Philips 65OLED935 TV review

hccbestbuybadgev3John Archer auditions Philips' step-up 65OLED935 TV, which aims to add integrated Atmos audio to picture perfect processing

Philips has long understood the importance of video processing to TV performance. It was throwing huge amounts of computational power at LCD TVs when LCD TVs were barely a thing, with typically excellent results (albeit once you'd tinkered with some of the settings). Yet the addition of OLED to its portfolio has seen processing prowess come into its own like never before.

Why? Because with practically every OLED TV from every brand built around the same core OLED panel, image quality differences are hugely dependent on processing. And no OLED TV I've seen before makes this more apparent than Philips' 65OLED935.

This is a relatively high-end model from Philips' 2020 OLED range, something you can tell right away from its beautifully slinky, metallic design; the four-sided Ambilight system; and its chunky external sound 'enclosure' that also doubles as the screen's desktop stand if you're not wall-mounting it. If you do opt for an on-wall installation, a separate bracket – included in the package – lets you keep the speaker in place just below the screen.

Describing the soundbar/stand unit as chunky does it a disservice, since it actually makes a positive of its size. The front edge sports an attractive grey Kvadrat cloth finish, and its angular sculpting is much easier on the eye than most TV 'stands'. The smooth, metallic top edge is broken at its centre by a top-mounted tweeter, which is both attractive and a bold reminder that the OLED935 is the latest collaboration between Philips' and hi-fi brand Bowers & Wilkins, which pioneered the tweeter-on-top concept.

And as you'd expect given the B&W influence, this speaker bar's beauty isn't just skin deep. It offers a 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos configuration, using drivers optimised for their particular purpose within the soundstage. For instance, the dual upfiring units (that metallic top edge is actually an acoustically transparent aluminium mesh) have a focused dispersion to better beam effects to and off your ceiling.


The TV With Two Brains
When it comes to video, the main improvements Philips has introduced for the 65OLED935 are based around its new 'Artificial Intelligence' picture technology. To develop this, Philips says it fed a database of millions of images into a neural network processor to train the AI system to divide images into one of five categories: Nature, Face, Motion, Dark and 'Other'. When the TV finds images classified in one of the first four picture types, it will receive picture tuning optimised for that sort of content. With material classified as 'Other', the TV will apply the regular techniques Philips introduced to its P5 picture processing engine (which is still a key part of the 65OLED935's image fettling).

Where this model steps up from the more affordable OLED805 range [see HCC #313] is the use of a second dedicated processing chip. This breaks the image down into more than 500 times as many analysis 'zones' as the 805's processor. It also adds an extra AI Sharpness element that adjusts the relative sharpness of different objects in the picture, rather than applying an overall boost; and boosted AI Smart Bit enhancement that aims to remove banding issues from areas of fine colour blend and ensure no picture detail is lost in the de-banding process.

The AI features are encapsulated in new SDR and HDR AI picture presets. But while the application of AI to the picture does yield spectacular results, as we'll see, Philips (sensibly) isn't so confident in its AI results that it doesn't give you any fine-tuning options. There are minimum, medium and maximum tweaks for Philips' contrast, colour, sharpness, source analysis and motion processing systems.

The other non-AI presets open up access to Philips' customary long list of picture adjustment options. Interestingly, while Philips has opted to include support for Filmmaker Mode on this year's OLED models, this isn't actually called Filmmaker mode. Rather, the features of Filmmaker Mode – which essentially involve turning off pretty much all video processing – are simply subsumed under the SDR and HDR Movie presets.

This is surprising given that one of the originally stated aims of Filmmaker Mode was to provide an 'accurate' picture preset that provided a single point of reference for film fans, no matter which brand of TV it appeared on. Philips' official position is that while it's happy to support FMM, it still sees its P5 processing as the best way to watch its TVs.

Another reason to opt for the 65OLED935 over the OLED805 series is a new anti-screen burn measure. This analyses pictures down to a very fine level looking out for static image elements – channel logos, game HUDs and so on – and gently dims such areas down to reduce the chances of them causing permanent image retention.

Plus there's a new highlight detection component of Philips' Perfect Natural Reality processor (for turning SDR into HDR) that Philips says improves the perceived sharpness of the PNR pictures by up to 30 per cent.

Other key features include welcome support for the premium Dolby Vision and HDR10+ HDR formats, and support for automatic low-latency mode switching when connected via HDMI to a compatible console. None of the 65OLED935's HDMI inputs, however, have sufficient data bandwidth to support the 4K/120Hz signals or variable refresh rate features that are being talked about with respect to the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

Sharp Shooter
Philips has always excelled in some areas of OLED performance. For instance, you'll struggle to find models that look sharper or deliver more impactful HDR effects and colour vibrancy. With the 65OLED935, however, it enhances those previous strengths while delivering a much more natural, fully rounded and quite simply gorgeous picture.

The first thing that hit me is how dynamic its HDR pictures are. Small, bright highlights in HDR material enjoy a degree of intensity the like of which I haven't seen from a TV before – and I include in that statement LCD TVs which, on paper at least, can deliver brightness levels way higher than the 907 nits I measured (albeit only sustained for a very short amount of time) on a 10 per cent white HDR window using the screen's Vivid mode.

During the carefully photographed opening sequence in It (4K Blu-ray), image elements like the lamp in Billy's bedroom, the light reflecting off Georgie's wet yellow raincoat, the glimmer of the pin-prick 'eyes' in the darkened basement and the reflections in Pennywise's eyes look …perfect. They're intense but life-like, and unblemished by the shifting black levels and near-black noise or artefacting sometimes seen on OLED displays, or the backlight blooming, greyness, or instability that LCD TVs often exhibit with this sequence.

While it's those small HDR moments that first get your attention, it soon becomes apparent during It's daylight exteriors that the 65OLED935's brightness also makes its mark over large image areas. The sun-drenched skies and clouds above Derry look positively luminous, just as if there's a real sun up there behind them.