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New Philips Cinema 21:9 and Eco LCD TVs

John Archer


New Philips Cinema 21:9 and Eco LCD TVs - First Look

Philips Cinema 21:9 58in LCD TV - Preview

Back in June 2009, Philips quite literally changed the shape of TV. For that marked the launch of the Dutch brand’s Cinema 21:9: a TV that stretched wider than the usual 16:9 widescreen TV aspect ratio to match the ultra-wide aspect ratio commonly used by films as they’re shot for the cinema.

And film fans that we are, we loved it. So when we were invited to attend an exclusive preview of the Cinema 21:9’s bigger, hopefully even better successor at Philips’ Center of Competence in Bruges, we jumped at the chance. Especially as the preview was also going to cover a startling new, EISA award-winning 'Eco TV'.

So it was that after a few hours on the Eurostar and local Belgian trains, we found ourselves in the company of Philips’ director of Technical Marketing Management, Danny Tack - and the huge, gleaming form of the new Cinema 21:9 TV.

The first thing to note about the new Cinema 21:9 we saw is that it's grown a couple of extra inches from last year’s 56in model (though there will also be a smaller, 52in model). But that’s just the start of what’s truly a wholesale set of improvements and changes.

For a start, the new Cinema 21:9 features 3D playback. In fact, unlike all the other 3D capable TVs in Philips’ upcoming TV range, the Cinema 21:9’s 3D emitter is actually built into the TV’s frame rather than coming as an optional extra external unit.

Actually, there are four emitters built in, all firing at different angles to ensure that 3D signals cover a wide section of your living room to ensure synchronisation with multiple pairs of Philips’ 3D glasses.

These glasses feature, as you would expect, the active shutter, Full HD 3D technology that’s currently dominating the 3D TV world. And before you ask, no, they will not work with any other brand of active shutter 3D TV. Initially it also appears that no pairs of glasses will be included with the TV as standard - though Danny Tack suspects there may well be promotional 'packages' featuring 3D glasses available before the end of the year.

The most important advance of the new Cinema 21:9 TVs so far as picture quality enthusiasts are concerned, though, has to be their move to direct LED lighting. The first Cinema 21:9 56PFL9954H used standard CCFL backlighting, and made pretty much as effective use of this as possible. But experience has repeatedly proved that direct LED backlighting can consistently boost an LCD TV’s performance, particularly in the contrast and colour departments.

What’s more, this is especially true when direct LED is accompanied by local dimming, whereby the TV can control the output of its clusters of LED lights individually. And needless to say, the new Cinema 21:9s have local dimming. Furthermore, to boost the accuracy of this dimming, Philips has built 30 per cent more LED clusters into the 21:9 frame than you’ll find in the brand’s 16:9 sets.

Driven by Philips Bright Pro processing, the new Cinema 21:9’s local dimming system allegedly enables it to produce a local brightness output that’s double that of the 500cd/m2 usually pumped out by LCD TVs - and a massive claimed 10,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

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