Philips 48OLED935 4K OLED TV review

hccbestbuybadgev3Philips hits the right notes with this stylish smallscreen OLED. But is 48in big enough for Steve May?

You might be forgiven for expecting smallscreen OLED TVs to be a budget punt, stripped of extraneous frippery in order to better bring OLED technology to the mainstream. But there's no sense of any such cost-cutting compromise with this Philips, which uses the new smaller panel for a downsized version of its flagship 935 model, complete with Bowers and Wilkins sound system. Is this move inspired or a marketing misstep?

Although a numerical sequel to the 2019 OLED934, the OLED935 is more than just a minor refresh. In addition to the new panel size, there are a number of key AV differences. Behind the glass, it packs the latest generation of Philips' P5 picture processor, now a two-chip system using Artificial Intelligence for greater image detail. Sound performance is uprated too, with improved bass handling for Dolby Atmos playback and the addition of Bowers & Wilkins' tweeter-on-top design. The set also offers an anti-'screenburn' solution with advanced logo detection, which constantly monitors a grid of 32,400 zones to detect static content, reducing light intensity accordingly.

When Two Become One
The result is a high-end living room TV for those that simply don't want a large screen, and design-wise the 48OLED935 is a winner. The panel is framed by a fashionably slender bezel, while the Bowers and Wilkins sound system is inextricably linked by captive lead and stand. The speaker array itself is housed in a rigid, acoustically optimised enclosure made of reinforced ABS, fronted by a Kvadrat cloth grille and topped by chromed metalwork. It looks the business, and actually makes for a better aesthetic fit on this 48-incher than Philips' larger displays.

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Behind that cloth grille are four midrange drivers, two titanium tweeters and a centrally mounted 3.75in bass driver. Two Dolby Atmos elevation units then offer a height component. Total audio output is rated at a cumulative 70W.

Connectivity isn't quite state-of-the-art. You get four HDMIs, which support ARC (Audio Return Channel) but not eARC. And while the TV will handle 2160p signals up to 60Hz, there's no provision for 4K/120Hz nor the Variable Refresh Rate feature of many competitors. Additional hookups are dual USB ports, an optical audio output and Ethernet, plus dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The TV comes with a slim, backlit remote control. It's finished in Muirhead leather, which is a nice touch, but the button layout is a bit different from the norm and may take some familiarisation.

Smart functionality is provided by the latest Android 9 Pie OS, which includes Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support, and has Chromecast built-in. Catch-up TV is served by a Freeview Play tuner.

Philips' ace-in-the-hole feature, of course, is Ambilight. Whether you like the look of a solid light cast or bias light, or prefer an ever-changing kaleidoscope, Ambilight is a welcome addition to any lighting scheme.

A less noteworthy feature inclusion is interoperability with DTS Play-Fi equipment. If you have such speakers, you can include the 48OLED935 as part of a multiroom Play-Fi audio system.

Sizing It Up
So far so good. But one inescapable reality for those that opt for this 48-incher over its larger OLED935 siblings, or any other 55in and above OLED for that matter, is that you'll be subjectively sacrificing absolute 4K detail for the smaller screen size. There's a direct correlation between perceivable resolution, screen size and viewing distance.

You can counter this by getting close to the screen, but given its design, this is impractical. And you'll struggle to use the OLED935 as a near-field gaming monitor either, in the same way you can LG's 48in model [see HCC #316], because all the soundbar gubbins rather gets in the way.

More proof that it's not a gamer's screen comes with its latency performance. I measured input lag at 36.3ms in Game mode (1080/60), which is below average.

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