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Philips 55PFS5709 review

Katharine Byrne
23 Oct 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
799
inc VAT for 55in model

The PFS5709 is a great-looking TV, but its mediocre screen means you'll need to put in the work to get a good picture

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Specifications

Screen size: 55in, Native resolution: 1,920x1,080, Video inputs: 3x HDMI, SCART, component, Tuner: Freeview HD, DVB-S2, Dimensions: 721x1,243x280mm

For this review we tested the 55in model in the PFS5709 range, but it's also available in 48in (48PFS5709), 40in (40PFS5709) and 32in (32PFS5709) screen sizes.  All models have identical specifications except for their dimensions and power usage. We're confident that image quality will be practically identical across the range.

3D may not be the boom technology TV manufacturers hoped it might have been, but it's still unusual to see a TV without 3D support. The Philips PFS5709, however, is a TV that only supports 2D content, which is strange considering it's one of Philips' better mid-range models for 2014. Of course, this probably won’t be a problem for the many potential buyers who don’t care for 3D. Fortunately, the PFS5709 retains Philips' stunning TV design, and its super-slim stand and bezel looks high-end, and the PFS5709 is one of the best looking TVs we’ve seen in 2014.

The PFS709 has a decent number of ports, too, including three HDMI ports, SCART and component inputs, two USB ports, a CI slot, a fast Ethernet port, an optical S/PDIF output, a headphone jack and a 3.5mm audio line-level input. You may choose not to use the Ethernet port, though, as the PFS5709 has built-in Wi-Fi for getting online and accessing the TV's online services.

Unfortunately, the PFS5709 has the same clunky Smart TV interface as its more expensive cousin, the PFS6609. It also suffers from a rather small supply of apps. There's BBC iPlayer, Netflix and BlinkBox for catch-up and on-demand TV services as well as Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Picasa and BBC News, but that's about it. This selection pales in comparison to what's available on Samsung's 2014 TVs, for instance.

We weren't particularly impressed with the TV's image quality, either. When we measured the screen’s colour accuracy on the PFS5709’s default Standard picture mode, our colour calibrator showed the TV was displaying just 67.4 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, which is very poor regardless of the price. We expect LED TVs to cover at least 85 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, but the PFS5709’s greens and yellows were severely under-represented. Blues and reds were stronger, but even its warmer colour coverage didn’t extend all the way to the edge of the gamut. This meant the screen looked cool, and we could see that blues were much stronger when we compared our test footage of Star Trek side by side with our reference TV.

The TV’s contrast levels were also underwhelming, and we measured a contrast ratio of 687:1. This made it more difficult to see areas of detail in darker scenes of our test footage, although the screen’s high peak brightness of 247.18cd/m2 did help us see more detail. However, using a higher brightness level had an effect on the TV’s black levels. We measured a black level of 0.36cd/m2, which is much higher than we’d like to see on a £800 TV. Other TVs we’ve tested, such as Philips’ PFS6609, have had better black levels of just 0.07cd/m2.

We managed to increase the PFS5709’s colour accuracy to 81.9 per cent after calibrating the TV using the custom colour temperature settings, but we were still underwhelmed with it. Fortunately, the PFS5709's Personal picture mode produced much better results, so we'd recommended sticking with Personal for general viewing.

When we tested the TV’s colour accuracy again using Personal, it was displaying a much more respectable 88.3 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. Brightness was also higher, measuring 329.59cd/m2, and the contrast ratio was marginally better as well, measuring 734:1. The only downside was an even higher black level of 0.45cd/m2.

Calibrating Personal mode improved this even further, though, as we managed to increase the PFS5709’s colour accuracy to a perfect 100 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. Contrast levels were much better as well, measuring 1,286:1 and a lower brightness of 268.31cd/m2 managed to get the TV’s black levels down to 0.21cd/m2. 

As a result, we stuck with these settings for the rest of our testing. There are other modes, but it can be a hassle to adjust the picture settings, as there isn't a direct button to do this on the remote control, and there’s no obvious shortcut in the TV's main interface. Instead, you must enter the Setup menu, which is a pain if you want to keep making adjustments.

As well as basic colour, contrast and sharpness settings, the PFS5709 also has advanced menus for these three categories which include colour enhancement, colour temperature, dynamic contrast, brightness, video contrast, gamma, noise reduction, MPEG artefact reduction, Philips’ Super Resolution feature, which helps lower resolution content upscale to Full HD, and Philips’ frame interpolation feature, HD Natural Motion.

HD Natural Motion proved to be a little too aggressive in most cases, as setting it any higher than Minimum meant that films began to show signs of tearing. Fast moving objects were particularly troublesome, as the image processing struggled to keep up with them as they hurtled across the screen. Most of the time we were happy to leave Natural Motion turned off, as the TV's default image processing was surprisingly smooth and judder-free.

Unsurprisingly, standard-definition TV channels looked blocky and moving objects displayed lots of noise and jagged edges. Text also looked soft and blurred, but even setting all the PFS5709's advanced Sharpness options to maximum did little to alleviate the problem.

Thankfully, HD channels looked much better. Faces and clothes had a lot more detail in close-ups, but we still noticed a certain amount of smoothing, particularly when shots of newsrooms and quiz shows were zoomed out. This is a shame, as we were hoping the Sharpness settings might have made more of a difference.

The Philips PFS5709 is a great-looking TV, but its sub-par image quality, lack of 3D and mediocre smart TV apps all add up to make it a pretty below average set, regardless of its price. If you're looking for a great 55in TV, the Best Buy-winning Samsung H6400 series is a better buy.

HARDWARE
Screen size55in
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Aspect ratio16:9
3DNone
Contrast ratioN/A
Brightness350cd/m2
Speakers20W
Video inputs3x HDMI, SCART, component
Audio inputs3.5mm stereo
Audio outputsOptical S/DPIF, headphone
TunerFreeview HD, DVB-S2
Streaming TV servicesBBC iPlayer, Netflix, BlinkBox
Media StreamingMiracast
Dimensions721x1,243x280mm
BUYING INFORMATION
Price including VAT£900
WarrantyFive-years RTB
Supplierwww.johnlewis.com
Detailswww.philips.co.uk
Part code55PFS5709/12

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