The Smart TV stuff centers around a combination of video, music and photo playback - across a comprehensive range of file formats - from USB storage devices; playback of similar file types through a networked DLNA-capable PC; recording from the built-in Freeview HD tuner to USB HDDs; and access to Philips' NetTV online platform. Both the DLNA and online features can be accessed via integrated wi-fi.
NetTV has grown from last year's offering, with the most key addition being the BBC iPlayer. The full service list now looks like this: YouTube, the BBC iPlayer; MeteoConsult; facebook; Aupeo Personal Radio; HiT Entertainment; CNBC Real Time; TuneIn Radio; iConcerts; Twitter; Viewster; Euronews; Vimeo; the Picasa photo storage site; Meteonews; Box Office 365; Cartoon Network; France 24 On Demand; TV5 Monde; The FunSpot gaming network; DailyMotion; ScreenDreams; CineTrailer; TomTom HD Traffic; the Foreca weather forecaster; Tunin.FM digital radio; ebay; TED Talks; the Films and Stars network; the MyAlbum photo storage site; a Volkswagen promotional site; and the cloud-based AceTrax movie purchase/rental service.
Long though this list may seem, the number of options is actually still lower than that found on Smart TVs from Sony and especially Samsung and LG right now. But Philips undoubtedly has more content deals 'waiting in the wings'.
If you're paying attention you'll have noticed that we mentioned a Freeview HD tuner back there. For thankfully Philips has included these tuners in all its key TVs this year, putting right its 2010 faux pas.
The active 3D system carried on the 46PFL9706 is supported by a built-in transmitter and two free pairs of Philips' new light and comfortable 3D glasses. These glasses also carry a ‘player 1/2’ switch because, rather coolly, the 46PFL9706 can convert a split-screen two-player game into two simultaneous 2D full-screen views by sending one 'screen' through the left-eye data stream and the other through the 'right eye' data stream.
The new Perfect Pixel HD picture processing is apparently twice as powerful as its already fearsomely specified predecessor - a fact that should lead to more precise, less artefacty picture enhancements with 2D material and, for the first time from Philips, motion processing with 3D footage.
Almost all aspects of the 46PFL9706’s processing engine are adjustable via the well-presented onscreen menus. And you really should familiarise yourself with the effects of most of these processing settings if you're to know when and when not to use them. Certainly the Perfect Natural Motion system, sharpness boosting circuitry and noise reduction options in particular should generally be avoided with Blu-ray material.
The 46PFL9706 is the first Philips TV to be endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), and as such it offers a plentiful array of calibration tools. Bagging ISF support should help Philips win over a few more AV purists, too, who tend to be suspicious of the brand's penchant for heavy-duty video processing.
All this, and we haven't even talked about the 46PFL9706's performance yet. Just as well, then, that where 2D is concerned it can be summed up in one word: awesome.
Getting into more detail, the set's black level response is astonishing, setting not only new standards for LCD technology but even getting a little deeper than the final range of commercially released Pioneer Kuro plasmas. Honestly, it's that good.
The moth-eye filter, meanwhile, does such an astonishingly good job of suppressing light reflections from your room that you almost forget there's a screen on the TV at all; it's more like you're just looking straight at a world inside the TV. The impact this almost eery effect has on dark scenes, in particular, is truly remarkable. It also makes the 46PFL9706 uniquely great for use in a bright room.
The 46PFL9706's use of direct LED lighting with local dimming, meanwhile, ensures that it delivers outstandingly bright whites and vibrantly saturated colours right alongside the sort of inky blacks described a moment ago, giving images a stunning appearance of contrast (the set’s contrast ratio is quoted at 150,000,000:1!).