Towards the end of last year, I saw a film at the cinema that made me rethink my TV setup. I had a 55-inch TV, which had seemed more than big enough up until then – it's not exactly a small size, after all – but this trip to the movies flicked a switch in me. I watched a film that I've seen plenty of times before, including on the TV I had at the time, but only ever on TV. On the bigger screen, I suddenly realised that it had been made with the scale of the cinema in mind, and that without a screen that fills so much of your vision, I'd been missing out on part of the experience.
The film, oddly enough, was Speed. I will always argue that it's a 5/5 action masterpiece, but I'd never thought it would be the film to awaken some kind of cinematic activist in me. It's easy to look at sweeping vistas and consider them cinematic, but they still look great on a smaller TV, in fact. The thing that got me about Speed was all the shots looking through the huge front window of the bus.
On a small screen, this just feels like a functional shot showing you what's happening. But on a vision-filling screen, the bus window looks to your eyes like it would if you were actually standing just behind Keanu as one of the passengers. It became more like virtual reality than just a camera angle, and it was so effective, in a movie I've seen a ton of times.
So the gears started turning about wanting that kind of experience at home – but I didn't want to go with one of the best projectors, for various space and feature reasons. And at the time, I couldn't fit anything bigger than 55 inches in my living room anyway.
But I recently moved home, and the new space gave me the opportunity to upgrade to a 65-inch TV… but no larger, even though I had this (slightly unhinged) feeling that a 75-inch TV is what would really satsify the big-screen craving.
But this is where I finally talk about about my OLED TV pick, because what I've upgraded to is a 65-inch Philips OLED806 that adds extra scale using the company's unique Ambilight tech – giving the effect of an even bigger TV.
Painting the walls with light
First thing to say is that Philips OLED806 is an excellent TV in all the usual, crucial ways. You get gorgeous colours, huge amounts of detail, and the fantastic contrast and black levels that you expect from the best OLED TVs. All of which make it ideal for a big-screen home cinema setup. There's also HDMI 2.1 support for next-gen gaming features from my PS5.
But it's the Ambilight that puts it over the top as the perfect TV for my demands. This feature uses strips of LED lights on the back of the TV to project light matching what's on-screen onto your walls, spreading the effect of the image much further than the edges of the image itself.
If the left side of the screen shows something with a red hue and the right side shows something with blue hue, you'll see light spreading out red from the left of the TV and blue from the right, with the top split between the two. And it changes in real time, following the action on-screen.
It gives you this great balance of being able to buy whatever screen size works for you, but with the overall effect filling more of the wall, making it feel even more cinematic. That's why this TV was the perfect upgrade for me, and my focus on pumping the biggest film effect I could into my eyes.
From the outside, Ambilight sounds like a bit of a gimmick, but you'd be amazed at how effective it is – and how boring watching a normal TV feels after. The image just stops at the edge of the frame?? Dull.
Sadly, Philips Ambilight TVs aren't available in the US, though you can generally replicate the effect on any TV using the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box and the Hue Play Gradient Strip.