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Exclusive first-look at Philips Cinema 21:9

By Rasmus Larsen (@flatpanels)
05 Mar 2009

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Also read our review of the Panasonic G10 series plasma here

FlatpanelsHD was invited to an exclusive Philips press conference where we had the opportunity to preview and experience the Philips Cinema 21:9 TV before everyone else. The Philips Cinema 21:9 can display the movies exactly like the director had imagined it, in even wider format than widescreen – just like in the cinema.

The exclusive press meeting was held in the new suite of the King Arthur Hotel, which is inspired by the legend of King Arthur and has a facade overlooking the Copenhagen idyllic lakes - thus offering a unique and exciting experience.

Philips had transformed the presidential suite on the top floor into a fascinating home cinema. At the entrance we had popcorn served and then we went into the home cinema where the Cinema 21:9 was covered by a red cloth, and two 42-inch displays was located on the wall to the right and left.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

Cinema 21:9

We sat down to see the film presentation, which was eventually going to run on the Cinema 21:9, too. The 21:9 number derive from the film format used in cinemas. In comparison with the traditional 16:9 format, 21:9 is wider and roughly the same format as in the cinema.
Facts about Cinema 21:9 in our previous article here: Philips presents CinemaScope TV

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

Philips finally removed the canvas and we could see the same film sequences on the Cinema 21:9 flat screen – and now without the black bars at the top and at the bottom. Cinema 21:9 is surprisingly wide; probably because you are not used to seeing a physical device in this size.

The TV is 56 inches wide, but only marginally higher than the two 42 inch screens on the left and on the right. The extra screen space is therefore primarily visible in the horizontal level.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

The experience is quite different when no black bars are visible in the picture. Of course a lot of widescreen monitors in 16:9 format can display full-screen images but typically you will lose either image information in both sides or see a stretched picture.
Cinema 21:9 erases what you thought you knew about widescreen movies and displays the movie exactly as in cinemas – on the entire panel. This means that you’ll get “more picture” on the 56 inch big 21:9 screen that you would on for example a 16:9 60-inch TV.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

The picture on the screen is generated with the help from all of the new Philips imaging circuits that have been integrated. This means Pixel Perfect, HD Natural Motion etc. and that this TV represents top notch image quality from Philips.

The image quality on the TV was indeed nice, and especially moving pictures were managed very well in fast paced scenes. Some factors were boosted, however, and I think that the TV has been set to default settings, where for example sharpness is increased significantly.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

Philips called the Cinema 21:9 a new era in televisions and I largely agree. It has no or little relevance to ordinary families who primarily watch TV from broadcasters in non-widescreen format but instead Cinema 21:9 aims to please enthusiasts and movie lovers. And Philips can offer something very unique to this group of people that has only been achieved with projectors until now.

At the presentation we also talked a bit about how the flat panel display handles traditional broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen format and how subtitles are handled. The screen has five different display formats (aspect ratios) to choose from called; Auto format, 16:9, Movie Expand 16:9, Cinema 21:9 and Cinema 21:9 subtitle. This allows the user to extend or stretch 16:9 broadcasts to fit the screen, either by pulling them or cut some of the picture information at the top and bottom.
The different aspect ratios work well and the picture is useful and appropriate. The picture below is a standard analogue SD picture from a TV broadcaster.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Aspect Ratios

Subtitles in movies creates a problem because they are often located inside the black bars at the bottom of the picture. But Philips has a solution for this as well. Cinema 21:9 has a unique built-in feature that allows the user to move subtitles up into the image so you still get the full advantage of the 21:9 format and for example Blu-Ray movies. Nice!

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

According to Philips about 70% of DVDs and Blu-Ray movies released today are released in the 21:9 format, although denotation is slightly different. And if you only take the Blu-Ray format into consideration the percentage is even higher.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

21:9 is not a new format and it is recognized from high-end projectors. But Philips has now transferred the format to flat screen displays and this gives us the opportunity to experience movies in the correct format from the cinemas - for the first time ever.

Net TV

Philips went on to talk about Net TV.
In brief, Philips Net TV is an Internet connection service that gives access to a range of online services. You will have “official” access to Youtube, TomTom and eBay, but country-specific services will be available, too.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Net TV

However, the Net TV feature will also have Internet browser built-in so you can freely surf the net. Flash and Java is not supported, though. I asked about movie-rental services but Philips could not say anything definite at this early stage.

The Net TV feature can also access weather services, news, stocks and more. The Network TV service in Philips Cinema 21:9 can be activated through wireless or cable solutions.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

Philips Cinema 21:9 will be the first flat panel TV on the market in 21:9 format. It is also the first TV with Net TV from Philips built-in and finally the TV has the Philips Ambilight system.

Net TV will also be integrated into a series of future Philips product lines; all new series above the 6000 series according to Philips. Philips also mentions that all future series with built-in Ambilight will feature Net TV. Not necessarily with a wireless connection, though.

Philips Cinema 21:9
Philips Cinema 21:9

Philips Cinema 21:9 is launched in April. The price is 4000 Euro.

We look forward to seeing Philips Cinema 21:9 in action because it is indeed exciting news for movie enthusiasts. And of course; we’ll try to get a demo for reviewing.


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