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Philips 46PFL9706H - Features and 2D Performance

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

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.

Philips 46PFL9706

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!).

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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