The Bottom Line
Wow! An HDR 4K TV for 400 quid, that’s amazing right? Well, the answer is yes, but there are definitely some key drawbacks with the Philips 43pus6401. First is terrible sound, but this can be easily fixed with a cheap soundbar. Second, upscaling could be handled better. It’s also missing some major TV apps. However, the picture is still excellent at this price point.
Overall it’s a competent model – but we’d probably recommend the LG 49UH610V over it.
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Also be sure to check out the larger models in the series. One is 49-inch (the imaginatively titled 49PUS6401/12) and 55-inch (55PUS6401/12). The same picture technology is in all of these models so, except for the screen size, you will be getting exactly the same TV with exactly the same picture quality.
The design is fairly high end, as is build quality. The bezelling around the monitor is certainly not the thinnest we have seen, but the attractive silver finish means that we don’t mind this too much. It’s the stand though that makes this TV stand out. The minimalist feet are forked and attach via a single screw. We initially thought this could make the TV feel a bit unsteady, but in our review we found it to be very sturdy. A big advantage of this design is that you could fit a small soundbar (which you are definitely going to need) snuggly under the TV. Obviously on the larger models you could fit a larger soundbar.
The 43PUS6401/12’s image quality has improved dramatically since it was first released. This is mostly down to the addition of HDR to the TV. HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, essentially helps your TV to better distinguish between shadow and light and to render these colours more accurately. Darks are deeper and whites are brighter. The picture below gives you a flavour of the sort of difference you can expect.While the TV is HDR compatible, it is what we would call “HDR-light”. To get a bit nerdy (which we love to do), the 43PUS6401/12 has a max brightness of 350 nits. The picture is still impressive but to put it in context top of the line HDR models can offer double this amount of nits (and cost you over a grand more).
Also, you need HDR content to get the full benefit i.e. content that preserves the darkest and brightest bits of the picture that is lost during standard transmissions. This is a bit thin on the ground at the moment, but we expect this to become more import throughout 2017 driven mainly by online content streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix.
The same goes for 4k content, but the TV has what Philips calls “Ultra Resolution Upscaling” that attempts to plug the missing pixels in standard HD content to simulate a 4k picture. To be honest, we have seen other manufacturers handle this better but it is still a nice feature to have.
The TV handles true 4k content very well. If you have a standard HD set currently then you are in for a shock as this model will pack in twice the pixels resulting in you being able to see every actor’s fine wrinkles and imperfections.
Philips has put its Micro Dimming Pro technology into the monitor which splits the picture into 6400 parts and adjusts each one to best suit the lighting conditions of the room. However, the backlighting of the TV is not as uniform as we would have hoped, with light being slightly brighter around the edge of the monitor.
There’s also Philips Ambilight on both sides of the TV. This emits lights from the TV onto the surrounding walls to complement what is happening on screen and in a way that makes it feel as though the image is continuing outside the TV.At first we thought this was a bit of a novelty feature, but in certain scenes we felt it added to the immersive quality. When just playing music through the TV it tries to emit light to compliment the beat of the song – this had almost comical results, giving a “Dave’s mobile disco” vibe to the room. Luckily the feature can be turned off if you find it annoying.
The smoothness of the picture is top notch, with hardly any blur during panning shots or sport. It also has a low lag time in game mode which makes it a good choice if you play Playstation or Xbox.
This really is the Achilles’ heel of this TV. The bass lacks power and the midrange and highs can be tinny. A soundbar is a must and luckily the TV comes with an HDMI ARC output to allow you to quickly connect one.
We found connecting to wifi really simple and Android TV is intuitive to use. Having said this, there is one big drawback – standard on-demand services like ITV Hub, Demand5, All 4 and UKTV play are all missing. This really took us aback. In 2017 a Smart TV really shouldn’t be missing the most popular apps on the market. If you have a YouView or other set top box that you are planning to attach to the TV then this should not be too much of a hardship as you can still access these features through such a device. If not, then we would really advise you to give this TV a miss.
There also seemed to be a split second lag between pressing a button and the TV responding.
You get 4 HDMI and 3 USB inputs. You also get a Scart connection in case you are a Luddite or a hipster and want to connect up a VHS player or older device.