For a lot of manufacturers, the jump to 4K resolution and ultra high-definition is more-or-less its own end. If you’re looking to upgrading your home theatre experience from high definition, 4K is the bullet point on the box that sells the TV on a technical level, and if you’ve already made the jump once before, it’s the place you start at before working up to the TV you want.
Going into 2017, offering 4K likely won’t be enough on its own. To stand out in the face of those expectations, a TV needs to go beyond that bullet point. Philips’ new 7100 Series Ultra Slim UHD is exactly that. It doesn’t just go above and beyond the minimum requirements, it does so with both style and flourish. It’s a TV that’s not just nice to look at, it’s one that great to look and one that deserves praise.
The 7100 touts over 8 million pixels and the 55-inch display makes great use of every single one of them. Edges look sharp, details more distinct and colours pop with a lively vibrancy. Even compared to the other 4K TVs we have in the office we observed a notable improvement in the visual quality. On the broader curve of picture quality, it’s not necessarily “the best” in the business but it’s certainly towards the top-end.
It certainly helps that accessing such content – no matter the source – is made easy by the 7100’s commendable and intuitive integration of Android TV. Navigation is swift on all levels and it’s easy to switch between different services like Netflix (which has its own dedicated button on the remote). More importantly, it’s easy to install new streaming applications through the Google Play store. This small, but important feature, is just another notch that distinguishes the Philips 7100 as a solid package. Where other TVs just think of Netflix, this TV has thought about its place in a future where maybe the service doesn’t hold the same dominance and prepared accordingly. As such, it’s that much more versatile a device.
Even when it comes to the remote, it feels like Philips have gone the extra mile. It’s well-weighted and buttons feel responsive when pressed. A keyboard on the reverse side of the remote offers up standard typing functionality. However, unlike plenty of similar offerings, it actually feels surprisingly nice to type on. Plenty of other smart TVs make it possible to watch YouTube and navigate applications, the 7100 makes it a positive experience you actually appreciate and enjoy.
Another way that the 7100 goes above and beyond can be seen in its unique backlighting. An ambient backdrop set to accompany your next binge-watching session, the TV emits an extra wide glow that changes colours to match the image on the screen. Though it’s easy to write this feature off as a gimmick, in practice it actually proves a major asset to the 7100. It makes viewing experiences that much more immersive and cinematic. All told, the effect is subtle but undeniably beneficial.
The only area that really yearns for tangible improvement is perhaps the audio output. It’s far from awful but it does sit as pretty ordinary compared to the rest of the package. In short, like most 4K TVs, you can probably get away with using the speakers on the 7100. However, if you’re investing three grand into picking up the 7100, you’ll almost certainly want to go the full mile and combine it with a dedicated sound system.
All told, the 7100 is an undoubtedly solid offering from Philips. It delivers a solid 4K experience that’s edged over the line into outright excellence by the success of its key feature and outstanding smart TV integration. At $2999, it’s the kind of TV that’s well worth the pricetag. It catches your eye and doesn’t let go.