From the moment it became obvious that OLED TVs could get bright enough to handle today’s High Dynamic Range (HDR) pictures, Philips’ TV engineers have embraced the technology like Popeye embraces spinach. This resulted last year in the Dutch brand (now owned by TP Vision) delivering a consistently glorious mix of premium and affordable OLED TV options - and its first new OLED model of 2022, the 55OLED807, keeps the momentum going in spectacular style.
As you probably know by now, OLED has one massive advantage over its great LCD rival: Self emissive pixels. In other words, each and every pixel in an OLED screen makes its own light and colour, rather than having to share an external backlight with thousands, even millions of other pixels. This means OLED TVs can deliver levels of local contrast, where inky black colours sit right alongside punchy bright highlights without any compromise between the two, that have to be seen to be believed.
The 55OLED807 builds on this baked in OLED benefit with a new ‘EX’ panel that’s claimed to deliver as much as 30% more peak brightness than traditional OLED screens. This is a big deal given the importance of brightness to today’s HDR picture technology - especially as the latest sixth generation of Philips’ P5 picture processing engine exploits the new panel’s brightness to its maximum effect. The intensity this processor brings to small bright highlights such as stars in the night sky and sunlight gleaming off metal or glass is really remarkable - especially considering the 55OLED807 sits in the most affordable section of Philips’ latest TV range.
Its brightness holds up very well for its money, too, when showing full-screen bright HDR content. There are one or two significantly more expensive OLED rivals, most notably the LG OLED65G2, that go brighter still with both HDR highlights and full-screen bright images. For its money, though, the 55OLED807 is as punchy as OLED currently gets.
The 55OLED807 also fixes one of the minor issues of its OLED806 predecessor by no longer causing subtle shadow details in dark scenes to be crushed out of the picture. A new Dark Detail Optimization element that’s been added to the latest P5 picture engine appears to be largely responsible for this - so it’s great to find that you can activate this feature without it impacting the depth or stability of the screen’s excellent black levels.
The 55OLED807 boasts a new Color Optimisation system, too, that also significantly bolsters the new TV’s picture quality. Tones across the board look more controlled and balanced without losing that dazzling intensity for which Philips TVs have long been renowned. Skin tones in particular look significantly more consistently believable than they did on last year’s OLED806es - even while you’re using the punchy Crystal Clear image preset Philips provides for viewers who favour picture drama over accuracy.
The 55OLED807’s new processor has lost nothing over its ultra-crisp predecessor when it comes to sharpness. In fact, the 55OLED807’s sharpness is slightly improved over its predecessor in that it looks more natural, without so much of the occasional grittiness or over-sharpened edging that could creep in before.
Philips’ processing engine manages to retain the 55OLED807’s impeccable sharpness when there’s motion in the frame, too. And thanks to recently added new Pure Cinema and Movie motion processing options, you can enjoy this sustained clarity without having to worry about the sort of excessive motion smoothness or flickering and edge smudging issues that used to be associated with Philips’ motion processing (and still are, actually, with some of the available motion setting options).
It used to be that Philips took a rather ‘our way or the highway’ approach to TV picture quality, pushing its own relatively aggressive view of what constitutes great picture quality ahead of the AV world’s established ideas of industry accuracy. While the 55OLED807 still unashamedly (and I’d say with some justification) leads you towards a fairly aggressive out of the box set up, though, it does provide the independently crafted Filmmaker mode as a quick and easy option for film fans who value accuracy.
Good though the 55OLED807’s pictures are right out of the box, as with its 2021 predecessor images can still benefit from a bit of manual intervention in the rather complicated onscreen menus. The Crystal View setting should have its colour saturation, peak brightness and sharpness slightly reduced, for instance. You need to be careful which motion processing option you choose too, and I’d also recommend turning off noise reduction or, at least, only running it on its low setting.
I’d also recommend turning off all of the TV’s Eco mode options and new Ambient AI systems. Especially the Dark Scene Optimisation setting, which leads to the picture looking too dull and bereft of shadow detail if you’re watching a dark scene in a dark room.
