inspired refinements, these bold colours are now delivered with much more balance, nuance, consistency and subtle blending, resulting in a noticeably more natural image. That’s especially true when it comes to skin tones.

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Also playing its part is a new processing tool exclusive to the 935 series – one designed to remove colour bands and stripes without leaving the resulting areas looking soft or lacking in detailed.

Philips TVs has always prided itself on the extreme sharpness of its TV pictures. And as with the OLED+935’s colour, the new AI processing maintains this sharpness while also leaving it looking more natural. There’s precious little of the exaggerated grain or grittiness that could sometimes creep into Philips pictures before. That’s presumably because, again, the AI processing enables Philips’ P5 picture engine to handle detail in a much more intelligent, object-based way than on previous models.

Philips has also long been known for the potency – at times, even to a fault – of its motion processing. Here once more the OLED+935 brings a key improvement that yields more natural, less processed looking results in the shape of a Pure Cinema setting. This boosts the usual 24p film frame rate to 120Hz via simple frame repetition, rather than having to conjure up estimated new image frames – the way normal motion processing does. Judder and blur can therefore be reduced without the usual processing flaws or dreaded ‘soap opera effect’.

The OLED+935 delivers Philips’ best OLED contrast performance, too. Black levels are every bit as deep as we’ve come to expect from OLED technology, but dark shots contain more shadow detail than they did on last year’s Philips models. While at the other end of the light spectrum, the set does an uncanny job of making the brightest HDR image parts look more intense.

Not, it seems, because the screen is really measurably significantly brighter than other OLEDs; it delivers an absolute maximum of 900 nits on a 10% white HDR window in Vivid mode, which drops to just over 800 nits when using the more consistently engaging Natural picture preset. Rather, the sense of an extended contrast range beyond the screen’s measurable characteristics comes down again to the greater refinement and accuracy of the new AI-enhanced processing.

While the OLED+935 is at its best with HDR, it’s pretty much immaculate with SDR too. Philips’ Perfect Natural Reality system for converting SDR to something approaching HDR is again taken to a new level of naturalism. That means you get to enjoy an expanded brightness, colour and contrast range without the moments of gaudiness, imbalance and bleached bright areas that could crop up before.

Note, though, that if you’re dead set on watching SDR content as SDR – that is, without HDR conversion – Philips caters for that too with its Movie preset. In fact, this preset delivers the Filmmaker Mode picture settings defined by the Ultra HD Alliance as most likely to recapture the original mastering conditions of the content.

The OLED+935’s potent processing helps it deliver excellent upscaling of HD sources, adding lots of sharpness and genuine detail without causing distracting side effects or leaving a ‘processed’ look.

The OLED+935’s AI system additionally brings with it a new feature designed to combat OLED’s potential for permanent image retention. This analyses the picture on a very fine level looking for static image elements, subtly dimming down any it finds to reduce the wear on the organic phosphors.

One final benefit of the addition of AI to Philips’ powerful P5 video processor is that it’s made the TV easier to use. Images are less likely to look overwrought or artificial in their basic presets than they ever have before on a Philips TV.

That said, you may still find yourself having to engage with the TV’s rather intimidating onscreen menu system to rein in default noise reduction levels, tweak the motion processing and calm colour saturation with some presets.

It’s worth noting that even the OLED+935 isn’t immune to potential screen burn if you don’t handle it with care.

Also, the 37ms it takes to render images in its Game mode is higher – almost three times higher, in fact – than the time most premium rival TVs take this year. To be honest, though, that’s still low enough not to matter much with the vast majority of games.

There can still be an occasional loss of shadow detail in the very darkest corners. As with all OLED TVs, too, the OLED+935’s brightness is still far lower than the best LCD TVs, limiting its ability to get the maximum impact from aggressively mastered HDR content. However, black levels, local contrast and rich colours are all important to HDR too, and in all those areas the OLED+935 is exceptional.

Audio performance

  • 3.1.2 sound system in an external enclosure
  • Dolby Atmos decoding
  • Spectacularly detailed and powerful soundstage

The external speaker enclosure provided with the OLED+935 isn’t Philips’ first rodeo with Hi-Fi brand Bowers & Wilkins. It is, though, next level in how good it sounds – compared both with previous Philips TV sound systems and pretty much any other integrated sound system you care to mention.

The sound it produces is huge, for starters, spreading forward, sideways and even upwards far beyond the TV’s physical bodywork. It has enough power and precision, too, to ensure that its mammoth soundstage doesn’t sound disjointed, uneven or disparate.

Every sound element, be it dialogue locked to the screen, planes flying overhead, cars hurtling from left to right, dogs barking in the far distance, or multi-layered musical scores beneath the action, is delivered with aplomb. There’s a hi-fi sensibility here that makes the OLED+935 sound as revelatory with music playback as it does with film soundtracks.

The sound never seems thin or compressed, and there’s no shrillness even with the highest treble details. There’s also little to no distortion, no matter how heavy a soundtrack gets.

While the bass driver in the OLED+935 sample I had kicked in well at high volumes, it was a little more reluctant to get involved than the other speakers. Philips/B&W believes this is an issue specific to our review sample – but in any case, I can’t stress enough how brilliant the audio was regardless.

The ultimate proof of just how good the OLED+935’s soundstage is comes from how effortlessly it’s able to shift through gears and keep on expanding, keeping up with even the densest, most explosive movie soundtrack moments. The audio here is truly outstanding.

Should I buy the Philips OLED+935?

Buy it if...

You love Ambilight

While Ambilight can be distracting on its most aggressive settings, it can make your viewing experience both more relaxing and more immersive when used with a bit of care.

You want great sound without a separates audio system

The B&W-designed external speaker enclosure delivers levels of power, precision and staging that you have no right to expect from any built-in TV sound system.

You want spectacular (but natural) pictures

Philips OLED TVs can always be relied on to bring spectacle. The addition of AI processing, though, has introduced a new level of refinement to the old Philips enthusiasm.

Don't buy it if...

You have a separate audio system

You could consider going for a cheaper model – including Philips’ own 65OLED805, or the LG OLED65CX – if you don’t need the included B&W speaker enclosure.

You’re a cutting-edge gamer

The lack of 4K at 120Hz and variable refresh rate support could be an issue for gamers looking to get the maximum potential from the next generation of consoles and PCs.

You’re not prepared to be a little careful over what you watch

While the OLED+935’s new anti-screen burn technology will undoubtedly make a difference, you should still take some care over how much you expose the screen to bright, static screen elements, such as channel logos.

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