We've already seen Philip's potentially industry changing Cinema 21:9 aspect ratio TV, but yesterday afternoon the company kindly unveiled it to a small group of the UK's top tech press (yep, I was there too).
In short: wow.
In long: caveats.
But let's go for in medium. Now officially dubbed the 'Cinema 21:9', its remarkable aspect ratio treated us to a truly wonderful cinematic-like experience. For the purists, the name is a mathematical approximation for marketing purposes but it will enable films shot in 2.39:1 to completely fill the screen - though Philips was a touch sketchy on whether there may be the smallest amount of pixel mapping.
At 56 inches this form factor is incredibly striking (the shot below is alongside a 42in Philips 16:9). Its native resolution was to be revealed but we managed to discover it will be 2,560 x 1,080 pixels and 16:9 content (typical widescreen) will display without any pillar-boxing. 4:3 on the other hand will feature these horizontal black bars (less invasive than horizontal 'enveloping' in my opinion). Home cinema fans will also be chuffed to know that according to Philips more than 60 per cent of DVDs and Blu-rays already on sale allegedly support 21:9.
Interestingly, Philips is also skipping LED backlighting in this first iteration, so straight CCFL backlighting will be used instead. But from what we saw, the Perfect Pixel HD Engine was still jaw dropping and home cinema fans will be treated to no less than five HDMI ports plus DLNA, WiFi and Ethernet.
Controversies? The new version of Ambilight Spectra employed is sadly only three sided (the bottom edge misses out), no further specs were released and physically - at about 20cm deep - it isn't one for those hunting out an ultra slim model. Pricing was also a thorny topic with Philips not even prepared to indicate to the nearest thousand GBP - some speculate the aspect ratio will actually help reduce costs but if the Cinema 21:9 is less than £3,000 I'd be amazed (£4k-5k seems more likely to me).
Arrival timeframe? Loosely given as Q2 and we were told the version we were seeing wasn't final (the 16:9 and 4:3 scaling tech was absent). Why show us the Cinema 21:9 so early, then? Simple, there was a constant reference to how Philips was first with this product and the company even admitted it expects others to announce 21:9 screens soon - even though word is, it has exclusivity on panel production until August/September. It wants to be known as the leader here and that seems fair to me.
So, Philips may well have had the first word on the 21:9 form factor but don't expect it to be the last.
Official press shots on the next page...