Review Price £2,299.00

Key Features: 46in LCD TV with direct LED backlighting; Active 3D TV; Ambilight; Perfect Pixel HD processing; Smart TV functionality; Moth Eye filter technology

Manufacturer: Philips

Up till now, we've never been fans of moths. In fact, we've tended to find their general night-time flutteriness rather annoying. Today, though, the little critters have gone way up in our estimation. For it turns out that for all the millennia they've been around, the cheeky little chaps have been sitting on a secret that has the potential to revolutionise TV technology.

You see, to help them avoid detection in the dark, moths have developed eyes featuring tiny filtering nodules that help them become ultra-efficient absorbers of light. And it’s occurred to some clever bod at Philips that if you could replicate this moth-eye design on a TV, the impact on its contrast performance could be extreme.

The currently unique result of this innovative thinking is the Philips 46PFL9706: a 46in TV that's been causing shockwaves with its picture quality at every technology show it's appeared at for the past few months.

Philips 46PFL9706H

Hard experience has shown on more than one occasion, though, that what can look giddily brilliant on a crowded, bright show floor doesn't always translate to a domestic/test environment. So today, now that we've finally (months later than expected) got a 46PFL9706 in our sweaty palms, the simple question is: is it really as good as we hope it is?

Before answering that question, though, we should point out that sweaty palms really aren't a good idea when handling the 46PFL9706. For the moth-eye filter hates being touched, to the point where any finger or palm contact makes so much mess that it will have to be dealt with by the application of some special cleaning fluid that Philips supplies with the TV.

Fear of damaging the apparently delicate filter made the fiddly business of attaching the 46PFL9706 to its stand pretty terrifying. On the upside, the TV looks very handsome indeed once you’ve got it built, thanks especially to the glinting, touchable (or not) quality of its metallic finish. The stand, in particular, is gorgeous, apparently hewn from a single block of solid, brushed aluminium.

The stand is more than just a pretty face too. For unusually it also holds the TV's speakers, with audio information shipped in via a short cable connected to the TV's rear. This obviously raises the question of what you do if you want to wall hang your 46PFL9706. And the answer is that the stand fixes flat on the wall and becomes the mount for the TV, with its audio reproduction being adjusted via an onscreen menu. Neat. Except that the beautifully built stand is no longer visible, of course.

Philips 46PFL9706

The rear sides and top of the TV are equipped with rows of LED lights, there to deliver Philips' Ambilight technology from three of the TV's edges. This works by throwing coloured light from the TV that can be set to correlate - to a surprisingly local and tonally accurate degree - with the colour content of the image being shown. The result is more immersion in what you're watching, and less eye fatigue.

The 46PFL9706's only design issue is that it's not the slimmest TV in town. But there's a good reason for this, namely that it employs direct LED lighting, where clusters of LEDs sit directly behind the screen. The key advantage of this approach is that it allows you to control the brightness level of pretty localised sections of the picture, with potentially huge contrast advantages. Especially when, as in the 46PFL9706's case, the local brightness control is applied to a mammoth 224 separate LED 'sections'.

The 46PFL9706’s flagship status is further underlined by its comprehensive 'smart TV' functionality, its full HD active 3D support, and its carriage of Philips' most powerful video processing system ever.

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A Scotland

September 9, 2011, 4:39 pm

Enjoyed reading this. You really conveyed your excitement in an infectious way. Now I want one and am wondering how much it is likely to cost?


September 9, 2011, 7:18 pm

I recently purchased a 46" Samsung D7000 and was looking into this set as an alternative. Unfortunately, the only prices I could find put it around the £2000 - £2200 mark, hence I went for the Samsung.

Although I'm sure the quality is in a different league, it would seem the price is too.


September 9, 2011, 9:13 pm

Makes you wonder, with advancements like Moth-eye, whether OLED TVs will be redundant if they ever reach mass-production and/or come in sizes and prices that most of us could afford (not that this Philips is affordable). I'm looking forward to the TR review on this, and have also really enjoyed the IFA coverage over the past week.


September 10, 2011, 12:57 am

nice review but do you think it will be better than sharps pro-x5fd tvs.some early reviews i have seen make it out to be a pioneer kuro beater and they come in 60 and 70inch sizes.


