Ameya DalviApr 01, 2021 14:50:15 IST
Overall Rating: 3.8/5
Price: Rs 45,990 to 59,990
We have reviewed a couple of Philips TVs in the recent past, and we liked what they offered, except for the Saphi platform they were based on, which seemed clunky with extremely limited app support. In order to address that, the company has made a shift towards Android TV with its new 8200 series of 4K LED TVs. We received the 55-inch variant from the series for review. Let’s see how it performs.
Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV – Design and Connectivity: 8/10
The new Philips 55PUT8215/94 looks quite like the 58PUT6604/94, but just a little smaller (understandably). It has an elegant, near bezel-less design on three sides and a more distinct bottom bezel. The IR receiver is placed at the right end of the bottom bezel, while the company logo is on the left. The TV isn’t as slim as the OnePlus 55U1 TV, but not too bulky either. It can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled metal stands.
The port placement isn’t ideal. One HDMI, one USB, and a 3.5mm headphone out are present on the left side, while the rest of the ports that include another USB port, three HDMI ports, an optical audio out and a LAN port are placed along the bottom edge of the back panel. Four HDMI ports are great to have, but the bottom ports can be hard to reach irrespective of whether you place the TV on the wall or on a table. Interestingly, all four HDMI ports support ARC.
Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV – Features and specifications: 8.5/10
This Philips 55PUT8215/94 TV has a 55-inch Ultra HD panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and a 60 Hz refresh rate. The company has neither specified the panel type nor the peak brightness. The TV is powered by a quad-core processor with ARM Cortex A53 cores and Mali-G51 GPU. Each of the four CPU cores can throttle between 1038 MHz to 1500 MHz. Giving it company are 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of internal storage, a huge chunk of which is taken up by the Android TV 9.0 OS and the pre-installed apps. You are left with less than 5 GB of free space, which is the lowest I have come across on a TV with 16 GB of storage.
Sound output is rated at 16 Watts RMS, and the TV speakers are compliant with Dolby Atmos. This Philips TV supports all popular HDR standards such as HLG, HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. You get dual-band Wi-Fi and support for Bluetooth 4.2. It has Chromecast built-in, and lets you cast content to the screen from compatible apps on your phone or tablet. The TV also supports the DTS Play-Fi feature, which lets you connect to compatible speakers in any room and listen to audio. It can be handy for listening to match commentary or music while you are away from the TV. I did not have a compatible speaker handy to test this feature out.
The company bundles a stylish remote control that works on both IR and Bluetooth. It has hotkeys for Netflix and YouTube, along with a wide array of other keys ranging from numeric keypad, volume control to playback controls and more. It can accept voice commands as well and is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa. Its build quality is quite solid, and two AAA batteries needed to power it are bundled in the package.
Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV – OS and User Interface: 7/10
As I mentioned at the start, this Philips 8200 series TV runs Android TV 9.0 OS, but has a heavily modified user interface. On the homepage, you have your usual row of installed apps, the shortcuts for which you can add, remove or shuffle around. Other rows display last played or suggested content from various platforms. A layer deeper, the settings menu has been completely altered and feels cluttered. While it is great to have a lot of options to fine-tune different aspects of the TV, it can be intimidating for many. Also, the back button on the remote often knocks you out of the settings menu, instead of going one level back, even if you are three levels deep into the menu, thus impacting navigation and user experience.
The interface is mostly text-based and not the most intuitive. At times, you may have to wade through several options to find what you were looking for. The grouping could have been better for some of the options. A lot of these UI elements have been carried forward from the Saphi OS, which I feel is completely unnecessary and can use a fresh approach. On the bright side, the UI is snappy and stutter-free on this TV. Even better, you can access the settings menu from any app or input source. However, the quick settings menu could have done with fewer but more focused options, rather than the entire laundry list.
Apps for Netflix and Prime Video are pre-installed on this TV, along with apps for a handful of Google services. But that’s not all: you also get another dozen pre-installed apps on this TV, some of which I have never even heard of. No wonder there’s so little free space left in the internal storage. Thankfully, at least half the bloatware can be uninstalled. Another small UI issue being, every time you boot the TV, it halts at the channel tuner screen, rather than going to the Android home page. Since digitisation, it is a redundant feature in India and Philips should have tweaked the software accordingly for units sold here.
Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV – Picture quality: 8/10
The picture quality of this Philips TV is quite impressive. It uses Philips’ new P5 engine, which is at the heart of some of its premium models. The panel is sufficiently bright, has good contrast and the picture is tuned reasonably well out of the box. However, it can be improved further using dozens of options at your disposal. If you are feeling too lazy to explore, do a couple of things. Switch off all kinds of Dynamic and Auto contrast from the settings, as the contrast feels a lot better that way. Second, look for the motion settings and tone them down to low or simply switch them off, because the motion feels unnatural, and you can spot ample motion artifacts.
The colour reproduction of this TV is generally excellent, and colours feel vibrant yet natural in most cases. However, if you look closely, you will notice a green tinge in the picture. It is not overly conspicuous, and some may not even notice it, but if you do, it is hard to ignore. And that makes the green shades feel slightly more blown out. Barring that, there’s no major issue with the picture quality. The black levels are more than decent for an LED TV, but not the best I have seen.
The Philips 55PUT8215/94 supports all popular HDR standards including HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. 4K videos encoded in those formats (on Prime Video and Netflix respectively) look excellent on this TV, with great contrast. Dolby Vision content looked even better. Details in darker areas in the picture had ample clarity and there was absolutely no flickering in high-contrast scenes, as is the case with some other TVs. The green tinge is present even in HDR videos, but don’t worry, it doesn’t feel like you are watching The Matrix. A logo for the specific HDR standard being used flashes on the screen for a few seconds when you start the video, which is always handy.
4K SDR videos look just as good on this TV, and the difference in quality is barely noticeable. 1080p videos scale well and look nearly as good as their 4K counterparts. 720p videos look watchable, but are not in the same league as Full HD and beyond; the drop in quality is significant. Anything lower than 720p looks quite soft and pixelated. No surprises there, as that’s the case with almost all large screen 4K TVs.
Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV – Audio quality: 7/10
The TV has a pair of stereo speakers that deliver a total rated output of 16 Watts RMS. The speakers produce crisp audio with a decent amount of bass, to a point that the music is actually enjoyable on the TV speakers. Vocal clarity is passable, but not the greatest I have heard. The audio is acceptable when watching soaps, news, sports and even some music. It is also fine for the occasional movie or web series, but you really need to push the volume upwards of 75 percent most of the time for dialogue clarity.
Yes, the speakers are Dolby Atmos-certified, but they are a pair of 16 W stereo speakers after all and can do little to add anything substantial to the virtual surround sound experience. The speakers aren’t the loudest around, but suffice for a mid-sized room when you push the volume sufficiently high. I wish the TV had more audio settings beyond presets to tweak the sound a bit more. The TV does offer you headphone out, digital audio out and HDMI ARC along with Bluetooth to plug in a soundbar or a speaker system and enhance the audio further.
Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV – Overall performance: 7.5/10
The Philips 55PUT8215/94 TV boots in 35 seconds, which is brisk for an Android TV, but gets stuck at the aforementioned channel tuner screen; add another five seconds to get to the home screen from there after hitting the home button. It supports the quick resume feature, and the TV can be switched on from standby mode in a couple of seconds flat. The video file format support through USB is excellent on the default player. It managed to play pretty much everything I threw at it with various codecs, including our 4K test videos. There was no noticeable lag, either.
The remote control here is a bit temperamental. Firstly, it has a weird liking for alkaline batteries and keeps warning you to replace the batteries if you put basic ones in it. Ironically, the company doesn’t bundle alkaline batteries with the TV. Despite all the warnings, the remote functions fine. While it can operate over Bluetooth, it tends to unpair with the TV on and off, and even freezes at times. Removing the batteries and putting them back sorts this out. At times, the voice commands work fine, but the rest of the remote works over IR. Too moody for my liking.
Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV – Price and verdict
There is a huge variance in the pricing of this TV. The Philips 55PUT8215/94 4K Android TV was launched at an MRP of Rs 89,990 and generally sells online for anything between Rs 45,990 to Rs 59,990. Philips offers a two-year warranty on this TV, which is an added benefit. All things considered, this TV is a rather good buy as long as you can purchase it for under Rs 50,000. While its picture quality is undoubtedly good and supports all popular HDR formats, competition is quite stiff. It does compete well with other 55-inch TVs priced around the Rs 50,000 mark such as the OnePlus TV 55U1 and Mi QLED TV, but the UI needs some refinement.
The Android experience here does seem like a first attempt from the company in the Android TV arena and can do with a few more coats of polish. During my interaction with company officials, I was informed Philips will release periodic updates to fix the shortcomings, and an Android 10 update is also on the cards later this year. All said and done, the Philips 55PUT8215/94 is a fine Smart TV that can be a great option around the Rs 50,000 mark if the company can tweak the UI soon and put the Saphi hangover to rest.