Philips 46PFL8008 TV Review
How will Philips' latest TV measure up to the impressive 9000 Series?
What is the Philips 46PFL8008?We might not have had a Philips TV in for a review here at AVForums for a couple of years but when one finally did come through our doors again, it blew us away. The manufacturer had made great strides in terms of image accuracy, black levels and calibration controls, delivering one of the best looking LED LCD TVs we have seen. That's a pretty tough act to follow but Philips hope that the new 8000 series will keep all us enthusiasts happy, at least until the next 9000 series is released later in the year. The 46PFL8008 shares a lot of the same features as the 46PFL9007 that we reviewed here, although it doesn't use the full backlight array, micro dimming and Moth Eye filter that made last year's 9000 series so impressive. It also doesn't include the special stand with built-in speakers, which is a shame because that allowed the 46PFL9007 to deliver some of the best sound that we've heard from a TV in many a year. However the 46PFL8008 does include most of the other features found on the 46PFL9007, including Ambilight, 3D, two pairs of glasses with two player capability, a dual sided controller, built-in WiFi and their Smart TV platform. It also includes a built-in camera, something that the 46PFL9007 didn't have and comes in a larger 55" screen size. In addition, whilst the 46PFL9007 was an excellent TV in 2D, there was definitely room for improvement when it came to 3D. So will the 46PFL8008 have what it takes to step out from under the shadow of its bigger brother? Let''s find out...
Design and ConnectionsThe 46PFL8008 opts for a more traditional design when compared to the white and silver chassis of the most recent 9000 Series. Instead it uses an attractive if fairly simplistic combination of a gun metal bezel and a black rear panel. The bezel is 1cm wide, whilst the chassis itself is 3cm deep and although the build quality is reasonable, the rear panel is made of plastic which lets the side down slightly. Along the bottom there is a lip where you'll find the logo, the IR receiver and a built-in camera, with a sliding cover to prevent people hacking in and spying on you.
The 46PFL8008 has a more traditional open stand that provides stable support, looks attractive and can be swivelled. It's a shame that the 46PFL8008 doesn't include the 'speaker stand' currently found on the 9000 Series because the sound was incredible but according to Philips, it wasn't that popular. Instead they have installed stereo speakers at the rear of the chassis, on the bottom left and right. These speakers are quite large and were capable of producing a surprisingly high quality level of audio performance considering the relative slimness of the 46PFL8008. Overall we found the sound to be quite good, with decent stereo separation and clear dialogue.
The 46PFL8008 has a good selection of connections at the rear, including 4 HDMI inputs - 3 of which are downward facing, allowing for easy wall mounting without the need to have cables poking out of the sides. Other connections include three USB ports, two at the side and one at the rear, a CI slot, a SCART connector, a LAN port, a headphone socket, a component video input, a VGA connector and an optical digital out. There is also an aerial socket, a satellite socket and a connector for the mains cable.
The provided remote control uses the same gun metal finish and is well built, with enough weight to suggest quality, whilst remaining comfortable to hold. The layout is suitably ergonomic and the choice of buttons is comprehensive without appearing crowded. Best of all on the back is a full QWERTY keyboard, which makes typing into the web browser much easier. The remote has sensors to know which way round it is orientated, thus you can't accidentally hit the buttons on one side whilst using the buttons on the other.
The 46PFL8008 comes with two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses which have glossy black frames and appear robust without being too heavy. They also have reasonably wide sides to block out ambient light and are large enough to go over regular spectacles and whilst the lenses are darker than some makes, at least they're neutrally tinted. There is an on/off button on the top right had side and this button is also used to select player one or two when using them for two player gaming. This feature allows one pair of glasses to see one image whilst the other pair sees the second image in a two player game, a useful feature but one we were unfortunately unable to test.
MenusThe 46PFL8008 uses exactly the same menu system as the 9000 Series which is both comprehensive and intuitive to use and, thanks to the dual core processing, it's also fast and responsive. Most features can be accessed from the single Home screen, which in turn is accessed by just pressing the Home button on the remote. In this screen, along with the inputs you can also access the TV programmes, TV guide, the smart features, networked devices, recorded content, Skype and the Setup menu. In the case of the inputs, TV programmes, TV guide and Smart TV, these can also be accessed separately using dedicated buttons on the remote. Within the Setup menu there are five options - TV Settings, Channel Settings, Satellite Settings, Network Settings and Software Settings. Each offers the choice of a simplified or more detailed versions, thus catering to both neophytes and the season user.
