Review: Philips 46PFL9706H

 
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Published: October 16, 2011 11:00 PM
By Pierre-Jean Alzieu / Pierre Anzil
Translated by: Sam McGeever
The 46PFL9706H TV comes from the very top end of Philips' range, and strangely, only one size is available, this 46'' version.  It's still a high-end offering though, and so offers support for 3D, which Philips has decided to implement by using active technology to produce a Full HD picture in 3D.  

Build Quality and Design

The PFL9706 is a 3D TV which has Full LED backlighting, with LEDs spread out across the whole surface of the display rather than just along the sides as is the case with Edge LED.  It's absolutely gorgeous and has been finished to a very high standard.  The icing on the cake is a new, updated anti-glare finish finish which is incredibly good at getting rid of reflections without altogether replacing an actual matte finish.

Rather than putting them in the main body of the TV, Philips has installed the 40 W RMS speakers in the metal base instead.  You might think that would stop you from wall-mounting it, but the base has its own VESA wall-mount.

Naturally enough, Philips has used an extra-large version of its Ambilight technology, with coloured lighting emanating from around the frame based on what's onscreen.  There's a super-powered motion interpolation filter to help reducing ghosting and flickering in films, running at 1200 Hz with a 200 Hz filter and backlight sweeping.

If it's multimedia you're interested in, you'll be glad to hear that the PFL89706 can double up as a PVR to record your favourite programmes and pause live TV, supports the DLNA 1.5 standard over WiFi or Ethernet, which it can also use to access online content and a media player that works with USB.

That's the theory, anyway.  In practice it turned out to be somewhat disappointing, with none of our MKV files working.  It couldn't handle any files with multiple chapters or subtitle tracks either.

46PFL9706H
Matte finish doesn't suffer from reflections


46PFL9706H
Inputs and outputs at the side (above) and back (below)



46PFL9706H
  Net TV Menu
46PFL9706H
Remote


Two years ago, Philips transformed the design of its remote controls which now look like round, smooth pebbles.  Our only complaint is that there aren't many buttons, so some settings, like the backlighting or picture quality adjustments, aren't available directly but instead only via the menus.

Ghosting and Input Lag

Responsiveness
philips 42pfl7606h remanence
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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

The PFL9706 got off to a flying start with very limited input lag.  It takes just 33 ms to get the new frame on the screen, a delay of just two frames.  Gamers are likely to be even more impressed by very low ghosting times.  Indeed, the PFL9706 set a new record in our lab by showing ghosting of just 6.5—incredible stuff!

Image Quality: 2D

As is so often the case, the default settings produce an eye-catching picture that's far removed from reality.  That's easily fixed by switching to Cinema mode and turning off the Clear LCD feature.  Once you've done that, you'll find it reproduces colours accurately and the colour temperature is much closer to 6500 K. 


In Cinema mode, the contrast ratio is over 5000:1

The dynamic backlighting causes a few problems for the gamma, but it isn't enough to make us suggest you turn it off.  The blacks are so deep that our equipment couldn't measure them, and there's no evidence of blooming, the appearance of a glowing halo around bright spots against a dark background.

It was during films that the backlighting was more problematic, with viewers having the impression that a shadow has passed across the screen, but again, it's a very minor issue that will no doubt be fixed by a future firmware update—as long as there is one, of course.  The motion interpolation filter we mentioned above does a good job of removing blurriness, but it does introduce visual artefacts and sometimes leaves films looking like they've been shot on a camcorder.  It's up to you to decide whether you want to turn it on or not. 

Finally, the viewing angles are wider than on most other TVs, which is useful if you want to have a lot of people over to watch a movie.

Clouding

With dynamic backlighting, there's no chance of any clouding, an effect produced when light leaks out into areas of the screen that should be dark.  Another good reason to leave it on!

Image Quality: 3D

This TV includes a filter that can automatically convert 2D content to 3D, but it does no better than any of Philips' rivals.  The 3D effects are very limited, and in some cases, objets that should be in the same position relative to the viewer move around.  Once again, you're better off sticking to real 3D.

If you do, the PFL9706 is an excellent TV, and one of the best LCD TVs when it comes to 3D.  Oddly, we found that turning on the 'Perfect Contrast' feature reduced the appearance of crosstalk—interference between the signals for the left and right eye.  It did such a good job, in fact, that this Philips TV isn't far behind Panasonic, whose TVs are widely admired as the best in the game.

Here's what we saw through the glasses (Philips 47PFL9706H above, Sony KDL-55HX923 below):

46PFL9706H
46PFL9706H

 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..

We've definitely tried more comfortable 3D glasses: they feel very cheap, and without any rubber on the arms, wearing them for a long time can become unpleasant.  You can, however, move around quite easily, turning your head as far as 45° from the screen without beginning to suffer from crosstalk.

Unfortunately, though, only two pairs are included, so you'll need to shell out a little more if the whole family wants to join in.

Audio Quality

We tested the PFL9706 on its stand, and including the speakers in the base was definitely a good idea.  The resulting audio is clear, unsaturated and a treat to listen to.  That doesn't mean we think it can replace dedicated Home Cinema speakers or a sound bar, but it's definitely better than what the vast majority of TVs we test can manage.  

Energy Consumption

The PFL9706's final test results were as impressive as the first, and we can confirm that it has very low energy consumption.  When it's switched on, it only uses 90 W of power, and the figures are even better on standby, where it uses less than 1 W!
5/5 Philips 46PFL9706H DigitalVersus 2011-10-17 00:00:00

Pros

  • Great picture in 2D and 3D
  • Attractive design with an efficient anti-glare filter
  • Accurate colour reproduction, huge contrast ratio and wider than average viewing angles
  • Good quality audio and low energy consumption (90 W)
  • Crosstalk kept in check

Cons

  • Media player doesn't support enough video formats
  • One size fits all: only a 46'' version
  • Backlighting isn't perfect, with shadows visible in films and uneven gamma

Conclusion

The Philips 46PFL9706H TV was a very pleasant surprise. It looks great in both 2D and 3D, and Philips has produced one of the best LCD TVs we've seen this year. It's just a shame that 46'' is the only available size!

OUR SCORE 5/5
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