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Philips 46PFL9706 - 3D Performance and Verdict

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

The 46PFL9706's outrageous contrast performance also helps it deliver wonderfully potent, vibrant colours. Yet the screen's innate quality is such that even the most aggressive of tones still contains immaculate subtlety when it comes to blends and tonal shifts. The full range of colours the screen can produce is also jaw-dropping.

Philips' high-end TVs have long delivered A-List levels of sharpness, and the 46PFL9706 continues that theme. In fact, thanks to the intensity of the set's contrast range, sharpness and detailing if anything seems even more pronounced with HD sources than it has been on previous Philips generations. What’s more, this gorgeous clarity is achieved without the 'assistance' of the set's sharpness processing.

Similarly, the sharpness holds up impressively well when the screen has lots of motion to cope with without needing the Perfect Natural Motion processing. This does remove judder remarkably well, we guess, and so you might find it useful with some TV broadcasts. But crucially if you don’t like it, you don’t need it.

With 2D, the 46PFL9706 sails scarily close to that elusive beast named perfection. Yes, as usual you have to be careful with the TV's processing tools. But actually, many of these tools deliver their goods without causing anything like the unwanted side effects noted on previous Philips sets.

Probably the only genuine complaint that can be raised against the 46PFL9706's 2D pictures is that even though there are 224 separate dimming 'zones', you can still occasionally see a little brightness 'haloing' around bright image elements, especially if they appear against dark backgrounds and you’re watching the set from an angle. From a 'straight on' position, though, even at its worst this haloing problem is really very subtle and pretty controllable via the set's backlight and brightness controls.

Philips 46PFL9706

In some ways the 46PFL9706's 2D strengths serve it well in 3D mode too. Certainly the screen's colour intensity and high level of contrast and brightness help counter the dimming effect of the shuttering 3D glasses. You can also clearly see all the HD resolution that's part of the active 3D experience, and the option to apply Perfect Natural Motion in 3D mode is an impressive if not always natural-looking sight.

There's also plenty of depth to 3D images using the default 'normal' depth setting (though you can actually adjust the depth to 'lower' or 'higher' using a special setting in the onscreen menus).

There is, however, a catch. For you don't have to look hard to see that the 46PFL9706 suffers with crosstalk. This double ghosting noise crops up both more regularly and more obviously than we'd like, especially during dark scenes. This is unexpected considering that Philips claims to have really worked on reducing the problem. But running the 46PFL9706 alongside a Panasonic P46GT30, there's simply no denying that crosstalk is far more prevalent on the Philips model.

Thankfully, there is a built-in solution of sorts. Namely that if you reduce the 3D image's depth, the crosstalk vanishes - almost completely. Ace. Or it would be if the 'lower' 3D depth setting didn’t look more like 2D for some of the time...

Philips 46PFL9706H moth eye TV

Serious gamers, meanwhile, will be pleased to learn that we managed to get the TV's input lag down to just 30ms - a very respectable result for such a processing-heavy TV. This figure was only obtained on a second test sample, after the first returned a figure of nearly 80ms. But Philips assures us that this lower figure is what we should be seeing, and it makes sense with what we know of the panel's heritage. Just note that it's critical that you both choose the Game mode and then turn off ALL further processing (noise reduction, Perfect Contrast, Perfect Colour etc) in order to get the lag levels down to the 30ms level.

Quite why Philips should choose to leave any processing elements on even after you've chosen game mode, requiring you to manually turn them off, is anyone's guess.

The last thing to cover with Philips' mostly amazing new box of tricks is sound quality. And contrary to expectations, the speakers in the stand are actually quite good, delivering high levels of bass as well as a fairly open mid-range and plenty of volume before things start to sound muddy. Philips' previous 9000 series sounded better, from what we remember, but the 46PFL9706's audio is still well above average.

Verdict

For a good deal of the time, the 46PFL9706 is nothing short of stunning. In fact, when calibrated sensibly the 46PFL9706's 2D pictures are as close to perfect as we've seen this year, even outperforming the images of Panasonic's plasmas in some key ways.

The set isn't as easy to recommend to 3D fans, alas. But if 2D is what you’re most interested in, the 46PFL9706 really is the current state of the art. Moths, we salute you.

Scores In Detail

  • 2D Quality 10
  • 3D Quality 8
  • Design 10
  • Features 10
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 8

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?

Chris

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.

Pbryanw

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.

mambo22

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.

mikfrak

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.

PS3½

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)

ChaosDefinesOrder

September 10, 2011, 11:52 pm

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

ChaosDefinesOrder

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?
Thanks!

TechVegan

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 ...

TechVegan

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.

http://www.trustedreviews.com/wacom-cintiq-24hd_Peripheral_review

RobertIs

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)?

Jmac

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!

Chris

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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