Build Quality and Design3D support aside, the PFL7606H boasts a very stylish design. Rather than the usual glossy black plastic, both the stand and the frame are made using the same top quality metal. The IPS display has a matte finish, which will be welcome news for anybody with a south-facing living room who's used to having a glossy screen.
Philips TVs are synonymous with the firm's Ambilight Spectra 2 technology. It features two rows of LEDs behind the TV that shine onto the wall, producing a gentle glow visible to viewers which varies according to the picture on screen.
The Dutch manufacturer has also included a network connection, via your choice of Ethernet or, optionally, WiFi. We're glad to see that the software includes a browser, meaning you can surf the web from the comfort of your sofa. But without support for Flash, a lot of streaming video and other services are off limits.
To improve the picture quality, filters include the Pixel Precise HD Engine, and the HD Natural Motion motion interpolation filter backed up by Clear LCD 100 Hz mode. A USB port can accept an external storage device to turn your TV into a PVR to record your favourite programmes or pause live TV.
The PFL7606H 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.
Matte finish doesn't suffer from reflections
Inputs at the back (below) and side (above)
Ghosting Time 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
We were pretty sure that the passive 3D TVs sold by both LG and Philips use the same displays, and our responsiveness tests confirmed this by revealing a ghosting time of 20 ms. Philips has made an extra effort with its electronics, however, halving the input lag to 33 ms, or around two frames. This time round, gamers won't be adversely affected.
Image Quality: 2DIf LG should be following Philips' lead in the input lag department, the opposite is true when it comes to image quality. The factory settings on the Philips 42PFL7606H are quite simply dreadful. The colour reproduction are a total disaster, leading to a deltaE of 9.1) and the dynamic backlighting sends the gamma curve totally out of the window.
Switching to Cinema mode irons out most of these problems, but even then it can't solve everything. You still need to pay a visit to the menu in order to tweak the settings. We suggest you activate for the 'custom tint' feature, and then choose 'Warm' before turning Blue up to 75; this should improve the colour temperature across greyscale shades. Once you've done that, it's almost perfect, leaving only the gamma to fix: turning the contrast up from 65 to 69 fixes that last problem.
Colour reproduction in Cinema mode: average deltaE: 2.2
Once you've done all of that, the colours are a much more accurate representation of reality, leaving a deltaE of 2.2. The deltaE score measures the difference between the colours present in the original video source and those actually shown onscreen. Once it passes below 3.0, any remaining problems are invisible to the naked eye.
Average contrast ratio in IFS Expert mode: 950:1
The only real problem is a rather low contrast ratio: with blacks as light as 0.22 cd/m², it peaks at just 950:1. Other TVs, like the Sony Bravia KDL-40EX523 soar above 4000:1. The dynamic backlighting would help things, but we advise against it because it has a negative impact on the gamma. In a well-lit room, such bright blacks won't be problematic, but they'll look washed out if you dim the lights. On the other hand, IPS technology offers much wider viewing angles.
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 smoothes out most jerkiness.
Not only is the PFL7606H capable of producing an excellent picture, it doesn't suffer from any clouding either. That's welcome news as most TVs with Edge LED have this problem with light leaking around the side of the display.
Image Quality: 3DAlong with LG, Philips is one of only two manufacturers to offer TVs with passive 3D technology. This means both manufacturers can use glasses that are lighter, cheaper to make and more comfortable to wear because they don't include any electronics. The main drawback is a vertical resolution that's divided in two, falling to 1920 x 540 pixels for 3D, which looks like decent quality 720p video in reality. A second problem is caused by the narrow vertical viewing angles, meaning you need to be looking straight at the screen if you want to get a good view of the action in 3D. If you move up and down, then interference between the signals for the left and right eye, or crosstalk, soon becomes visible.
When you are sitting in front of the screen, though, objects really do come flying out of the screen. Wearing one of the two free pairs of passive glasses is a much more enjoyable experience as they have less of an impact on the perceived brightness and induce eyestrain much less quickly than active glasses. And despite the panel not being particularly responsive, crosstalk is largely kept in check.
Here's what we saw through the glasses (Philips 42PFL7606H above, LG 32LW450T 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.