Philips 55PUS6401 review

Philips has made some serious upgrades to its 6 Series UHD TVs for 2016. Available in 43-, 49- and 55-inch screen sizes (43PUS6401, 49PUS6401 and 55PUS6401 respectively), these sub-£1000 mid-rangers offer two-sided Ambilight plus HDR (High Dynamic Range) 4K compatibility plus all the trappings associated with the Android TV smart platform. See also: Best 4K TVs

Philips 55PUS6401 review: Price

Even the top-of-the-range 55in model on test here costs only £649 from Argos. That's £150 below Philips recommended price of £799.

The 49in model is only £499 from Argos, and the smallest 43in version - the 43PUS6401 - costs £399.

See our list of the best TVs to buy

Philips 55PUS6401 review: Features and design

And they all look decidedly upmarket, too. The bezel of the 55-inch 55PUS6401 reviewed, while not ultra narrow, has a distinguished gunmetal grey finish, with a so-called ‘pinch’ stand, basically two bolt-on A-frame feet. The look is classy, not cheap.

Rear connections comprise four HDMIs, two of which are labeled ARC and one MHL, plus three USBs, including a fast 3.0 input. There's also a SCART, component with phono audio, Ethernet and digital audio output.

Philips 55PUS6401 review

It should be noted that only two of the HDMIs support HDCP 2.2, which is required for 4K content sources like UHD Blu-ray and set top boxes. Tuner choice is Freeview HD or generic satellite. The remote control is a standard IR pointer.

The Android TV smart platform isn’t as rough as it once was, although it’s still prone to tedious software updates and moments of failure. The Home page features Google's Play and Games offerings, as well as BBC iPlayer, Vimeo, Netflix (which supports 4K streams), Wuaki.tv, Chili Cinema, DailyMotion, Deezer and casual games.

Philips 55PUS6401 review

In truth, it’s not a particularly comprehensive collection, but Amazon Video has just been added in an update this week and there should enough to keep most folks entertained. There’s also an internet browser, but frankly you’ll encounter so many weird formatting problems with sites in the wild it's not really that usable. A quad core processor helps keep navigation lively and games playable.

Picture quality warrants a thumbs up, with UHD detail and colour vibrancy outstanding. There's genuine precious metal to be enjoyed during the rise of the Golden Army in Hellboy II (Blu-ray), but our titular hero does verge a little on the orange rather than his trademark hellish red.

In many ways, the set proves a great partner for Sky UHD. Ultra HD movies played from a Sky Q Silver, look superb. The screen relishes the detail!

Philips Pixel Plus HD image processing supposedly aids definition, allied to a Natural Motion processor. The latter doesn’t use its algorithms to maintain motion clarity though, more it smoothes out horizontal picture judder. 

Philips 55PUS6401 review 

Although HDR compatible, the 6401 is unable to offer an extended range of peak brightness. Philips specifies brightness at 350 nits, which is some way off high-end HDR (1000 nits) sets. But while the TV lacks the chops to pop at high brightness, in context images have a pleasing dynamic balance.

When viewing HDR content (available from 4K Blu-ray and Netflix), picture presets change from standard options to, specific HDR modes: you get HDR Personal, HDR Vivid, HDR Natural, HDR Standard, HDR Movie and HDR Photo. This set is unusual in that it also offers a low lag HDR Game mode. Owners of the Xbox One S take note.

Colour, sharpness and contrast settings are all adjustable while watching HDR content.  There's no significant difference in fine detail performance between the various HDR presets.

Philips 55PUS6401 review

There are demerits though. Backlight uniformity is relatively poor. There's clearly light pooling around the edge of the screen and black levels are limited. Behind the glass is Philips Micro Dimming Pro system, which uses software to analyse 6400 zones. However, in a fully dark room, the screen struggle to approximate true black. During normal viewing these light leaks tend not to be noticeable.

Audio quality borders on adequate. There’s 20W of amplification onboard, but you’ll definitely want a soundbar. The set doesn’t support 3D.

Philips 55PUS6401: Specs

  • Screen size/resolution: 55in, 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Contrast ratio: Not stated
  • Brightness: 350 cd/m2
  • Speakers: 20w (2 x 10W)
  • Built-in tuner: Freeview HD, satellite
  • EPG: 7-day
  • Inputs: 4 x HDMI, Component, SCART
  • Outputs: Digital audio coaxial, headphone jack
  • Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, Dual-band Wi-Fi built-in
  • Ports and slots: 2 x USB 2.0/ 1 x USB 3.0, CI slot
  • Physical dimensions (w/ feet): 1239 x 725 x 85mm (w/h/d)
  • Weight: 16kg
  • Average power consumption: 91W, A Energy rating
  • Warranty: 1 year return-to-base
  • Screen size/resolution: 55in, 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Contrast ratio: Not stated
  • Brightness: 350 cd/m2
  • Speakers: 20w (2 x 10W)
  • Built-in tuner: Freeview HD, satellite
  • EPG: 7-day
  • Inputs: 4 x HDMI, Component, SCART
  • Outputs: Digital audio coaxial, headphone jack
  • Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, Dual-band Wi-Fi built-in
  • Ports and slots: 2 x USB 2.0/ 1 x USB 3.0, CI slot
  • Physical dimensions (w/ feet): 1239 x 725 x 85mm (w/h/d)
  • Weight: 16kg
  • Average power consumption: 91W, A Energy rating
  • Warranty: 1 year return-to-base

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the 6401 is just a few caveats short of being a cracking mid-range UHD buy. For the most part, 2160p definition, colour vibrancy and an aggressive feature set should tick enough boxes to satisfy those stepping up from a 1080p telly. There are limitations – the backlight uniformity errors are unfortunate – but you do get Ambilight by way of compensation, which remains a big crowd pleaser.