Good start for Philips' maiden Oled TV set

As usual, Philips has equipped the 901F with its unique Ambilight feature - rear-facing LEDs that dynamically change colours according to the video content.
As usual, Philips has equipped the 901F with its unique Ambilight feature - rear-facing LEDs that dynamically change colours according to the video content.PHOTO: PHILIPS

The 901F is priced significantly lower than the latest flagship models from other brands

Philips is the latest manufacturer to launch an Oled (organic light-emitting display) television set.

Available in just one size, the 55-inch Philips 901F Oled TV set - at $5,999 - is significantly cheaper than the latest flagship models from other companies.

As usual, Philips has equipped the 901F with its unique Ambilight feature - rear-facing LEDs that dynamically change colours according to the video content.

The ever-shifting background lighting increases the presence of the TV's relatively modest 55-inch screen, and is a good conversation starter. But while this feature has been around for more than a decade, it has not quite taken off. Most likely, users, like me, found the feature distracting.

Because it is an Oled display that does not require a backlight, the 901F's screen is very slim. But once you add the Ambilight LEDs and other internal electronics, the TV set - especially its lower half - becomes thicker,.

It is handsome enough, but the design is safe and not as innovative as some of its more expensive rivals. In practical terms, because its two feet are placed at either end of the TV set, your console has to be at least the width of the set (1.2m) if it's not wall-mounted.

Running along the width of the TV set below the screen is the integrated sound system. It consists of six front-firing speakers and a back-firing subwoofer. The bass could be more powerful, but movie dialogues came across clearly.

All its HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0 compliant, which means they can display 4K resolutions at up to 60Hz. They, along with three USB ports and an Ethernet port, are hidden behind a removable plastic panel at the back.


  • PRICE: $5,999 (55-inch)

    PICTURE FEATURES: Maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, HDR10

    AUDIO FEATURES: 30W output, DTS Premium Sound

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android TV (version 6.0)

    CONNECTIVITY: 4 x HDMI, 3 x USB, Optical output, Ethernet, Wi-Fi


    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5



    OVERALL: 4/5

With its screen turned off, the 901F's glossy display has the tell-tale purplish tint that indicates it is not using the latest Oled panels, but last year's crop, which gets its tint from its anti-glare coating.

The tint does not affect the picture quality of the 901F, which, as you'd expect from an Oled display, has outstanding contrast because of its deep blacks. However, it is not quite capable of hitting the peak brightness levels achieved by the latest Oled screens.

It also supports only the more popular HDR10 standard for High Dynamic Range (HDR), a feature that makes for more accurate and vibrant colours. The other main HDR format, Dolby Vision, is not available.

Picture quality is generally excellent in the movies that I tested. In La La Land's opening freeway scene, the colourful clothing of the dancers looked vibrant yet natural. The TV set managed to handle dark and near-dark scenes without the banding that I had noticed on some Oled TV sets. Images look crisp with plenty of details up close, though some distant shots in the Planet Earth II documentary appear smeary.

It is very good at motion handling, which is useful for action and sports videos. Its Perfect Clear Motion feature makes videos look smooth and natural, without creating a soap-opera effect.

Bundled with the TV set are two remote controls. One comes with a touchpad and a QWERTY keyboard at the back while the other, more streamlined version, has far fewer keys. While the keyboard is useful for entering passwords to log into my YouTube and Netflix accounts, the remote control is heavy. The touchpad, too, can be too sensitive, resulting in errors.

Philips is using an older version of Android TV (6.0 Marshmallow), compared with Sony's Android TV sets (version 7.0).

The Android interface is similar enough that you probably cannot tell the difference between the two, with apps such as Google Play Movies, YouTube and Netflix, as well as a bunch of other apps in the Google Play Store. There is no Amazon Video app, though.

Both Philips and Sony have customised the Android TV interface to include TV-specific settings. I prefer Philips' version because it feels more organised and easier to use. Unfortunately, its Android TV platform seems to have a tendency to crash now and then.

• Verdict: Philips' first Oled TV impresses with its picture quality, despite using an Oled panel from last year. Its Ambilight LED backlight feature can enhance the viewing experience for some. More importantly, it is not priced for the super-rich.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Good start for Philips' maiden Oled TV set'. Print Edition | Subscribe