(Pocket-lint) - When Philips announced its new TV models for 2019, it highlighted one of its mid-range TVs and lifted it above its flagship LED and OLED models.
Appointing it "The One", there's a Mourinho-esque feeling to this endowment; apparently, this is the TV that you should recommend to your friends to buy.
So let's get this straight: Philips thinks you should be spending your money wisely on a TV that has everything you want, while it not necessarily being the absolute best available? In a nutshell, yes.
What is the position of The One?
The 7304 is a mid-range TV from Philips. Part of the 7000-series, Philips would rather you didn't refer to it in numbers, rather just call it The One. In terms of features, yes, it now sits under the 8804 (with Bowers & Wilkins sound system) - and the 9104 (with Georg Jensen design) - and indeed the 7504, which basically has a slightly better sound system.
So why is this model The One? Because it's the update to Philips' best selling 2018 television. This is the model that sold in volume because it hits that sweet spot of performance and price.
It's actually the entry-level Android TV from Philips, take a step down and you move to Philips' own Saphi platform instead. So The One offers smart connectivity, Google Assistant (with a voice button on the remote) - as well as support for Alexa, so it's a fully connected TV.
The One design
- Sizes: 43, 50, 55, 58, 65, 70 inches
- Silver bezel with T-bar stand
- Three-sided Ambilight
Coming in a wide range of sizes from 43-inches all the way up to 70 inches, there are more size options in this model than any other that Philips offers. A silver bezel runs around the TV that looks neat, but separates it from some of the minimalist TVs out there, while the stand takes a T-bar design.
That T-bar offers swivel on some of the smaller models - the 65 and 70-inch models lose out - while it's a full array LED TV, so it's a little thicker than some edge-lit LED rivals. That probably won't bother you, because Philips has something else to offer - Ambilight.
If you're looking for a point of differentiation from brands like Sony or Samsung, then Ambilight is it. It's a three-sided system that will illuminate the wall behind your TV to extend the on-screen visuals into the room.
Ambilight can also be combined with Philips Hue bulbs for a larger experience, as well as various accessories to make it even more immersive. If you don't like it you can turn it off, but for us it's something that makes these TVs stand out - and it can be synced with music too.
Philips 7304 The One performance and features
- 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR 10+
- Full array LED with P5 processing
This is a 4K HDR TV and perhaps unique for a TV at this level, it supports both HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision. That's something that Philips is offering widely across its TVs, and even the lower tier 6000 series has that ability too.
This model is direct lit with a full array LED arrangement, which should lead to good local dimming. We've seen some demo content with the TV and we're impressed with its performance. It's not quite as potent as the 8804 or the OLED models that Philips will be offering, but it still has Philips P5 Perfect Picture Engine tweaking the visuals.
Exactly how effective the dimming is remains to be seen and we'll be sure to follow up with a full assessment when we can get a review sample.
But there's a bigger point about performance here. While the OLED 804/854 are pitched at those who want the best, the aim of The One is slightly different. The message here is that there will be some areas where the picture quality doesn't match those top levels - but you're getting a TV that costs a lot less and may be perfect for your requirements.
For many people, that might mean that it hits that junction between great quality and great price. At least you know it's offering the latest standards and there's a key point to consider: systems like Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ do a lot more to improve the quality of a mid-range panel and they do a flagship panel. Essentially, if you feed in a quality source, you'll get a quality picture in return.
A noticeable sound boost
- 2.0 20W sound system
- Dolby Atmos support
As you step down Philips' range of TVs, the sound offering drops too. While the 8804 gets itself a really impressive Bowers & Wilkins sound system, the 7304 is rather more normal.
It's a 2.0 system with 20W output, but it has been revised since the 2018 7303 model. We had the chance to hear a comparison and compared to the older model the sound is richer and more bassy, which is a good thing if you're planning to use the TV's speakers.
There's also support for Dolby Atmos, but be warned that's there's no provision to really exploit the Atmos information it might receive - there are no additional speakers to create that immersive soundstage.
However, with the TV able to decode Atmos, it will be able to get more information out of the system to boost the overall sound experience. While that sort of makes sense on the 8804 or OLED+ 903 with more capable sound systems, it's slightly at odds with the positioning of this TV.
You'll get a better sound experience from a separate sound system or soundbar, but support for Dolby Atmos at the TV level should mean that if you're streaming that Atmos content from Netflix, for example, the TV understands what to do with it - even if that means passing it out to a compatible soundbar or receiver.
Of course, these are things we'll have to examine in more detail when we come to review this TV.
Philips has yet to pin a price on The One - the 7304 - but we suspect it will be close to the pricing of the 2018 version of this TV. That would put the 55-inch model at around an RRP of £800.
While the proposition of The One seems a little odd, we can't help but see Philips' logic here. Flagship TVs are inhibitively expensive, there's a lot of jargon surrounding TVs and the formats they offer. In this TV a lot of boxes are ticked and while the cinephile might see it as a mid-range TV, it might just be the one for the masses.