Within the TV Settings there are choices for Picture, 3D, Sound, Ambilight and General Settings. The 3D menu includes some basic setup options for 3D, the Sound menu includes the setup audio options and the General Settings include options for language, clock, timer etc. The Ambilight menu can also be accessed directly using a dedicated button on the remote and provides a choice of Off/Dynamic/Static/ISF Warm White. For reasons we will discuss later you should choose ISF Warm White if you plan on using the Ambilight feature.
In the Picture menu is the Picture Format sub-menu which gives you access to the different aspect ratios and again these can be accessed directly using a dedicated button on the remote. If you watch high definition content you need to ensure it isn't being scaled, so selected the appropriately titled Unscaled aspect ratio. All the other key picture controls can be found in the Picture menu, including the advanced ISF calibration controls. The advanced calibration controls are under ISF Expert Settings and here you can choose the Colour Temperature, with a choice of Normal, Warm and Cool. There is also a Custom setting which gives you access to the two point white balance control, which will allow a professional calibrator to accurately set the greyscale. Also within the ISF Expert Settings is the Colour Control which is actually a colour management system. Here you can control the hue or saturation of the three primary and three secondary colours, again allowing a professional calibrator to accurately set the colour space.
FeaturesThe 46PFL8008 includes the Philips Smart TV system, a detailed review of which can be found here. Overall we found it to be very good in certain areas such as networking and connectivity but limited in others, such as the number of apps and video on demand services available. However one feature that particularly impressed us was the remote app, which is well designed, intuitive to use and available for both iOS and Android.
The 46PFL8008 also includes Philips' Ambilight, which is a genuinely useful feature especially when used in its ISF Warm White setting. This creates a static white light equivalent to D65 using LEDs round the rear top and sides of the chassis. The results were excellent and in the evenings we turned off all the lights and used Ambilight ISF Warm White to deliver just the right amount of biased light for a very comfortable and enjoyable viewing experience. As an added bonus, the already impressive blacks on the 46PFL8008 looked even better thanks to Ambilight ISF Warm White.
Test ResultsWe initially selected the Movie picture style which should offer an accurate image based on industry standards and we turned off all the picture processing features. As well as the Movie picture style there are also ISF Day and Night presets, which are initially identical to the Movie mode but offer more advanced calibration controls for use by a trained professional. As you can see from the graphs above, the 46PFL8008 delivered some of the most accurate out-of-the-box measurements we have seen. The greyscale had a little too much red at the higher end of the scale but the DeltaEs (errors) were all below the threshold of three. As a result there was no obvious discolouration when viewing a stair step pattern. The gamma was also very good, closely tracking our target of 2.2, with only a slight bump at 10IRE to spoil the party. The colour gamut was also very accurate, with all the colours measuring close to their targets on the CIE chart. Again the errors were all below the threshold of three and as such this is an excellent overall performance from the 46PFL8008.
The addition of ISF presets means that the 46PFL8008 has sufficient calibration controls to allow for a far greater degree of accuracy than a factory preset can allow. The excellent starting point offered by both the Movie and ISF presets meant that we had little to do but fine tune the greyscale with the two-point white balance and then tweak the colour accuracy with the colour management system. We used the ISF Night preset for all our calibrated settings but there is also an ISF Day preset that a professional calibrator can use to create a much brighter setting for less critical daytime viewing.
The two point white balance control on the 46PFL8008 is listed as the Custom Colour Temperature setting in the ISF Expert Setting submenu. There is a specific industry standard used for the colour temperature of white and it's called D65 (6500K) and the idea is to use the calibration controls to hit this target exactly. If you look at the graph above you can see that amounts of red, green and blue are now about equal at each interval and as a result the errors are mostly less than one, which is a reference performance. The gamma curve is still hitting our target of 2.2 exactly, except for the slight bump at 10IRE. There was still a small excess of red at the lower end of the scale but unfortunately we were unable to correct this due to the limitations of a two point white balance control; the addition of a full ten point control in future models to allow for greater accuracy.
As you can see on the CIE chart above, after the greyscale calibration white is now measuring exactly at D65, the square in the middle, and as result the secondary colours of yellow, cyan and magenta are also more accurate. The inclusion of a colour management system allows us to adjust the positions of the three primary colours (red, green and blue) and three secondary colours with respect to their targets on the Rec.709 triangle. The CMS on the 46PFL8008 provides individual controls for hue and saturation (colour) but no control for luminance (brightness). Despite this we were able to get the luminance measurements spot and the saturation measurements were also excellent, with all errors below three. The hue measurements were in most cases superb, with the exception of red and green, both of which had minor errors that couldn't be corrected. However, the overall errors were all below three and most were below one, which is a reference performance.
