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Philips Cinema 21:9 58PFL9955H/12 - Features and Picture Quality

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Philips Cinema 21:9 58PFL9955H/12


Our Score:


As you’d expect from such a connections array, the set’s multimedia talents are extensive, including playback of a multitude of video, photo and music file formats from USB stick or networked PC, and access to Philips’ online Net TV service.

We’ve covered Net TV in depth in previous Philips reviews and our recent feature focusing on the different TV online services, so all we’ll say here is that its highlight is a built-in Opera browser that lets you surf the Web at large rather than restricting you to Philips’ ring-fenced content.

We also won’t trouble you by going into detail about the set’s extremely powerful Perfect Pixel HD video processing engine, as again, we’ve covered this extensively before. Suffice it to say that it’s arguably the only picture processing engine in the mainstream TV world that might be expected to comfortably handle the challenges associated with optimising non-21:9 sources for a 21:9-shaped screen.

What we certainly do want to talk about, though, is the 58PFL9955H’s 3D readiness. In fact, unlike other 3D Philips sets, this one actually has the transmitter built into the TV’s body. Plus you get two pairs of active shutter glasses thrown in for free, compared with just one with some other manufacturers. Note that there’s no 2D to 3D conversion, though.

Also important to mention in the features section is the lighting technology driving the screen. For not only does it use a direct LED illumination array with contrast-boosting local dimming, but it also adds around a third more individually controllable LED clusters than the 224 found in the brand’s outstanding PFL9705 models.

With so much going on in the features department with the 58PFL9955H, it’s rather surprising that it doesn’t have a built-in Freeview HD tuner. But there you go. You’ll just have to stick with the Sky HD or Virgin box you’ve probably got anyway if you’re considering spending £4k on a TV.

Fed a trusty 2.35:1-ratio favourite, Casino Royale on Blu-ray, the 58PFL9955H immediately generates an almost visceral response from all who behold it. And by visceral, we actually mean jaw-dropping and eye-popping!

For a start, there’s just something wonderfully right about the 21:9 shape when applied to a TV. Its extra width chimes more naturally with the way our eyes perceive the world, and so it feels both more relaxing than a normal 16:9 picture and, more importantly, more immersive.

It’s also superb not to have black bars above and below the Casino Royale picture. We’ve watched this Blu-ray dozens times, but we’ve never felt so completely engaged by it as we were on the 58PFL9955H - a fact we’re convinced not having the black bars is at least partly responsible for.

Once you’ve got past the sheer wonderment of seeing films bar-free and stretched so wide in your living room, it also hits you that the quality of the images on show is pretty extraordinary. As with the PFL9705H range, for instance, the 58PFL9955H’s black level response is ridiculously good, comfortably outgunning all other LCD TVs we can think of, and even pushing the best plasma TVs hard.

What’s even more amazing about the58PFL9955H’s truly profound black levels is that they can co-exist in the same frame as emphatically bright and intense peak whites and rich colours. The local dimming aspect of the LED lighting array means the set doesn’t have to reduce overall brightness levels when showing dark material, and there really is no over-stressing just how strong an effect this has on the image’s general dynamism - and the believability and watchability of dark scenes in particular.


November 25, 2010, 3:40 pm

This really is an amazing TV! I saw it the other day, playing Monsters Versus Aliens. I'm not such a fan of the film itself, but the colours were rich enough to make me want to lick the screen! (Sort of).

@TR: any comment on how it performs with normal, non HD, broadcasts? How does the picture look blown up or using the various framing options? Wouldn't a 16:9 TV programme get 'lost' in all the black bars?

Also, another shop was running the disaster film 2012. Again, incredible pictures. But in one scene with the foreign heads of state, the Philips didn't display the subtitles, whereas the 16:9 sets did. Does the 21:9 format get rid of subtitles altogether? (Not much fun for fans of foreign cinema) Can it be set to display them whilst keeping the 21:9 format or is a special (i.e. Philips DVD or Blu-ray player) needed?


