As a sign, perhaps, of where Philipsâ€™ true 3D heart lies, the flagship 9000 series models (and the 8000 series one step down) will use active 3D technology, now dubbed 3D Max by Philips, rather than the passive 3D tech employed on the 7000 series models and the Cinema 21:9 Gold.
The 3D transmitter is built into the TV this time rather than being part of an â€˜add-onâ€™ kit, and Philips is promising new, less cumbersome active shutter glasses too. Working samples werenâ€™t available for our hands on, though, so we had to stick with last yearâ€™s models.
We should add, however, that the new active shutter glasses will allow the same â€˜dual viewâ€™ split screen gaming described in our Cinema 21:9 Gold hands-on. Every pair of active glasses will have a switch that lets you turn them into receivers for, say, just the left eye frames or the right eye frames, so that players of split-screen video games can instead enjoy a simultaneous full-screen image each via the â€˜splitâ€™ 3D signal.
Itâ€™s nice to find, next, that Philips has finally sought and gained endorsement from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), proving the 9000 Series capable of professional calibration by the independent image quality group. Thereâ€™s no THX endorsement, though, apparently on the grounds that Philips believes this too expensive to justify.
Other potentially key improvements for the new 9000 Series models are: the introduction of an extra anti-reflection filter to reduce screen reflections; a 13 Nit brightness boost for 3D playback; a new 3D version of Philipsâ€™ motion judder reduction processing capable of handling a scary 2 billion pixels per second; plus new noise reduction and resolution-boosting processing for improving the look of video streamed from the Internet.
After missing the Freeview HD train last year, itâ€™s a huge relief to find all the 9000 Series - in fact, all of Philipsâ€™ sets right down to the entry-level 4000 Series - carrying Freeview HD tuners as standard. And finally where the range as a whole is concerned, itâ€™s probably a wise move in marketing terms to find that Philips has this year included 2D to 3D conversion on all of its 3D TVs.
For us, though, arguably the single most intriguing feature of the new 9000 TVs is the awesomely named â€˜Moth Eye Filterâ€™. Developed in conjunction with Sharp, but exclusive to Philips, this extraordinary development mimics the structure of - you guessed it - a mothâ€™s eye to optimise the brightness of light parts of otherwise dark images. In other words, it delivers a huge boost to contrast; so much so that the 46PFL9706 claims a remarkable contrast ratio of 100,000,000:1.