Although we’re yet to get it into our test rooms for a full review, we’ve now had two separate hands-on sessions with the set – most recently during a behind-closed-doors press session in Barcelona.
And while it’s too early to give our final verdict on the OLED908, our brief experience with it, plus its use of the same next-generation Micro Lens Array (MLA) tech seen on the five-star LG G3, has left us excited – although we do still have some questions.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Philips OLED908, including our real-world impressions from our brief sessions using it.
Philips confirmed at its latest OLED908 press event that the TV will be available in the UK from Richer Sounds from mid-October. It also confirmed the TV will be priced in line with its main rival, the LG G3. The smallest 55-inch will option will retail for £2999, while the mid-sized 65-inch 908 will cost £3499. Finally, the largest 77-inch 908 will cost £4999.
The Philips OLED908 won’t be sold in the US and sadly the company didn’t reveal Euro or Australian pricing or availability during the event. We’ve asked for clarification and will update this article when we get it.
Unlike the OLED937 and OLED987 TVs, which have large (very large in the case of the latter) speaker sections and will presumably be replaced by OLED938 and OLED988 models at some point in the future, the OLED908 has a slim, subtle speaker bar mounted directly to the bottom edge of the TV. This speaker bar has a slight angle to it so that it juts out a bit at the bottom, and it’s wrapped in very smart-looking, acoustically transparent Kvadrat fabric. The whole set stands on a very compact pedestal that not only looks smart, but also gives the TV a very small footprint, thereby making it easy to find a home for.
Philips has also redesigned its remote for 2023, finally joining its rivals in ditching the button-heavy approach of old with a much smaller, smarter-looking and stripped-back controller. This new remote is very thin, too – something that’s made possible by the ditching of replaceable batteries in favour of a built-in battery that charges via USB. Samsung-style solar charging unfortunately doesn’t feature here.
No Philips OLED TV would be complete without Ambilight, which uses LEDs dotted around the set’s edges to extend the on-screen action onto the wall around the TV in the form of coloured light. The OLED908 gets the ‘Next Gen’ version of Ambilight that Philips introduced at the end of last year, but only on the sides and top: there’s no Ambilight strip along the bottom, which is a real surprise when you consider that all of the company’s 2022 OLEDs from the OLED807 upwards have four-sided Ambilight.
Philips is refreshingly upfront about the hardware used in its sets and the sort of figures of which they should be capable. It’s announced that the OLED908 uses one of LG Display’s so-called 'META OLED' panels, which feature MLA (Micro Lens Array) technology. You can read our MLA explainer for the full lowdown on the new tech, but the short version is that it’s a thin layer of tiny lenses that help focus the light being emitted by the OLED materials, resulting in a brighter picture without the need for the OLEDs themselves to be pushed any harder.
The OLED908 also features a heatsink which, thanks to its heat dissipation properties, does allow the OLEDs to be pushed harder without any added risk of image retention or degradation. Heatsinks have been seen before on premium OLED TVs such as the G2 and OLED907, but 2023 is the first time MLA panels have become available. Philips says that this combination of technologies, plus LG Display’s META algorithm and Philips’ own picture processing, results in a peak brightness figure of 2100 nits for the OLED908.
That’s a huge number, particularly for an OLED TV. Until this year, even the brightest OLED and QD-OLED TVs maxed out at figures just slightly north of 1000 nits. In truth, Philips’ 2100-nit figure will almost certainly be achievable in only the most aggressive ‘Crystal Clear’ picture preset, but if it drops by even 20 to 30 per cent in the more natural presets, such as Filmmaker Mode, it will still be an exceptionally bright TV by OLED standards, and a worthy rivals to the also-MLA LG G3 and the Samsung S95C and Sony A95L QD-OLEDs.
The set is powered by a new 7th Gen P5 AI processor and features an updated and apparently more intuitive Philips user interface that will work in tandem with the Google TV operating system.
The HDMI chipset, meanwhile, is the brand-new MediaTek Pentonic 1000, about which there’s been much buzz on account of the extra gaming features it brings to the TVs that use it. There are a lot of those, too: MediaTek chips are found in TVs from Sony, Panasonic, TCL and Philips, among others.
Unfortunately, while the new chip has enabled Philips to add Dolby Vision gaming at up to 4K/120Hz to its already comprehensive gaming feature arsenal, it doesn’t come with extra HDMI 2.1 sockets, so the OLED908 is, like its predecessor, limited to two of these. That will be an immediate turn-off to hardcore gamers who have multiple games machines, particularly as one of the two HDMI 2.1 sockets also handles eARC duties and so will in many cases be occupied by a soundbar or AV receiver.
