Ameya DalviDec 25, 2020 11:23:59 IST
Overall Rating: 3.8/5
Price: Rs 48,990
These days you get very few non-Android TVs in India outside of Samsung or LG. Interestingly, we got two of them for review back-to-back. Last month, we reviewed a Toshiba Smart TV based on Vidaa OS, and now we have one from Philips that runs their proprietary Saphi OS. We did review their 50PUT6103S/94 model at the start of the year based on that platform. While it did have good picture and sound quality, the OS seemed undercooked. Let’s see if anything has changed now, and how their more premium 58PUT6604/94 model performs.
Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K Smart TV – Design and Connectivity: 8/10
The Philips 58PUT6604/94 has an elegant design with the narrowest of bezels on three sides and a more distinct bottom bezel. Though the design can now be considered standard, there’s something nice about it. The IR receiver is placed at the right end of the bottom bezel while the company logo is on the left. The TV isn’t the slimmest, but is not too bulky either. It can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled mounts and metal stands respectively.
One USB port, two HDMI ports – one of which supports ARC, optical audio out and a LAN port are placed along the bottom edge of the back panel. One HDMI, one USB, coaxial A/V inputs and a 3.5mm headphone out are present on the left side. The side ports are placed a lot closer to the left edge of the TV and are fairly easy to access even if you wall-mount it. That’s a sensible design decision.
Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K Smart TV – Features and specifications: 8/10
This TV has a large 58-inch (146 cm) Ultra HD panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and 60 Hz refresh rate. The company doesn’t specify the panel type, but it seems like a good quality VA panel. It is powered by a quad-core processor, the make and speed of which aren’t specified, nor is the amount of RAM or internal storage. The TV claims to support micro-dimming, but more importantly, it is compliant with all popular HDR standards like HLG, HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.
Built-in WiFi is limited to b/g/n standards at 2.4 GHz. There is no support for 5 GHz wireless networks, nor is Bluetooth present. Audio output is rated at 20 Watts RMS and supports Dolby Atmos. Unlike official Android TVs, it does not have Chromecast built-in, but lets you mirror content from your phone or tablet using Miracast. The company bundles an IR remote control with hotkeys for Netflix and YouTube. Since this isn’t a Bluetooth remote, it doesn’t accept voice commands. The remote’s build quality is good, and two AAA batteries needed to power it are bundled in the package.
Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K Smart TV – OS and User Interface: 6/10
This TV runs Philips’ homegrown Saphi OS. It is fairly easy to operate with a simple icon-based user interface. You can browse through apps and menus using the D-pad and select the desired option using the ‘OK’ button. The UI is smooth and mostly lag-free. There are quite a few audio and video settings to tinker with. The picture and sound adjustments are buried a bit too deep for my liking. Some of them can be accessed while watching content in any app or input mode, but not all. Also, there is no key that grants quick access to picture and sound settings, and you have to scroll through the menu to get there – not very intuitive, that.
App support remains thin on Saphi OS. Among the popular OTT services in India, you only get apps for Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube. Apps for Disney+ Hotstar, Sony LIV, Zee5 and many more are still not available for this platform. The only way to access those is either by loading the app on your phone or tablet and mirroring it on the TV screen, or by plugging a streaming device like an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Mi TV Stick/Box. Even beyond streaming platforms, app support is very limited on Saphi OS, and nothing seems to have changed in the past year.
On the brighter side of things, the Prime Video app on this platform can now stream HDR content, which wasn’t the case on the Philips 50PUT6103S/94 model that we reviewed earlier this year. Similarly, there is support for Dolby Vision in the preinstalled Netflix app. The TV takes less than 10 seconds to boot when you switch it on from the mains. That is super quick, given that even the fastest of Android TVs take at least half a minute to boot. This is among the fastest-booting Smart TVs I have come across till date, and credit must go to Saphi OS for that.
Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K Smart TV – Picture quality: 8.5/10
If we can set aside the limitations of the OS momentarily and focus purely on the picture quality, there is a lot to like here. In fact, the picture quality of this Philips TV is one of the best I have seen in the sub-50K budget. The panel is sufficiently bright, has good contrast, and the picture is tuned quite well right out of the box. The only thing you need to do is find the setting for “Dynamic Contrast” and switch it off. It isn’t as smart as the company expected it to be, and messes up the overall contrast when on. Details in dark areas in high contrast scenes in our test videos were amply clear once I switched off “Dynamic Contrast”.
The colour reproduction of this TV is excellent; colours pop, yet feel perfectly natural. The black levels are impressive too for a LED TV. The default motion smoothening works well, without visible artifacts. As I mentioned earlier, the Philips 58PUT6604/94 TV supports all popular HDR standards including HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. 4K Videos encoded in those formats on Prime Video and Netflix look wonderfully sharp, with excellent colours and contrast in most cases. A logo for the specific HDR standard being used is displayed on the screen for a few seconds when you start the video, which is handy.
4K SDR videos look as good too, and the difference in quality is barely noticeable. 1080p videos scale well and look quite sharp, but the contrast is understandably a notch lower. 720p videos don’t scale as well, but let’s not forget that this is a larger-than-usual 58-inch screen, and shortcomings in lower resolution videos are bound to be more visible than, say, on a 50-inch display. Anything lower than that resolution looks washed out, which is the case in most 4K TVs with screen sizes larger than 43 inches.
Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K Smart TV – Audio quality: 7/10
The TV has a pair of stereo speakers that deliver a total rated output of 20 Watts RMS. The speakers produce crisp audio, and there is great clarity in vocals. However, they are noticeably deficient in bass. The audio is acceptable when watching soaps, news or sports, but music playback lacks warmth more often than not. Similarly, action sequences in movies and web series sound a tad flat on this TV. Though the sound clarity is not bad at all, it could have certainly done with a bit more bass, even for TV speakers.
Dolby Atmos certification here is just a gimmick and doesn’t add anything substantial to the aural experience. The speakers are amply loud though, and 50 to 60% volume level suffices for pretty much everything in a mid-sized room. The TV provides you with a bunch of audio settings to tweak it further to suit your taste. Again, the options are buried deeper than ideal, and you have to exit any OTT app you might be using to tweak the sound, unless you just want to change the audio presets. If you crave better sound, the TV has various audio ports to plug in a soundbar or other speakers to enhance the audio.
Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K Smart TV – Overall performance: 7.5/10
Video file format support through USB is excellent on the default player. It managed to play pretty much everything I threw at it with various codecs, including our 4K test videos. There was no noticeable lag either. Though Philips hasn’t specified details about the processing hardware on this TV, it does its job well. And the boot times are very impressive too.
The only major drawback here is the lack of a decent app ecosystem and support for several popular OTT platforms. If you just watch Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube, you are covered, and you can watch the respective content in full HDR glory. For the rest of the OTT platforms, it would be advisable to invest in a video streaming device like Mi TV Box 4K or an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K that will set you back by anything between Rs 3,500 to Rs 6,000. The latter can enhance the 4K viewing experience on this TV further.
Another small issue is an IR-only remote in 2020. Pointing the remote towards the TV while executing a function is passé. Also, if there’s an obstruction in front of the IR receiver, the remote doesn’t work. Even lesser brands have been bundling Bluetooth remotes for the past two years. About time Philips catches up too.
Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K Smart TV – Price and verdict
The Philips 58PUT6604/94 4K smart TV is priced at Rs 48,990, and occasionally sells under 45K in online sales. Philips offers a 2-year warranty, which is an added benefit given that most competing brands offer half of that. So should one buy it? Yes and no. Yes, if you are looking for an excellent large display in this budget with support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, and if you primarily watch Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube. It would also help if you already own a video streamer like Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and a good sound system. That would offset the limitations with Saphi OS and the TV speakers.
If you are looking for a total package, then this is not the best smart TV in this budget. Or rather, Saphi OS isn’t the greatest of smart TV platforms currently, given the extremely limited app ecosystem that hasn’t changed much over the past 12 months. You will be better served by a certified Android TV like the Hisense 55A71F, that has comparable picture quality and much better sound. Yes, you will lose out on a few inches of screen real estate, but the vast app library will more than make up for it, along with a saving of close to Rs 9000.