This is chiefly because the ability to control the screen’s illumination locally allows TVs like the 40PFL9705H to have deep black levels within the same single frame as really bright whites - a combination you otherwise have to turn to plasma for.
There are potential downsides to the direct LED/local dimming approach in the form of haloes around really bright objects, and lost shadow detail in the dark areas. So we’ll be looking out for these issues when we start testing its picture performance.
The 40PFL9705H’s multimedia capabilities, meanwhile, are terrific. They include built-in Wi-Fi for accessing either multimedia files on a DLNA PC, or Philips’ NetTV online platform. The quantity of file formats supported via DLNA is huge, covering most standard - and a few not so standard - video, photo and music types, while NetTV is beautifully presented and very ‘app’-focused in its approach. It also offers open Internet access via an Opera browser, complete with a surprisingly OK text input system via the superb remote control.
NetTV’s content levels aren’t up there with the best online platforms right now though, especially as a bit too much of its video content is only available via subscriptions.
It takes all of a couple of seconds to find the 40PFL9705H’s pictures making the most of all the tricks Philips has thrown at the TV. Starting with a 2D Blu-ray or two, the 40PFL9705H’s pictures are often nothing short of dazzling. Black level response, for instance, is so profound that we had to pinch ourselves to be sure we were still watching a real LCD TV. In fact, there are times when the 40PFL9705H seems to achieve black levels deeper even than Panasonic’s plasmas. Seriously.
Even more non-LCD like is the way you can have pristine, almost scarily intense whites sitting right alongside those exceptionally dark blacks we mentioned. Provided you’re sat pretty much opposite the TV rather than down its sides, moreover, this combination of bright whites against dark backgrounds is hardly ever accompanied by any significant trace of that haloing phenomenon we were concerned about earlier.
The 40PFL9705H’s approach to colours, meanwhile, is to turn them to 11. Even after calibrating the screen to get the best contrast and brightness balance, the intensity with which the set drives out its colours is a sight to behold. Especially as somehow it’s achieved without reducing blend subtlety.
The sheer dynamism and range of the 40PFL9705H’s tonal palette also does a great job of making colours look natural and believable, at least in relation to each other. And anyway, if you want to tone colours down, then the tools are there to allow you to do so.
The most controversial aspect of the 40PFL9705H is its motion handling. For whether you actually like the effect or not, the fact remains that the HD Natural Motion circuitry is uniquely good at smoothing away judder and sharpening away image lag and blur.