Philips Cinema 21:9 Gold hands-on

Philips' 21:9 revolution rumbles on with the introduction of the more budget-friendly (although it still won't confirm the bloomin' price so we'll have to take its word for it) Cinema 21:9 Gold range - which will undercut the price of its Platinum brother by, most notably, losing the active 3D option, and by slashing 8-inches from the size.

Yep, that's right - you're looking at a 50-inch cinema ratio TV that packs Philips' Easy 3D (read passive 3D). If the original tempted you but was, in the end, too much of a monster for your living room to handle, the Gold series could well be enough to get you to part with your monies. That's what Philips will be hoping, at least.

But, does it still have the wow factor of the original? Pocket-lint got up close and personal at the TV's launch over in Barcelona, and we have to say, “yes”.

Sure, when put side by side with its more spec-heavy brother (as Philips did for a 3D demo), it loses some of its charm as the blacks are nowhere near as black, and the picture quality perhaps isn't as perfect. But when viewed alone, and wall-mounted too, to get the full Ambilight experience, it definitely still impresses.

Interestingly though, Philips decided to use football coverage for its demo - which is surprising given that it's built with movies in mind. Maybe the engineers were keen to show off its “optimal viewing” feature that converts 16:9 action for the wider display.

Whatever the reason, it worked, as the football looked spectacular - especially with the two-sided Ambilight Spectra 2 working its magic. It also packs Philips' Pixel Precise HD engine (with 4 trillion colours), a 100Hz clear LCD, a response time of 2ms and HD Natural Motion.

We also checked out some 3D snowboard action, and the Easy 3D option was none to shabby either. Passive vs. Active is down to personal preference really, although we have to say that, side-by-side, the Max 3D (active) on the Platinum may have been a tiny bit sharper. But that could have been down to its improved spec rather than the 3D platform.

When it lands in the shops (in August) it will also pack the Smart TV features, a multiview option and 2D to 3D conversion - although none of these were on show at the event sadly (on the 21:9 models at least).

Looks wise, it's a sleek looking set, which uses the same silver finish as the rest of the Philips' 2011 TV range, with the buttons underneath taking minimal space and actually looking about as cool as buttons can.

We couldn't get a look around the back to have a proper nosy about with regards to the port options, but expect HDMI options aplenty (we could see at least three) and there is also definitely a USB as it will boast Philips' new USB recording option (via the Smart TV platform). It'll also come with a matching table top stand that can also be used to wall-mount it.

Basically, the Cinema 21:9 Gold is Philips saying that its wider-screen option is much more than a novelty. It's got your living room firmly in mind for this bad-boy, and on first impressions, it may well succeed.

It's out in August and prices are still to be confirmed.