Regular readers will know that for us, so far as TV was concerned, 2011 was the year of the moth. For it was in November of that year that Philips introduced one of the most exciting TV innovations we’ve seen throughout our many years testing televisions: the Moth Eye filter.
Applied to the Philips 46PFL9706, this filter aped the nodular design of moth’s eyes to reduce ambient light reflections on the screen and thus take the picture’s contrast to new heights. So you can imagine our excitement today as find ourselves tucking into Moth Eye Mark II, as sported by the Philips 46PFL9707. Especially as the new Moth Eye system is allegedly vastly improved from the already remarkable original version.
The Philips 46PFL9707 is the only TV in Philips’ new range to carry Moth Eye tech. Even this 46-inch model’s bigger sibling, the Philips 60PFL9707 (which actually isn’t looking likely to get a UK release) doesn’t have the special filter, apparently because making and using a Moth Filter is so expensive that it (currently) only makes commercial sense at the 46-inch level. Even so, the Philips 46PFL9707 still costs a somewhat eye-watering £2,300. But hopefully this review will simply prove that if you want the best, you just have to pay for it.
Aesthetically the Philips 46PFL9707 is very attractive without being traditionally fashionable. The bezel is a bit wider than the current ‘trend’, and the rear is chunkier than today's norms too. However, the Philips 46PFL9707’s looks are bolstered considerably by the application of a shiny metallic finish to its bezel, a distinctive white rear, and the set’s Ambilight Spectra XL system, which uses LEDs mounted along its top, right and left rear edges to pump out coloured light that can correspond and react to your image content.
Ambilight always sounds gimmicky when we describe it, but trust us when we say it’s not just some show-off party piece. It really can make watching TV feel both more immersive and less tiring, and once experienced is something you definitely miss when it’s gone.
As with the recently tested Philips 46PFL8007, the stand/wall mount supplied with the Philips 46PFL9707 contains the set’s audio system - an audio system capable of pumping out a claimed 40W of power that on paper at least goes way beyond the puny efforts of most TVs.
Philips has gone to town with the Philips 46PFL9707’s connectivity, especially with its provision of five HDMIs when the rest of the TV world tends to draw the line at four. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi for networking the TV to either a PC/Mac or Philips’ latest Smart TV online system, and three USBs capable of playing back multimedia files from USB sticks or recording to USB HDDs from the TV’s built-in Freeview HD tuner.
Exploring the Philips 46PFL9707’s picture features inevitably brings us right back to the Moth Eye filter. The effectiveness of this technology has been improved for 2012 by Philips’ engineers managing to reduce the ‘in-panel’ reflections that normally occur between the panel’s TFT layer and the additional layers that have to be mounted onto it, including the polarising and protective layers. The result is a claimed contrast ratio for the Philips 46PFL9707 of - drum roll please - 150,000,000:1. This extraordinary figure is three times as high as the one quoted for last year’s Philips 46PFL9706.
Not that the Moth-Eye filter is the only contributing factor to this huge contrast claim. Also extremely important is the Philips 46PFL9707’s use of direct LED technology rather than the much more common edge LED system - especially as Philips’ rear-mounted lighting system employs 240 separately controllable LED light segments to deliver local dimming, where different sections of the picture can be given their own separate light levels. Clearly such a localised level of light control should deliver a substantial boost to any TV’s contrast performance.
Yet more contrast-boosting cleverness comes from Philips’ Bright Pro and Local Contrast technologies. The former can boost the brightness of bright parts of the picture by 50% over the previous Moth-Eye set - up to a startling 1500Nits - while the enhanced local contrast feature analyses pictures in real time on both local and global levels before applying newly improved contrast algorithms and an edge-preserving filter, with a view to boosting shadow detail in dark areas without adjusting the brightness levels of the rest of the picture.
This being a Philips TV, picture processing is also widely used elsewhere, with the various components of the brand’s Perfect Pixel HD taking in everything from colour to sharpness, motion handling and noise reduction.