As has long been the case with Philips’ top-end TVs, it’s their extraordinary sharpness that’s arguably their single most eye-catching facet. HD images look stunningly defined and crisp, for a start. But it’s the 47PFL9664’s standard definition pictures which, for my money, truly set a benchmark, containing levels of detail and clarity that no other brand can currently match.
What’s more, this terrific upscaling performance doesn’t come at the price of loads of horrible video noise - this suppression of noise being for me the single biggest improvement Philips has introduced for its latest Perfect Pixel generation.
The general sense of clarity I experienced with the 47PFL9664 also owes much to its motion handling prowess. For the combination of the Perfect Natural Motion processing and a '200Hz' (scanning backlight plus 100Hz) system helps to produce the most fluid, totally blur-free moving objects you’ll see on an LCD TV.
Also much improved over previous Philips LCD generations is the 47PFL9664’s black level response. Dark scenes contain really very little of the grey clouding for which LCD technology is generally justly infamed. Yet the black level response isn’t achieved at the expense of too much shadow detail, ensuring that dark scenes look nearly as 'three dimensional' as bright ones.
The 47PFL9664 is a chip off the old Philips block when it comes to colours too, combining blisteringly intense saturations with a noticeably wide dynamic range and plenty of blend finesse. The latest tweaks to the colour part of the Perfect Pixel HD engine also seem to help the 47PFL9664 produce more consistently natural tones - a fact reinforced by the impressive colour range now being delivered by the Ambilight system.
As hoped, the extra size of the 47PFL9664 really does help emphasise just how good the latest generation of Philips picture processing really has got. As ever, though, we have to say that it’s still not perfect. Even after careful calibration, for instance, there’s still the occasional flickery or edge shimmery artefact where the processing can’t quite live up to its own ambitions. But these instances are rarer and less obvious than ever before, leaving all the positives of Perfect Pixel HD even more dominant than they have been in earlier incarnations.
Pictures as good as those of the 47PFL9664 clearly deserve to be joined by some rollicking, home cinema-standard audio. But surely this won’t be the case with the 47PFL9664, right, given how slim it is?
Well, actually the set sounds pretty darned good. For as with other slim sets in Philips’ range, the 47PFL9664 cunningly sticks a couple of subwoofer speakers on its rear, which do a good job of underpinning with some healthy bass the clarity produced by the fore-mounted dome tweeters. There’s an audio lesson here that the makers of all ultra-slim TVs - but especially Samsung - should heed.
The 47PFL9664 looks expensive on paper, there’s no denying that. But by the time you’ve taken its slim design, unparalleled feature count and stunning AV performance into account, it actually starts to look like something of a bargain.