November 25, 2010, 4:17 pm

It may seem like an odd conclusion to derive from looking at this product but I could really see myself wanting something like this as a PC monitor if they scaled it down and increased the resolution. Given that I use my desktop mostly for either browsing, writing or watching films it would be fantastic to be have room for 3 simultaneous windows so I can browse, write notes and use Word/Tweetdeck/Kindle at the same time, and then be able to use the whole screen estate for films later. Granted it's not a large market and I'd be one of a few to want it but if someone made an affordable ~27" 21:9 monitor I'd struggle to stop myself buying it.


November 25, 2010, 4:22 pm

@Ripsmorter: But in one scene with the foreign heads of state, the Philips didn't display the subtitles

Did it have black bars down the left and right, if not then they most likely set the displaymode to zoom or something similar, this then would crop the top and bottom. With 16/9 material there is no way of displaying fullscreen without either having the black bars, or cropping, or worst of all stretching (IOW: make people look fat) :)


November 25, 2010, 4:51 pm

I'm surprised you don't anywhere in the review address what this TV is like with regular 16:9 programming.

Not many people would consider having both a 16:9 and 21:9 58" TV in their living rooms; and though this TV obviously targets the movie fanatic, they are still likely to watch a fair measure of regular 16:9 news, sports, drama, etc. Perhaps also to connect a games console.

Philips says, "For 16:9 we use highly advanced auto-formatting technology to stretch the 16:9 content progressively out to fill the 21:9 screen. This technology achieves this result with minimal distortion to the image."

Trusted Reviews says nothing.

So how offensive is their "highly advanced auto-formatting" when stretching 16:9 programming to fill a 21:9 display? Is it best turned off, and then is this TV really not suitable except as a dedicated movie TV?

Also, your statement about "manipulating the image's geometry at its left and right edges" when viewing 2.35:1 Blu-rays encoded as letterboxed 16:9 is surely confused. These sources will be upscaled without geometry manipulation; anything else would defeat the purpose of having a TV with a native cinema aspect ratio.


November 25, 2010, 5:34 pm

Apologies if this has been mentioned elsewhere but is that creepy camp looking robot on the TV a slim Eric Roberts in disguise?

Matt Ross

November 25, 2010, 7:15 pm

Although it won't be helpful for TV broadcasted films with subtitles, some Blu-Ray/DVD players can shift the subtitles up on screen to get around the issue of them dropping off the bottom. I have an Oppo BDP-83 and it has this feature in newer firmware revisions.


November 25, 2010, 7:32 pm

No so alone a88. I would also love a (say?) 30" version as a PC monitor. It would beat using two monitors as I do now.

But, it would have to be ips, or at least va quality screen. TN sucks. Ergo not that cheap. Incidentally I have to say I'm surprised and dissappointed there's no IPS or VA screen with 3d capability.

I think in future we'll see curved oleds in this size. It makes sense to me.


November 25, 2010, 7:57 pm

Credit to Ripsnorter because the very worrying subtitles issue affects even those who can live without them.

Many film distributors cut down on home video costs by using prints before any text - translations, on screen place names, etc. - are part of the final image, and just have it all handled by player generated captions, rejigged appropriately for each region. That's important because unlike the original text, player-generated captions aren't just hideous to look at but are much more frequently placed in the black bar area. And obviously, the implications for anamorphic foreign films are especially bad.


November 25, 2010, 8:27 pm


Yeah, I'm curious of that too. The predecessor claimed the same thing. And I'm thinking: it's either gonna be distorted like hell or you're gonna lose a lot of picture information to the left and right. Maybe they do a little of both and reviews of the former model stated that 16:9 looked okay.

Still, I actually like contemporary TV shows better than movies and they're all shot in 16:9, so I'd rather have a 65" 16:9 TV than this one. And that 65" 16:9 TV will probably be just as wide as a 58" 21:9 model, so I'd have the best of both worlds...


November 25, 2010, 8:55 pm


The Philips displayed 2012 with no black bars whatsover. The 16:9 ones had them top and bottom as usual. I can't say what ratio the film had on the lu-ray that was playing.


Thanks. I watch a great deal of foreign cinema and will always go for subtitles because I want to hear the original language. Unlike most people (read, Americans) I've no problem watching and reading at the same time. But if the Philips cannot display subtitles in a meaningful way, either from disc or TV, then it's a complete no-deal for me. I can't believe this hasn't occurred to Philips.


