What do you call a fully loaded TV that’s not fully loaded? The Philips 40PFL9705H. For while on the one hand this TV has arguably the most extensive suite of features ever seen on a TV, it also lacks one of the most basic: a Freeview HD tuner.
It’s aggravating to have to talk about this yet again in a Philips TV review, but with such tuners now de rigueur in every other mid- to high-end TV - not to mention a few budget ones - the absence of one in the 40PFL9705H really does look even more unfortunate now than it did before.
The argument could be made that anyone with enough AV ambition to be thinking of forking out £1,400 for a 40in TV will likely have or be able to afford to get a Sky HD subscription. But if even one potential buyer would have liked to use the Freeview HD tuner, then not having one has to count as a bad mistake.
Let’s move swiftly on, then, to features the 40PFL9705H does have, kicking off with its 3D readiness. The necessary external 3D transmitter is now included in the price of the TV, along with two pairs of Philips’ active shutter 3D glasses, making the £1,400 price tag suddenly look much more palatable.
Another dominant 40PFL9705H feature is its video processing. For it boasts the latest, most comprehensive iteration of Philips’ Perfect Pixel HD system, which applies huge amounts of processing power to improving every picture facet, from contrast through sharpness to noise reduction, motion and colour.
What’s more, Philips has placed control of pretty much every facet of this processing engine into your hands, so people worried about images looking unnatural can tweak or deactivate the power levels of individual processing elements to their heart’s content.
Clearly this makes the 40PFL9705H an unusually complicated TV. Especially as we’d recommend that you regularly revisit some of the processing options quite regularly to suit different sources. For instance, while you might well want to set the HD Natural Motion facility on for watching relatively static sources, you most likely won’t appreciate its uniquely powerful judder-removal capabilities when there’s lots of motion going on, as its processing can generate distracting side effects - especially if you set HD Natural Motion to anything higher than its lowest power level.
Overall, though, as we’ll discover presently, the results possible with Perfect Pixel HD justify the extra effort.
The 40PFL9705H adds 400Hz (actually 200Hz plus a scanning backlight) to its processing features too, and features the most sophisticated version yet of Philips’ gimmicky-sounding but actually rather impressive Ambilight technology. This can produce coloured light from the TV’s edges that matches, with uncanny accuracy, the colour content of the image being shown.
Probably the 40PFL9705H’s biggest selling point to the AV cognoscenti, though, is its use of direct LED lighting with local dimming. We’ve consistently found this approach, which places an array of individually controllable LED light clusters directly behind the screen, to produce the best LCD picture quality.