It’s taken Philips longer than most to get its 2015 TV range out there, but it arrives with a bang in the shape of the 4K/Ultra HD 55PUT6400. Remarkably, this 55-incher can be had for about £850, despite its native 4K UHD core being joined by Google’s Android Smart TV system and one of Philips' renowned picture processing engines. 

Two things the 55PUT6400’s aggressive price doesn’t get you, though, are 3D playback and Philips’ Ambilight technology. There are no coloured light pools spilling out from its edges. While this is a shame, at least the set’s edges are attractive anyway with their angular, minimalist look.

The 55PUT6400’s connectivity initially looks strong with four HDMIs, three USBs and integrated Wi-Fi. However, closer inspection reveals that only one HDMI is equipped with the HDCP 2.2 protocols needed for 4K playback. Although, to be fair, external 4K sources aren’t exactly common right now.

Working behind the scenes is Philips' Pixel Plus Ultra HD processing engine. This is one of the brand’s least powerful efforts, as you might expect given the 55PUT6400’s price tag. However, even this engine brings Philips’ Natural Motion processing, plus Ultra Resolution fettling for making all content – even native UHD – look sharper, and various contrast and colour enhancements. 

The contrast situation should be helped, too, by the 55PUT6400’s use of a direct LED lighting system (where the LEDs sit behind the screen) and micro-dimming technology that tweaks the image settings after analysing 6,400 different zones of any given frame.

The Android Smart TV system solves Philips’ traditional issues with insufficient Smart TV content, and it runs more stably on the 55PUT6400 than it does on Sony’s Android sets. However, the Android interface feels clunky, overpowering and short of customisation options. Plus there’s currently no Amazon Instant, ITV Player, 4OD or Demand 5 app support. Hmmm.

Philip 55PUT6400 performance

Out of the box the 55PUT6400's pictures can look quite unnatural, with over-saturated colours, noise, and obvious processing artefacts. Only the Movie preset avoids these issues as it turns off all the processing tools – but this mode goes too far the other way.

Fortunately, after toning down the colour enhancement system, turning off noise reduction systems for UHD and most HD content and setting the Contrast Mode to Standard, you get pictures which mostly impress for an affordable bigscreen 4K TV. 

Contrast is particularly strong. As the ‘evil’ planet grows towards the ship that’s attacking it in The Fifth Element (blu-ray), this screen delivers a slick combination of deep blacks for the space shots and bright, dynamic colours for the interior ship elements, often within the same frame. The screen’s blacks aren’t affected by backlight clouding issues either, and only exhibit rare and minor brightness ‘jumps’.

Luc Besson’s crazed colour palette is painted suitably boldly, yet the aggression doesn’t stop the 55PUT6400 from also delivering good tonal subtlety in tricky areas, like Leeloo’s orange hair. This colour finesse helps deliver good levels of hi-res impact from native 4K UHD sources, and Philips’ Natural Motion system does a reasonable (though not perfect) job of keeping moving objects sharp without icky processing side effects, provided you stick at its minimum power setting.

Overall, while the 55PUT6400 is a talented 55in TV for its money, no matter how much I tinkered with its pictures I still sometimes found them a bit artificial-looking – as if Philips’ processing either isn’t powerful enough to realise its ambitions or has a strained relationship with the panel it’s working with.