Philips 8000 Series and DLNA…Not Really!

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UPDATE (Nov 14th, 2009): Check out my new blog post about the issues with the 42PFL8404!

Supports all the new stuff
Just a few weeks ago we (my wife and I) bought ourself a present : A brand new Philips 42” LCD TV with the latest technologies. If I read the specs correctly (see below) it will support MP3, LPCM, WMA v2 – 9.2, JPEG Still picture, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI (DivX, Div5, DX50, DXMF), H264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG Programme-stream PAL, WMV9/VC1. And it even supports DLNA!

Because the model is brand new I really couldn’t find any negative things about the TV and because my experience with Philips as a TV brand has always been good, so we decided to buy one.

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Unpacked the box
The moment we unpacked the box and installed the TV I was stunned by the beautiful design of the TV. It even has Ambilight and NetTV (use the TV to browse Youtube :)). I connected all devices and I even connected the network interface to my network switch. When I restarted the TV it received an IP address from one of my DSL routers. Too bad NetTV wouldn’t start, but I checked for a Firmware update (one of the menu options) it told me that the latest firmware was already intalled! Strange…because when I checked the Philips website a week earlier (during my search for a new TV),  there was a firmware update available.

When I visited the website there was indeed a newer firmware available. Downloaded it, unpacked it to a USB stick. When I inserted the USB stick in the slot on the TV it detected the USB stick with a newer firmware and asked me if I would like to upgrade the TV’s firmware. After a reboot (yeah..the TV did indeed a reboot) the newer firmware was installed and now NetTV worked!

DLNA….Music…Check…Pictures…Check…Video…Failed!
Because we had to go to a birthday party of a neighbor I haven’t had the time to check the cool multimedia stuff the TV should support (I mentioned the supported formats earlier). A few neighbors asked me about the new TV, so later that evening I did a small demonstration. Using the PC Connect (I’m not sure what it’s called in the English version, because my TV is in Dutch where it’s called PC Openen) option I could play music (MP3) and show some pictures. Sadly enough the most video formats wouldn’t show. Though I was able to show a DivX video (a 24 Episode), but it wasn’t really like it’s used to be when i played it through my XBOX 360. It was all shaky and the sound was out of sync 🙁

DLNA….1.0?
At first I thought I didn’t configured it right, but when i checked the manual and re-checked my configuration that couldn’t be the problem so I decided to call Philips Consumer Care. I explained the whole story to the guy on the phone and I even asked him why I couldn’t use my Windows 7 Play To feature with my new DLNA Certified TV. He wasn’t sure, didn’t even hear about the new Windows 7 Play To Feature. The Philips Consumer Care guy told me that my Philips TV supported the latest technologies, so the Play To function should work. We agreed that he would look into my DLNA playing questions and he told me that he would get back to me in a few days. The next day (!!) he called me and he told me that the Philips TV was indeed DLNA Certified, but only for DLNA 1.0.

I explained to him that this would probably the reason that my Windows 7 machine wasn’t able to ‘see’ the TV, but he told me that the difference between DLNA 1.0 and 1.5 was simply the support of new devices. Ok, but why isn’t my Windows 7 machine able to ‘see’ my TV? He wasn’t able to answer that question!

Playing Video?
He totally agreed with me that the specs were quiet explicit about the supported playback formats and that my WMV HD / H.264 video’s could be played with my TV. I told him that I even tried several different resolutions, but they all failed. He again told me that he would discuss this with his technical colleagues and would that he would get back to me in a few days.

DLNA…HDMI…SCART?
A few days later he called again (you can’t say he wasn’t eager to solve my problems!! Great support Philips!!) and he told me something I just couldn’t believe. I’m not sure what kind of technical guys are working over at Philips, but they sure sound like marketing guys (sorry marketing guys/girls!). He (the Philips Consumer Care guy) told me that the Tech. Guys told him that the specs on the Philips website were only supported through HDMI! Are you following me…..he told me that the WMV9/VC1, H.264, MPEG1 through MPEG 4 could only be played through the HDMI connection! Of course the formats could be played through HDMI, HDMI has nothing to do with the type of connection. I can even play the formats specified through my old SCART (or SVHS) connection! Yeah..I know I can’t play FullHD through one of the ‘older’  connections, but the type of connection has nothing to do with the formats it can or can’t play!

When I confronted the Philips guy with the SCART answer, he agreed with me and told me that the DLNA support (through the network connection) would only support video streams up to 720P! Hmm…so all the Full HD movies I created (we also have a Full HD video camera)…the WMV HD’s I download are worthless?

Return the TV…buy another one?
When I asked the Philips Consumer Care what he could do for me, he told me that he only could talk to the marketing guys to change the specs so they are clear about the video formats that can be played with the 8404 Series. And when I asked him what I could do with the TV that didn’t have the features for which I bought the TV in the first place,  he told me I should contact the store where I bought the TV in the first place.

But the only problem I have with this answer is that the store would simply show me the ‘official’ Philips specs and tell me that it should work…and that I probably configured it wrong! So, the only thing I would like Philips to do is to alter the specs so they’re right!

I can’t imagine that a TV which is loaded with the latest techniques and hi-tech features isn’t even able to play Full HD content through it’s network interface.

Conclusion
So if you you really would like to buy a TV that is capable to play all the fancy new stuff through it’s Network Connection (without the use of a Multimedia Harddisk, XBOX360 or PS3) you really shouldn’t buy a Philips 8404 Series! For all the other functions…it’s a really good quality TV for a nice price 🙂

If you’re reading this and you already bought a Philips and you have the same problems I have (or maybe you were able to get it to work :-)), please leave a comment!