Those people who are less hardcore in their gaming habits or who have just one serious games console will be less concerned, especially as the OLED908’s gaming spec is otherwise comprehensive: 4K/120Hz (with and without Dolby Vision), VRR (in the standard, FreeSync Premium and G-Sync formats) and ALLM are all supported, and we anticipate that there will again be an HGiG setting for more accurate HDR with games that support it.
During our latest press session, we were given a chance to watch two live demos with the OLED908. The first was a short head-to-head between it and its predecessor, the OLED907.
The second, and in our mind more interesting, pitted it against the LG G3, which has the same screen panel, and a Samsung S95C, which features a second-gen QD-OLED panel.
Despite the demos, we want to heavily caveat we’re not ready to give any definitive verdicts as the conditions weren’t perfect for three reasons.
First, because the demo room wasn’t in our control, and we didn’t personally set up the TVs or sources. Second, most of the demos occurred with high levels of light pollution from ceiling ring lights. And third, because they were all done with the TVs set to their vibrant/dynamic/Crystal Clear settings, which feature a lot of processing and in our mind aren’t the best option for serious movie viewing.
Philips says the latter was done to emphasise the differences in each TV, rather than show them in director mode where most of the background processing work is turned off.
Even with this caveat we did glean some insights from the demo. The OLED908 vs OLED907 section involved a series of still images with which Philips was keen to point out the clear difference caused by the newer set's higher max brightness. And in it, the experience mirrored in many ways what we found comparing the G3 to the G2 in our test rooms. Whites did have higher peaks and thanks to the extra number of hues the 908 has open to it, due to its higher max brightness there was a wider range of colours in sun blooms, liquid reflections, and clouds. We experienced a similar trend running the Sony A95K against the Sony A80K during our Bristol Hi-Fi demo earlier this year.
Running it against the S95C and G3 things were less clear-cut. Philips again didn’t play any movie clips, instead running a cycle of still images and short test footage.
In still shots of city scenes around Paris there was a clear uptick in brightness on the older model. We didn’t have a colorometer to actually check peak brightness but it appeared to be at least on par with the G3 next to it.
Moving onto shots of people at a cafe there was also a noticeable amount of detail in the white dresses being shown on the OLED908, which displayed the folds and creases as they flayed in the wind. The water and reflections also held a pleasing sparkle, though the colours were completely overcooked due to the use of the vivid mode.
Going through the shots and videos we were incredibly impressed by the expanded contrast offered by the OLED908 compared to previous models. Again we need to take these insights with a pinch of salt and we still have some questions.
What we really want to know is how well the new TV can combine subtlety and naturalism with its obvious zing and pop, but that’s something that we won’t know until we can get the TV into our test labs for an extensive review. The same is true of other aspects of its performance, such as its upscaling and motion handling.
One thing that struck us as instantly impressive, though, was the quality of the new anti-reflective element of the panel. This Vantablack element reduces reflections to a startling degree that makes dark content significantly more impactful.
Disappointingly, we didn’t get to hear the OLED908 at all during the launch event, so all we’ve really got to go on here is the spec sheet.
As mentioned, this is a Bowers & Wilkins-designed sound system, the drivers of which are housed in a thin, Kvadrat-covered bar that’s mounted to the TV’s bottom edge. These drivers are arranged in a purely front-firing 3.1 configuration, and the whole system is rated to 80W.
That might all sound pretty rudimentary compared to the 95W, 5.1.2 sound system of the OLED937, but LG’s G3 has a 60W, 2.1 system that’s very much not been tuned by B&W. In other words, there’s every chance that the OLED908 will have a sonic upper hand on the TVs that it actually goes up against.
Of course, we won’t know that for sure until we’ve had a final production sample into our test labs for a full review.
While the full verdict on the OLED908 is going to have to wait a while, there’s no denying that all of the ingredients of a very tasty dish are there, particularly when it comes to the OLED panel technology.
Hardcore gamers will still be drawn to the additional HDMI 2.1 sockets of the G3 or C3, but Philips’ 2023 flagship TV looks very strong on paper and in person. We’re looking forward to putting it through our full test process as soon as possible.
Here are the best TVs that the Philips OLED908 needs to beat
The competition: check out our hands-on LG G3 review