Philips sent over their huge 65” 65PML9506/79 9500 series mini-LED Android TV for me to take a look at. I was particularly keen to check out the Ambilight 4 lighting which backlights your wall with colour, extending the onscreen picture into your room.
As much as I love technology, I often find buying it anxiety-provoking. And there is nothing worse than when it comes to buying a new TV. Televisions are a massive investment and after your house, your car, and maybe your sofa they can be one of the most expensive items you own.
The more expensive the item the more you should expect it to do what it was made for, and do it well. Retailing for the best part of $3500, I had high fairly high expectations for Philip’s 65” 9500 series TV.
At 65” it’s a big TV, about as big as most people probably need unless they live in a palace. You can sit a reasonable distance from the screen and it is still reassuringly imposing.
Not only is the TV huge, it also weighs in at 28 kg. It has standard 400mm x 400mm wall mount holes, which I’d suggest was the best way to install this audio-visual behemoth. For the review I had it set up on the included stands. It’s very stable, but I wouldn’t say I was at all comfortable with its monolithic size perched untethered on the TV cabinet. There’s no safety strap supplied, but I would absolutely recommend tethering the TV to the wall if you are using the stands and wall mounting it.
The ultra-thin bezel has a brushed silver finish, not that you can see it from the front. The unit is not the thinnest TV I’ve seen but will sit fairly flush if wall-mounted. The cable management is pretty good, with a plastic cover over the HDMI connections, etc. on the rear.
Setting up the TV is reasonably easy. You don’t get a manual, only an illustrated quick-start guide, which I think is a bit poor, especially if you are old school. The on-screen prompts, however, do a pretty good job guiding you through the setup process.
The TV automatically finds and tunes the terrestrial TV channels. With Freeview Australia and Freeview New Zealand support, you get a handy TV Guide if the TV is connected to the Internet. The TV also supports live TV pausing and recording via USB storage.
Android integration means that it has easy access to all your favourite streaming networks and compatible Android games. The TV comes with all the most popular streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video pre-loaded so you can get straight into it. If you have an Android phone the Google operating system simply and easily expands onto the TV.
The TV remote is fully featured, with easy access to Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube. It’s a bit bigger than it needs to be but does the job. It looks nice and feels pretty robust.
The default TV setup will be fine for most, with a few exceptions. This may be down to personal taste, but I’m not a fan of artificial motion smoothing or noise reduction, which I find makes everything look like a videotaped 1980s soap opera.
The settings menu is a bit of a maze, but this is more down to the comprehensive choice of options. The picture and sound can be customised to taste, with different settings depending on what input is being used.
With the motion smoothing off, the picture looks phenomenal. Try as I did, and I did try, I really can’t fault the picture quality. The 4K Ultra HD LED TV is crisp and clear even with your nose touching the screen (no blurry smeared mess that only looks crisp when you are standing a few metres away). This TV has monitor-level clarity (not that a 65” monitor is very practical). With HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision support, the viewing experience is very cinematic.
With a white background, there was virtually no shadowing, the bane of every TV, no matter what the price, the mini LED array doing a good job of uniformly lighting the panel. Similarly, with a black screen, there are no light bleeds around the edges.
Whilst I’d ordinarily wire a TV into a home cinema system rather than use the built-in speakers, TVs have come a long way in the last decade with slim TVs with tiny speakers no longer meaning compromising sound quality. Audio output is provided by two 10W mid-high speakers and a 30W subwoofer. Whilst, understandably lacking the base you’d get from a home theatre system, the TV audio is still clear and natural. The TV features Dolby Atmos, which you can take with a pinch of salt if using the internal speakers, but great if using a compatible AV amp or a soundbar.
The big selling point is the Ambilight 4. This is an array of RGB LEDs around the edges on the rear of the TV that change in relation to the image on the screen. I found the Ambilight LEDs really increased my immersion, expanding the TV image into the room. Of course, you can switch this feature off, but I highly recommend you leave it on.
You can also integrate your Philips Hue lighting into the Ambilight 4 setup turning your home theatre room into a 360-degree lighting extravaganza. I tested it with my Hue lights, and it works, although my meagre setup lacked the intended impact, with lights flickering away in the dining room and lounge in sync with a TV in another room. As well as matching the picture illumination the Ambilight 4 feature can be used to match the colours with music, and even as static ambient room lighting.
The TV doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to hooking up your devices. There are four HDMI ports, each supporting all the high dynamic range features as well as HDCP 2.3 and ARC. The 4K UHD panel has a resolution of 3840x2160 and is compatible with 120Hz inputs. This means you can get the very best out of your PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S gaming consoles. The TV also features HDMI 2.1 ALLM and FreeSync Premium variable refresh rates for all HDMI ports, with eARC on HDMI 2. Connectivity is handled via Wi-Fi 802ac, Bluetooth 5.0, and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. The TV also has headphone and optical digital audio out.
The Philips 65” 9500 series TV is not a cheap TV, but it's far from being the most expensive. I was pleasantly surprised by just how good the TV is. Try as I might, I can’t really fault it at all. For your money, you get a fully-featured Android TV with a decent panel that is uniformly lit and produces a great picture. The built-in audio does the job and will be good enough for most without the need for a home theatre system or soundbar. The Ambilight 4 feature extends the image into the room creating a surprisingly immersive experience. If you are in the market for a 65” TV, this one is certainly worth a look.