The only catch is that the 46PFL9706 is the only TV in the 9000 range to sport the moth eye filter. Philips wasnâ€™t able to get the production cost/final price ratio right at any other size point, making this one set a sort of â€˜toe-dipping exerciseâ€™ to see how popular the moth-eye technology proves.
Our suspicion is that it will prove very popular indeed. For it took about 4 nanoseconds of our hands-on with the 46PFL9706 before our jaws were hanging open in awe at the black level response the TV could deliver. Philips had handily positioned the 46PFL9706 on a wall right alongside last yearâ€™s equivalent 46PFL9705, which itself was a revelation in black level terms. But the 46PFL9706 blew it away. Its black levels were unfathomably deep for an LCD TV, even outgunning, weâ€™d say, the vast majority of current plasma TVs.
Even better, sitting within this inky blackness are immensely bright whites and rich, vibrant colours, adding up to a picture of unprecedented dynamism.
Alongside this extraordinary contrast performance we also found Philipsâ€™ trademark extreme sharpness and detailing; terrifically fluid but also strikingly natural motion handling; and real colour blend finesse to partner the explosive saturations. Even the amount of ambient light reflected by the screen is clearly markedly reduced compared with last yearâ€™s 9000 Series models.
The only slight picture concern we had with this early sample of the 46PFL9706 (the PFL9606T range wonâ€™t launch until July, with the moth-eyed 46PFL9706T not out until August) was that there seemed a little more haloing around bright objects than there was with last yearâ€™s 9000 Series. But thereâ€™s plenty of time for Philips to sort this issue out.
The most unfortunate thing about our hands-on is that we werenâ€™t able to test the 46PFL9706Tâ€™s 3D talents - or those of any of the PFL9606 TVs, come to that. This was due to the unavailability of Philipsâ€™ new 3D active shutter glasses, and Philips just not having the new 3D picture features fully up and running yet. This is a real pity, as Philipsâ€™ resident TV tech guru, Danny Tack, claims his 2011 3D TVs have a much faster effective response time, resulting in much less crosstalk noise than we found last year. If this is true, and the new 9000 Series TVs also include the promised 13 Nits of brightness with 3D viewing, then thereâ€™s every chance that they might even give Panasonicâ€™s upcoming new 3D VT30 plasma screens a run for their money.
Basically, after our time with the 46PFL9706, weâ€™re already starting to think of August as the month of the moth...