In terms of features beyond the key passive 3D system, the Cinema 21:9 Gold is impressive. For as well as having its pictures powered by Philips' Pixel Precise HD processing (a step down from its top-level Perfect Pixel HD engine), it boasts the same 'Smart TV' system found on the brand's new flagship TVs. This means you can control the TV via your iPad or smartphone via an April-launched app; play back on your TV exactly the same array of multimedia files that your PC can play; surf the Net; or access Philips' 'apps store', which apparently already stores around 400 apps.
From our time with the Cinema 21:9 Gold, the jury remains out on the apps side of Philips' latest Smart TV functionality - chiefly on the grounds that so far as we could tell, a large proportion of those 400 apps are for local, foreign language markets across Europe, with relatively few being of any use to your average British consumer. Though of course, Philips still has time to get more English-language content and catch-up TV services on board before the TV goes on sale.
Our feelings about the Cinema 21:9 Gold's multimedia flexibility are universally positive, though. It's just such a relief to find a TV able to play absolutely anything you care to throw at it, and able to join up with your networked devices so effortlessly.
One other potentially brilliant feature of the Cinema 21:9 Gold is its Dual View Gaming option. This uses the dual-image nature of 3D technology to allow split-screen console gamers to instead have one 2D full-screen image simultaneously viewable to each player on the same TV. You just need to buy Philips' optional gaming glasses pack, which will contain two pairs of glasses: one with lenses that only receive the 'left eye' side of a typical 3D image, and one with lenses that only show the right eye side of a typical 3D image.
Next up is the moment of truth: do the Cinema 21:9 Gold's pictures justify Philips adoption of the passive 3D format?
The short answer is that we're not quite sure. On the upside, pitching the Cinema 21:9 Gold up against the active 3D Cinema 21:9 Active immediately reveals that the passive, Gold version suffers much less with crosstalk's double ghosting distraction. In fact, we didn't spot any of it at all unless it was there in the source.
Given our hatred of crosstalk, this is clearly a major feather in the Cinema 21:9 Gold's cap, and is definitely consistent with Philips' claim that passive 3D viewing is less tiring over long viewing periods.
Switching glasses to go between the active and passive models also reminded us that passive 3D tech doesn't suffer with subliminal flickering like active 3D can if you're in a very bright room or are watching a particularly bright scene. Philips' passive glasses are also much lighter and less cumbersome than its active ones - though it should be said that the active ones we tried were 2010's models; apparently 2011's active shutter glasses will be lighter and generally more manageable.