While OLED remains a pricey TV upgrade, there is some Ambilight at the end of the tunnel for savvy buyers. Because this entry-level 55-inch Philips OLED is now widely available for less than a grand.

As such it can be considered remarkable value, with only minor caveats. If you've been waiting to ditch your dusty HD plasma, or even plan to upgrade from a first-gen 4K screen, it could prove an irresistible buy.

So where has Philips cut corners? Well, for one thing, the P5 picture engine employed here is the antecedent of that used in the brand's incoming upscale 804 and 854 models. It also swaps Android OS for Philips' own Linux-based alternative, Saphi.

But you still get Ambilight built-in - the LED light projection system behind the screen, which expands the image beyond the frame - as well as some of the prettiest image presets available. Could this be the 4K OLED you've been waiting for?

Thin and slick design

  • Ports: 4x HDMI, 2x USB, otical out
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
  • Remote control included

Design-wise there are few surprises, but that's not to say this flatscreen fashionista disappoints. Philips has got its OLED production down to a fine art: the 754 is cookie-cutter thin, with an ultra-narrow bezel, and a brushed back panel.

Tiny LED bulbs, which make up the Ambilight system, wrap around the rear. The panel sits virtually flush to edge-of screen feet. This might prove problematic if you want to add a soundbar though.

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Connectivity is solid too. There's four HDMI inputs, all of which support 4K/60Hz HDR, alongside a digital optical audio output and two USBs.

The set, also available in a larger 65-inch guise than this review model, comes with a standard remote control, featuring dedicated Netflix and Rakuten TV buttons.

Tripping the light fantastic is addictive

  • Three-sided Ambilight
  • Freeview Play
  • Saphi TV OS

Trading Android TV for Philips' Saphi platform makes for a rather different connected experience, but not necessarily in a bad way. Functionality may be stripped back, but all the leading streaming apps - Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Rakuten TV, YouTube - are on hand.

There's also a full fist of catch-up, too, courtesy of Freeview Play. If you need more video on demand, just spring for a dedicated streamer from Amazon or Roku.

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The feature attraction remains Ambilight, and there's no difference between the lightshow offered here and that available higher up Philips' league table. It's a standard three-sided implementation, with a menu of fancy options, including Follow the Video, where the lighting system matches hues of onscreen colours, and solid washes, which can act as a bias light, or just look darn pretty. Be warned: tripping the light fantastic with Ambilight is highly addictive.

The set makes for an OK gaming display, although it wouldn't be our first choice if we were serious players. With Game mode engaged, input lag was measured at 32.8 mm (1080/60). This is absolutely fine for Animal Crossing, but probably not going to give you an edge in Doom Eternal.

Sublime picture performance for the price

  • Universal HDR support (Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG)
  • Second generation P5 image engine
  • Superior HD upscaling

Philips OLED754 may not claim cutting-edge image processing, but if there's any TV offering a better image at this price point then we haven't seen it. It combines OLED's characteristic velvet blacks and near-black performance, with a rich and wide colour gamut and impactful contrast.

Philips

Philips routinely tunes its screens for impact and pop, and while this might irk purists, it really showcases the beauty of native 4K HDR (high dynamic range).

It's worth noting that the set also does an elegant job upscaling HD, smoothing out jaggies, minimising banding and curtailing noise. 

Helpfully, the OLED754 offers universal HDR support, which means it recognises both rival dynamic metadata standards, Dolby Vision and HDR10+, optimising encoded image quality scene by scene. It's also HLG ready, the broadcast HDR standard. 

We found the 754's HDR performance to be in line with 2019's OLED screens, measuring peak brightness at 600 nits (measured using a 10 per cent window - this rises to around 700 nits when the measurement window is reduced to a five per cent window, which reflects how HDR grading is often applied).

Philips

In the real-world, this translates to a dynamic HDR experience, with deep contrast and realistic highlights.

Ordinary audio does the job

  • 24W bass woofer
  • Limited stereo width

The 754 may not benefit from the kind of superior Bowers & Wilkins audio hardware found higher-up the Philips OLED chain, but it's entirely serviceable for everyday viewing.

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The set has two 8W down-firing mid-high drivers, bolstered by a 24W woofer and passive radiators on the rear. It has welly and doesn't sound horrible, although the soundstage lacks stereo width.

It's good enough, then but a dedicated sound system is obviously recommended.

Verdict

We rate the Phillips 754 as a proper bargain for OLED hunters.

We can live with the Saphi smart OS for our streaming service kicks, as well as the average audio, given the best-in-class image quality at this price point, universal dynamic HDR support, and the hedonistic joys of Ambilight.

You won't find a better 55-inch OLED TV for under a grand.

Also consider

Panasonic

Panasonic GX800

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A sensible alternative for a little less cash. This edge-lit LED LCD model also has universal HDR support, and offers a highly cinematic image courtesy of the brand’s HCX processor and Hollywood inflected colour tuning.