Is the Philips 50PFL7956T the first affordable CinemaScope TV? Not quite, but this effort from Philips halves the price of a 21:9 aspect ratio telly while also halving the resolution of 3D. Using Edge LED backlighting and passive Easy 3D tech, the Philips 50PFL7956T is a noticeable step down from the flagship 58-inch – and £4,000+ – 58PFL9956, but here the experience is smaller, so those compromises on ultimate quality are less of a problem.
With no flickering or crosstalk, and an overall more versatile, watchable experience, we'd rate Easy 3D a success on the Philips 50PFL7956T. A fabulously made TV, the Philips 50PFL7956T's headline act of removing black bars from Blu-ray is where it impresses most, displaying bags of detail and well-judged colour, though some games also benefit from a stretch.
Aside from games, the way the Philips 50PFL7956T handles anything that isn't in the 21:9 format leads to occasionally bizarre decapitations, while engaging the 3D mode on anything other than 3D Blu-ray is long-winded, and can look soft. Meanwhile, the two LED strips that power Ambilight are simply too far apart to be fully immersive, Net TV's provision of BBC iPlayer is really all the online platform has going for it, and there's a slight lack of contrast that's more noticeable because of the stretched display.
A living room-sized version of a CinemaScope TV aimed at those who mostly watch Blu-ray movies, the Philips 50PFL7956T comes with a raft of must-have features – including a clean and easy 3D mode. The fullscreen option for split-screen games provides a tempting trickle-down tech from 3D, and some games look fabulous in a 21:9 shape, although this TV is at its best when it's simply removing the black bars from Blu-ray discs – and presenting them with more detail than ever.