Se­ri­ously vi­brant im­agery makes this fan­tas­tic Am­bi­light screen a su­perb op­tion for non-purists

T3 - - Contents -

It’s an­other Am­bi­light-in­fused stun­ner, fea­tur­ing a slew of se­ri­ous tech for a very rea­son­able price

When it comes to pic­ture pro­cess­ing, there’s a fine line be­tween art and sci­ence, even in the best TVs: over-cranked en­hance­ment may be a turn-on for techies, but, for the rest of us, the end re­sult is of­ten dif­fi­cult to watch. Philips has found the sweet spot with its lat­est P5 im­age pro­ces­sor, which makes stan­dard dy­namic range HD look al­most as good as 4K HDR.

Style and sub­stance

Avail­able in 55- and 65-inch sets (we tested the latter), the 803 is a typ­i­cally stylish Philips cre­ation. It’s min­i­mal­ist but up­mar­ket, with a vir­tu­ally edge-to-edge glass front. Con­nec­tions in­clude four 4K-ca­pa­ble HDMI in­puts with HDCP 2.2 sup­port, which should be enough for your av­er­age liv­ing-room setup.

The TV comes with two re­motes. One is a crazy-thin Blue­tooth wand fea­tur­ing (prob­a­bly) the world’s small­est touch­pad. The other is a more con­ven­tional re­mote, al­beit one with a key­pad on the re­verse.

What­ever you watch (be it sports, movies or The One Show), im­ages are smoother than a hip­ster’s latte. There’s also been an up­grade to the TV’s dig­i­tal noise re­duc­tion, in or­der to re­duce smear­ing caused when de­tail is mis­in­ter­preted. Im­ages look re­mark­ably clean at all times.

Ex­plore the All Set­tings menu and you will dis­cover a host of im­age­pro­cess­ing ad­just­ments. Your first port of call should be the ad­vanced menu, where you’ll find the set’s Per­fect Nat­u­ral Re­al­ity mode. This is exclusive to Philips’ new­est TVs, and it’s a doozy to use.

The mode makes ev­ery­day SDR TV look more dy­namic. Although coated

in se­cret sauce, we do know it uses an in­tel­li­gent con­trast al­go­rithm to en­hance bright­ness, sharp­ness and con­trast. It’s of­ten quite sub­tle, but this is no bad thing. When ap­pro­pri­ate, such as a char­ac­ter lit with spot­lights, the im­age is im­bued with HDR-like in­ten­sity.

In­ter­est­ingly, when you switch Per­fect Nat­u­ral Re­al­ity off, the en­tire frame bright­ens. It quickly be­comes clear that PNR isn’t sim­ply peak­ing high­lights, it’s also bring­ing down other as­pects of the im­age to cre­ate greater con­trast. For the best re­sults, keep the set­ting on Min­i­mum.

The set has var­i­ous im­age modes, and while all give a crisp, au­then­tic 2160p im­age, the set’s var­i­ous HDR op­tions can have a pro­nounced im­pact on per­for­mance. The HDR Movie mode would ac­tu­ally be our last choice when watch­ing a UHD movie. It’s just too muted for its own good. HDR Vivid adds a lot of style, if you’re crav­ing ex­tra piz­zazz. This isn’t about the cre­ators or any of that: this is vis­ual show­man­ship.

As for peak bright­ness, the set’s HDR per­for­mance is in line with the com­pe­ti­tion at the same price, so HDR is great. The 803 sup­ports HDR10, HLG and HDR10+.

Au­dio qual­ity is sur­pris­ingly punchy, given the telly’s slen­der form fac­tor. A rear woofer, aided by two pas­sive ra­di­a­tors, de­liv­ers a solid bass re­sponse, while a new oval mid-range driver and soft dome tweeter im­prove stereo sep­a­ra­tion. Philips’ more up­mar­ket OLED903 has a stun­ning Bow­ers & Wilkins sound sys­tem built in, and this isn’t as good as that, but you can get by with­out a sound­bar up­grade right away.

On the in­side

The 803 runs stock An­droid N. This isn’t ex­actly el­e­gant, but the quad­core pro­ces­sor keeps it snappy. There’s no Free­view Play tuner ( just Free­view HD), and catch-up is lim­ited to BBC iPlayer. Stream­ing ser­vices in­clude Net­flix and Ama­zon Prime Video (both of which are 4K HDR ca­pa­ble), plus YouTube (4K), Google Play, Rakuten TV and oth­ers.

Hap­pily, Philips is promis­ing an early soft­ware up­grade to An­droid Oreo, which looks to be much nicer and has Google As­sis­tant built in. There’s an Alexa app, too.

Am­bi­light, a Philips sta­ple, is present here on three sides. This mood-light­ing tech­nol­ogy has been around for yonks but never gets old. It can be used to mimic the hues of on­screen ac­tion, fol­low the beat of mu­sic, or sim­ply pro­vide a colour wash for lighter walls. We’re fans.

Over­all, the 803 is a mouth­wa­ter­ing OLED prospect. Sharp de­sign, great im­ages – in­clud­ing when work­ing with less-thanpris­tine sources, cru­cially – and with the al­ways-tan­ta­lis­ing bonus of Am­bi­light, it has the chops to ri­val the likes of LG’s C8 and Sony’s AF8. If you watch a lot of reg­u­lar TV, and like your movies as eye-catch­ing as pos­si­ble, the 803 is a bril­liant buy.

Dis­play sizes 55 or 65 inches Panel 3840x2160 OLED Im­age pro­ces­sorP5 Per­fect Pic­ture En­gine OS An­droid Nougat Au­dio 2.1-chan­nel 50W Con­nec­tiv­ity 4x HDMI, 2x USB, com­po­nent, head­phone out, Wi-Fi, Eth­er­net Di­men­sions 1227.8x705.6x49.3mm

The Philips 803 boasts a ra­zor-slim de­sign and de­cent con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions

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