Brand-owner TP Vision’s attempts to re-establish Philips as a major player on the European TV scene are progressing very nicely indeed, with some truly outstanding Philips OLED TV sets at the high end of the market.
That said, the Philips 55PUS6753 4K TV, reviewed here, is trying to make a quality mark on the lower end – and it’s pretty much succeeded.
Despite costing less than £600, this Philips model boasts a native 4K resolution, support for high dynamic range, and Philips’ eye-catching Ambilight technology.
As long as you don't expect an all-singing, all dancing HDR picture, the 55PUS6753 is actually a pretty superior effort for its lowly sub-£600 price.
Affordable TVs don’t tend to be lookers. The Philips 55PUS6753, though, is the exception to the rule ... as long as you don’t look too closely at it.
To help distract you from a few imperfections is Philips’ Ambilight system. This uses LEDs ranged around the rear of its left, right and top edges to cast a wide halo of colored light onto your walls around the screen. This light halo can even be set to correlate – with startling accuracy – to the colors in the picture you’re watching.
As well as being fun to show off at parties, Ambilight can make dark room viewing less tiring on your eyes, as you’re not staring at such a relatively small area of bright light as you would otherwise.
We would recommend, though, that for the Philips 55PUS6753 you only run the Ambilight feature on one of its lower brightness settings. This is because the screen’s brightness isn’t potent enough to ‘keep up’ with the brighter Ambilight settings – meaning you can end up watching Ambilight more than the picture on the screen.
The impressive narrowness of the screen frame helps to sell the Ambilight effect too, while its grey finish delivers at least a hint of a metallic effect that leaves most budget rivals looking cheap and not especially cheerful by comparison.
The surprisingly skinny and shiny open bar stand is attractive too, though it’s noticeable during setup that it isn’t especially well made. The screen frame is more plastic than it looks too. But from normal viewing distances you won’t particularly notice either of these issues.
Connectivity is slightly compromised by the TV’s price focus. There are only three HDMIs rather than the four found on most high end TVs. Only two of these HDMIs support 4K HDR at 60 frames a second, too; the other tops out at 30 frames a second (though that’s still enough for most 4K Blu-rays, which deliver content at 24 frames a second).
There are also two USB ports rather than the usual three, though we don’t see this as a massive limitation for typical households.
Design TL;DR: Although its build quality is in truth a touch flimsy, you really don’t notice this from any sort of distance. In fact, it looks very chic compared with most budget TVs. And that’s even before you turn it on and Ambilight starts to do its thing.
Smart TV Features
Unexpectedly the 55PUS6753 doesn’t join Philips more expensive TVs in carrying the Android TV smart platform. Instead it uses a less ambitious ‘SAPHI’ system built on a Linux OS. While this doesn’t support nearly as many apps as Android, it’s much more friendly to use – especially how it only fills up half of the screen, and runs stably and quickly rather than being buggy and lethargic.
Actually, even the fact that SAPHI provides fewer apps isn’t a bad thing, since it makes it easier to find the video streaming platforms that really matter. (In SAPHI’s case, these video platforms are YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Rakuten and Freeview Play.)
The Netflix app supports 4K and HDR, though at the time of reviewing Amazon only plays in 4K, while Rakuten only supports HD and SDR. YouTube didn’t work in 4K or HDR for us either, though Philips claims that YouTube 4K, at least, should work by the time you read this.
Freeview Play provides a friendly portal to the catch up TV services of all the UK’s main terrestrial broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
Smart Features TL;DR: The lack of Android TV support on the 55PUS6753 proves to be no loss at all. The replacement SAPHI system is easier to use and less prone to crash, while still providing a decent selection of video streaming options.
The Philips 55PUS6753 is outstanding for its money when it comes to upscaling HD sources to its native 4K resolution. This is chiefly because Philips’ long video processing legacy means it’s now able to provide a set as cheap as the 55PUS6753 with the brand’s Pixel Precise Ultra HD system.
While not as powerful, far reaching and efficient as the new P5 processor Philips provides on its high-end TVs, Pixel Precise Ultra HD is nonetheless way more potent than the processors typically found in sub-£600 55-inch 4K TVs.
One of its specialities is calculating the output of all of the extra millions of pixels that have to be added to HD pictures to make them pass as 4K. The result is upscaled pictures that look sharper, more detailed but also cleaner than those of many 4K TVs costing twice as much.
There can be a little haloing around very fine, sharply delineated lines and object edges, but the tools are there to minimise this in Philips’ comprehensive (if convoluted) Advanced Picture Settings menus.
The 55PUS6753’s upscaling of HD also benefits from some impressive motion processing – provided, anyway, that you stick with the Perfect Natural Motion facility’s Low power setting (at most, Mid). These settings reduce judder and blur without making the picture look too unnaturally fluid or causing too many unwanted distracting side effects.
The Philips 55PUS6753 also does a lovely job with standard dynamic range images that most of us still spend the lion’s share of our TV time watching. Black levels look impressively deep for such a cheap TV – aided, no doubt, by Philips’ direct backlight system, where the LEDs sit right behind the screen rather than around its edges.
There’s a decent amount of shadow detail in dark SDR areas too, and black levels remain impressively consistent, largely avoiding the distracting brightness ‘leaps’ that many affordable LCD TVs exhibit when trying to continually adjust their backlight to optimise contrast.
The impressively deep, neutral black tones also reveal that the 55PUS6753 is using a VA type of LCD rather than the low-contrast IPS type – which Philips unfortunately used in its 2017 equivalent models.
Colors look refined, stable and nuanced with SDR content too, joining forces with the set’s impeccable sharpness to remind you just how subtle and even beautiful good SDR picture can look.
