Having been consistently impressed by the performance of Philips’ latest spate of 2012 TVs, the 47PFL6907 turns out to be a disappointment – if only really for one solitary but massive reason: backlight bleed.
While watching any dark material on the 47PFL6907, we routinely spotted two jets of light pouring down the picture from the left and right end of the top edge. Such backlight ‘bleed’ is by no means rare in the edge-LED world, but the jets of light shooting into the picture on the 47PFL6907 are both larger and more pronounced than we commonly see these days. At times the effect is akin to two people shining torches down the picture from the sides.
Needless to say, this can seriously distract you from any dark scene – especially if that dark scene has a bright element near its centre, as this really raises the brightness level of the incoming light seepage.
Its impact is also exaggerated while watching any wide aspect ratio films thanks to the black bar that sits above the picture.
With some TVs it’s possible to calibrate images – usually by reducing the backlight output – so that initially distracting levels of backlight inconsistency are removed. We really struggled to find a way of getting rid of the problem on the 47PFL6907, though. The Backlight Contrast option doesn’t really do anything much to it, while reducing the brightness just bleeds the life out of the picture behind the backlight leaks rather than taking the heat out of the light pools.
Dynamic backlight helps – a bit…
The only thing that makes a significant difference is the set’s Dynamic Backlight option, where the picture adjusts its contrast automatically in response to the picture content. But while activating the dynamic backlight can reduce the impact of the light seepage during nearly uniformly dark scenes, as soon as the image has any bright content in it the dynamic backlight options can actually exaggerate the flaw, as you keep seeing large variances in the amount of light clouding apparent in the offending corners.
To put a little positive perspective on the backlight clouding, you hardly ever notice its existence if you’re watching anything at all bright and colourful – the sort of content, in fact, which makes up the majority of a typical household’s viewing. You are also far less aware of it even during dark scenes if your room is brightly lit. So if you’re not the sort of person who likes to dim the lights for serious film viewing from time to time, the backlight clouds might not cost you any sleep.
For us as both movie fans and testers of TV technology, though, the backlight inconsistency is impossible to ignore, and thus hard to live with.
The fact that the best way to reduce the impact of the backlight clouding is to use the dynamic backlight system introduces another problem too. For as with the 40PFL7007T we tested recently, the dynamic backlight can cause a sporadic problem with some (especially animated) content where abrupt shifts from quite dark to very bright shots cause a brief but still noticeable horizontal pulsing/flickering effect over the central third or so of the picture.
This happens least often if you stick with the Standard dynamic backlight setting rather than the ‘best for power’ or ‘best for picture’ options. And it disappears entirely if you turn the dynamic backlight off. But as we said, because of the backlight flaws, turning the dynamic backlight off is less of an option on the 47PFL6907 than it was on the 40PFL7007T.
So far we’ve been pretty hard on the 47PFL6907, so it’s high time we introduced some positivity. For in fact, when very dark scenes and rooms aren’t exposing the backlight problem, its pictures vary between very good and outstanding.
The outstanding moments come with good quality bright HD sources. Detail and sharpness levels with HD content are truly startling, making the HD efforts of many rivals look soft by comparison. This is especially true if you’ve got the TV’s Advanced Sharpness system active, which somehow manages to make HD images look like they’re being mapped on to a pixel count higher than 1920×1080.
Handle advanced sharpness feature with care
We’re not necessarily recommending that you use the Advanced Sharpness system, mind you; it can cause pictures to look a bit fizzy – especially if they already contain a lot of grain – as well as making object edges look stressy. And anyway, even without the system, pictures still look absolutely pin sharp.
Helping this happen is the 47PFL6907’s handling of motion, as there’s only relatively little evidence of judder or LCD’s infamous resolution loss and blurring problems. In this respect pictures look slightly cleaner than those of the cheaper 6007T series.