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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
Score in detail
3D Quality 8
2D Quality 10
Sound Quality 8
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