HD/SDR Performance TL;DR: Impressively powerful video processing means that HD sources map beautifully to the screen’s native 4K resolution. And it handles the contrast and color range of SDR sources effortlessly.
The sharpness the 55PUS6753 achieves with HD sources had us expecting great things of its native 4K pictures too – and we weren’t disappointed. 4K Blu-rays and broadcasts look spectacularly sharp and clean, leaving you in no doubt, even on a 55-inch screen, that you’re seeing pictures with millions more pixels in them than you get with HD.
Textures look refined and minutely detailed, and the sense of depth in large scale 4K images is profound. So sharp are the 55PUS6753’s pictures, in fact, that they leave many similarly affordable 4K TVs looking merely HD by comparison.
The exceptional sharpness can slightly exaggerate grain from lower-res sources. If you experience this, though, you can always tame it by turning off the TVs resolution boosting system. Or maybe by gentle use of the provided noise reduction systems (though these can soften the picture and cause motion smearing, so you should definitely handle them with care).
In any case, the times when the extreme sharpness helps the picture far exceed the times where it causes any issues.
Philips’ motion processing continues to impress with 4K content too, despite the extra challenges associated with handling so many pixels in real time. Good motion handling is especially important with 4K sources, since any resolution loss that judder or blurring might cause is especially obvious when it’s working against the pristine purity of a crisp 4K image.
The Philips 55PUS6753’s HDR performance is rather less emphatic than its native 4K one. Chiefly because the screen just isn’t bright enough to get the impact from HDR’s greatly expanded brightness range.
Measurements show that Philips’ set is only capable of at most 350 nits of brightness on a 10% white HDR window. Most HDR 4K Blu-rays are mastered to peaks of 1000 nits by comparison, while the top-end HDR TVs are now delivering brightness in excess of 2000 nits.
It kind of goes without saying in the face of those sorts of numbers that the Philips 55PUS6753 just can’t provide that explosive dynamism and punch versus standard dynamic range that I really like HDR to serve up.
The brightness limitation also causes some detail and subtle toning to disappear from the very brightest parts of HDR pictures, and means the 55PUS6753 can’t reach the sort of color volumes that HDR and wide color technologies can deliver in tandem from cutting edge sources.
Dark HDR scenes suffer just a fraction, too – as the TV’s attempts to find the optimum brightness point leads to some lost shadow detailing.
None of this is to say that the Philips 55PUS6753 delivers no impact with HDR playback. Pictures do still look slightly brighter and richer, as well as more dynamic and ‘solid’. Daylight scenes look at least a touch more lifelike, while the direct lighting system enables the 55PUS6753 to keep a lid on backlight inconsistencies and greyness.
The Philips 55PUS6753’s processing is good enough, too, to make 4K HDR sources look even more detailed and three-dimensional than they do in SDR. Colors look solid and rich as well, despite not achieving the range of tones associated with brighter TVs.
One bit of advice we’d give here is to avoid the Movie picture preset when watching 4K HDR sources. This might sound like a strange suggestion, but actually the Movie setting turns off much of Philips’ picture processing, leaving the image looking muted and soft versus other presets.
It’s a pity, perhaps, that Philips isn’t on board with the Dolby Vision HDR format, complete with its dynamic metadata, as that might have unlocked a touch more dynamism in the 55PUS6753’s pictures. Still, while there’s a pretty definite limit to what the 55PUS6753 can do with HDR, it still tends to look entirely watchable – which is more than can be said for HDR on many other similarly affordable TVs.
There are two final picture points to cover: one bad, one good. The bad one is that while Philips’ decision to use a VA type of LCD panel has led to big contrast improvements compared with last year’s equivalent TVs, it also means that pictures lose contrast and color if viewed from angle of more than around 30 degrees.
The good one is that while running in its Game preset, the Philips 55PUS6753 records only 18ms of input lag – an impressively low figure that makes it an unusually responsive screen for gamers.
4K/HDR TL;DR: Exceptionally sharp 4K pictures are joined by a polished approach to HDR – even if the brightness lags behind.
Despite not looking chunky enough to pack much speaker power, the 55PUS6753 does get some audio things right. Voices sound clean and nicely integrated into their environment, for instance.
The mid-range is reasonably powerful and dynamic, providing entertaining amounts of treble detailing without sounding screechy or thin, and delivering just enough bass to stop action scenes sounding wimpy. The TV’s bodywork doesn’t start to hum and buzz at higher volumes, either.
Really deep bass, though, is pretty much non-existent, meaning that there’s no real way for the sound to expand when, say, a T-Rex’s foot slams into the ground.
Sound TL;DR: The 55PUS6753 gets the audio job done – especially when it comes to detailing and vocals. It lacks the bass, though, to sound entirely convincing with action films.
Other panels to consider
The Sony 55XF8505 can go a fair bit brighter than the Philips 55PUS6753, giving it more punch with bright HDR scenes. However, Sony’s set uses an IPS type of LCD panel, meaning that it looks more gray during dark scenes than the Philips set.
Maybe the closest rival to the 55PUS6753 is the Hisense HE55U7A1WTSG. This delivers sharp, punchy pictures and slightly better connectivity. It only uses an edge LED lighting system, however, so its contrast performance is slightly limited.
Although we haven’t tested one yet, experience suggests that Samsung’s 55NU7100 will provide a good step up in brightness and HDR ‘impact’ for around £800 – even if the use of edge-based LED lighting will likely limit its black level performance.
The Philips 55PUS6753 is not going to give you an all-singing, all dancing HDR picture – it just doesn’t have enough brightness. Provided you can manage your expectations in that respect, though, the 55PUS6753 is actually a pretty superior effort for its lowly sub-£600 price.
Colors, contrast and sharpness all look strong for the money, and its Ambilight-inspired design really helps it stand out from the budget crowd.