Even more exceptional, though, is the way the processing engine ups the sharpness levels of standard definition sources. I honestly can’t think of any other manufacturer who can make standard def look more like, well, high def. And it’s a pleasure to discover that the latest Perfect Pixel HD engine sported by the 46PFL9704H does this upscaling magic without generating as much noise or digital side-effects as previous Philips processing engines.
The sense of extreme sharpness the TV delivers with all sources owes much, too, to the set’s extremely powerful motion processing. In fact, with Perfect Natural Motion at its highest setting and the 200Hz engine engaged, there doesn’t appear to be any sign at all of either the judder or motion blur flaws that LCD technology is supposed to suffer with as a matter of routine. Though actually, I wouldn’t recommend ever running Perfect Natural Motion at its highest level, as this can result in too many processing artefacts. Better to leave it set quite low and suffer a tiny bit of judder.
While the 46PFL9704H’s pictures look superb for much more of the time than almost any rival TV I can think of, it still can’t claim to be perfect. For a start, while black levels and colour saturations actually hold up better than most LCD TVs when viewed from an angle, viewing from off-axis can reveal signs of haloing around bright objects - a result, presumably, of the local dimming system.
There’s also a touch less subtle detail visible in dark areas than you get with a really good plasma set (again, no doubt, because of the local dimming). And as we pointed out earlier, it’s actually entirely possible to make pictures look pretty ropey and noisy if you’re not careful with some aspects of the video processing engine.
But while there’s arguably still work for Philips to do in getting its massive picture processing engine to work a little more effectively automatically, thus reducing the burden on the user, overall the simple fact remains that the 46PFL9704H’s pictures can cause so much involuntary drooling that they should probably carry a health warning. Yeuch.
The 46PFL9704H takes Philips’ latest and greatest picture processing engine, attaches it to an uncompromising direct LED lighting system with local dimming, throws in a class-leading audio system and cutting edge Ambilight technology, and winds up being one of my favourite TVs ever. Especially as its 46in screen size provides such a handsomely large forum for Philips’ picture prowess to shine in.