NEWS: Philips adds Aurea, Ambilight Spectra and Ambisound to 2008 TV line-up

I'm on a whistle-stop trip to Lisbon to see everything in Philips' 2008 range of consumer products, writes Joe Cox. And I mean everything; the day starts with toothbrushes, shavers and blenders (an orange, apple and carrot smoothie does the job), which means I'm writing this while listening to an introduction to Ambisound. Still, I can multi-task.

We've just been talked through the latest television products. And, as we brought you in the CES show review, the Aurea leads the way – we're trying to get hold of a review sample, by the way – alongside the new and improved Ambilight Spectra picture technology screens.

The complete range is headed by the Philips 9900 Aurea screen, with light effects on four sides of the screen, and on the frame itself. The 9700 series offers three sides of Ambilight Spectra, and is available in 42, 47 and 52in sets.

The 9600 series has two sides of Ambilight Spectra, and is available in 32, 37, 42 and 47in forms, as is the one-sided Ambilight of the 7600 (below).

While the Aurea stays only at 42in size for now, Philips tells us that a 47in has been experimented with – the problem being sourcing a small enough frame bezel so as not to break the continuity between the picture and ambilight effects.

Also, all screen sizes, from 32in to 52in, are complete with 1080p/24fps support and four HDMI inputs, plus new remotes, interface and clever, simple set-up explanation screens.

Amongst the figures, research and technical explanation, there were a few nuggets of particular interest. Philips' consumer research shows that, unsurprisingly, picture quality is consumers' number one concern when buying a TV, but second was sound quality, with ease of use not far behind.

A head-to-head of screens followed, firstly showing the differences between the sound quality of the Philips compared to a Sony, Samsung and Sharp. No doubting the Philips screen sounded the most musical and clear, but we were slightly sceptical of quite how bad rivals sounded, wondering quite what the settings were.

This was the case with the TVs, where Philips' Danny Tack made a great play of restoring all the sets to the 'factory settings', without confronting the fact that any TV needs to be set-up correctly – use the THX Optimizer – to get the best out of it. That said, for smooth motion, again the new Philips screen impressed.

The trademarks of the design of the new screens seem to smooth curves, subtle speakers, 'S-shaped' stands and of course the Ambilight Spectra picture effects. Technically, Philips claims the 'fastest LCDs in the world', thanks to a 2ms response time, as well as low power output – just 75watts during use – and wired DNLA media streaming. And Ambilight Spectra, of course.

There's more to come, with new Ambisound units to come, as well as multi-functional DVD/HDD recorders and MP3 products... We'll keep you posted with the latest right here. Apologies for the lack of pictures, but we'll post them as soon as we get them.

Technorati Tags: 1080p, 24fps, Ambilight, HDMI 1.3, High-def TV, LCD TV, Philips Aurea, widescreen

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.