If ever a TV seemed built from the ground up to catch any keen TV buyer’s eye, it’s the Philips 46PFL9704H. First - and for me, tragically, most interesting - there’s the fact that it’s the first 46in TV we’ve ever seen from Philips. In the past, the brand has preferred the 47in size, so the 46in switch suggests a move to a different panel source. Which is, of course, fascinating.
Probably more immediately eye-catching - or perhaps eye-watering would be a better description! - to ‘normal’ folk, though, will be the 46PFL9704H’s stiff £2,230 price tag. This makes it more than twice as expensive as some 46in and even 50in TVs we’ve come across.
A more positive show-stopper is the 46PFL9704H’s use of direct LED backlighting, with the final bit of attention grabbing coming courtesy of the 46PFL9704H’s design. The TV positively shimmers with opulent excess, thanks to its brushed aluminium finish, slender, clean lines and high-gloss outer edge. And that’s without mentioning its rather fancy touch-sensitive control buttons down one side, and its ‘three-way’ incarnation of Philips’ unique Ambilight system.
Most people will likely already be aware of Ambilight, but briefly for those of you who aren’t, it involves a series of LED lamps set into the TV’s rear sides firing out light that can colour match the content of the image you’re watching. In fact, the latest Ambilight system colour matches the picture with uncanny accuracy in terms of both colour tone and the physical location on the bezel of a specific colour in relation to where that colour appears in the picture. The ‘three-way’ nature of the 46PFL9704H’s Ambilight, moreover, means you get coloured light spilling from along the TV’s top edge as well as the more common left and right sides - a fact which really improves the feature’s immersive capabilities on a screen as large as this one.
Although it’s the exuberant front end that will monopolise your attentions and affections, the 46PFL9704H’s rear is actually every bit as attractive in its own high-tech way. For a start, it boasts an outstanding five HDMI inputs - one more than the vast majority of rivals can muster, and more than enough to cope with the most extravagant of AV systems.
Even more important, arguably, are the set’s USB (capable of playing almost every file format we can think of from USB storage devices) and Ethernet ports. As well as allowing you to stream in files from a DLNA PC, the Ethernet port lets you access not just Philips’ impressively wide-ranging ‘ring-fenced’ online service (see our review of the 32PFL9604 for more details on this), but the World Wide Web at large via a rather basic but certainly functional built-in browser.