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Finally getting into the performance section of the 46PFL9704H’s review, for once I’m going to start by talking about the 46PFL9704H’s audio rather than its pictures. For even though the set is slim and glamorous, it can also produce exceptional amounts of audio power, range and clarity.
How? Via a cunning combination of dome tweeters under the fascia and separate, meaty mid-range/bass drivers on the TV’s rear. Separating the speakers out like this allows the set to overcome the audio problems raised by its slimness, and thus deliver a powerful, well rounded, detailed and punchy audio performance that leaves the audio of every other super-slim TV we’ve heard for dead. We dare say this audio approach doesn’t come cheap, but we still recommend that other slim TV manufacturers try and learn something from it!
The combination of direct LED backlighting, local dimming and Philips’ ultra-powerful video processing, meanwhile, helps the 46PFL9704H produce what are for my money the best pictures I’ve yet seen from a big-screen LCD TV.
Black levels, for instance, are a sight to behold, achieving a level of depth and richness I’d once doubted an LCD TV could ever deliver. Seriously, I’m talking about a black colour to rival the best the plasma world has to offer.
In fact, the depth of blackness the set can produce is at first almost unnerving, leaving dark parts of pictures appearing too dominant. But in reality this was simply because my amazement at seeing such black levels on an LCD TV was making me stare too much at the dark picture areas. Once I’d finally realised that the 46PFL9704H’s black levels really were that good, I soon became accustomed to the black level response and settled down to noticing the rest of the image too.
And once I did that, it quickly struck me just how much else there is to discover. For sitting right alongside those inky blacks can often be found ultra-bright, ultra-pure whites of a sort no standard LCD TV and actually precious few plasma TVs can match.
Colours, too, are fearsomely intense, leaving the efforts of almost all rival TVs looking positively washed out by comparison. What’s even more startling about this colour intensity is that it doesn’t lead to over-saturation; in other words, subtle colour shifts and fine details are still visible amid even the most vibrant tones, and the general colour palette somehow still looks believable rather than over-wrought and cartoonish.
The Perfect Pixel HD engine, meanwhile, ensures that the 46PFL9704H nails image clarity. With HD sources, the set reveals the minutest traces of detail and texture, yet provided you’re sensible with the TV’s sharpness adjustments, that detail never starts to look forced or noisy.