08-14-2012, 11:00 PM #1
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 37PFL7676K/02 – Experiences and Review
Here is my extensive review of the 37PFL7676K/02. Some of the issues mentioned have already been touched upon here in the forums, maybe I will add a link to the appropriate topics when I have time; but let's start with the actual review:
I bought the device in April 2012; originally I was looking for the 37PFL7606K/02, but the sales agent of the shop where I bought it said that the 7676K/02 is the same, but that the 7606K/02 is more commonly advertised (and far more common in price comparison sites). That got me wondering a little (why are there different names for devices with the same specs?), but after some research I could find some marginal differences – if anything, the 7676K/02 is a bit better than the 7606K/02 as far as I can tell.
I think the technical specs can be found in other places; I want to concentrate on my subjective impression of the device.
Regarding appearance and hardware: The device looks very nice, with its frame made of brushed aluminium. From the outside it definitely has the looks of a quality device.
The same goes for the display. I’m no expert regarding TVs or displays, but to me, everything regarding the actual picture quality looks really nice. 3D is also pretty cool, I have seen very little ghosting, and even though the displaying mode via polarization takes away half the resolution, the 3D image still looks very good (and is less prone to cause headache, in my opinion, in comparison to a shutter-glass display from another vendor).
The lighting seems a bit weird under some circumstances (can’t really put a name on it, the picture just appears to be a little to bright or a little too dark under certain circumstances), but usually at least one of the available presets delivers good video quality; I have played around a little with the image improvement options, but have left most of them in a conservative setting.
The low energy consumption was one of the factors which convinced me to buy the device; in energy saving mode, it only uses 40-45 watts (even with Ambilight turned on!). In the most energy consuming mode, the device uses approximately 115 watts (but that mode is far too bright to watch for a longer time, except for in full daylight maybe).
Now regarding the User Interface and the Software of the device: That’s where unfortunately the big disappointments come in. I’ll start with the Pro’s; things which set this specific device apart from what I know of other devices (or just are new and well done):
There’s an android app with which you can steer the TV just as you would with a IR control; in addition it also provides a keyboard for easier text input.
It has the neat feature to remind of a starting TV program (which can be programmed via EPG just the same as a scheduled recording). At the scheduled time, a message box comes up, asking if it should switch to that channel.
It supports HDMI-CEC, and thus is able to communicate with devices which are connected to it via HDMI. When I turn on my TV, also my Home Entertainment system is turned on automatically!
Ambilight is cool, practically exactly what I expected, in by far the most situations it uses the correct color, and it doesn’t even use up much power (I guess 1 watt or so, there is no significant change when I turn it on or off).
And now for the cons:
Although the device has built in access to DVB-EPG, the built-in recorder can only be programmed via the Internet EPG (which needs an internet access and access to the Philips servers). So if either you don’t have an internet connection at the moment, or the Philips servers are down, you can’t create a scheduled recording. At the moment, for example, the Internet EPG doesn’t load (have tried multiple times, each time letting it load more than 90 seconds, but still only a loading animation shows up)
The DVB-EPG works better, but although it loads rather quick, navigation inside it is sometimes slow. At least reminders can be set from the DVB-EPG, but, as statet above, not recordings
Closely related to point 1 is that the Internet EPG is really slow to come up and slow to switch between the pages with additional channels. I don’t believe it’s an internet connection issue, because all my other internet devices (5+) can connect just fine (and fast), and a connection speed of 8MBit should be more than enough to load simple TV schedules. The actual recording doesn’t need an internet connection as far as I can tell; but for scheduling it, it’s a must; you don’t even get the chance to program a simple timer (e.g. record BBC from 05:00 to 06:00) – scheduled recordings can only be done via the Internet EPG.
“Watching TV” and “Watching TV via satellite” are two separate things. I only have satellite, no cable nor DVB-T, so for me there’s the weird situation that I have a TV with which I actually never use the “TV” mode . Why can’t it just have one big channel list which unifies the TV channels from all sources? I would certainly expect that from a modern television. Since TV mode seems to be standard, sometimes when I switch on the TV, there’s just no picture and I have to switch to Satellite TV manually.
