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Philips OLED808 review: A jack of all trades and a master of many

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 1,399
inc VAT

The Philips OLED808 combines 4K OLED with the brand’s sophisticated processing and unique Ambilight feature to produce a great all-rounder

Pros

  • Fantastic SDR and HDR images
  • Cutting-edge image processing
  • Unique Ambilight feature

Cons

  • Only two HDMI 2.1 inputs

The Philips OLED808 builds on the success of previous generations and promises to deliver an all-singing, all-dancing 4K OLED TV that includes every feature imaginable and a few that are exclusive to Philips. 

Whether it’s state-of-the-art picture processing, support for every version of HDR, superior sound with Dolby Atmos, Google TV, or Ambilight, this beauty has you covered.

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Philips OLED808 review: Key specifications

Screen sizes available:42in 42OLED808
48in 48OLED808
55in 55OLED808
65in 65OLED808
Panel type:OLED
Resolution:4K/UHD (3,940 x 2,160)
Refresh rate: 120Hz
HDR formats:Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, IMAX Enhanced
Audio enhancements:Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS Play-Fi
HDMI inputs: HDMI 2.0 x 2, HDMI 2.1 x 2
Tuners: Terrestrial, cable and satellite
Gaming features:Game Mode, AMD Freesync Premium, Nvidia G-Sync, ALLM, VRR, 4K/120Hz
Wireless connectivity:Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0
Smart platform:Google TV
Freeview Play compatibility: No
Smart assistants: Built-in Google Assistant, works with Amazon Alexa

Philips OLED808 review: What you need to know

The Philips OLED808 is a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) HDR smart TV that uses a 120Hz OLED EX panel with the latest AI-enhanced P5 perfect picture processing engine, and the brand’s proprietary three-sided Ambilight rear-mounted LEDs, along with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and DTS Play-Fi wireless audio.

The OLED808 is available in four screen sizes – 42in, 48in, 55in, and 65in – with each offering a keen combination of elegant design and impressive build quality. The TV houses four HDMI inputs but only two of these support all of the high frame rate features found on the latest gaming consoles.

Google TV is the OLED808’s operating system of choice and there’s support for every version of HDR – HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and HDR10+. All of the main content streaming services are included, plus there’s support for IMAX Enhanced, built-in Google Assistant, and the TV works with Amazon Alexa.

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Philips OLED808 review: Price and competition

The Philips OLED808 currently offers great value for money, with the 42in model costing £1,099, the 48in version retailing for £1,199, the 55in model reviewed here priced at £1,399, and the 65in variety setting you back £1,799.

If you’re looking for an OLED alternative the Panasonic TX-55MZ980 is the obvious choice. The 55in model is also available for £1,399 and, like the OLED808, supports every version of HDR and Dolby Atmos decoding. It’s powered by Panasonic’s HCX Pro AI processor, runs the brand’s My Home Screen operating system, and has two HDMI 2.1 inputs for next-gen gamers.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer a non-OLED alternative, the 55in Samsung QN90C was available for just £1,029 at the time of writing. It’s a 4K Neo QLED mid-range model that features a Micro LED panel, Quantum Dot technology and AI-enhanced processing, Samsung’s comprehensive Tizen-powered smart system, and sports four HDMI 2.1 inputs with all the latest gaming features.

Philips OLED808 review: Design, connections and control

The Philips OLED808 looks elegant with its minimalist design, ultra-thin metal bezel and panel that’s millimetres deep at the top, before widening out further down where the electronics, speakers and connections are housed. The Ambilight LEDs are also housed in this deeper section of the TV.

The 808’s build quality is excellent and the panel sits on a polished aluminium swivel stand that’s centrally mounted and provides sufficient clearance for a soundbar. The stand offers stable support, but if you’d rather wall mount the TV there are screw fixings at the rear for a 300 x 300 VESA bracket.

The connectivity is good, although of the four HDMI inputs, only two have a full bandwidth of 48Gbps. While all of the HDMI inputs support 4K/60Hz, HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, only the two HDMI 2.1 ports handle 4K/120Hz, VRR, and ALLM, plus one also supports eARC.

The other physical connections include terrestrial and satellite tuners, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an optical digital output, an Ethernet port, three USB ports, and a CI (common interface) slot. When it comes to wireless connectivity there’s built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0.

