The huge processing brain inside the Philips 46PFL9707 pays off handsomely too with standard definition. The main reason for this is the way it adds huge amounts of extra detail while simultaneously taking MPEG and other noise types out of the picture. Also crucial, though, is the fact that unlike many other LCD TVs, neither the TV’s colour response or contrast take a significant hit in the upscaling process.
Next on our test list is 3D. Which sadly proves a pretty huge disappointment. At first glance, all looks well. 3D pictures are supremely bright and colourful by active 3D standards, hardly suffering any dimming at all from 2D images despite the shuttering effect of the two pairs of free glasses you get with the TV.
Foreground objects look extremely sharp and detailed too, reminding you in an instant of the advantages of the active 3D system, and the Philips 46PFL9707’s extreme contrast capabilities prove helpful in boosting 3D colour tones and enhancing the image’s sense of depth. However, all this sterling good work is undermined by some heavy duty crosstalk. Backdrops and background objects in the majority of shots that have any sort of depth suffer with the double-ghosting problem to a degree seldom seen elsewhere in 2012.
For the sake of completeness we should add that there’s a potentially interesting feature on the Philips 46PFL9707 that allows you to choose between ‘flicker-free’ and ‘maximum clarity’ 3D images. The first option allows you to watch 3D in a light room without seeing the sort of flickering problem you usually get with active shutter glasses in such environments. But since this option actually increases crosstalk noise, it’s clearly a non-starter on the Philips 46PFL9707. So you’re left with the ‘normal’ maximum clarity option, which as we’ve seen doesn’t really give you anything like maximum clarity.
Having uncovered one flaw in the Philips 46PFL9707’s picture make up, we might as well point out a few more. First, while the light haloing effect common with direct LED technology is remarkably well suppressed from relatively ‘straight on’ viewing positions, it becomes more obvious from wider angles.
Also, as ever with high-end Philips TVs, you have to be careful with some of the processing settings. For instance, all noise reduction systems should be turned off for HD viewing to stop the image lagging and looking soft. The Dynamic Contrast element of the Perfect Pixel processing eco-system needs care too, for we found that really the only setting that worked consistently well was ‘Standard’. Turn it off and contrast levels take an almost scary hit, with greyness and backlight inconsistencies everywhere; but use either the ‘best for power’ or ‘best for picture’ modes and you’ll find yourself distracted by quite overt ‘jumps’ in the picture’s overall brightness level.
The Standard setting isn’t perfect either, as it can leave a slightly over-the-top contrast ‘gap’ between the brightest and darkest parts of the image. But it’s the most stable option, and you can tame the contrast excesses using some of the other available adjustments. Also best avoided is the Advanced Sharpness setting, for this tends to make even clean HD sources look too gritty for comfort.
The key point about all these non-3D issues, though, is that all of them are easily avoided. And once you’ve taken care of them, you really will be amazed by just how good the Philips 46PFL9707’s 2D pictures look.
If you’re interesting in gaming on the Philips 46PFL9707, we’re happy to report that so long as you select its Game preset and turn of as many processing-related features as possible, you should find the TV turning in a respectably low average input lag figure of around 37ms.
As with the Philips 46PFL8007, the speakers contained in the 46PFL9707’s stand give a very good account of themselves. They deliver much more bass than most slim TVs, as well as a more open mid-range and a fair if not spectacular amount of treble detailing. It’s a relief, too, to note that voices sound like they’re coming from the screen rather from the stand underneath it.
If money is no object and you want to secure yourself what we’d argue are the best quality 2D pictures money can currently buy, then the Philips 46PFL9707 is the TV for you. The moth-eye filter and Philips’ image processing qualities really do combine to produce 2D pictures that at times defy belief. It just felt impossible not to give any TV capable of 2D pictures this good a Recommended badge, so that's exactly what we've done.
It’s just a shame that the Philips 46PFL9707’s 3D flaws, relatively weak online services and the fact that it costs twice as much as Sony’s impressive 46HX853 prevent its appeal from being wider.