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(Pocket-lint) - There have been multiple Smart TVs in the past, some of which much smarter than others, but none have really convinced us to forego our Apple TVs, Roku boxes or games consoles. They are great for people who prefer to have a tidier AV cabinet (or no cabinet at all) but there just seemed to be more options in separate devices.

The Philips TV powered by Android range changes that though. From our demo at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, it is clear that we've entered a new era in Smart TV, redefining what is possible without having to add any set-top-boxes.


All of the company's new 4K UHD TVs will be Android-enabled, including the 7900 series, 8900 curved series and the 9100 series which we saw in action. They all have a custom user interface based on Android 4.4 KitKat, run on quad-core processors, and a form of Ambilight - Philips' proprietary rear lighting system that extends the colours on-screen to the wall behind the TV.

Part of the reason and appeal of Android as its core operating system is that the support sets each have access to the Google Play Store as well as Philips own SmartTV app platform. That means that Android apps suitable for TV use can be downloaded and installed on the TVs.

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There are around 200 apps currently supported. And while that's only a fraction of the million or so available for Android devices, it's because they need to work well on a non-touchscreen device.

With games, for example, most require support for a Bluetooth or connected games controller - such as the OnLive Universal controller. Some can work with the gesture-centric remote control, but they too need to be converted for use first.

Philips is very much promoting the gaming functionality of its new TVs, with Badland coming pre-installed and talks on-going with Gameloft to have some of its biggest titles available immediately from the box.

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Plus, the company recently announced a tie-in with the OnLive service itself, providing direct access to the hundreds of triple-A console quality cloud streamed titles from the off too.

READ: Philips joins curved TV revolution with Ultra HD 4K set of its own, adds Ambilight

Other apps, such as Skype, work in a very different way on a tablet than is required for a television, so Philips purposely blocks them from the Play Store and often offers a dedicated version on its own app store. The TVs come with a built-in discreet front-facing camera and the remote contains a microphone, so the app needs to recognise those elements to work.

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Other major features include MyLiveGuard software that can control your security system, alarms, security cameras and even home automation kit from the TV. Plus, it can link with the MyLiveGuard app for smartphones and tablets so you can remotely access it all too.

If you have a Philips Hue lighting system you can also link it to work in tandem with the TV's Ambilight functions, so the whole room can change colour based on the on-screen action. This was possible in older sets, but now it can be set through the TV's menus.

And there is a separate Philips MyRemote app for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android devices that gives greater control over the content stored on the TV and its many user interface options.

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The TVs each come with 1.6GB of internal storage for the user to fill with downloaded apps, but that is admittedly small when considering some of the games available. An external source, therefore, is able to be hooked up through USB, either a memory stick or hard drive. That way up to an additional 64GB can be added.

Doing so will also enable users to pause, rewind and record TV shows, and these will be featured in the Android menu too. A last feature we saw was a recommedation system in the TV listings that gives you an idea of future shows that it thinks you'll like based on prior viewing habits.

Naturally, apps such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Prime will be available, with 4K streamed content where available. And the new TVs all have HEVC video support to allow that to happen.

The new 4K Ultra HD Philips TVs powered by Android will start to hit the market in the third quarter of this year, quite possibly October we understand. Prices are yet to be revealed.

Writing by Rik Henderson.