Review: Philips 46PFL9707S: A Top-Notch TV!

 
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Published: January 28, 2013 11:00 AM
By Pierre-Jean Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
The PFL9000 series is a top-of-the-range TV line from Philips. Two models are available, the 46" 46PFL9707S and the 60" 60PFL9607S. Note that the 60" version has a slightly different product reference number to the 46" PFL9707S, as it doesn't have the same Moth Eye anti-glare filter—a feature we very much liked in 2011's 46PFL9706H. The 60" model uses a different anti-glare filter.

Otherwise, the specs are the same in both models, with Full LED backlighting (LEDs over the entire rear of the screen) and 1200 Hz motion interpolation for a 200 Hz native screen refresh rate. You also get Philips' usual host of connected services (DLNA, applications, web browser, etc.), an active-shutter 3D mode and a built-in multimedia player that can be loaded with content via three USB ports.

2D Image Quality4/5

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - screen subpixels

The first thing we did when we got this TV into our labs was take an up-close look at its subpixels. And we were relieved to see that the 46PFL9707S uses a UV²A screen panel made by Sharp—a type of technology we've already seen in some excellent TVs, including the five-star 46PFL9706H from 2011/2012.

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - colours
Colour fidelity in "ISF Day" mode: average Delta E = 1.8 !
Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - screen gloss and reflections
Effective anti-glare filter

In the end, not much has changed in this updated model—but why change a winning formula? Once you've adjusted a few picture settings (see inset), this 9000-series TV does an first-rate job in standard 2D mode. Colours are reproduced perfectly, with an excellent average Delta E of 1.8 (Delta E measures colour fidelity—the closer to zero, the better). Similarly, the gamma is nicely balanced with an average of 2.2, and colour temperature is managed well in spite of a very slight red overtone.

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - contrast
Contrast in the  Philips 46PFL9707S (left) compared with the Philips 55PFL6007T (right) which uses an IPS screen.

Once we'd switched the PFL9707S to "ISF Day" mode in the picture settings, we realised that the dynamic backlighting (local dimming) was actually switched off. This function is supposed to help boost contrast by dimming the LED backlights as and when they fall behind a dark part of the onscreen image. We measured contrast at 5900:1 with the dynamic backlighting on. But this system isn't perfect, and leads to differences in the brightness of whites in light and dark images. Anyone who's picky about image quality may therefore prefer to keep it switched off, especially since the 3800:1 contrast we measured without this function is high enough to ensure good viewing conditions in a pitch-dark room.

The PFL9707S has a 1200 Hz motion interpolation function, although the actual screen refresh rate is just 200 Hz. On its minimum setting, this HD Natural Motion function is very effective, even if the fastest onscreen movements are still trailed by some very light (but still visible) artefacts. It does the job, but we prefer the systems seen in Samsung and Sony TVs.

Responsiveness
Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - responsiveness
 White
Background
Black
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Average
This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, which measures the time it takes this TV takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear.

This TV has a responsive screen panel, but it's not quite on par with the previous product generation (measured at 7 ms). That said, with an average ghosting time of 9 ms, this TV is still up there with the best and fast onscreen movements stay smooth. However, the PFL9707S may not be the best choice for die-hard gamers, as the average input lag of 54 ms means that images are displayed with just over three frames of latency compared with the most responsive screens. Those three frames can be make or break in some kinds of games.

Though this TV is excellent, it's still subject to the limits of LCD technology. The screen viewing angles are therefore pretty tight (in our tests they scored 1.9/5). Plasma screens generally do much better on this front. Let's hope that OLED technology rolls out sooner rather than later!

Clouding4/5

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - clouding

Even though we weren't using the local dimming function (dynamic backlighting), the fact that there are LED backlights spread out over the entire rear of the display panel (Full LED) helps keep lighting levels consistent over the screen. There's no trace of clouding either (light patches in dark parts of the picture)—a problem often seen in Edge LED TVs that only have LED backlights around the edges of the screen panel.

Picture Quality4/5

Like the majority of high-end TVs, the PFL9707S uses active-shutter 3D technology. Two pairs of glasses are included (model number: PTA517). Extra glasses cost around £65 per pair, so you'll have to shell out an additional £130 to kit out a family of four. The glasses are light, comfortable and can be recharged via USB.


The slight drop in screen responsiveness compared with last year's model is noticeable in 3D mode. Crosstalk (images for the left and right eyes crossing over onto one another) is visible in some scenes.

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - crosstalk
The meteorite at the bottom right of the image above is doubled up (scene taken from the film Monsters vs Aliens).

Crosstalk is mostly visible in dark onscreen images, making certain objects look like they're doubling up.

