Philips is launching new TVs based on OLED and LCD technology, and is partnering with B&W, Georg Jensen, Dolby, and of course Google. The new TVs feature 4K, Android 9, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. Here is the European Philips 2019 TV line-up.
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Philips 2019 TV line-up
Over the last couple of years, the Philips brand - now controlled by TP Vision - has made a comeback in Europe. The company says that OLED has been a key element in making it possible and in 2019 it will launch at least three new OLED TV ranges. Two of these have been officially announced - additional models will be unveiled at IFA 2019 in September.
The company has unveiled OLED804 and OLED854 that are technically identical in terms of picture hardware. Differences are found in design, mainly the type of stand. Philips is also bringing new OLED754 and 9 series OLED TVs to the market, some with a built-in soundbar developed in partnership with Bowers & Wilkins, but we have yet to receive the finer details.
The partnership with B&W will be expanded this year to include the first Philips LCD model (PUS8004) with B&W speakers. After having 'tuned' the speakers in last year's models, B&W will this year be more deeply involved in the whole process, the company explained.
2019 is a year of cooperation
2019 is a year of cooperation. Besides B&W, it has partnered with Denmark's Georg Jensen to create a special design TV (PUS9104) and with USA's Dolby to bring Dolby Vision and Atmos support to almost its full range of TVs.
Of course, Philips was also one of the first to embrace Google's Android TV operating system and the company is sourcing panels from Asian partners. At this point, one might wonder to what extent TP Vision is actually bringing technology and expertise to a Philips TV? Quite a bit, the company argues and points out that it has people involved in all areas. The message here seems to be that a joint effort leads to a better TV.
As for the partnership with Dolby, Philips TVs from the 6704 series and up will support both Dolby Vision, the HDR video format, and Dolby Atmos, the object-based audio format. Whether these TVs have the hardware to deliver HDR picture quality and immersive sound is another matter but support is nevertheless in place. Atmos audio can be output via the HDMI ARC port, says Philips. Dolby Vision - like any HDR format - puts high demands on the display hardware so if you seek the HDR experience you should probably be looking at the companies' OLED TVs instead.
The partnership with design house Georg Jensen has led to the 9104 model, which has a metal bezel, stand, and remote control. It is worth noting that this particular model is based on the 2018 hardware platform. What this means is that it will come pre-installed with Android 8 and that it will not support Dolby Vision and Atmos. On the other hand 9104 is the only model in the first half 2019 line-up to feature a dual tuner.
The LCD portfolio also covers "The One". The 7304 series will be marketed as "The One" because it has all of the essential features that mainstream consumers need, according to the company. This includes Android, Ambilight, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and a 4K LCD panel.
The One will be available in a wide range of formats spanning 43 inches to 70 inches.
The TVs will of course also be equipped with the company's signature feature; Ambilight. The mood lighting system will in 2019 be available starting from the 6703 series and up. All of these models will have at least 3-sided Ambilight that can integrate with Philips Hue. In recent years, the company has expanded Ambilight to be compatible with Spotify and with a game mode (with less delay).
In terms of picture quality, Philips is highlighting its OLED models and a new 'P5 Pro' video processor. It is an evolution over the previous P5 that has been designed around 5 pillars, each with its own set of picture enhancement systems to boost contrast, colors, sharpness etc. The P5 Pro is embedded in the 8 series models and up. The LCD models come with the previous version of P5.
With the addition of Dolby Vision HDR, the new TVs now support all relevant HDR video formats, including HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG. Together with Panasonic, Philips is the only brand to offer both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ in its TVs - TCL will be joining them soon. On the content side there is a wide selection of movies and TV series in Dolby Vision but very little content to enjoy in HDR10+ so the company's decision to embrace Dolby's format is not really surprising.
As of last year, Philips began offering Smart TVs based on two different platforms. Whether this is due to the many issues plaguing Android TV was left unsaid but last year Philips started phasing in its own linux-based Saphi platform in its more affordable models. This year, Saphi will be coming to the first OLED model along with the 6814 LCD series and below.
The more feature-packed models will still run Android TV, now with 9.0 (Android Pie). Android 9 was released in the fall of 2018 but unlike many its competitors offering Smart TVs based on in-house platforms, Philips says that it will, in partnership with Google, continue to bring future Android software updates to its TVs.
Android TV offers acces to apps such as Amazon, Netflix, HBO and YouTube. The platform also has a Chromecast software solution baked in and in some regions the TVs support Google Assistant. In many other regions customers are still waiting for Google to localize and enable Assistant for TVs. The TVs can also be controlled via external devices based on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
A refreshed home screen was introduced with version 8 (Oreo) of Android. It now consists of content rows in which each streaming service can recommend and pull content to the forefront. However, Google has announced that a new home screen is already on its way although it is unclear what it entails exactly. In this sense, Philips has given up control and is now relying on Google to develop the "smart" parts of its TVs. Manufacturers such as Sony, Philips and TCL have, by embracing Android TV, accepted that the home screen remains identical across devices. They are not allowed put "skins" on it. Manufacturers are allowed to pre-load content rows or apps, though.
The company is relying on partners for many of the core features in its TVs but it has yet to partner with Apple. Some competing TVs will gain AirPlay 2, HomeKit and the Apple TV app later this year but Philips has remained mum. However, with Saphi and Amazon Alexa support the company has demonstrated that it is not married to Google.
Philips has yet to announce plans for 8K and is not ready to embrace HDMI 2.1 yet. The only supported HDMI 2.1 feature, which can be brought to HDMI 2.0 ports, is ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). It simply means that the TVs can automatically switch to game mode when a game is loaded on Xbox One. PlayStation 4 does not support ALLM.
The TVs come with built-in DVB tuners for cable, satellite and antenne feeds but only a single models (9104) has a twin tuner. There is also built-in WiFi and Bluetooth in the TVs.
We do not yet have suggested retail prices for the Philips 2019 models. Once the TVs become available, the model name and size will become an active and clickable link to price comparison or retailers.
You can tell the 2019 TVs apart from previous years’ models by the model number ending on ’4’, meaning that a 7000 series from 2019 is called PUS7x04. As a reminder: xxx4 = 2019, xxx3 = 2018, xxx2 = 2017, xxx1 = 2016, xxx0 = 2015, xxx9 = 2014, xxx8 = 2013.
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