Philips 50PFT6550 – Picture Quality
Provided you follow our setup advice, the 50PFT6550 rewards you for your efforts with some startlingly good picture quality.
Particularly impressive – and a sure sign that the combination of Philips’ TV picture expertise and the panel-making capabilities of its TP Vision owner is really starting to work – is the screen’s black-level response.
The 50PFT6550 uses a direct LED lighting system. Here, the lights sit directly behind the screen, plus a so-called Micro Dimming Pro system breaks down the picture into very small segments for more accurate analysis when deciding how best to use the lighting array. As such, dark scenes look exceptionally involving and convincing for an LCD TV – and especially for such a reasonably priced 50-inch set.
Black areas avoid much of the grey-wash effect often seen on affordable LCD TVs, yet also manage to achieve their deep, natural black colours without sacrificing subtle shadow detail.
This shows a very impressive level of control over the screen’s lighting, and ensures that dark scenes enjoy as much depth and detail as bright ones. This sort of consistency is essential to feel fully immersed in what you’re watching.
What’s even more impressive here is that the 50PFT6550’s achieves this combination of deep blacks and shadow detail without excessively compromising the brightness of the lightest parts of the image. In fact, scenes such as the opening title shot of Alien – which combine very light with very dark content – look way more dynamic on this Philips TV than they do on more expensive TVs.
Furthermore, these bright elements are reproduced without any significant haloing effects around them – often seen on TVs that use direct LED lighting.
We’d usually expect a TV that combines good black levels with plenty of brightness to excel where colour is concerned, and so it proves with the 50PFT6550. Rich, heavily saturated colours look almost explosively vibrant. In fact, you might feel the need to tone down the colour setting a touch in order to stop colours looking almost too dramatic using the out-of-the-box setting.
Even if you stick with the default colour settings, though, the 50PFT6550 does a superb job of delivering plenty of subtle shade handling and tonal control that pictures need to avoid striping and blocking artefacts.
Also, it’s great to see that people’s faces contain enough colour detail to ensure they look “lived in” and three dimensional, rather than one-dimensional and plasticky.
The finesse of the 50PFT6550’s colour reproduction plays its part in another of the TV’s picture strengths, too: its sharpness. Pictures often look more than HD – halfway to 4K, even.
This sort of extreme sharpness has long been a strength of Philips TVs, but it’s excellent to see it delivered via the Perfect Pixel engine without the excessive noise or over-obvious processing artefacts sometimes seen with Philips’ lower-powered picture engines.
The Perfect Pixel system also makes its presence felt in the set’s motion handling. Even on its lowest power setting, it’s able to remove most judder and blur without causing excessive side effects, such as haloing around moving objects, in the way that Philips’ lesser processing engines can.
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The only serious problems I encountered with the 50PFT6550’s images were the occasional appearance of fizzing noise over areas of very fine detail; some gentle backlight clouding in the image’s corners – although you can almost completely remove this if you rein in the image’s brightness; and, if you’re watching from an angle, some signs of light halos around bright objects against dark backdrops.
It’s important to stress that while I personally found the 50PFT6550’s strikingly bold approach to colours very watchable, the TV struggles to adhere closely to the industry’s Rec 709 standards. My feeling is that many people will actually prefer the look of the 50PFT6550’s pictures to the flatter look of true Rec 709 images, but it’s something that may force a certain kind of AV enthusiast to look elsewhere.
Overall, though, the 50PFT6550 gives Sony’s W805 series a run for its money as the best-performing HD LCD TV I’ve seen this year.