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Should I buy a Philips Ambilight TV?

Philips Ambilight TV living room
Image Credit: Philips
(Image credit: Phillips)

What is a Philips Ambilight TV? If you've been shopping around for the best TV out there, or just something that that extra wow factor over the competition, you may well have come across one – especially if you're buying at Black Friday or in the Prime Day deals, when they tend to drop a few pretty pennies off the asking price.

Ambilight is a proprietary TV technology exclusive to Philips TVs, and in a saturated market full of near-identical goggle boxes, it really does help Philips stand out from the crowd. Ambilight is essentially the inclusion of an LED array around the side of a television, which projects color onto the wall behind a TV.

Sound like a gimmick? It isn't. While a light display isn't crucial for your viewing experience, it has an incredibly striking effect you won't see with any other manufacturer. The colors projected match the hues appearing in your onscreen content, increasing your perception of contrast and creating an immersive light display that seems to seep out of the television itself.

All but the cheapest Philips TVs use Ambilight nowadays – and they can also hook up with Philips Hue smart lightbulbs, to let the colours of the TV image flood your room, rather than just bleeding out behind the screen.

Keep in mind, though: a company called Funai owns the Philips license in the US, meaning you won't get anything like Ambilight. But for those in the UK and Europe, with an eye on an Ambilight TV, this is the guide you need.

Should I buy a Philips Ambilight TV?

Philips’s TVs may not earn quite as much attention as the latest Samsung or LG OLEDs, but Ambilight is a pretty compelling reason to choose a Philips model over everything else.

Not every Ambilight TV is made the same, though. Low-end models have “2-sided” Ambilight, meaning colour emanates from the left and right of the TV. The rest have a “3-sided” array, with LEDs pointing upwards too. For the full Ambilight experience, you want this feature.

Philips has even made a couple of 4-sided Ambilight TVs, including the Philips 9800 series. These project colour below as well. However, right now Philips’s top models max out with three sides of LEDs. 

While Ambilight separates Philips TVs from the rest, there’s still a lot to consider within the company’s own range. It offers many models, from budget LCDs all the way up to the glorious OLED Philips 9000. 

Philips’s higher-end TVs use Android TV software, just like Sony’s sets. It’s known for being a little flaky at times, but does grant access to loads of apps, many of the same ones you can download for your phone. 2018 mid-price TVs use Saphi TV instead, Philips’s own interface. 

Its latest 2018 TVs also have excellent “P5 Perfect Picture” processing, which ensures great motion handling and color reproduction.

Whether you’re after an affordable LCD like the Philips 43PUS6262 or something closer to the fantastic Philips 55OLED873 OLED, you get something not seen anywhere else. Yep, we’re talking about Ambilight again. It's the main reason to "buy Philips".

Most of the Philips TVs we’ve reviewed recently have fairly mediocre on-board sound. But this is nothing to worry about if you plan to use your own speakers or a surround system, which we always recommend.