Build Quality and DesignThe PFL8606H uses Edge LED backlighting, with LEDs installed around the frame allowing it to be a wafer-thin 3.3 cm. One big improvement is the fact that the infra-red transmitter that's used to synchronise the 3D glasses is now built into the TV itself, so you don't need to waste one of the USB ports on it.
The difference between this TV and more expensive models in Philips' collection isn't really the features, but the finish. Instead of the attractive brushed metal frame that completes the PFL9706H's look, here you only have plastic. The display sits behind a pane of glass, meaning it picks up a few reflections.
But just like the PFL9706H, the 2 x 14 W RMS speakers are part of the stand, which doubles up as a VESA wall mount in a very handy system.
If you're looking for multimedia services, then the PFL8606H can: act as a PVR, recording your favourite programmes and pausing live TV; support DLNA 1.5 over built-in WiFi or Ethernet; play content from a USB device and offer a whole range of online services.
The media player itself was something of a disappointment. During our tests, it didn't recognise any of our MKV files, nor could it cope with chapters or subtitle tracks.
Two years ago, Philips adopted an unusual pebble shape for its remote controls. The only real problem is that there aren't many buttons, meaning you can't control advanced settings like the backlighting directly.
The anti-glare finish works well
Ghosting and Input Lag
Philips has clearly been working on improving the responsiveness of its monitors. The PFL8606H suffers from very little ghosting: with a ghosting time of just 9 ms, it can rival the fastest plasma screens. Better still, it has an input lag of 33 ms, or four frames, meaning avid gamers won't suffer during multiplayer sessions.
Image QualityThis TV is no exception to the general rule: straight of the box, it produces flashy colours with little relation to reality, unstable gamma and greys with a very strong blue tinge.
Switching to Cinema mode solves the majority of these problems, but there are still one or two settings that need tweaking. Firstly, the brightness is a little too high, and we found that turning the backlighting down from 70 to 55 more suitable for everyday use. The greyscale and gamma both end up a little too low, leaving greys that are too light and have a reddish tinge. There's an easy solution: switch the colour temperature from 'warm' to 'normal' and increase the gamma from 0 to 2.
These adjustments bring the average deltaE down to 3.1, which is an excellent result and low enough for us to say that the PFL8606H is capable of accurate colour reproduction.
Philips has used an ASV display which is capable of producing very deep blacks of around 0.07 cd/m², sending the contrast ratio soaring above our average figure of 2500:1. With whites of 220 cd/m², the ratio is closer to 3200:1.
We ended up turning off all the filters available via the Pixel Precise HD menu. It's up to you to decide if you prefer having the 200 Hz and HD Natural Motion filters, but we found the latter added artefacts around fast-moving objects. The price to pay for more fluid images is that movies can end up looking like they've been shot on a camcorder. The picture in HD is absolutely sublime, but SD sources like ordinary TV or DVDs look a little too sharp. We suggest you turn the detail down to 0 for a more natural result.
We're pleased to announce that the PFL8606H doesn't suffer from any clouding. During our tests, the unit we were using in the lab had just a few traces of light leaking onto darker areas of the screen, but they were totally invisible in films.
Image Quality: 3DThe PFL8606H is identical to the PFL9706H in one regard: it produces a 3D picture that's pretty close to perfect. Objects really seem to leap out of the screen and there's a good sense of depth of field, but that's not really anything new. What's impressive here is that crosstalk, that annoying interference between the video streams designed for each eye which leaves viewers seeing double, has almost disappeared. Philips has made so much progress in the space of a year that its TVs are now almost as good as Panasonic's plasma displays on this count--considered by many to be the best in the business. These improvements mean that Philips' TVs are the best LCDs to offer 3D at the moment.
Here's what we saw through the glasses (Philips 47PFL8606H above, Sony Bravia KDL-55HX923 below) :
There is, of course, 2D-to-3D conversion, but it doesn't real add anything other than a nasty headache for some viewers.
Philips' 3D glasses aren't the most comfortable we've ever tried, as the frame is mostly made of plastic. They good do with adding some rubber or foam if you're going to wear them for extended periods. However, they do offer plenty of movement: you can tip your head back more than 45° without having to worry about the picture losing contrast or seeing crosstalk.
But be careful: the PFL8606H is sold without glasses, so you'll need to buy your own.
Audio QualityIf you compare the tech specs for the 8000 and 9000 series TVs from Philips, the latter seem to have more powerful speakers. But the actual quality doesn't change much, and the sound is still clear and unsaturated. Philips has even made sure you can enjoy listening to bass, which is something that very, very few LCD TVs with LD backlighting can claim.
Energy ConsumptionEnergy usage is kept in check with just 85 W needed by this 40'' TV, or around 193 W/m². Things are even more impressive on standby where it needs less than a single Watt.
- Good quality picture in 2D and 3D
- Anti-glare finish keeps reflections away
- Accurate colour reproduction (deltaE: 3.1), very high contrast ratio and wider viewing angles than most LCD TVs
- Great audio and low energy consumption (85 W)
- Crosstalk kept to an absolute minimum
- Media player only just about average
- No 3D glasses supplied
Philips is definitely on a roll with its TVs this year! The PFL8606H produces a great picture in two dimensions as well as three. Not happy with being one of the most responsive we've seen, producing sky-high contrast ratios and getting colours spot on, its display is also exempt from problems with clouding. It's hard to do better than that!