The graph above shows how the 46PFL8008 performs at multiple saturation levels for the six different colours. The measurements in all the other graphs are taken using a saturation of 100% but here the measurements are taken at 25, 50, 75 and 100%. The result is that any issues not apparent at 100% might be picked up at lower saturation points. The 46PFL8008 performed extremely well in this test, with all of the colours tracking very close to their targets, although there was a slight kink in green at 75%. As a result the 46PFL8008 could produce accurate and natural-looking colours at all saturation levels.Philips are using a VA panel on the 46PFL8008, as opposed to the more commonly used IPS panel, which results in a much better black level. We measured the panel's native black level at 0.06cd/m2, which is impressive for a LCD TV, and overall we found the blacks to be excellent. The 46PFL8008 was also capable of a very bright image, easily hitting our target of 120cd/m2 and as a result producing a very wide dynamic range and an excellent on/off contrast ratio of 2,000:1. Unfortunately, whilst a VA panel will deliver better blacks, there is a downside, which you can see as soon as you move off-axis. A VA panel has a very narrow angle of optimum performance and once you move outside a viewing angle of 90 degrees you will start to see a loss of contrast and colour saturation. Of course this can easily be mitigated by careful positioning of the TV but it is worth bearing in mind. Unlike the more expensive 9000 Series which uses a full LED array, the 46PFL8008 uses edge LED lighting. As a result of the inevitable limitations of this technology, there was some minor clouding. The slightly uneven backlight uniformity was evidenced by the checker board shown above, where you can see some variations in the measurements but it was still capable of an impressive ANSI contrast ratio 1,861:1. However any clouding was only visible on a dark screen and not with brighter images and using full screen grey patterns the 46PFL8008 was free of any dirty screen effect or banding. The absence of the Moth Eye filter is an obvious cost cutting exercise but the filter used on the screen was still effective at reducing reflections and blacks looked good in a brightly lit room.
The 46PFL8008 performed well in our tests, starting with the SMPTE 133 pattern where it revealed cleanly scaled standard definition images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The Philips also scored well when it came to video deinterlacing with jaggies only appearing when the line was at an acute angle in the test and with motion adaptive deinterlacing it was also very good, with slight jaggies only appearing on the bottom bar of the three moving bars. The 46PFL8008 also performed well in the film detail test and correctly locked on to the image resulting in no aliasing but in the cadence test it didn't do so well, failing to lock on to the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. So there is some unnecessary deinterlacing introduced and with it some resolution loss. However, the 46PFL8008 had no problems handling film material with both horizontal and vertical scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without any blurring or shredding.
With our Blu-ray player set to 1080i the display correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed good scaling and filtering performance as well as good resolution enhancement. We used the moving wedge patterns to check cadence detection and again the 46PFL8008 was unable to correctly lock onto the 2:2 cadence. However with 24p content it was absolutely flawless, with beautifully rendered motion handling and absolutely no issues whatsoever. In fact overall motion handling on the 46PFL8008 was very impressive for a LCD TV, reproducing about 400 moving lines on our benchmark test. We checked the headroom performance of the 46PFL8008 from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) and it was very good with absolutely no signs of clipping. As well as white, there were also no signs of clipping with the three primary colours either. In addition, the 46PFL8008 also correctly showed detail down to a video level 17 and reference black below that to video level 0.
We measured the input lag on the 46PFL8008 at 49ms in Game mode, which is slightly better than the 50ms we measured on the 46PFL9007 but still slightly higher than much of the competition, with many averaging around 40 milliseconds. If you're only a casual gamer then the lag on the 46PFL8008 probably won't be an issue and you'll also benefit from a great picture. If you're a serious gamer and a low lag is important to you, there are faster and considerably cheaper options available.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode (Ambilight On): 58W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode (Ambilight Off): 51W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode (Ambilight On): 116W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode (Ambilight Off): 109W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 122W
Philips 46PFL8008 Picture Quality 2DWhilst not quite reaching the lofty heights of the 9000 Series, the 46PFL8008 was still capable of delivering an excellent 2D image. The accurate greyscale and colour gamut resulted in lovely natural-looking images, whilst the VA panel delivered impressive blacks for a LCD TV. The excellent video processing meant that even standard definition images could look good but when it came to high definition content the 46PFL8008 really delivered, with detailed and well rendered images. The motion handling was also good and although there was some minor smearing on fast motion, it was free of judder or other unwanted artefacts. Whilst the viewing angles are somewhat limited, this can be mitigated by careful positioning, so it shouldn't be an issue. The minor clouding as a result of the edge LED lighting is largely a limitation of the technology but was only visible on dark screens. However as always, when it comes to backlight uniformity, it can be something of a lottery.
