Hands on: Philips OLED 873 4K HDR TV (65OLED873)

Philips supersizes its much lauded 2017 9002 OLED TV

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

With effective HDR and outstanding colour vibrancy, this big Philips OLED looks to have everything going for it. An upsized version of 2017’s 9002, it’s a bold Ambilight beauty of a screen...

For

  • Dramatic HDR picture quality
  • Premium design
  • Advanced motion handling
  • Three-side Ambilight system

Against

  • Limited catch-up TV services

The incoming Philips OLED 873 is, for all intents and purposes, a carbon copy of 2017’s 55-inch 55POS9002 (now renamed the 55OLED873), albeit in an altogether more generous 65-inch screen size. Quite why Philips hasn’t just announced it as a 65-inch 9002 is a bit of a marketing head-scratcher, but apparently the brand is intent on moving all its OLED TVs to a three digital model number (while its LCD range will stick with the standard four digit moniker). 

Design

That said, the new set wears those extra inches well. This is a beautifully finished telly, with a lush brushed aluminium open frame, easy to accommodate cradle stand and oh-so-pretty three-sided Ambilight Spectra XL system.

Picture quality looks on par with the 9002, which is to say very good indeed. Indeed, the 873 uses the same P5 Perfect Picture Processing Engine, deployed across the entire Philips OLED range. This cocktail of image enhancements is used to fine-tune contrast, boost colour and fine-tunemotion.

If you’re an Amazon or Netflix TV binger, you can also take comfort from the fact that the set interpolates 8 bit video to quasi 14 bit precision, for fewer banding artefacts. Ultra Resolution upscaling and detail enhancing add additional pixel zest. 

Performance

The remarkable thing about all this manipulation though is that images continue to look unforced. With so much computational power at work here, you might think that the 873’s picture could look overly processed, but it doesn’t. Even Dynamic mode, which you might naturally expect to look over-chroma’d, doesn’t. 

The OLED 873 is UHD Premium certified, and will support HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, the rival dynamic metadata system to Dolby Vision. It offers what Philips describes as ‘HDR Perfect’ level performance, which roughly translates to a peak HDR luminance of 900 cd/m2 (aka nits). There is no Dolby Vision support.

This ability to to deliver bright spectral highlights, combined with a wide colour gamut, makes for some stunning imagery. We got close and personal with the 873 at Philips recent European TV launch and, while like all the pre-production screens Philips unveiled its performance can’t be considered representative of final image clarity but, what we saw certainly has us salivating.

The Ambilight configuration offers a wide colour wash. It can be used dynamically, changing with picture content, pulsing with music or as a static bias colour. It can also be sync’d with Hue lights, if you really want to get really psychedelic.

While the OLED 873 doesn’t have an obvious forward-facing speaker array, it’s still able to deliver well-rounded sound, thanks to a single triple ring woofer on the rear coupled to downward firing stereo speakers. First developed by Philips subsidiary Woox Innovations, this triple-ring arrangement gives heft and better sonic dispersion to the soundstage. 

The screen uses the Android TV OS; this means a limited amount of catch-up, so you may want to partner it with an external media streamer. Navigation is aided by a Quad Core processor. The set comes with two remotes, a standard zapper and Philips new pencil-thin Bluetooth remote with built-in microphone, which will be useful once Google Assistant is enabled.

Early verdict

Overall, the 873 can be considered a highly competent looking 65-incher. Image quality looks to be top notch, and the audio system is surprisingly solid too. We can’t wait to get a final sample on our test bench.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.