September 10, 2011, 8:41 am

Can't help wondering if a coating that kills ambient light and reflections so effectively while increasing contrast might finally give us cheap LCD screens that can be used effectively outdoors. Full colour e-paper and all the alternatives always seem to be just around the corner but never actually arrive or are very disappointing when they do. Be interesting to see how well one of these TVs performs in a shop window.


September 10, 2011, 2:24 pm

I've been waiting for this set to be released for some time as everyone who has had a glimpse of it agree that the image quality is way ahead of other LCDs- and perhaps most plasmas as well. I don't think anyone has commented on the viewing angles, however; if they could match those of plasmas I might consider buying one (though I'll probably have to remortgage the house to afford it)


September 10, 2011, 11:52 pm

This kind of coating needs to be on every screen by every manufacturer from this point onwards!


September 12, 2011, 3:22 am

Actually this kind of coating is even more useful for OLED. Bright ambient light can completely destroy an OLED picture while transflective LCD panels will still be visible. With this moth-eye filter it will mean that regardless of the ambient light level (even direct sunlight to a certain extent) will not wash out the picture.

Carl Abudephane

September 12, 2011, 4:23 am

Nice tv yeah, but where was, is, the Wacom news I've been waiting for?!
Please don't let it be that godawful-looking Inkling thingymagib, okay?


September 12, 2011, 3:20 pm

@Carl Abudephane:
Don't worry, it's coming within the next few days (maybe even tomorrow) and though the Inkling is far from awful (hands-on coming soon), it's not about that... ;)

Carl Abudephane

September 13, 2011, 7:40 am

Okay, I'm hoping you get to actually see(use?)the thing, in which case there's a few things you can hopefully shed some light on.
1. No screen rotation? I know one can rotate canvas in software but it's just not the same, especially after you can rotate on the 21UX.
2. Screen brightness - sounds a bit low of leaked specs are to be believed. How does it appear in the flesh. Plus the colours, do they seem good.
3. Bezel size. Again, if leaked pictures are accurate, it looks very big, which on top of a 24" screen is gonna make this thing BIG.
4. Will it cost more than the model you reviewed last week?!
Thanks; here's hoping that you do actually get a hands on ...


September 15, 2011, 7:52 pm

Have you had a read of our Cintiq 24HD preview?
As you've probably gathered, there's no rotation.
Yes, the bezel is HUGE. But that's on purpose.
Price is in the article.
Please post further comments in the Cintiq preview.


September 17, 2011, 4:03 pm

Like PS31/2 I have been eagerly awaiting this set, and I have been looking for reviews. All I've found so far are first impressions. I have also noted that not a word has yet been said afaik about the viewing angles.
Can you, having had a First Look at this TV, give any opinion on the viewing angles (like, compared with plasma TV's or the Sony HX 92x series)?


October 20, 2011, 7:07 pm

1200 *M*Hz refresh rate?! Surely 1200 Hz

Anyway, any news on release date for this thing? I'm in the market for a new high end TV and this looks badass, but I can't wait forever!


November 30, 2011, 9:00 pm

Great review, pretty much as expected from all the hype surrounding the moth eye filter. This makes painful reading for me as I recently shelled out on another brand's flagship 46in telly.

But then there's the price. £2300 is £1k more than some brands' flagship 46in sets, and more than twice the price of their mainstream sets. I'm hoping this technology will filter down into more affordable models, as it sounds like it might finally cure some of LCD's characteristic failings.

John Archer

December 2, 2011, 9:06 pm

Hi All Got some good news for you. Philips wasn't happy with some of my findings with my first review sample of this TV, so it sent me another. And while this second sample still suffered with 3D crosstalk, it did deliver a significant improvement where input lag was concerned, coming in at just 30ms rather than the 80ms measured on the other set. This effectively turns the 46PFL9706T from being a TV not recommended for gaming into a TV strongly recommended for gaming! I have adjusted the main review to reflect this new result, but thought I would mention it here too in the hope that people who have already read the review and been left disappointed by the input lag results will be able to reconsider their position! Philips is actually investigating the 3D performance of this TV as we speak too, so if it turns out there are also problems with the 3D performance of the test screens we've received, we'll report back here again. John Archer

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