Philips' new Roku QLED TV [review]

I have to admit, in these past few years, despite having some time on our hands during the pandemic and the just glut of streaming services variety... I just don't watch much TV.

Let me qualify that.  I watch stuff, I stream Netflix, catch up on my Youtube subscriptions, but we just have so many more places to watch them; my phone, my tablet, my smart screen devices, etc...  Sitting down in a living room and turning on a 'TV' hasn't been part of our 'routine' in a while.

So, when Philips allowed me the opportunity to review their new QLED TV with Roku I was excited to see what that would be like for me.  We've never been a 'big TV' kinda household, so a 55" was a treat.

Let's start off.  The 55" TV has some specs to give off, here's what you get for $650CDN:

  • 55"
  • 3840x2160 (4K)
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 120PMR Motion enhancement
  • 5000:1 contrast ratio
  • HDR10
  • 10W x2 speakers
  • HDMI x4 inputs
  • miniAV x1 input
  • USB x1 input
  • Optical out
  • Roku OS
  • On the stand = 30.7" tall, 48.3" wide, 11.3" deep

The 50" will run you $550 and can go as big as 75" for $1200

So the big feature here is the fact that it's got your 'smart TV' feature built in.  For those that aren't so tech savvy, having Roku is really the way to go.  It's a dead simple OS and having it built in, means it's also built into the remote, no separate remotes etc...

It's been a while since I've been a Roku user so I took a moment to dig out my login credentials and it remembered what services I had signed into and just downloaded those 'channels' automatically.

But I'm jumping ahead.  Let's physically set the device up.

For a TV that big, in our house it worked best in our basement den, which we have it decked out with wood panelling (we just haven't bothered to replace it since we bought the house), so mounting the TV might be problematic, but that's fine as we have a nice electric fireplace for it to stand on.

Not mounting it has feet to install simply on the bottom for it to sit.  I feel that it gives it still a slight 'leaning back' angle to the TV, but maybe it's just a trick of the eye.

Setting up the connections is easy enough as they have all been placed on the right hand side of the unit, and what's nice is that it's not just on the back facing out, but on a pice that juts out from the back and will run alongside the back, which is especially appreciated if you are mounting it.

Having them ALL on the one side is nice, but you may have to plan where you have your items to plug in.  Me, I'm actually plugging in 2 different Chromecasts (long story).  And besides, it already has Roku built in, but I guess if you still have physical devices like a PVR or BluRay player you have still some options to work with.

I also appreciate that the fibre connection it has it meant as an output, and how I have my basement soundbar, it doesn't have options for HDMI switching, so this works that everything from the TV goes back out to the soundbar.

Speaking of sound, the speakers it does have are downward facing.  They're good, and if you've got good clearance for them, especially on the wall; but if on a stand, make sure there's nothing in the way (i.e. my soundbar).

It has a USB plug if you want to plug in a thumbdrive for photos or videos, even a miniAV connection (using a 1/8" plug) for those really older devices.  For those who want to stream without great Wifi it does have a hardline ethernet port too.  Oh, and there is coax too... do they still use that?

Now that everything all plugged in, it's time to turn it on.  You can use the controller, and there's a semi-hidden power button just on the underside of the TV in the dead centre.

Running through the set up from Roku is fairly straightforward. 

I already have a Roku account so it's just a matter of logging in.  

after the simple set up, it starts to sync any channels you may have had on other Roku devices

Going through all that set up you're met with a fairly simple TV interface - if you've ever used a Roku device before it's exactly that, with the addition that you can change inputs on its main screen between the Roku streaming channels, or whatever else you have plugged into it (a little different as I am used to always looking for that "input" button to switch and there isn't that here, just go 'home' and navigate to the input you want).

One thing that was instantly 'noticeable' when I'm setting it up is that I'd been so used to my last Roku devices and my Chromecast with Google TV devices using wireless remotes, to have to use Infrared, i.e. a line of sight remote, feels like a step back.  I can't tell you the number of times I had to remember to lift the remote to point it at the TV to get it to work.  I guess I just got spoiled by others.

Now... the TV is 4K, and I am now somewhat regretting that none of the services I've subscribed to am I paying for that level of resolution.  But, I did watch some Youtube clips in 4K and a movie or 2 that I've purchased.  From what I could tell, it looked good.  

I'm not used to 4K so I can tell there's a definite improvement from non4K, but I still felt like there could have been something more to the picture - I couldn't tell if it was the source or the TV.

I did spend a few hours in the room watching some shows and movies, and I probably need to tweak my room a little for lighting to adjust (my 20 something self is probably mad at me as I used to spend a lot of time imparting that kind of knowledge to customers when I sold TVs).

Another area where I was somewhat disappointed was in Roku.  I mean, Roku is super simple.  It is something I really recommend to a lot of people because it's all they need.  However, compared to Chromecast with Google TV, the interface on Roku is noticeably slower.  Would someone like my parents use this TV and go "man this is slow", no way.  But where I would swap between the Roku interface and Netflix streaming, and then switch to the Chromecast and navigate to Netflix, it is a clear difference in speed.

That slightly slower reaction is noticeable as you go throughout the settings of the device where you adjust settings like volume (I don't want to use the speakers on the TV, so you set volume to adjust the volume of the soundbar).

I have to balance the slower 'performance' with the price.  55" for just over half a thousand bucks is really kind of unheard of compared to a few years ago; and this has built in the streaming - great for those people who have not used anything yet, or don't want to muss about with other devices.  This is built in simply - and the holy grail of simple - one remote!

And, if you're like me, you tend to 'misplace' a remote often enough that you kinda look around trying to find it.  Well, you have the companion Roku app.  In the app you can look through channels and stuff to watch, but you also have access to use a virtual remote.

Control your TV via your phone, that's handy.  You can even then control the audio of the TV to come through your phone, and then to your own headphones connected if it was too late at night and didn't want to keep people awake.

Overall, I'm pleasantly pleased with this TV.  I usually don't find myself sitting down in front of the TV in the den as much, but with this it definitely allowed me the opportunity make that excuse.

I'll greatly / humbly admit how 'out of the game' I am for TV technology, so I can't really speak to what it was lacking specifically or how it excelled, rather I can say I enjoyed the picture.  I could tell that it isn't the best out there, but I definitely wasn't sitting there complaining about light leak or any poor black balance.  I didn't notice any artifacting or anything in fast motion moments that I noticed.  

Someone considering this TV will be satisfied with its picture (unless you're one of them snobs and will only settle for the best), but primarily are looking for it for a simplified use case.  Roku built in is a huge plus in its corner - with Roku continuing to add more streaming channels (their term for essentially an 'app') to its lineup and tons and tons of even free streaming content, this can be a no brainer for the price.