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Philips 6703 Review (2018)

Philips 6703 Review (2018)
PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • £699
Of the new 4K TVs launched in 2018, Philips' 6-series is certainly one of the more affordable. The 6703 sits in the middle of the 6-series and is available in 43, 50, 55 and 65in screen sizes.


While you give up certain luxuries such as the more powerful P5 image processor that you get with higher series', the 6703 strikes a great balance between features and quality, offering a great 4K picture along with 3-sided Ambilight at a sensible price.

PHILIPS 55PUS6703: PRICE & AVAILABILITY
The 55in model on review here costs £699 from Argos. But the 50in model is £100 cheaper at £599 and the 43in version is £499. If you jump up to 65in, the price also jumps to £1099.

These are European models, and as such aren't available in the US.

PHILIPS 55PUS6703: DESIGN & FEATURES
Being a more budget-focused model, the 6703 is not the thinnest 4K TV around at 68mm.  This will only matter if you plan to wall-mount it, of course.

In the box are two aluminium feet which sit fairly far apart, so you'll need a cabinet at least 85cm wide to accommodate it.

Bezels aren't as slim as you'll find on some rivals either.

Connectivity is decent, though, with three HDMI inputs, two USBs, Wi-Fi (with Miracast support) and Ethernet, plus an optical audio output.  Only HDMI1 supports HDCP 2.2, though.
There are built-in Freeview HD and satellite tuners, with Freeview Play software.

The screen itself isn't the edge-lit panel you might expect at this price. Instead Philips uses a back-lit VA panel. This leads to better contrast and wider viewing angles than most IPS panels.

As mentioned, the 6703 doesn't get the P5 processor that you get with the 7- and 8- series TVs. However, it does have Pixel Precise Ultra HD which does a fine job of smoothing motion, if you want it to.

There's 3-sided Ambilight, which involves rear-mounted LEDs on the sides and top edge. There are various modes, but the default - and one you'll use most - is picture tracking. Put simply, the LEDs match the colour of the image you're watching which makes the picture seem larger and appear to blend into the room. It also reduces the glare if you're watching at night with the light dimmed or off completely.

Of course, Ambilight is most effective when you put the TV close to a  flat wall, which is ideally painted in a light colour. Far from being a gimmick, Ambilight is a real bonus that you have to experience to appreciate.

Saphi Smart TV
Instead of running Android, Philips has designed its own smart interface called Saphi. This is based on Linux and is intuitive to use.

It's pretty responsive until you attempt to browse a large library of videos on a USB drive, but comes with all the video players you'd expect preinstalled.

These include Amazon Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 and UKTV Play.

Amazon and Netflix both support 4K streaming, although you'll need the top-tier subscription if you want watch Netflix shows un Ultra HD.

You can connect a hard drive to one of the USB ports and use it to record TV shows, pause and rewind live TV. When playing back files from a USB drive we found that the 6703 had no trouble with MP4 files, but wouldn't play all our test MKV videos and outright refused to play MOV and FLV formats.

Philips told us that the Google Assistant would be added via a firmware update by around September 2018. There's no mic built into the TV's remote control, so you'll have to use your phone instead - much less convenient. And a lot of Android phones already have the Assistant in any case.

Performance
Although it supports HDR Plus, the 6703 isn't an amazingly bright TV. In Movie mode at a normal brightness level, the screen outputs around 150 nits. Switching to Vivid mode extracts the highest brightness, which with Brightness set to 100 saw a reading of 329 nits on our colorimeter.

It isn't dim - don't get us wrong - but you really need a peak brightness of 1000 nits or more to get the full benefit of HDR content.

Black levels are decent, but not excellent. Sadly there's no local dimming which means that LEDs can't be dimmed in zones as they can on some rivals. Local dimming allows for deeper blacks when there are also bright highlights in the same scene.

There's also slight unevenness in the backlighting with dark patches noticeable in the corners in bright scenes.

Viewing angles pretty good, but colours become washed out if you're sitting more than about 35 degrees off centre. 

If this sounds overly negative, there are plenty of positives. Being a VA panel, colours are well saturated, but natural. If you prefer more vibrant hues, just switch to Dynamic mode.

Watching the Jungles episode from Planet Earth II on 4K Blu-ray is a treat on the 6703: greens look lush and skies a deep blue. Motion smoothing - long one of Philips' strengths - is also excellent, so panning shots are completely judder-free. (It is important to reduce the default sharpness, though, which causes shimmering in some scenes.)

As you'd expect, details are pin-sharp, adding hugely to the realism, while Amibilight serves to make the whole experience even more immersing.

Audio performance isn't quite on the same level. The speakers are loud enough, but they don't offer much bass. So you'll probably want to pair this TV with a good soundbar or a hi-fi system, particularly for movies. 

SPECS
  • Screen size/resolution: 55in, 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Contrast ratio: Not stated
  • Brightness: Not stated
  • Speakers: 20w (2 x 10W)
  • Built-in tuner: Freeview HD, satellite
  • EPG: 8-day
  • Inputs: 3 x HDMI (only 1 supports HDCP2.2), 1 x Component
  • Outputs: Digital audio optical, headphone jack
  • Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Ports and slots: 2 x USB 2.0, CI slot
  • Physical dimensions (w/o stand): 1244 x 729 x 68mm (w/h/d)
  • Weight: 15.1kg
  • Average power consumption: 82W (average), A+ Energy rating
  • Warranty: 1 year return-to-base

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