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - crosstalk

This can sometimes be spotted in images with light grey backgrounds too (see above). The rest of the time, crosstalk isn't visible. Still, we prefer Panasonic's plasma screens on this front.

Here's what that crosstalk looks like through 3D glasses with out test cards (Top: Philips 46PFL9707S // Bottom: Samsung UE55ES8000):

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - crosstalk
Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - crosstalk

 In a perfect 3D image, you would see no traces of the 'R' on the 'L' frame, and vice versa.
Panasonic and Samsung's plasmas are the only TVs that do this correctly.

As usual, a 2D-to-3D conversion function is on hand in this TV. We gave it a try, but having to wear 3D glasses for such a minimal effect doesn't really seem worth it. You're better off sticking to genuine 3D content.

Design4/5

Like the previous model, the PFL9707S has Full LED backlighting, with LED backlights spread over the entire rear of the screen panel rather than just around the edges (as with Edge LED).

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - screen bezel
Philips PFL9707S screen bezel (left) // Samsung ES8000 screen bezel (right)

Since a Full LED backlighting system takes up more room than Edge LED, the PFL9707S is generally a bit more imposing than certain competitor TVs (e.g. Samsung UE55ES8000). Some may also find the screen bezel a little on the thick side. Otherwise, the product finish is first-rate.

One interesting thing about this TV is that it comes with the Moth Eye filter to help reduce glare and screen reflections. This is without a doubt the most effective anti-glare filter out there at the moment. You won't need to draw the curtains when watching the PFL9707S, as the Moth Eye filter kills all kinds of reflections. We love it!

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - stand and vesa mount
Underside of the 46PFL9707S stand.

Philips has developed an audio system (40 W RMS) that fits into the TV's metal base instead of in the screen casing (more on audio below). The base of the stand also doubles up as a VESA wall mount, which is very practical indeed!

Given its credentials as a lighting specialist, Philips has loaded this TV with an "XL" version of its Ambilight Spectra system. This projects a coloured glow of mood lighting from the back of the screen that changes shade in relation to the onscreen image.

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - smart tv

The PFL9707S has a built-in web browser. Note that this gets a whole lot easier to use when you hook up a mouse and keyboard to the TV's USB ports. You can also access Philips' Net TV services via Wi-Fi. The interface has been reworked this year with a clearer design and smoother navigation, notably thanks to the dual-core processor. However, there still aren't that many interesting apps apart from VOD services. The PFL9707S is compatible with HbbTV and DLNA.

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - remote control

Already seen in the 8000 series, the remote control has a built-in keyboard on the back and a motion-controlled cursor system, which makes surfing the web a whole lot easier. Plus, like many of its competitors, Philips has developed iOS (iPhone) and Android apps for controlling the PFL9707S with a smartphone or tablet.

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - connections

The PFL9707S has a twin TV tuner (Freeview HD, cable, satellite) and connections including five HDMI ports and three USB ports. You can therefore hook up a USB external storage peripheral to play multimedia content. The built-in media player supports all kinds of file formats. However, in the TV we tested this was prone to a few bugs (we couldn't get subtitles to play without the TV crashing). A firmware update would be welcome.

Audio2/5

Philips 46PFL9707S TV review - audio
Green zone = good /Orange zone = tolerated / White zone = inaccurate

The 2 x 20 W audio system built into the base is disappointing. The output is a quite bass-heavy, with a bit too much "boom boom" about it. This in turn affects overall ineligibility. High frequencies just end up saturating, since the frequency response collapses towards the higher end of the spectrum.We'd therefore recommend you use a separate home cinema speaker kit with this TV.

Power Use4/5

Seeing as there are of lot of LEDs lined up behind the screen, power use is higher here than with the average Edge LED TV. We measured power use at 90 W with the TV in use (154 W/m²) whereas the most economical models use nearer 100 W/m². The PFL9707S therefore narrowly misses out on a fifth star in this part of the review. On standby, power use drops under 1 W.
5/5 Philips 46PFL9707S DigitalVersus 2013-01-28 12:00:00

Pros

  • Accurate colours in "ISF Day" mode (average Delta E = 1.8)
  • High contrast (3800:1), deep black (0.05 cd/m²)
  • Good 3D mode (generally low crosstalk)
  • Effective motion interpolation mode
  • Remote with keyboard and motion-control cursor
  • Moth Eye anti-glare filter works well
  • Dark zones are reproduced evenly onscreen (no clouding)

Cons

  • Tight viewing angles
  • Disappointing audio quality
  • Expensive!

Conclusion

The Philips PFL9707S is a decidedly top-of-the-range TV. Although screen responsiveness is slightly down on the previous product generation and crosstalk is a little more present in 3D mode, this TV still sets a standard for 2012/2013 top-end TVs. Let's hope it becomes more widely available as the year goes on ... and that it comes down in price!

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