Build Quality and DesignAs we mentioned above, the biggest changes to the PDL7906H are on the outside, and it boasts a very unusual new design. The exterior is all white, with a glass pane covering the front of the screen extending below the frame almost to touch the table the TV sits on. It looks gorgeous.
But forgetting about the aesthetic changes for a minute, the new TV has the same set of features as the earlier PFL7606H, including Edge LED backlighting, support for passive 3D and a 100 Hz Clear LCD motion interpolation filter.
Naturally, that also includes Philips' favourite toy, the Ambilight Spectra 2 system, which relies on two rows of LEDs at the back of the TV. They point to the wall behind the TV and change colour based on the picture on screen, creating a mood lighting that suits the current programming.
Philips has also included a network connection, via your choice of Ethernet or built-in WiFi, something that's only an option on the PFL7606H. We're glad to see that the software includes a browser, meaning you can surf the web from the comfort of your sofa, and it works with any USB keyboard. But without support for Flash, a lot of streaming video and other services are off limits.
The PDL7906H supports DLNA and has a media player that can access content over your local network or from the USB port. Given the very limited range of video formats it supports, however, it isn't worth too much attention.
The glossy screen only partially reduces reflections
Ghosting and Input Lag
The picture quality on the PDL7906H is very similar to what we found with the PFL7606H, and that starts with an average ghosting time of 19.5 ms for the display. By the same token, we measured an identical input lag of two frames, or 33 ms.
Image QualityThere are a few adjustments to be made before you get started. Instead of choosing 'Cinema' mode, we suggest you try 'Photo' mode, setting the contrast to 50 and turning off the dynamic backlighting.
Even after these changes, the IPS display struggles to keep up with other technologies like PVA, MVA and plasma, which all produce much better contrast. With blacks of around 0.17 cd/m², the contrast ratio was just 1270:1, meaning blacks will look grey if the curtains aren't drawn in your living room.
Average deltaE in Photo mode: 3.1
We're happy to report that the colour reproduction is accurate, and we recorded an average deltaE score of 3.1. On this test, the lower the number the better and this result shows that any remaining discrepancies are invisible to the naked eye.
Films look just as they did on the PDL7606H's little sister. We think that the sharpness is turned up too high for enjoying HD movies. We turned it right down to 0, but turned it back up for watching SD content which can do with a little more detail. We turned off all of the Pixel Precise HD filters, with the exception of the 100 Hz mode and HD Natural Motion, which keeps ghosting in check and smooths out most jerkiness.
This TV only suffers from a minimal amount of clouding, with a few traces of light leaking in the corners, but not enough to prove irritating while you're watching a film.
Image Quality: 3DThere were a few subtle differences between the two models in two dimensions, but it's very hard to tell them apart in 3D.
Doing without the complicated electronics found in active 3D glasses, passive 3D glasses are lighter, more comfortable to wear and cheaper to make—but there are two big drawbacks. The first is that the resolution is effectively halved, but what you see on screen still looks like relatively decent 720p. Secondly, the viewing angles are much narrower, so it's essential that viewers are facing the centre of the screen if they want to see in three dimensions. If they don't, then crosstalk can creep in, causing interference between the signals designed to be seen by each eye, leaving people seeing double.
Once you're in the right place, though, the results are amazing, with very little ghosting, despite the relatively slow response times we measured in 2D above.
Here's what we saw through the glasses (Philips 42PFL7606H above, LG 32LW450U below):
Audio QuailtyDespite claims to the contrary in the specs, the PDL7606H doesn't come with two speakers, but three: two 5 W tweeters to each side and a 14 W subwoofer below. The two speakers that are built into the frame are so dreadful that Philips has only given them a very small part of the treble to handle. The rest is left to the subwoofer, which should only really be for the deepest bass. It almost sounds like you're listening in mono, rather than stereo, which is a real shame as the woofer itself is pretty decent. If the other speakers were up the job, the PDL7606H could have got four stars in this section.
Energy ConsumptionAs ever, the LED backlighting keeps the energy consumption down. While it's switched on, we only recorded it drawing 70 W. Standby is even better, where the PDL7606H gets by on less than 1 W!
- Great picture in 2D and 3D
- Light, comfortable 3D and accurate colour reproduction (deltaE: 3.1)
- Bold new design pays off
- Good audio quality and low energy consumption (70 W)
- Crosstalk kept to a minimum and passive 3D easier to watch
- Media player doesn't support enough video formats
- Narrow viewing angles in 3D
- Contrast a little weak for everyday viewing (1270:1)
- Some clouding on our test unit
As well as a sexy new design, the Philips PDL7906H TV produces a great picture in both 2D and 3D, and its only weakness is slightly disappointing contrast.