Thought the LG looked spec-tacular for the money? How about the same headline figures and features, but with Ambilight thrown into the bargain as well? Yeah, thought that would get you going.
Wait, what do you mean you don’t know what Ambilight is? Ok, refresher time: Ambilight is a unique Philips technology that involves strips of light that are built into a TV’s edges and project colours on to the wall behind, generally as an extension to the onscreen action.
It sounds like a gimmick, to be sure, but pick the right setting (‘relaxed’, if you ask me) and the effect isn’t just beautiful, it also has a way of making the images on the TV deeper and more dramatic. In short, it’s a cool thing.
Which is good, because in practically every other way the Philips 49PUS6401 is outshone (sorry) by the LG 49UH668V.
Which isn’t at all to say that this is a bad telly. On the contrary, it produces a very insightful picture. Obviously it’s at its best when fed 4K, but it makes the best of practically every type of source, digging up lots of detail.
It’s got a vibrant, vivid colour palette, too. True, it’s not the last word in neutrality or realism, but if you like your colours lush and don’t mind a touch of over-saturation, you’ll appreciate the 49PUS6401’s approach.
But at the same time this is an 8-bit panel that falls short of the contrast capabilities of the LG, which means its colours are a little less subtle and it struggles to make the most of HDR signals. Play Horizon Zero Dawn on this set and the image is that bit flatter and less dynamic, appearing a little washed-out in comparison to the LG.
View the TV in isolation, though, and you’re not going to find a huge amount to grumble about - you might just wonder about all of the fuss around HDR.
One neat feature of the Philips 49PUS6401 is that it’s powered by Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which means it’s rather like having an Nvidia Shield built-in (although the Shield has now been upgraded to Nougat), which also means it’s essentially got a Chromecast built-in, so you can throw (OK, ‘cast’) video from your phone to your screen like a multimedia ninja.
Android TV obviously carries plenty of its own apps, too, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and most of the usual TV catch-up suspects, so you’re going to have no shortage of things to watch. And while the sound is a bit thin, even in this company, it’s also clear and perfectly passable if you’re not able to add a soundbar or soundbase.
All told, this is a decent but unspectacular option if you’re in the market for a budget 4K screen. Unless, that is, you’re drawn in by the Ambilight. And who could blame you if you were?