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Philips Cinema 21:9 LCD TV
From the makers of the ubercool Ambilight series, which deservedly won accolades for design, comes a totally new concept of an LCD TV. Philips have released their 21:9 aspect ratio TV, with a reasonable level of aplomb and panache. Rightfully so, as they are accredited for coming up with the idea first. We received a fresh new piece for demo, thus let’s waste no time in checking out this new form factor for the good old LCD TV.
Design and features
First things first, this model has a new generation of LCD panels manufactured, with the aspect ratio being 21:9, or 2.39:1. This makes the screen much more wider, resembling the cinema screen more acutely. That’s the idea, to cater to cinema enthusiasts. Actually cinema buff or ‘hardcore videophile’ would be a more appropriate term for the consumer of this TV, as it would do nothing for any 4:3 broadcast TV source.
The bezel is simple here, a gloss black flat surfaced affair, with a slim groove on the outer and inner edges. The screen itself is mildly reflective. The bottom panel has two speakers neatly juxtaposed, arching in towards the center. The Philips logo humbly resides here. The fun is in the side panels, as this too is an Ambilight model. We have a strip made of a tiny bulb sewn across the entire side panels. The back panel is bare except for a i/o window on the left edge.
The connections are plenty, with 5 HDMI 1.3 inputs to start off with. Then we have component, VGA, SCART, Composite, Analog RCA audio in and out, SPDIF Audio out, headphone out and last but surely not least a USB input. This USB can play a wider range of file formats than the others. Besides normal DivX encoded AVIs, we have WMV9 and H.264 encoded video too. The panel is 56 inches in diameter, while the brightness of the panel is a healthy 500 cd/m2. Dynamic contrast is stated as 80,000:1. And yes, the panel resolution is higher than Full HD 1920 x 1080p, it’s actually 2560 x 1080p, thus we have more vertical lines, more pixels. The response time is rated as 1 ms.
This TV seems to have it all when it comes down to it: the Perfect Pixel HD Engine takes care of a number of video processing load, like 3:2 pulldown, 3D comb filter, 1080p 24/25/30 Hz processing, 1080p 50/60 Hz processing, 200 Hz interpolation, and Scanning backlight. This model can also connect to the net, not only via Ethernet, but also Wi-Fi. (Wi-Fi 802.11g) Thus one can watch YouTube, Metacafe on the screen. Besides, this built in wireless connectivity can also be used to connect to a home network.
The deal is this: Blu-ray and DVD movies are actually more often than not rendered in an aspect ratio of around 2.35:1. Thus we see black lines at the top and bottom when playing this content on a regular 16:9 TV. In this Cinema 21:9 model, this will scale up perfectly without any black lines, nor any stretching. BUT, any 16:9 content, like some animated flicks, and of course games, will be stretched out to fit, or will display with black lines on the side. That’s not cool.
Anyway, we turned on the TV and dived into its deep menu. It's rather user friendly and screen encompassing, with large icons and menus. The response is just a tad slow, but offers good control over the video. Plus there is a “Setting Assistant” which helps calibrate. The format modes are obviously more in this TV, with 21:9, 21:9 subtitle as new entrants.
We lined up Kung Fu Panda Blu-ray, but first this TV too has to go through the test discs. We displayed our usual grayscale test. This panel unfortunately does not have too deep blacks, the usual LCDesque wet blanket. The detail in very low intensity scenes was not so well rendered, not much differentiation. The brightness on the other hand was very decent. This panel did not clock 500 nits, but surely comes in very healthy at around 380 – 390, at center screen.
Kung Fu Panda was a blast, it reminded us of the theaters. I have to hand it to Philips. Until this moment, we were all skeptical, thinking of snide things to say, what with black lines on the side, or else stretched 16:9 images we were viewing. But, while watching a true high def 21:9 movie, it’s something else. Actually the colors too deserve credit. The rendition of all types of colors was very laudatory, and moreover it was well within the limits of acceptable saturation levels. There is no extra green, or “too much blue” anywhere. The bright panel gives a good vibrancy to the hues. When it comes to motion, again, we were super impressed, as there was hardly any artifacts or jagged edges. A thing like Motion blur was simply absent, at least when regularly watching a film.
The MRP is Rs. 4,50,000. So I don’t have to even say that it's expensive, because that would be just a waste of words. In the same price category there are Plasmas with much deeper blacks, but, that’s the only cinch that the Philips Cinema 21:9 has. The blacks are weak. And of course, anything less than Cinemascope ratio will have blackbars on the sides now. Other than that, it’s just a brilliant TV through and through. If price is just no bar at all for you, then this little piece of gear will look good next to your Raza, and yes, it will do justice to your budding Blu-ray collections...