In a way this perhaps reminds us that even the 55OLED807’s new EX panel can’t get anywhere near as bright as the best premium LCD TVs. But then those LCD TVs can’t compete with OLED when it comes to local contrast and light control.
The 55OLED807’s 70W audio system is impressive for such an affordable OLED TV. Particularly striking is how much bass it’s able to deliver with film soundtracks, avoiding that thin, flat sound feel so common with today’s increasingly skinny TVs.
There’s lots of clean, nicely rounded treble detailing too, while the mid-range is large enough, responsive enough and open enough to handle even the most dense action movie moments without becoming crowded, muffled or distorted.
Infamously heavy bass moments can cause the 55OLED807’s usually brilliant bass drivers to buzz and crackle just a little. For the vast majority of the time, though, the 55OLED807 sounds as good as OLED TVs at this price point get.
The 55OLED807 is seriously good looking for a relatively entry-level OLED TV. The screen is surrounded by a remarkably trim frame (another feature made possible by the new EX OLED panel) and backed by an impressively robust, premium-feeling and again remarkably trim rear panel.
The screen sits on an attractive gleaming metal T-bar desktop stand if you’re not wall mounting it, and the already lovely design can be offset spectacularly by Philips’ unique Ambilight technology. This sees LEDs ranged around the screen’s back edge casting light out from all four of the TV’s sides that can, if you wish, track dynamically the colour content of the pictures you’re watching.
Ambilight always sounds like a garish gimmick when you describe it on paper, but in reality, provided you run it on a fairly mild setting, it’s as immersive and relaxing as it is a great dinner party talking point.
The 55OLED807 provides good connectivity for its money. There are four HDMIs, two of which are capable of handling the 4K/120Hz and variable refresh rate graphics now available from the latest PS5 and Xbox Series X games consoles. There’s also support over HDMI for both the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ premium HDR formats, when most rival TVs only support one or the other.
Smart features are provided by Android TV. This is far from my favourite smart system; not least because its presentation is a bit overwhelming and lacks customisation options. The Philips engine runs Android TV unusually smoothly and stably, though, and thanks to a little customisation on Philips’ part, there’s support for all of the key smart services most households might want.
As noted in the picture quality section, the one slightly aggravating thing about using the 55OLED807 is that you should delve into the hugely detailed and lengthy picture adjustment menus and tweak a few things, pretty much regardless of which picture setting you’ve got selected, if you always want to get the best picture quality. This feels like a small price to pay, though, for what a well set-up 55OLED807 can do.
The 55OLED807 betters its already illustrious predecessor in every way. Its pictures are more natural without losing Philips’ trademark punch, it sounds better than many TVs costing way more, it supports all the latest gaming as well as video features, and it looks a million dollars in its Ambilight suit. All for a price that’s ridiculously good value for what’s on offer.
Pan 4K Blu-ray
While it’s only a very mediocre film, Pan on 4K Blu-ray features some notoriously aggressive use of peak HDR brightness - especially during the sequence where a kidnapped Peter first arrives by flying boat in Neverland. This scene gives the 55OLED807’s startling peak brightness capabilities a real chance to shine.
The Revenant 4K Blu-ray
Despite being one of the very first 4K Blu-rays to be released, The Revenant still holds up today as one of the best looking 4K releases. Its stunning photography and epic locations feel tailor-made to show off the strengths of the 55OLED807, making the brutality that unfolds against such spectacular natural backdrops feel all the more incongruous.
It Chapter One 4K Blu-ray
As with all the best horror films, the first of Andy Muschietti’s two It outings boasts a fantastically well mixed and powerful soundtrack. This catches many TVs out badly, but the 55OLED807 actually handles it superbly, delivering enough dynamic range and raw power to handle even the most expansive of its Dolby Atmos scares.
There’s no OLED TV around for the 55OLED807’s money that can serve up richer, punchier pictures. Its design is remarkably high-end for such an affordable set too, and it sounds way richer and more powerful than you’ve any right to expect from such a slender chassis.