Is it possible to be wider than widescreen? It would appear so. Philips' new ultra-wide TV resets the ratio to display movies the way they were intended.
Watching a 16:9 widescreen program on a 4:3 TV is appalling. Black bars sit top and bottom and a large portion of your precious screen real estate goes unused. Fortunately most TVs now use a 16:9 ratio, though this means we still get black bars when watching cinematic widescreen movies. Not so with this Philips TV.
With an aspect ratio of 21:9 (equivalent to 2.39:1) the Cinema can display movies how they were filmed. Sure, normal 16:9 TV broadcasts and DVDs all end up with black bars left and right, but it’s a small price to pay for cinematic perfection. The difference seems insignificant till you try it. The Philips 21:9 runs at 2,560 x 1,080 – giving you a large resolution boost over a standard TV. You do need to sit further back from the Philips to get the full effect of the Cinematic widescreen.
The image quality is superb, with vibrant colours and no noticeable light bleed. Image processing is excellent, with smooth playback and decent upscaling. There are also bundles of screen adjustments, letting you expand, upscale and zoom different ratios.
You get plenty of inputs, with four HDMI ports, Component, VGA, LAN and USB. The inbuilt media player handles HD content fine and gave acceptable playback with lower-quality media. You can also play files from a DLNA-compatible server. The Cinema remote is well laid out and has a heavy, quality feel and finish. The Philips also includes Ambilight, which we found to create a more immersive viewing experience.
At 105mm deep the Philips Cinema is not as slim as the latest LED backlit screens, though is still ideally wall mounted. On the plus side the extra depth has allowed Philips to squeeze in some decent speakers and a subwoofer, though such a high-end TV does deserve a proper surround sound setup.
The Philips uses about the same amount of power as a normal LCD, averaging 238 watts. Of course the main downside is the price tag, with the Philips costing a few thousand more than a traditional TV. Still, for cinema buffs the value is definitely there. Available from Qualifi, retailing for $5,999.APC rating: 8/10