Unless you've had your head buried in AV sand the past couple of years, you'll know that the world has gone crazy for 4K. Pretty much every TV you can buy now is 4K Ultra HD. There are 4K Blu-ray players and discs. Netflix and Amazon stream in 4K. Even the latest games consoles are now offering gaming in 4K.

Why do people love 4K so much? Because it gives the sharpest, most detailed pictures the TV world has ever seen. And as proved by how quickly HD and Full HD televisions took off a few years back, if there's one picture feature consumers always understand, it's sharpness.

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Resolution and sharpness go hand in hand

What many people rushing out to buy 4K TVs might not realise though, is that simply filling a TV screen with a 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels isn't enough in itself to guarantee pin-sharp, ultra-detailed pictures. All sorts of other factors - particularly motion blur and source noise - can have an impact on how crisp and clean 4K pictures actually look on a particular TV.

No manufacturer understands this better than Philips. Which is why the brand has gone to extreme lengths with its new, ultra-powerful P5 Perfect Picture Engine to ensure that nothing stands between you and seeing every last tiny pixel of detail from every source.

The very first thing the P5 engine does is analyse your incoming source pictures and use intelligent noise reduction systems to clean them up. After all, only once you've taken out all the different types of video noise can you hope for your other picture processing tools to deliver the cleanest, sharpest results.

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Sharpness metering

Once noise has been dealt with, the P5 engine applies a sharpness meter to the picture to detect how innately sharp it is, so that it can asses the right level of enhancement to apply. Then it looks for different kinds of "peak" elements in the picture, so that it can apply its sharpening tools to them slightly differently.

For example, if the processing detects a person's face, it will apply its sharpness enhancement a little more subtly in that area of the picture to reflect the way skin tones sometimes don't look as natural after being sharpened as other types of picture content.

Philips' processing prowess also enables it to stop thin lines from looking too thick - a common side effect of less capable sharpening systems.

Only after Philips' P5 system has finished assessing local differences in each incoming frame of an image do its main sharpening tools kick in. These start with a detail meter that decides how much a picture source can sensibly be improved. Then a combination of detail enhancement and ultra resolution upscaling either introduces carefully calculated new pixels when a non-4K source requires them, or works on the original pixels in an Ultra HD source to make them better, delivering finer lines, more detail and an enhanced sense of depth.

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Next up: motion processing

By this point, the P5 engine has already taken more steps than most to make Philips TV pictures peerlessly sharp. But it still has one more clarity-boosting trick up its sleeve in the shape of its motion processing.

Philips' Perfect Natural Motion system has always been cleverer than most at inserting extra frames of picture into incoming video signals so that they appear free of the TV world's common judder or blur problems. But combining its long TV picture quality experience with enough processing power to handle four billion pixels at any given moment means you don't lose any sharpness to judder or blur with even the fastest moving objects in a picture.

This sort of motion clarity is particularly important with 4K TVs, where even the slightest loss of resolution stands out like a sore thumb against the stunning Ultra HD sharpness elsewhere.

However, important though motion compensations systems are to TV sharpness, they usually cause an unfortunate side effect: shimmering or flickering noise around the edges of moving objects that also stands out against the general sharpness of a good 4K picture. Here again, the P5 system goes the extra mile, harnessing new motion compensation algorithms to all that raw processing power to ensure that the edges of moving objects look as immaculately sharp as the rest of the image.

Philips TVs have long been renowned for their sharpness, right back to the days when Full HD TVs were considered state of the art. But the way the P5 engine combines Philips most powerful processing ever with the joys of native 4K resolution delivers detail and crispness the like of which we've never seen before. Be warned, though; once you've seen a P5 TV in action, the real world can start to look pretty mushy by comparison.