Ladies and gentlemen, Philips is back in the building. After what feels like years in the TV wilderness, the Dutch brand used this year’s IFA show in Berlin to formally announce its TV re-emergence, through a new TP Vision joint venture with Chinese manufacturer TPV technology. And now it’s got a whole range of honest-to-goodness products emerging to back up its bullish IFA words - kicking off with the model currently sat on our test benches: the Philips 46PFL8007.
Given that an element of the TP Vision venture is to make the brand’s TVs more competitive, it’s perhaps a little surprising to find the Philips 46PFL8007 sporting a current SRP of £1,700 - a not insubstantial sum for a 46-inch TV. You can, after all, get the superlative Sony KDL-46HX853 for £450 less.
Philips 46PFL8007 Design
Still, the Philips 46PFL8007 does sit very close to the top of Philips’ new TV range, a high position backed up by its exceptionally slim design, high-powered feature count and, as we’ll see, some pretty special picture quality. It’s also worth pointing out that it actually comes in cheaper than the SRP of the Samsung UE46ES8000.
The Philips 46PFL8007’s design really is a beaut. In keeping with the latest fashions, the frame around the screen is barely a centimetre wide - and what little of it there is boasts a very fetching deep grey metallic finish. It’s distinguished too by Philips’ Ambilight system, where LEDs mounted on the TV’s rear emit coloured light you can set to harmonise with the colour content of the image being shown.
As always when you describe Ambilight on paper, it sounds gimmicky. But seeing is believing, and once you’ve lived with Ambilight for a while - provided you set it to one of its relatively subtle, gentle settings - you really miss its simultaneously engaging and soothing impact when it’s gone.
Even the Philips 46PFL8007’s stand warrants more attention than most. For as well as looking cute with its metallic top plate, it also contains the TV’s speakers. Experience suggests this can prove a very effective way of getting more audio oomph out of super-slim TVs, though in this case it does complicate setup, as it means you also need to use the stand as a wall mount if you go that route.
Philips has sensibly arranged all of the 46PFL8007 46-inch TV's connections so that they can be accessed from the unit's sides, and they’re startlingly prodigious, too. Particularly eye-catching is the provision of five HDMIs, finally getting us past the four limit we seem to have been stuck at for so long.
Philips 46PFL8007 Specs
Philips is one of the most on-the-ball AV brands around when it comes to handling multimedia sources, so it’s not surprising to find the Philips 46PFL8007 carrying three USBs as well as integrated Wi-Fi for accessing stuff stored on a networked DLNA PC. Formats supported include AVI, MKV, H264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9/VC1, AAC, MP3, WMA, and JPEG.
Unfortunately, the Philips website link to the Mac version of Philips’ Media Manager software wasn’t working during our tests, but hopefully this issue will be sorted soon.
The Wi-Fi (or LAN if you prefer the hardwired approach) also provides access to Philips’ latest Smart TV online platform. Having been shown a quite persuasive presentation on this at IFA 2012, we had high hopes for it. But actually it’s a bit disappointing - for now, at least.
The only notable content comprises the BBC iPlayer, Facebook, YouTube, Funspot, Viewster, Euronews, CNBC Real Time, Napster, iConcerts, Picasa, Absolute Radio, Aupeo, Films and Stars, TomTom HD Traffic, and Ted Talks.
We were quite surprised to also find a couple of ‘adult’ video services on there, but modesty prevents us from going into any more detail on these.
There are one or two innovations to be found in Philips’ online offering. For instance, the set’s Twitter app can automatically use metadata sent with the TV programme you’re watching to track down any ‘#’ threads associated with it. It’s also great to find a cute ‘clip-on’ Webcam included with the TV, enabling instant use of Skype.