Any relatively high-end TV these days will have some kind of ‘Smart’ functionality to its name. In the Philips 46PFL8008S’s case you get wide-ranging video, photo and music file support from USB storage devices or networked computers, as well as Philips’ online SmartTV platform.
To help negotiate the set’s Smart services Philips ships a remote control with the Philips 46PFL8008S that features both a full QWERTY keyboard on its reverse side and handy point and click technology, whereby you can select options just by pointing the remote at the correct part of the screen.
We continue to find this a preferable control alternative to Samsung’s gesture control approach – except that Samsung’s system works even if you can’t find a remote, of course!
Philips even supports a ‘learning’ system on the Philips 46PFL8008S whereby the TV can track your viewing habits and recommend VOD content based on your history.
The presentation of Philips’ Smart TV interface is OK, keeping a reduced version of the TV picture to top left, three scrolling and regularly updated screens of recommended apps, VOD content and online TV videos to the top right, and two tiers of large app icons along the bottom.
The interface runs rather sluggishly/unstably, however, and is let down by both the seemingly very limited number of sources it’s able to draw on for its online TV clip and VOD recommendations (essentially just Euronews/Wall Street Journal and Acetrax respectively), and the limited number of content links it can fit onscreen at once.
Also unfortunate is how few apps are available. So far as video is concerned, the only ‘big’ services are the BBC iPlayer, Blinkbox, Acetrax, YouTube, MUZU.TV and a frankly eye-popping array of ‘adult’ channels. And if you’ve missed the news, Acetrax is about to be closed down!
Thankfully things are going to be bolstered substantially soon by the addition of Netflix, but we haven’t been given any information about potential join dates for LoveFilm or other key UK catch up services. For more details on Philips’ latest SmartTV platform, check out our in depth Philips 2013 Smart TV review.
All that’s left to do now is check out the small matter of the Philips 46PFL8008S’s picture performance. Can it deliver the sort of premium quality it really needs to in today’s competitive marketplace?
As a matter of fact, it can. Kicking our tests off with a selection of our favourite Blu-ray sequences, Philips’ set impresses greatly in pretty much all key picture areas.
Especially startling is its contrast. The screen is lit by an edge LED array, like so many of today’s TVs, yet the picture performs for the most part as if it’s lit by a direct LED or even plasma system. What we mean by this is that it manages to combine within the same frame extremely deep blacks free of the usual LCD grey mist with startlingly punchy whites and colours. In doing so it avoids the usual edge LED scenario of having to drastically reduce the punch and brightness of the image overall when attempting to produce a convincing black colour.
You need to have the Dynamic Backlight function active for the set’s best blacks to appear, but so long as you only use this on its Standard setting it goes about its auto backlight adjustments with stunning effectiveness. In fact, the contrast range the screen delivers gets might close to the efforts of the stellar Sony W9 series, and you really can’t say fairer than that.
There are times, in fact, when the contrast range seems to go too far, stretching beyond the intentions of the source material and slightly crushing shadow detail in the process. But the tools are there to rein things in if you wish, and anyway we’d much rather find ourselves working with a TV with too much contrast than one with not enough!
Contributing further to the remarkable potency of the Philips 46PFL8008S’s pictures is the screen’s exceptionally vibrant colour response. The set’s ability to keep blacks looking beautifully rich without compromising brightness helps colours look positively explosive at times. As well as grabbing your attention, this colour panache helps pictures enjoy a sense of solidity so intense that it almost convinces you at times that 2D images are 3D.