Remember when a telly was just a telly? The Philips 9000 Series reminds us how long ago that was. This brace of high-definition 1080p LCD televisions offer 3D films, multi-player gaming, Internet connection, apps, social features and even extras for your iPad.
The pair of 9000 Series 3D HD sets -- the 46-inch Philips 46PFL9707 and 60-inch 60PFL9607 -- will be on sale this autumn.
Attention to design begins before you've even opened the packaging. You don't have to hack your way into the box with the blunt scissors from the second drawer down in the kitchen -- just pull out two plugs at each end and lift the box off the top, revealing your brand new telly.
Inside the Philips 9000 Series are features dedicated to giving you excellent contrast, high brightness, vivid colours and crisp sharpness, even when the picture is in fast motion. It offers a 1,200Hz refresh rate to stop things from getting blurry when the on-screen action is moving super fast.
A Micro Dimming Premium feature divides the direct LED backlight into hundreds of segments, each of which can act independently. When parts of the picture are dark and some are light -- say when the film or TV show depicts someone silhouetted against a bright skyline -- the LED backlight switches off in the dark bits, while the Bright Pro feature shines out more light for the brighter sections of the image.
Speaking of light, Philips TVs have a signature Ambilight feature, which illuminates the wall behind the telly to complement the colours on the screen. The new models have been upgraded to Ambilight Spectra XL, which Philips reckons virtually enlarges the display to fully immerse you in the cinematic experience of watching Bargain Hunt.
If you're out when your favourite daytime brick-a-brack-related show is on, you can record any programme onto USB stick to watch later.
As well as the three USB sockets, there are five HDMI ports, Scart, Component in, optical Digital Audio and headphone out and an Ethernet connection. Freeview HD is built in.
The 46-inch model also includes Moth Eye Filter, an improbably-named anti-reflective screen surface that "copies the nanostructure found in a moth's eye". That's designed to deepen the blackness of dark tones and I have to say the blacks were certainly very black on the models I saw.
I went eyes-on with both models at their launch, and while the lighting conditions of a trade show aren't entirely similar to your living room, the screens did look glorious. Motion appeared free of lag and colours were eye popping.
You can watch 3D films and TV on the 9000 Series -- even if they're not 3D to start with. The TV can automatically add depth to normal telly, creating a 3D effect you can see through the glasses that come with the set. While watching any 3D, you can adjust the depth, minimising the dizzying effect if you find it gives you a headache.
If 3D isn't your cup of tea, the goggles serve another purpose. The TVs come with two pairs of 3D specs, and if two people pop them on, they can both see different things at the same time on the same screen. Fire up your favourite two-player game and you can play against your mate, with each of you seeing the game taking up the whole screen.
That would consign cramped split-screen multi-player games to history, giving you much more room to enjoy your fragging -- although it does also put an end to watching your opponent's screen and using your superior knowledge of the level map to creep up behind them.
Whether you're gaming or watching, there are two 20Watt stereo speakers built in.
Smart TV features
You don't need to get your mates around for some multi-player gaming to keep in touch with your friends. The 9000 Series connects to the Internet with assorted social and smart TV features.
For example, there's a Twitter app to tell people what you think of that thing that just happened on Celebrity Big Brother. And you don't need to turn to your phone to see what other people are saying -- a Twitter side bar hovers over the right of the screen, updating constantly with real-time tweets about the show you're watching. That Twitter bar continues to display what people are saying, even as you flick through the channels.
To make it easier to get involved, the remote control has a Qwerty keyboard on the back for typing, similar to smart TV rivals such as Google TV. Or you can plug in a USB wireless keyboard.
There's also a tablet app, which shows the electronic programme guide (EPG) on your iPad or tablet to help you or your other half choose what to watch next, without interrupting your current viewing. Another clever feature is Wi-Fi SmartScreen, which streams what's on the TV to your tablet.
Other apps are available from the home screen, such as catch-up TV, access to online video stores and Internet browsing. A recommendation app suggests things for you to watch and takes you to the relevant movie and TV rental service. You can register once to pay for things across different on-demand services.
Of course, these features depend on where you live, as some won't work in selected countries. We'll go into more depth about them when we get hold of the new models for full in-depth reviews.
Packing 3D, HD and Internet connection, the Philips 9000 Series are all-singing, all-dancing, top-of-the-range TVs. If you're not fussed about 3D, don't own an iPad and have never tweeted in your life, then this is going to be far too much telly for you. But if you increasingly value web-connected and mobile-integrated extras from your set, the 9000 Series looks like an excellent choice.
Editor's note: Rich saw the 9000 Series at a Philips event at IFA in Berlin. His flights and accommodation were paid for by Philips, but the company had no input into the content of this article.