Review Price £849.00
The Opera browser is limited in terms of the codecs it supports, but most websites will work at least partially, and navigation and address inputting is handled well considering you’re just using a normal remote control.
Actually, the 40PFL8605’s remote control isn’t particularly normal. It’s oval shape is unusual, its metallic finish is unusual, and its startling lack of buttons is highly unusual. But it works remarkably well all the same, making us wonder why so many other remotes insist on drowning us under a sea of buttons.
The Ethernet port that ushers in the 40PFL8605’s online features also lets you access a huge array of file codecs from a DLNA PC. We would normally add here that the Ethernet port can additionally be used for accessing future interactive services from the Freeview HD platform, but in a surprising oversight, Philips hasn’t actually included a Freeview HD tuner inside the 40PFL8605.
If hardwiring the TV to your network sounds too old school to you, then an optional USB dongle can enable the set for Wi-Fi. The set’s USB port can additionally play from USB storage devices the same wide variety of photo, music and video codecs streamable from a PC.
Finally on the multimedia front, the set carries both a D-Sub PC input, and an SD card slot that you can use for recording material downloaded via the online platform.
Driving the 40PFL8605‘s 2D and 3D pictures, meanwhile, is Philips’ top-level Perfect Pixel HD processing engine. We won’t go into this in detail here as we’ve covered it so often before, other than to say that its impact on sharpness, colours and motion are the most potent in the TV world right now.
The final feature point about the 40PFL8605 is that its 3D functionality isn’t actually built into the TV. Instead you need to use the (now included free) Philips’ 3D upgrade pack, comprising a 3D transmitter to attach to the TV, and two pairs of active shutter glasses.
Sadly, it doesn’t take long watching the 40PFL8605 with our growing pile of 3D sources for a sense of frustration and disappointment to set in. For no matter how much we fiddled with the 40PFL8605’s processing settings, including the integrated 200Hz system, the dreaded crosstalk noise remains alive and well and ruinous of our 3D enjoyment.
The double ghosting phenomenon LCD TVs currently seem unable to get round is there on everything 3D we tried, from Sky’s sports broadcasts through to our Avatar Xbox 360 game and full HD 3D Blu-rays.
This is particularly sad because in other ways - brightness, colour richness, HD detail - the 40PFL8605’s 3D pictures are rather good.
The crosstalk is perhaps not quite as aggressive as we’ve seen it on some rival sets. But it’s still routinely distracting and merely reaffirms what we’ve long felt: that we comfortably prefer the slightly dark, soft but crosstalk-free 3D pictures of Panasonic’s 3D plasma TVs to the brighter, richer but crosstalk-afflicted pictures found with LCD TVs like this Philips model.
What makes reviewing the 40PFL8605 a rather confusing experience, though, is that while its 3D talents - which are an optional upgrade, don’t forget - are flawed, its 2D performance is mostly exemplary.
Particularly mouth-watering is the exceptionally dynamic look 2D pictures have, thanks to the set’s mammoth contrast range. We can’t, for instance, think of any other edge LED LCD TV that’s delivered a deeper, richer black colour. What’s more, the TV produces this black profundity while still delivering some decent shadow detailing and without forcing bright parts of predominantly dark pictures to take nearly as much of a brightness hit as we would usually expect on an LCD TV.