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Philips 40PFL9705H review

John Archer




  • Recommended by TR

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Philips 40PFL9705H
  • Philips 40PFL9705H
  • Philips 40PFL9705H
  • Philips 40PFL9705H
  • Philips 40PFL9705H
  • Philips 40PFL9705H
  • Philips 40PFL9705H
  • 40PFL9705H 102 cm 40" 3D Ready LCD TV (Direct LED - DVB-C MPEG4, DVB-T MPEG4 - NTSC, PAL, SECAM - HDTV 1080p - 176° / 176° - 16:9 - 1920 x 1080 - 1080p - Surround - 100 Hz)


Our Score:



  • Stunning 2D performance
  • Superb sound
  • Exceptional multimedia talents


  • A little crosstalk with 3D
  • Haloing with off-axis viewing
  • Demands continual effort to get the best from it

Key Features

  • Active 3D via supplied glasses and external transmitter
  • Direct LED lighting with local dimming
  • 10,000,000:1 claimed contrast ratio
  • NetTV online platform
  • Ambilight
  • Manufacturer: Philips
  • Review Price: £1,999.00

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.

Nav Garayal

February 4, 2011, 2:38 pm

these reviews are becoming more and more inconsistent and i am beginning to wonder whether trustedreviews.com is an appropriate name for this website.

you seem to have a love in with apple and phillips which is quite worrying.

lets look at things objectively. this tv has overtly bright colours, lacks a hd tuner, is expensive (1800 not 1400 as you claim); and needs extensive tuning to get the best pictures yet with all these faults you score it very highly.

most people want a good picture out of the box (something which pioneer and panasonic do very well) - they dont want to tweek ,so user interface is poor here. also no hd tuner - extraordinary. in the past your site has downscored laptops/notebooks for not having hdmi and yet you dont seem too bothered that hd tuner is missing here.

just as you rate the iphone so highly even though its a rubbish phone, and beat windows7 around for not having cut and paste (who cares?) and also downscore nokia even though call quality is the best, your inconsistency is beginning to frustrate. sort it out please.


February 4, 2011, 5:12 pm

Is it just me or does anyone else wish that TV manufacturers would start putting a bit more effort into reducing the fiddling time required for most modern TV sets? Ultimately, while I appreciate having all of the options for initial setup, I need my TV to go in the living room, get configured once then look as good as possible with whatever I throw at it. Per-input settings helps a bit but are virtually useless when you throw everything through an AV amp to keep system complexity down. If you absolutely have to make sets that need fiddling with give us a set of buttons on the remote (say... 4? TV, Movies, Sport and Games) which come with good default profiles and can be tweaked however we see fit.

Sorry, rant over. On the upside I do really like Ambilight, it does seem to add something to the picture and it's a shame that it's limited to Philips TV's. And I'm sure that this particular model is going to appeal to LCD fans who don't mind fiddling to get the absolute best picture possible.

Nav Garayal

February 4, 2011, 6:23 pm

in my humble opinion, picture quality should focus on smooth motion, realistic colours and high contrast. plasma gives the best motion for sport and best contrast / black levels. lcd/led are too unrealistically bright and digital looking. they are not natural. look at the world around you with your own eyes - does it really look like the picture depicted by a sony/samsung/phillips led/lcd screen? not really. this should be the focus of reviews. and you need to get over this style thing. you watch tv for whats on the screen not the body of the tv.


February 4, 2011, 6:49 pm

So its February 2011. Philips blanked the hd tuners last year despite most other manufacturers having the common sense to future proof their tvs. But to do it AGAIN with their 2011 range? This is completely crackers. I wanted a Philips tv, and held off last year for this reason. Sadly i cannot wait another year with the digital switchover coming this summer, and so am forced to look elsewhere.


February 4, 2011, 7:17 pm

@Nav Garayal: Picture quality shouldn't necessarily reflect the world around you, it might reflect the director's intentions which aren't always a reflection of reality. Often directors will compose a scene to create more of a visual 'wow' factor and that becomes part of the viewing experience, even if it's on a subconscious level. For example, I don't think James Cameron was aiming for a realistic image when he filled Avatar's fictional world with phosphorescent plants and animals, he wanted visual impact and this TV delivers that in spades. That said, I do prefer the more natural tone of plasmas on the whole, I'm currently deciding between this set and Panasonic's TX-P42VT20B.

However, when you make a comment like this a lot of your credibility goes out of the window:

"..you rate the iphone so highly even though its a rubbish phone"

You're not just contradicting TR, you're contradicting the tech press at large there, as well as millions of happy iPhone users. They can't all be mindless iZombies. I'm just saying, maybe certain products get universally favourable reviews because they're actually good products.

@BOFH UK: Agreed. I've been wanting something like those user preset buttons you describe for years. Alternatively, wouldn't it be great if the TV could analyse the scene and automatically apply the best combination of processing features?


February 4, 2011, 7:36 pm

@james1000: How about a proper PVR?


It's a steep investment for sure, but these things change the way you watch TV. No need to adjust your plans to fit TV schedules ever again. No need to channel surf. It's because of boxes like these that I couldn't care less about internal tuners, though I realise I may be in a minority here.


February 4, 2011, 7:55 pm

@ james1000 - AFAIK this TV is a 2010 model, it's been out since at least the middle of last year. TR previously reviewed the 46" version. I expect the 2011 model will be called something like the 9706 (following the 9704 and 9705).

