The TV side of Philips' business is now jointly owned by Chinese company TPV Technology, which was formerly best known for its AOC computer monitors. This shake up seems to have made the pricing of its sets more competitive.
The mid-range 55PFL6007 can be bought online for around £1,300 -- that's roughly in line with the likes of LG's 55LM860 and . It's got a similar specifications too, with 3D support, smart TV features and 400Hz processing.
User interface and EPG
Philips has carried out a complete revamp of the user interface it uses on its TVs and the 55PFL6007 is the first one I've seen to benefit from this. The layout is more intuitive and easier to navigate than the older system.
Calling up the menu now presents you with a banner of scrolling icons across the middle of the screen, giving you access to stuff like the setup menu, TV guide and smart TV features. The last two can also be accessed directly via dedicated buttons on the remote, and there's now a secondary, two tier settings banner that can be accessed via the options button.
The presentation is quite slick, as the menus are animated, and there are some thoughtful touches such as the way it can determine the type of kit that's connected to its HDMI ports and automatically label them in the input selection screen.
The menus aren't quite as straightforward to find your way around as they could be however, and despite the fact the TV is powered by a dual-core processor, the menu system feels sluggish to use.
The EPG has been improved though. It still uses a traditional horizontal timeline layout, but now the EPG shows more programmes on a single page, making it easier to plan an evening's viewing. You can also set up reminders from here, or program timed recordings if you've got a USB drive attached to the TV. Like many of it's peers, this model has rudimentary PVR features. There's only a single tuner though, so you can't record one channel while watching another as you can on a full blown PVR. It's also annoying that the EPG cuts all video and audio when you open it up.
Digital media and Internet features
Philips has also updated its smart TV system and improved the lineup of apps. Alongside iPlayer you'll now find movie rental services such as Blinkbox and Acetrax. Naturally YouTube is here too and there's also support for the Napster music subscription service. You get a full browser (based on Opera), but this is a tad tricky to control via the standard remote. Some of the apps are disappointing too. For example, the Facebook app really just opens the full Web version Facebook, meaning that just like the browser, it's not very easy to use via the zapper.
The new lineup of apps is definitely an improvement on what was previously available on Philips' TVs and there's now even an app store where you can download a few extra services such as eBay and TomTom HD. Netflix and 4oD should be added in the future, but there's no definite word yet on when this will happen.
The set also supports digital media playback from USB drives as well as media streaming across a network from DLNA devices like PCs and networked hard drives. Here it actually puts in a very strong showing. Format support is good as it had no problem playing HD MKV files, as well as DviX, Xvid and WMV videos. Folder navigation is a tad sluggish, but once a video has started playing, the fast transport controls are very responsive. It also plays ball with JPG pictures and MP3, WMA and AAC music files.
Design and connections
Philips has produced plenty of stylish TVs in the past and thankfully the 6007 shows that it hasn't lost its deft touch when it comes to design. This is a very handsome set due to its clean lines and the narrow 1cm bezel that runs around the top and sides of the display. The metallic grey finish is suitably high end, and the set is slim too, despite the addition of the Ambilight strips on the two sides.
This model is also well appointed when it comes to ports. As you'd expect on a 55-inch model, it's got four HDMI sockets splits between three on the rear panel and one on the side panel. There's also a set of component inputs and a Scart socket, which both need to be attached using short breakout cables. Additionally, there's a PC VGA input, as well as a digital optical audio output. All three of the rear-mounted HDMI ports are positioned on a downward facing panel, so you should have no problems connecting your kit up to the set if its wall mounted.
Your digital needs will be similarly well taken care of, as Philips has provided three USB ports and an Ethernet socket, with Wi-Fi integrated too.
Philips has in the past produced some of the best sounding flat screens I've heard. Despite the fact that it includes larger than usual drivers on the rear of the set however, this model's audio isn’t in the same league as some of the company's previous efforts.