November 25, 2010, 9:49 pm

@Jones - Ever tried tineye.com reverse image lookup? It's interesting technology. And it does resolve the burning Eric Roberts question! (It's a short called "The Gift" commissioned by Philips to promote the 21:9 aspect ratio... there is some talk it might get picked up by a studio and made into a feature.)

@Tim - Yup, that's my concern.

I bought my last large TV on the basis my viewing would be almost all movies. But the idea that I'd watch a few good films a week fizzled out when I'd run through the classics and acquainted myself with the waste-of-space quality of much of what's being released now.

And at the same time there is some quite well-crafted TV out there, so the balance of my viewing didn't end up as I expected.

And if the Philips 21:9 is really only suitable for movies, I'd be tempted to get a ceiling-mounted projector instead and stick with a regular 16:9 TV.

Hamish Campbell

November 25, 2010, 10:49 pm

@Ripsnorter : bit harsh there mate. One should note that the germans and the spanish dub all their foreign tv and movies, whereas the portuguese and scandinavians do not. And they all watch stacks of foreign language (in this case english) films. I don't know about the yanks, but as a kid to now I've noticed things have moved away from dubbing in the english speaking world, I could be wrong, but I doubt the americans are dubbing any foreign movies now.....anyone actually know this?


November 26, 2010, 12:05 am


Not really. If a film is made in German or Spanish or whatever, I want to have the original soundtrack and read subtitles. Dubbing can be done well (the German 'Bruce Willis' is excellent, for example), but someone has translated the script, adapted it because some things don't work in the new language (such as wordplay) and then it's revoiced in a studio. Often, due to pressure of release dates, the voiceover artists, many of whom are jobbing actors, don't even get to see the film as they dub. Also, to save money in the dubbing territories it is conveyor belt work, often done in one take with the dubbing studios competing on the basis of lowest price wins because the distributors don't want to pay a penny more than they have to.

Dubbing is a cultural thing. It was introduced in Germany after the last war by the Americans who wanted to get their films out, and also to counter the Russian films in the eastern zone.

Foreign films get very little play in the US. In the major cities, in some arthouse cinemas, perhaps they have a chance. But mainstream? Not a chance! Let The Right One In, the Scandinavian vampire film, for example, managed to get a lot of publicity and did very well, but actual viewing figures were low. The Americans much prefer to remake a successful (in its own territory) foreign film and then sell it back to us.


November 26, 2010, 2:43 pm

Well last year these sets were £4k at launch. A month / two ago they were £1600 in Richer sounds. So if you really like the idea, but aren't too sure then wait a while and pickup a bargain later.

Besides it's CES soon and then we get to find out about all the new toys for next year.


November 26, 2010, 4:57 pm

Hi all. Just a couple of questions before I start looking for the best deals.

1. Can you feed in native resolution (2560 x 1080) through HDMI from a PC?

2. What is the input lag like? With and without PC Mode enabled.



November 26, 2010, 7:19 pm

@John Archer / TR

Given there are some very relevant questions being asked in this thread (and not just and issues raised, would it be possible for you or someone else to revist this set or comment as best you can?

Jan Andersen

December 20, 2010, 4:29 am

@John Archer

Well thanks for taking your time to review the 58PFL995. Perhaps it would have been better to not, if you realy make a review, I think it should be done trustworthy and usefull, else dont.

The review dosnt mention a word on key issues - its a long jolly good story.

1) How does it perform detecting the film formats ?

2) How long time to detech a 21:9 movie ?

3) What happens if a 16:9 commercial cuts in ?

4) Can it detect a 21:9 movie even there is a channel logo etc overlapping ?

5) How does it perform on DVD / DVB-T 21:9 movies ????

Those questions are key.

Jan Andersen

December 26, 2010, 4:47 pm


Aparantly the new 58PFL9955 has a menu for moving the subtitles. Check theese 29 pictures on a Vorwegian test, among one ( column 1, row 3 ) with the menu for moving the subtitles. "Flytting av undertext" = "Move subtitles". I suppose there should be a picture of this in the manual.



February 7, 2011, 3:54 pm

How Philips communicates about the Philips Cinema 21:9 58PFL9955H


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