Philips 46PFL9706T Review - Features and 2D Performance Review

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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!).

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