The remote control is equally elegant, with a slim shape, black finish, backlight, and sensible button layout. There are direct access keys at the top for Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and the Ambilight features, plus all the usual TV controls. If you prefer voice control, there’s also a handy microphone built-in into the remote, with the OLED808 supporting Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Philips OLED808 review: Smart TV platform

The Philips OLED808 uses GoogleTV as its operating system, and it delivers a responsive, well-designed, and intuitive interface. By its nature, the smart platform is rather Google-centric, but the full-screen home page provides recommendations and allows you to customise the layout.

The initial setup of the TV is relatively quick and easy, especially if you’ve already created a Google account. Simply follow the instructions in the Google Home app, and the TV will automatically set up an internet connection, tune in the TV and load all of your apps.

All the main video streaming apps are on offer, including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Now, YouTube, Google Play, and all the TV catch-up services. There’s also support for resolutions up to 4K, along with HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X where available.

Naturally, Google Assistant is built in, turning the OLED808 into a fully-functioning smart assistant with voice control, plus there’s support for Chromecast and Google Home. The 808 also works with Amazon Alexa, meaning you have two smart assistants with voice control to choose from.

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Philips OLED808 review: Image quality

The Philips OLED808 uses an OLED EX panel, which isn’t as bright as the MLA META panel the brand employs on the high-end 908+, but still delivers a decent luminance performance. It also includes the 7th generation P5 perfect picture engine with AI that uses deep-learning neural networks.

This imaging prowess can feel a little overwhelming, but the processor’s AI enhancements reduce noise and improve deinterlacing and upscaling. This results in increased sharpness on lower-quality content, and wonderfully detailed images regardless of their original resolution.

As you’d expect, the OLED panel delivers deep blacks, good shadow detail and pixel-precise highlights. Screen uniformity is excellent, with no signs of banding, dirty screen effect or colour tinting, while reflections are also handled well, and the viewing angles are extremely wide.

The TV ships in Personal mode, which has whites that are too blue, colours that are too saturated, and an overall image that’s too bright. Switching to Filmmaker mode addresses these issues with a superb level of accuracy thanks to greyscale and colour DeltaEs (errors) below one, and a gamma curve that closely tracks the industry target of 2.4.

This is very impressive for an out-of-the-box mode, and while the 808 includes extensive calibration controls, it doesn’t need any adjustment given the errors are below the visible threshold. Professional calibrators will doubtless welcome a long-overdue cosmetic upgrade for the menus, as well as the ability to automatically calibrate the 808 using Calman software.

As is often the case with Philips, its level of processing is quite extensive and this can lead to images that deviate from the industry standards. For example, there’s an SDR to HDR setting that should definitely be turned off because the two are completely different formats, and trying to turn SDR into HDR will simply result in pictures with a manipulated gamma and oversaturated colours.

Philips introduced its Ambient Intelligence features last year, which use built-in sensors to automatically adjust the brightness and shadow detail of an image. This year, the OLED808 can also adjust the colour temperature according to the ambient light in the room, although this kind of image manipulation will again affect the overall picture accuracy, especially in terms of white.

In addition, what happens when Ambilight is on? That feature changes the ambient light in the room based on analysis of the image, which in turn can be adjusted based on measurements of that ambient light. It feels a little chicken and egg at times, and somewhat unnecessary.

Motion handling is an area where Philips is especially strong, and the OLED808 is no exception. The Perfect Natural Reality does exactly what it claims, delivering smoother movement with films and TV shows by using frame interpolation, and can be particularly useful with fast-paced sports.

Anyone susceptible to smoothing on film-based content can turn all the processing off, but cinephiles should switch from the default Movie setting to Pure Cinema because the former still applies some slight frame interpolation that robs motion of that all-important film-like quality.

While not directly related to image quality, Ambilight does play a part. This feature is unique to Philips TVs, and the three-sided version employed in the OLED808 uses LEDs built into the rear of the panel (top and sides). These LEDs light up the wall behind the TV and change colour based on analysis of the image on the screen. This effect can make games significantly more immersive.

