It does no harm to the external media receiver’s case, either, that it’s very nicely designed, featuring a glossy dark finish that looks almost as futuristic as the screen. Naturally the glossy finish of the receiver also matches the rich black finish of the extraordinary thin screen bezel – a bezel which extends barely half an inch in width around the entire screen; a space-saving design flourish reminiscent of Toshiba’s Picture Frame LCD models.
So thin is the TV’s bezel, in fact, that there’s only just room for a tiny Philips logo along the bottom edge, and a ‘pin-hole’ power light.
Speakers are always a thorny issue with extremely thin TVs, especially if you’ve got an eye on wall mounting. Yet here again Philips has come up with a remarkably elegant solution in the form of a really smartly designed speaker bar that can – but only if you wish to use it rather than a separate audio system – be attached to the TV’s bottom edge using a simple two-screw mount. What’s more, this speaker bar ‘connects’ to the audio output of the TV via a little row of touch-sensitive pins built into the mounting bracket, meaning there’s no need to mess about with anything so last year as audio cabling. Nifty.
The Essence has already gone further than the vast majority of flat TVs to make wall hanging it an absolute doddle. But we’ve still not got to what’s arguably its most inspired touch: its wall bracket. What makes this so special – aside from the fact that it’s included with the package rather than an optional extra! – is the fact that it’s curved, and allows the TV to move around that curve until you want to lock it into place. This makes it infinitely easier to get the TV sitting level on your wall, since if you don’t quite drill the mounting holes completely level, you can just slide the TV around the bracket curve until you’ve compensated for your drilling error. As a man who is to DIY what Barry White was to marathon running, there really is no overstating just how brilliant I find this wall bracket to be.
At which point I guess I’d probably introduce a bit of bad news, just in case you think my excitement is beginning to get the better of me. For gorgeous, slim and practical though the Essence undoubtedly is, it also resolutely fails to ‘light up’ in the way practically all other mid to high-end Philips TVs do these days. This is because the slenderness of the TV frame has made it impossible for Philips to squeeze in its eye-catching Ambilight technology, where relaxing, immersive pools of coloured light spill out of the TV’s rear and sides.
This really is a pity, for Ambilight generally works best in a wall-hung environment. Plus the extreme slenderness of the Essence’s frame would have meant there was less of a physical ‘barrier’ between the picture and the Ambilight ‘pools’. But when push comes to shove, if losing Ambilight is the price that has to be paid for the Essence’s stunning wall-hanging practicality, so be it.