TP Vision isn't reinventing the wheel with its 2020 Philips OLED TVs. Instead, we're seeing evolution in the range this year, not revolution.
There are two models coming to the UK, the Philips OLED 855 and OLED 805 (an 865 is planned for some other regions, too), and we got to see both in action during a dedicated event in Amsterdam. However, as the only main difference between them is the stand, with the 855 and 865 having similar variations on the stand you can see in our pictures while the 805 has feet instead, we've plumped on the 855 for our first impressions.
4th gen picture processing
The biggest feature we got to see in action during our presentation centred on the newly-updated, 4th generation P5 picture engine. It has gained artificial intelligence this year, with the manufacturer utilising years of processing prowess and data, crunched through machine learning to automatically adjust pictures in real time depending on the subject matter.
The new engine can see whether a picture has elements of nature, faces, motion and darkness. It then adapts the picture processing respectively.
Indeed, a demo option in the new menu system will allow the user to see the new AI engine working in real-time, not only showing a before and after effect but the scene detection results that shift and move as the content refreshes. That's mesmerising in itself.
There is another detection element shown during the demo screen that flags when static logos are present on screen but, as yet, the picture processing just leaves them untouched. The fact your TV will know what is and what isn't a logo could become important somewhere down the line, with potential OLED screen burn technologies in development, but we were told that they won't be active on initial release (just the other, effective screen burn prevention tech already employed by the Philips brand).
It must be said that while we're not big fans of motion processing generally, the test images with the 4th gen P5 with AI engine in full flow were spectacular - full of colour and detail (set in vivid mode). And, while the subject matter changed in the test video from faces to nature, to dark scenes, we didn't see any obvious visible shifting in processing.
One of the other new features for 2020 that we didn't get to see in action - it still needs to be implemented before launch - is Filmmaker Mode.
The Philips brand will support it in the UK and Europe, but it won't appear as a button on the remote control (as with some other brands). Instead, a notification will pop up on screen when the TV detects you are watching a compatible movie, asking if you want to engage Filmmaker Mode.
Philips will not be introducing Dolby Vision IQ as yet - not for this range anyway - although, like last year's models, it the 855 (and 805) will support Dolby Vision.
Other badges you'll find on the box include HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos. The latter improves the sound, of course, but the set doesn't come with an external sound system, like the Bowers & Wilkins speaker set-up on the 2019 OLED+ 934.
There is a 50W sound system built into the set, with a new woofer design made up of four passive radiators for more grunt and two front-speakers. But, we didn't get to hear it in action so can't give you any opinion on that yet.
Last, but certainly not least, the latest models come with Android 9 Pie out of the box, to drive their smart TV functionality.
Not only does this provide all the major streaming apps, you get Disney+ support just in time for its 24 March launch in the UK and several central European regions. And it also means that Chromecast is supported on the TV itself, which we understand will gain Stadia compatibility eventually, for triple-A cloud gaming without the need for a separate console.
While we saw some tech demos, it's far too early to give a proper impression of what the OLED 855 or 805 TVs will be fully capable of, things are already looking good.
After all, the currently available OLED TVs under the Philips brand are already some of the best around.
Three-sided Ambilight is a massive part of the equation and a real differentiator when it comes to choosing one OLED set over another, and we couldn't help being further drawn into the pictures as a result.
We're not yet sure on pricing, nor actual availability beyond "May 2020", but we're definitely looking forward to seeing the final consumer Philips OLED 855 TV when available.
It will be offered in both 55 and 65-inch models. As will the Philips OLED 805.