Recently, we described our early experiences with Philipsâ€™ new and controversial passive 3D 21:9-ratio TV. Today weâ€™re focusing on something more predictable, but certainly not less exciting: Philipsâ€™ new flagship 9000 Series.
For a couple of generations now the 9000 Series has, for us, pretty much defined the premium end of the LCD TV market with its combination of classy design, huge feature counts and outstanding picture and sound quality. And from what weâ€™ve seen at the Philips global media event in Barcelona this week, there seem few reasons to doubt that the 2011 9000 Series will be just as influential - if not more so.
For a start, the new 9000 models are just as easy on the eye and, frankly, strokable, as previous generations. Thereâ€™s a stainless steel sheet over the bezel, which makes the sets look like theyâ€™ve been hewn from hunks of pure metal, and their rear ends stick out noticeably less than those of last yearâ€™s 9000 series - 39mm vs 65mm, to be precise.
This extra slimness has been achieved despite all the 9000 series models still using direct (rear-mounted) LED lighting, and despite the fact that the 9000 series also enjoys a new, souped up version of Philipsâ€™ Ambilight system.
Ambilight Spectra XL, as itâ€™s rather impressively called, uses double rows of LED lights, so that Ambilightâ€™s unique pools of coloured light around the TV appear more intense and spread further from the TVâ€™s edges.
We couldnâ€™t get around the back of any 9000 TVs to check out full connectivity, but given that the set is 3D capable, equipped with the same Smart TV functionality described in our hands-on look at the passive 3D 21:9 model, and compatible with multimedia playback from and recording to USB drives, we wouldnâ€™t expect the set to be short of a connection or two. Plus, of course, it has built-in Wi-Fi.
The surprisingly long list of innovations Philips has come up with for the new 9000 series doesnâ€™t end with their aesthetics. For a start, to get round the audio problems created by making their new TVs so much slimmer, Philips has built the TVsâ€™ speakers into the startlingly sturdy stand the TVâ€™s sit on.
To be honest, we werenâ€™t convinced during our hands on that the sound from this arrangement was as well rounded and potent as it was with the old rear woofer/front tweeter system used on the past couple of 9000 series. Whatâ€™s more, taking this approach to sound means you have to rotate the stand around onto the TVâ€™s rear if you want to wall hang a new 9000 model and still enjoy its own sound, which leaves the TV protruding quite some distance from your wall - and rather negates the idea of making the TVs slimmer in the first place.
But then to be fair, thereâ€™s a decent chance that someone spending enough to buy a 9000 series TV will also have a separate sound system anyway.