I've only seen one in John Lewis and I don't think they had it set up correctly, the picture on BBC2 HD looked a little unnatural and noisy! It'd be great if retailers would take the time to set all their TVs up properly...but I guess that's why it's worth visiting a proper AV retailer.


February 4, 2011, 8:03 pm

As I can find reviews available for the PFL9705 series of TVs dating back to June 2010, I take it this isn't part of the second generation 3D range TrustedReviews says we are all waiting for, and that the 2011 range are still to come from Philips. If so this maybe answers the james1000's concerns about lack of internal HD tuner, not to mention internal 3D transmitter.

Personally I think the philips TV's look stunning and are the one's I'm hanging out to buy but if the 2011 range still has no internal HD tuner AND internal 3D transmitter, plus doesn't improve on the cross talk issues then I think I'll be looking elsewhere. So is it possible for TrustedReviews to confirm this isn't part of the 2011 range?


February 4, 2011, 9:12 pm

Based upon your review and my own eyes I bought a Philips Cineos about four years ago and superb it is. However the prospect of 3D is niggling away at me and this new set is a possibility. Whilst I have SKY HD the service is not entirely reliable and as recently as last night the high winds caused the Sky pictures to break up causing me to watch through the non HD digital Tuner in the TV and the pictures were not affected by the winds. The picture quality from the non HD channels on the TV are far superior to the non HD on Sky and not that far behind Sky's HD channels. In reality I think you are correct in stating that Philips have made a mistake by omitting the HD tuner but the set's other qualities offer compensation.

Nav Garayal

February 4, 2011, 9:24 pm


No, I am referring to the overt brightness on things like Eastenders or films based on the Planet Earth. If I am watching Prison Break, I expect the colour of the prison wall or the clothing worn by the actors to naturally reflect real colours and not be overly bright which is the case with a lot of tvs.

Again, you missed my point re the iphone. I have an iphone and it does a lot of things well but for some reason TR seems to airbrush its faults and not downscore it because of these faults but at the same time it is very niggly when it comes to reviewing other phones.

I have a Pioneer Kuro KRP500A as my main tv driven by a Meridian G95, a panasonic TH40G20 (brilliant value tv) and 2 LCD screens (Panasonic 32LXD700 and a Phillips 23 inch). I have a sony vaio laptop and an apple iphone. I have no bias for any brand other and all I am asking for is some consistency on reviews.


February 4, 2011, 11:53 pm

@Nav Garayal:

I didn't think there was a point to miss, at first you didn't state your reasoning for describing the iPhone as a 'a rubbish phone', which is a pretty clear-cut statement to make.

Also, I wasn't addressing your point about imbalance in TR's reviews, merely responding to your point about image quality. I'd rather not get into that other than to say that the writers only have so many words to work with.

With the few LCD TVs I've owned or set up for other people, I have managed to adjust the colour tone to such a degree that I felt the final image was optimum. Sometimes this requires hours of tweaking and it doesn't help that the default settings invariably oversaturate the colours. That said, I think I know where you're coming from. I find LCD images generally have a 'processed' appearance to them, whereas perhaps plasmas tend to exhibit a more natural presentation. However, when I auditioned this TV's bigger brother at John Lewis I was seriously impressed, particularly with its amazing levels of contrast which I didn't think were possible from an LCD. IMHO it probably deserves the praise TR have given it.

BTW, if you ever think of selling that KRP500A... I'm still regretting the day I chose not to fork out for one.

Nav Garayal

February 5, 2011, 12:47 am

The Kuro is a top notch TV. I have not once encountered any colour bleed, motion shudder etc on it. Truly magnificent. I only use it in Pure mode which bypasses pretty much all the processing. If you are looking at plasma, do NOT overlook the G20 which is cheaper than the V series. The G20 is brilliant for DVDs etc The picture has such depth to it that it almost seems 3D especially on films like Jurassic Park or King Kong and at £700 or less its a steal. However, The 2011 Panasonic range comes out in March 2011 so maybe its worth waiting.


February 5, 2011, 11:43 pm

@Nav Garayal - if you like TVs to produce a natural image and reflect the real world, how can you put up with colour banding, flickering and 50Hz motion judder on your G20? Hardly natural occurrences in the real world, are they?

Nav Garayal

February 6, 2011, 5:55 pm

@metalex- my main tv is the last generation Kuro and it provides a wonderfully natural picture. I haven't experienced the problems you mention with my G20 and at a quarter of the price of the Kuro, the G20 is magnificent value. Have you tried good quality mains leads and cables? If your budget can stretch try the Kimber cables or even ClearerAudio. They should improve matters no end.


February 6, 2011, 10:48 pm

Nav, I don't own a G20. However, I do wonder how "good quality" mains cables can correct design flaws in a TV.

Jan Andersen

October 31, 2011, 10:47 pm

The lack of a free view HD tuner - well you dont miss a lot, Philips digital tuners have always been quite poor. Having two sets, plus one at my parents, plus one in a flat we rented last year - they all suffer the same problems - a poor digital tuner, finally it simply stops working, and an external tuner has to be connected. This combined with the poor menues, is such a pity for the nice build, design, Ambilight, 21:9, the egg remote. ( Not to mention the ever remaining lack of memory of channel language setting, switch channel and the language selection is gone ).

Wonder if Philips ever will solve these problems - why all these models, why not try focus on a limited range of models and deliver better TV´s ? Whu not cut the 5000 and 6000 and deliver better 21:9 for a better price ?

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