Philips 21 9 TV review
We love
Unique 21:9 widescreen
We hate
Not ideal for 4:3 and 16:9 material
The ultimate TV for watching Blu-ray and DVD
Launch Price

The Philips Cinema 21:9 really is one of a kind: the world’s only ultra-widescreen television, packing a 56-inch 2560 x 1080 LCD panel with a 21:9 (or 2.39:1) aspect ratio. Read our full Philips Cinema 21:9 to see if it really is worth all that extra living room space.

What’s the point of that, you might ask. Well, the thing is that most movies are filmed in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, so when you whack them up on your regular 16:9 TV you get a letterbox effect – black bars above and below the picture, in other words. What the Philips Cinema 21:9 does is cut out those bars, serving up just the picture.

It makes one hell of an impact when you’re watching a movie, as there’s nothing to see except the picture – plus Philips Ambilight technology, which takes the dominant on-screen colours and chucks them up on the wall behind the TV via three arrays of LED lamps.

There’s also a staggering arsenal of picture processing tech at work behind-the-scenes – sharpening the details, enhancing colours, ironing out motion judder and adjusting the backlight to boost contrast. The result is a gobsmacking picture with a real sense of depth, particularly when watching Blu-ray.

Still, we should mention that the 21:9 shape does have its quirks. If you watch a film with subtitles the screen will almost certainly crop them out in 21:9 mode, so the Philips Cinema 21:9 has a special format setting that squeezes the picture slightly to accommodate the text – not really ideal.

Then there’s the fact that a lot of video source material doesn’t come in 2.35:1 but 16:9 or even 4:3. Here you have the choice to stretch the image to fill the screen (resulting in everyone looking fat), zooming in to chop off the top and bottom, or showing it in the correct format and having it flanked by black bars – in which case you might feel like this huge screen is being a bit wasted.

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Still, even with the black bars the picture quality is superb, and the picture size is equivalent to that of a 42-inch TV’s – so it’s hardly a small image we’re talking about.

Of course, there’s more to the Philips Cinema 21:9 than its screen. We’ve mentioned Ambilight, but you also get a powerful set of built-in speakers, plus full DLNA media streaming capabilities via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi. There’s also Net TV, which allows you to hop onto the web, viewing specially formatted sites like YouTube or even a proper browser – although keying in URLs using the remote control is a frustrating process.

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