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The 55PUS8601 is a bold declaration of UK intent from a newly-invigorated, newly-confident Philips brand. Its Ambilight-driven design is unique and gorgeous, and the set ticks all the key feature boxes – or at least it will when high dynamic range support is added via an update later in the year.
In the end it falls short of the very best sets where picture quality is concerned, but it's still great to see Philips getting serious about TV again.
The 55PUS8601's detachable speakers, four-sided Ambilight system and ultra-thin, beautifully finished bodywork combine to make almost every other TV look drab by comparison. Those speakers sound great too, and there are apps galore courtesy of the new Android TV engine. The set's pictures often look great with native 4K sources too.
The screen struggles to control its high levels of brightness during dark scenes, leading to a slightly washed-out look in areas that should look black, and some occasional minor clouding. These issues are unlikely to be helped by the arrival of HDR.
The picture can look a bit processed at times, especially when you're watching anything that isn't native 4K, and some aspects of the operating system are hard work.
The 55PUS8601 isn't perfect. Its backlight system struggles to deliver dark content with total conviction, and its pictures only really explode into life if you feed it native 4K content – which is a pity given how little of that content currently exists.
Despite this, though, Philips' first TV of 2016 still does enough with its unique design, expansive feature count, cracking audio and well-implemented new Android TV smart system to make it clear that the Philips brand is not only back in business, but still willing to take the sort of creative risks we always used to love it for. Philips is definitely a brand worth keeping an eye on once more.
John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.