Philips 55PFS6609 TV review

Philips 55PFS6609 TV

Philips latest 6-Series screens are as pretty as a picture. With their ultra-narrow grey bezel and snowy white back panel, they immediately stand out from the crowd. Add a neat swivelling stand and of course Philips' integrated Ambilight mood lighting, and you have a flatpanel proposition distinctly different from cookie-cutter rivals. See Best Smart TVs: the best Smart TVs of 2014.

Although Philips televisions have a reputation for being inscrutable, the brand appears to have reined in its loopy picture processing predilections considerably with this 55-incher. Now you really don't need to tweak overmuch to get a picture commensurate with the cosmetics.

If you need something a tad smaller, this 55-inch 6-series model is also available as the 48-inch 48PFS6609 and the 40-inch 40PF6609, priced at £750 and £600 respectively.

Connectivity errs on the generous side, with four HDMI, SCART, component video with stereo phono audio, ethernet and two USB.

While the TV will timeshift to an external USB HDD, you can also use a USB stick to provide simple Pause functionality. A 4 GB or larger USB thumbdrive is required to do this. There's also a digital optical audio out, and both Freeview HD and satellite tuners.

The brand's Smart TV platform remains somewhat middling. Key attractions include Netflix, Blinkbox, BBC News and Sport, iPlayer, Spotify, YouTube, Viewster, Skype and Twitter.

Unusually there's also a Cloud TV tab which opens up a host of limited interest IPTV services from across Europe. The main Freeview TV guide is disappointingly dull, lacking a live TV window or audio.

Multimedia playback support is fine, however, with all key codecs and containers playable across the network and from USB. We had no trouble unspooling a wide assortment of MKV, MOV, MP4, AVI, WMV, AAC, M4A, FLAC, WAV, MP3 and WMA files. Read: Best 2014 TV deals: Cashback offers and free tablets.

Philips 55PFS6609 TV

Philips 55PFS6609: Performance

High-definition image quality was impressive, once we'd undertaken some modest manipulation. Our suggestion would be to turn sharpness down to 1 and choose the Standard image preset for the best black-level performance.

If you have calibration gear and want to dig deeper, selecting the ISF Day or Night modes opens up additional calibration options. Most users though should be content to meander around the various presets, which include the usual mixture of movie, game and dynamic shop modes.

Motion handling, rated at 400 Hz, is good but not outstanding, typically retaining around 900 lines of subjective motion resolution. Anything other than the Minimum setting for Philips HD Natural Motion processing brings unwanted smudgy motion artefacts.  

Philips TVs typically punch above their weight when it comes to audio, and the 55PFS6609 is no exception. The 2 x 10 W sound system sounded surprisingly full-bodied, which may or may not be down to the madly monikered Ambi-Woox processing.

The set's Active Shutter 3D system is also rather good. While there is still some minor crosstalk evident, general stereographic imagery holds up well, displaying a good sense of depth, although some brightness is lost. Two pairs of glasses are supplied with the set.

If you've not seen Ambilight of late, it's worth noting that this latest iteration is wonderfully effective. Presented here in two-sided format, it comprises LED lights running left and right of the screen in stereo formation. The general idea is that they pick up on colours within any broadcast image and create an ever-changing lightshow around the TV.

Of course it's a little more sophisticated than that. You can alter the vividness of the light show, opt for a natural static lighting effect, or compensate for different wall colourings.

Owners of Philips Smart lighting Hue system can also integrate Ambilight into that as well. We partnered a couple of Hue Bloom uplighters and Hue lamps to our Ambilight screen and created a kaleidoscopic room of pulsating vibrant colours – great for a hyper immersive gaming experience, perhaps less so for casual TV watching. See Best Smart TVs: the best Smart TVs of 2014.

Philips 55PFS6609 TV

Philips 55PFS6609: Specs

  • 55-inch LCD TV
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Freeview HD, satellite tuner
  • 10 W stereo audio system
  • 4 x HDMI, SCART, component (YPbPr)/composite
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, CI card slot
  • 2.4 GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi built-in/Wi-Fi Direct
  • Ambilight 2-sided with Hue compatibility
  • Active Shutter 3D
  • 53 W quoted EU Energy power consumption
  • 1231 x 715 x 54 mm (whd, without stand)
  • 19.9 kg
  • 55-inch LCD TV
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Freeview HD, satellite tuner
  • 10 W stereo audio system
  • 4 x HDMI, SCART, component (YPbPr)/composite
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, CI card slot
  • 2.4 GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi built-in/Wi-Fi Direct
  • Ambilight 2-sided with Hue compatibility
  • Active Shutter 3D
  • 53 W quoted EU Energy power consumption
  • 1231 x 715 x 54 mm (whd, without stand)
  • 19.9 kg

OUR VERDICT

Overall, this 6 Series Philips has much going for it. Both sound and vision are a cut above the norm and while it wouldn't be our top choice if connected Smart functionality was top priority, or we wanted a screen specifically optimized for sports, it's made significantly more desirable by the moody magic of Ambilight.