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Philips Media Player UHD 880 brings 4K content to all Philips UHD TVs

Tom Morgan
4 Sep 2014
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No need to worry about a 4K upgrade for Philips TVs, thanks to a dedicated UHD media player

Knowing whether or not that expensive UHD TV is actually going to be able to play 4K content when it finally arrives can be tricky, but not if you buy a Philips TV; parent company TP Vision has just announced the Philips Media Player UHD 880, a plug-in upgrade to all 2013 and 2014 Philips UHD TVs that will play HEVC-encoded 4K content.

High Efficiency Video Encoding, or HEVC, is the video compression standard used by most streaming video services to beam 4K content over the internet and into customers' homes. It's the tech behind Netflix 4K streams, and will be used by Amazon when it catches up with its own UHD streams next year. Philips hadn't added HEVC-compatible silicon to its TVs when the standard was accepted, meaning they weren't able to decode the signal. With the new Media Player UHD 880, that won't be an issue.

The system, which connects to a Philips UHD TV with a standard HDMI 2.0 connection, will accept HEVC-encoded 4K content over Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB. Playback up to 60 frames per second is supported on 8000 series TVs and above, while this year's 6809 and 7809 4K sets and last year's 9708 series will be limited to 30fps.

Internally, the box is running Android L, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, and will bring the full Android TV experience to all connected TVs. It can then be upgraded to support any new HEVC codecs, as well as 4K streaming services at any time - meaning you shouldn't have to upgrade again a few years down the line. Philips wasn't ready to talk supported services yet, but we're hoping 4K Netflix will be on board when the system launches.

The Philips Media Player UHD 880 is expected to cost around 249 when it launches in the first quarter of 2015 in Europe and Russia. Irksome for 2013 TV owners, perhaps, but significantly cheaper than a whole new TV, and for anyone buying a 8809, 8909 curved, 9109 and 9809 series TV this year it will be provided free of charge.

We're hoping to see the system in action later today here at IFA, to see if it's something 2013 Philips UHD TV owners should put on their late Christmas lists.

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