There are fans of Ambilight who swear by the technology, but if you’re a video purist who doesn’t fancy disco lighting behind the TV, there is another benefit. Ambilight offers a neutral white setting that acts as a bias light, and this has a couple of key advantages: perceived contrast is improved and the viewing experience is a lot more comfortable in dark rooms.

Philips OLED808 review: HDR performance

The Philips OLED808 might use an EX OLED panel, but the luminance levels are fairly standard, with the 55in model hitting 760cd/m2 on a 10% window, and reaching 169cd/m2 on a full-field pattern. While hardly blinding, when these specular highlights are combined with the deep blacks and pixel-precise delivery of OLED’s self-emissive display technology, the resulting HDR looks fantastic.

The grayscale is very accurate, with equal amounts of red, green, and blue to deliver clean whites with no obvious discolouration or clipping. The colour performance is equally impressive, with the 808 not only hitting 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space but also tracking the saturation points precisely. This means you’re accurately getting the full benefit of HDR’s wider colour gamut.

The Filmmaker mode offers highly accurate images for HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, while the Cinema mode does the same for Dolby Vision. The 808’s tone mapping passed all of our HDR tests, ensuring any HDR10 content precisely follows the PQ curve and doesn’t clip 1,000, 4,000. and 10,000 nit grading, ensuring material retains the original creator’s intent.

One complaint people often have about HDR is that it appears too dark, especially when there’s ambient light in the room. To address this, both HDR10+ Adaptive and Dolby Vision IQ combine measurements from the built-in light sensor and information in the dynamic metadata to create HDR images that remain accurate while appearing brighter and bringing out more shadow detail.

Overall, the HDR performance is fantastic, with exceptionally detailed 4K images, deep blacks, detailed shadows and rich colours. A film like Oppenheimer is often stunning with sumptuous images, while the death-defying heroics of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning look superb, from the ice caps of the Arctic to the deserts of Arabia and the verdant grass of the Austrian Alps.

Philips OLED808 review: Gaming

The Philips OLED808 makes for an excellent gaming TV thanks to its support for 4K/120Hz high frame rate, ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), plus AMD Freesync Premium and compatibility with Nvidia G-Sync. However, this is only on its two HDMI 2.1 inputs.

The inclusion of ALLM means the TV automatically switches to the low latency Game mode when compatible consoles are detected, and this delivers an input lag of 12.6ms. While not as low as some of the completion, it’s more than fast enough for all but the most demanding of gamers.

There are actually two game modes: Optimal and Optimal (Auto). The latter mode allows you to enjoy the benefits of VRR. In terms of other gaming features, there’s also support for HGiG and Dolby Vision HDR gaming, along with extensive options for cloud gaming via Geforce Now.

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Philips OLED808 review: Sound quality

The Philips OLED808 sounds excellent thanks to a built-in 2.1-channel sound system with a surprisingly powerful 70W of total amplification. This is split into 20W each for the left and right speakers (these are composed of two drivers with 10W a piece) and 30W for the built-in rear-firing sub.

Despite the relatively slim chassis, the OLED808 is capable of delivering a full-bodied sonic presence that produces width, clear dialogue and a surprising amount of bass. The midrange is clean, the treble free of sibilance or harshness, and the volume can be driven loud without distorting.

There’s a host of sound features, including onboard decoding of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, both of which are delivered using psychoacoustic processing to add greater dimensionality. The 808 also supports DTS Play-Fi for wirelessly connecting to speakers in a multichannel sound system.

In terms of audio enhancements, there’s AI Sound, AI EQ, Clear Dialogue, Night Mode, and Bass Enhancement and Volume Leveller features for Dolby soundtracks. Finally, there’s a Room Calibration feature for optimising the audio to a specific environment.

Philips OLED808 review: Verdict

The Philips OLED808 is a great all-rounder that combines cutting-edge proprietary technology with competitive pricing. The image processing and motion handling are both excellent, which when combined with the capable OLED EX panel, deliver truly impressive SDR and HDR pictures. 

The design is attractive, the build quality good, and the sound system surprisingly effective, with support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The Ambilight feature offers benefits for casual viewers and purists alike, while Google TV provides a comprehensive choice of streaming apps. Aside from only having two HDMI 2.1 inputs, this affordable 4K OLED TV is a cracking jack-of-all-trades.

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