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
This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, that the TV takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear
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.
Colour handling in Cinema mode: average deltaE: 3.1
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.
Contrast in Cinema mode: 3200:1
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) :
With a perfect result, we shouldn't see any trace of the 'R' frame on the left, and, vice versa, none of the 'L' frame on the right. For the time being, only plasmas from Samsung and Panasonic get this right.
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.