When it came to watching actual content the 46PFL8008 proved to be a great all-rounder with bright, good-looking and enjoyable images. We watched various TV shows in both standard and high definition, so with something like Doctor Who, the images the 46PFL8008 produced were extremely impressive with accurate colours, good blacks and well defined shadow detail. A session of catching up on Fringe on Netflix looked equally as impressive, whilst a range of different Blu-rays all looked fantastic. The 46PFL8008 handled the Zero Dark Thirtytorture test with great aplomb for a LCD TV, delivering the necessary blacks and shadow detail in the compound assault and only slightly marred by some clouding. Overall whatever your viewing pleasure, the 46PFL8008 should be capable of delivering entertaining and exciting images.
Philips 46PFL8008 Picture Quality 3DIf the 9000 Series had one weakness, it was a mediocre 3D performance with quite a bit of crosstalk affecting the image. So we were glad to see that the 46PFL8008 had a much improved 3D performance, delivering immersive images that had a great deal of depth. There was no visible crosstalk in the 3D and the absence of distracting artefacts, coupled with a bright image made for an enjoyable 3D experience. Whatever Philips have done to improve the 3D, it has clearly worked and the motion handling and detail rendering was also impressive. The new glasses certainly helped with image accuracy thanks to a neutral tint to and the 3D images can be calibrated for greater colour accuracy. Watching side-by-side 3D broadcasts, the pictures were well defined with good dimensionality and effective negative and positive parallax. Moving onto 3D Blu-rays, the results were even better and recent 3D purchases like Life of Pi and The Hobbit looked very impressive, with plenty of three dimensional impact. Whilst the 9000 Series may have certain advantages in 2D, when it comes to 3D the 46PFL8008 is the clear winner.
- Respectable black levels
- Impressive dynamic range
- Excellent out-of-the-box performance
- Reference performance after calibration
- Superb video processing
- ISF Ambilight setting has real potential
- Comprehensive set of connections
- Attractive and well built
- Great remote control
- Dual gaming feature
- Well designed and intuitive menus
- Good networking and smart features
- Limited off-axis performance
- Minor backlight clouding
- Unable to detect 2:2 cadence
- Input lag is a bit high
Philips 46PFL8008 TV ReviewThe Philips 46PFL8008 has a slightly more traditional look than the silver and white of the 9000 Series, opting instead for a gun metal bezel and black back. There's also an open stand and the overall appearance is quite attractive, with a reasonable level of build quality. The 46PFL8008 might not have the 'speaker stand' used on the 9000 Series but the built-in speakers are actually quite large, resulting in a surprisingly good sound for a modern TV. There's also built-in WiFi, Ambilight, two pairs of 3D glasses and Philips' very handy dual-sided remote control. Unlike the 9000 Series, the 46PFL8008 has a built-in camera for making Skype video calls and there is also a sliding cover for security. The menu system and ISF certified calibration controls are identical to the higher-end model and whilst the Philips Smart TV system isn't as comprehensive as some of the competition, it gets the job done. The networking capabilities and media playback are excellent, as is the remote app. The 46PFL8008 delivered an incredibly accurate image right out-of-the-box in the Movie picture style and thanks the calibration controls, a reference performance was simple to achieve. In fact the 46PFL8008 had a slightly more accurate image than the 9000 Series, so it would appear that Philips are continuing to refine the performance.
The video processing used by Philips continues to impress, although the 46PFL8008 still struggled with 2:2 cadence detection. Philips use VA panels, which means the black levels are superb for a LCD TV but the optimal viewing angle is limited. Motion handling on the 46PFL8008 was also good for a LCD TV, especially with 24p content and images were well defined and detailed. As you would expect from a TV using LED backlighting, the 46PFL8008 could deliver a very bright image but it also retained good shadow detail. However, as good as they were, the absence of the Moth Eye filter and full array backlighting meant that the 46PFL8008 couldn't deliver images as impressive as the 9000 Series. Since it uses edge LED lighting instead, there were inevitably some minor clouding and uniformity issues as well. Where Philips have made huge improvements since last year, is in the area of 3D. The 46PFL8008 delivered a vastly superior 3D image compared to the 9000 Series we reviewed, producing bright, crosstalk-free images that had plenty of depth. Finally, the input lag was reasonable but might be a bit high for serious gamers and the energy consumption was excellent. Ultimately, the Philips 46PFL8008 delivers a great all-round performance and whilst it's at the more expensive end of the spectrum, it certainly has plenty to recommend and is definitely worth a demo.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,800.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality9
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money7
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