On Satellite TV (DVB-S), switching between channels is rather slow (it takes approximately 5 seconds). On the plus side, you can “skip” channels (i.e., if you press the Channel +/- keys multiple times quickly in a row, it will still take only those 5 seconds to switch to the channel in the appropriate distance of the previous channel, e.g. if you are on channel 5, and press Channel+ 5 times quickly, then 5 seconds after the last keypress, you will start seeing the picture of channel 10.
The “quick-access” menu that comes up when pressing the “Adjust” button on the IR control is not a real quick access menu at all: Even though it covers the whole screen (no more picture shown while the menu is open, just the menu), it still shows only 3 options (in huge boxes next to each other) at once. Overall, it holds 10 or so options to choose from, meaning that there are 4 pages of options to switch between; and the switching between neighbouring pages takes approximately 3-4 seconds because of some lame and jittery animation. You can’t even return to the first page from the last one by pressing right arrow once more, but you have to switch left three times. And it remembers where you were last. So, assuming that you’re on the last page of that menu before, and you quickly want to switch to 3D mode because you have just started a 3D Movie Trailer from Youtube, you have to watch the animation 3 times, so it takes you approximately 10 seconds to even select the option you actually want to change – and that’s if you already know in which direction you exactly need to go. That means, once you have actually switched into 3D mode, the Trailer will be half over already.
That leads me to the next point, which is probably not severe, it just would be “nice to have” if the TV could detect 3D/2D content and switch automatically. Otherwise, e.g. in the YouTube app, you first have to quickly switch to 3D, and then back, or else the interface doesn’t look right.
While having apps on the TV seems a good idea generally speaking, the integration of these apps on this device doesn’t always seem very good, sometimes it’s in fact rather bad; take for example the YouTube application. First, the navigation in the application is not really intuitive, and could use improvement; but the most important thing, the search, has the most troubles. It is one of the things were you need a keyboard most; however, there the Android keyboard doesn’t work – it seems to send wrong keycodes – wrong letters come up, and it starts searching after each letter just as if you had pressed the search button).
Net TV also seems to require connection to the Philips servers. Because just now, even though internet connection is available, Net TV won’t load (as well as the DVB-EPG, see above).
The TV supports access to video in the network, but only via DLNA servers (via Samba shares would be much easier, as many competitors already have implemented); and it supports much less formats than even my two years older Samsung BD player (which e.g. has samba support as well).
The “reminder” functionality (which reminds of the start of some TV program) only works in TV mode, not e.g. when watching videos from the network or via an external source. That is kind of a big let down, since as far as I heard, this works in some competitors’ machines. I asked in the forums and was told that for that to work, the TV “would have to be able to parse a second video stream”, which it can’t; but I still don’t understand why this should be necessary.
HDMI-CEC doesn’t seem to work without flaws between vendors yet – my home entertainment system is turned on, but it’s not recognized properly (the TV says it’s not attached, and is switching to the internal speakers; since the home entertainment system is connected via Optical link as well as via HDMI, I still get sound from it, but it’s weird behavior. If I switch the entertainment system to BD playback mode, and then back to TV, it works as expected – I can control the volume of the entertainment system via the TV remote.
Some messages or dialogs produce overlays over the picture; with some of them, much of the underlying picture is still visible, but it’s darkened A LOT. Up to the point where you have to strain to discern anything – why then even show the picture?
When switching between some Video options, the Audio sometimes is muted for up to 5 seconds (for me it currently happens e.g. sometimes with the Pixel Precise HD/Perfect Natural Motion setting). Not that I change these settings often, but it’s still annoying, because you will miss something of the program you’re currently watching.
There are firmware updates, quite often actually, but I haven’t seen any improvement in any of the areas I see as problems. I will continue to try them, hopefully there will be some change for the better.
To sum it all up in a few words, my verdict is: Hardware top, Software flop.
And one thing, for me, is clear: Unless Philips addresses at least one of the issues mentioned above, or provides reasonable explanations why they won’t do so, my next TV will not be a Philips device. Even if in the next generation, some of the issues are fixed now (as for example I heard of the Internet-EPG vs. DVB-EPG programmability issue – 2012 devices can now be programmed via DVB-EPG), that still shows the effort of Philips to actively support and improve devices it has sold already – which at the moment seems to me to be close to Zero.
Last edited by bfroehler; 08-14-2012 at 11:07 PM.
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