PHILIPS 55PUS6753 Review
Fade to black
Micro dimming technology and a direct LED implementation give this affordable 4K set a solid foundation for controlled, cinematic images. John Archer reports
Affordable 55in 4K HDR TV
Sits just below the middle of Philips’ 4K TV options
FINDING A 4K high dynamic range TV that isn’t either a) really expensive or b) far from mindblowing is a tough job. So many budget-priced 4K TVs employ low-contrast IPS panels that tend to fall apart with the raised brightness demands of HDR content.
Enter the Philips 55PUS6753. This 55in TV uses a higher-contrast VA-type panel, and illuminates that panel via a direct lighting system.
I may sound like a broken record here, but televisions with LEDs directly behind their screens consistently produce better contrast than those that put their LEDs around their screen edges.
More balls please
The 55PUS6753 supports two flavours of HDR alongside its 4K resolution: the industry standard HDR10 format, and the broadcast- friendly HLG format, recently used for the BBC’s 4K World Cup and Wimbledon iPlayer streams.
Smart features aren’t provided via Android TV, as they are on more expensive Philips sets, including its OLED models. However, the new ‘SAPHI’ interface found here is arguably better. The home menu takes up less of your valuable screen real estate, and there’s more of a focus on the video streaming apps that most TV owners really want from a smart system. These include Netflix in 4K and HDR (given its own button on the supplied remote); Amazon Prime Video in 4K; YouTube in 4K; and the catch-up TV services of the UK’s main terrestrial broadcasters contained within a Freeview Play wrapper.
Predictably for its price, the 55PUS6753 doesn’t carry Philips’ latest P5 video processor. Yet the Pixel Precise UHD system it does employ is still quite potent, carrying components for improving motion, contrast, colour, sharpness and noise handling – basically every aspect of the picture. It also lets you control all of its processing elements, which makes the TV relatively complicated to use. But, as we’ll see, the ends justify the means.
For an added touch of glamour not usually found at this level of the market, the set integrates Philips’ traditional Ambilight technology. This casts coloured light able to track image content from three of the TV’s sides, bathing the screen in a relaxing but also immersive glow. The frame enjoys a reasonably metallic-looking finish, too – although the set feels like it’s made predominantly from plastic.
Connections are okay rather than great. You only get two USB ports rather than three, and you only get three HDMI inputs rather than the more common four.
Also, only two of these HDMIs can handle 4K up to 60Hz. The other is restricted to 4K at 30Hz, and – oddly – this the input labelled HDMI 1.
Darkness is coming
Picture quality is in most ways impressive. The TV’s black level performance, in particular, is superb. Dark scenes in the recent Game Of Thrones: The Complete First Season 4K Blu-ray release, such as those in the catacombs beneath Winterfell Castle, appear with little contrast-robbing greyness. Black looks pretty much black, which is a great image starting point for any home cinema fan, instantly making dark sequences appear more convincing. And credible black levels have a knock-on effect when it comes to colour handling; colours here appear well-saturated and dynamic.
The TV’s direct LED lighting system, together with Philips
Micro Dimming image analysis and control engine, enables it to retain its base black level when presenting high-contrast frames.
Night skies in Game Of Thrones are delightfully inky even when pictured behind a flickering torch.
There isn’t even any significant light blooming around stand-out bright objects.
The 55PUS6753’s pictures are also extremely sharp. Native 4K material looks every bit as crisp and detailed as you’d hope, emphasising the difference 4K can make over HD when it’s handled well. The 55in screen size comfortably delivers a cinematic experience.
A switch to regular Blu-ray and broadcast TV finds upscaled HD not coming across as clean and pure as it does on Philips’ P5 processor models; there’s a grittier, more forced look to proceedings. Compared with other TVs
Native 4K material looks crisp and detailed, emphasising the difference the format makes over HD
around the same price, though, the upscaling is actually rather good, especially when it comes to adding obvious sharpness to sub-4K sources.
Choosing the Personal setting for the 55PUS6753’s motion processing, with Natural Motion set to Minimum, reduces judder and image blur without creating many processing side effects. Again, the results aren’t quite as effective as those of Philips’ P5 system.
The one area where this Philips mid-ranger does live down to its price is brightness. I measured it only managing 350 nits when showing a 10 percent white HDR window; far short of the 1,000 nits recommended for HDR by the Ultra HD Premium standard.
As a result, you don’t get the volume of colour, or gleaming intensity in peak areas of an image, with HDR content. Sunlight reflecting on The Hound’s armour in Game of Thrones lacks the real-world punch that much brighter HDR TVs provide. Nor do you get anything like the full range of light, or the significantly higher average brightness levels, that HDR can deliver.
The HDR benefits you see on Philips’ 55PUS6753 may be relatively limited, but they are at least enjoyable. There’s none of the colour mess, black level shortcomings or peak brightness ‘flaring out’ that you often get with budget sets. Philips’ TV knows its limitations and works within them – aided and abetted by its onboard processing.
The 55PUS6753’s mostly impressive pictures aren’t joined by a particularly great audio system. It does a decent job with dialogue, and sounds quite open and clean in its upper mid-range, but struggles for bass impact. This leaves action scenes – and Game Of Thrones’ dense opening score – sounding rather thin and weedy. I’d recommend partnering this flatscreen with a soundbar at the very least.
Neither this, nor the TV’s lack of Android smarts or the company’s top-spec processing, should deter shoppers in the sub-£1,000 market from giving the 55PUS6753 serious consideration. If you can live with only getting a fairly subdued HDR performance, Philips’ new Ambilight screen produces controlled but also cinematic and immersive 4K pictures beyond what’s expected at the price point
While this set isn’t bright enough to unlock the full capabilities of HDR, its pictures are otherwise polished, consistent and immersive. Ambilight adds appeal.
3D: No 4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160 HDR: Yes. HDR10; HLG TUNER: Yes. Freeview HD; satellite CONNECTIONS: 3 x HDMI inputs (all HDCP 2.2-capable, but one with limited 4K bandwidth); 2 x USB ports; RF input; optical digital audio output; component video input; stereo audio input; headphone jack SOUND (CLAIMED): 20W BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 350 nits CONTRAST (CLAIMED): N/A DIMENSIONS (OFFSTAND): 1,244(w) x 729(h) x 68(d)mm WEIGHT (OFF STAND): 15.3kg
FEATURES: Pixel Precise UHD processing engine; Micro Dimming; quad-core processor; three-sided Ambilight; 18ms input lag on average in Game mode;
SAPHI smart engine with Netflix, Amazon and YouTube 4K apps
JBL BAR STUDIO: Add this budget 2.0 soundbar option (£150) to the Philips TV for an affordable AV setup. There’s no external sub, but its virtual surround mode is fun and the sound performance balanced overall. Includes HDMI ARC.
1. An alternative PUS6703 model offers a different stand design, and 43in and 50in sizes
2. Philips’ premium sets offer a remote with QWERTY keypad – this one doesn’t
3. Ambilight uses intelligent LED illumination to match onscreen visuals