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Philips 65PFL9708S 4K Ultra HD TV Review

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Ultra resolution without an ultra price - is it too good to be true?

by Steve Withers Nov 28, 2013

  • SRP: £4,500.00

    What is the Philips 65PFL9708S?

    We’ve seen a number of 4K or Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs so far, including models from Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic.

    Now it’s the turn of Philips, who announced their PFL9708 Ultra HD line-up at IFA in September. The PFL9708 comes in two screen sizes - 84” and 65” - although Philips currently have no plans to launch the 84-inch monster in the UK. That probably makes sense as the UK is still adjusting to the concept of really big screen TVs and besides the smaller version is more than large enough for most.
    The 65PFL9708 also has a more sensible price tag to go along with its more manageable screen size and at only £4,500 it makes a tempting prospect for anyone thinking of dipping their toes in the big screen 4K waters. To put it in perspective, the PFL9708 is £1,000 cheaper than similar offerings from both Panasonic and LG. So let’s see if the Philips 65PFL9708 can deliver the kind of performance that would make that price all the more attractive.

    Design and Connections

    The overall design of the PFL9708 is pleasingly normal when compared to some of Philips’ more recent flagship TVs. The chassis uses a simple gun metal grey bezel that surrounds the screen and is 2cm wide. It’s a shame that Philips have abandoned the ‘moth eye’ filter because the screen itself is a bit reflective but this can be mitigated with careful positioning. However, things get a bit more jazzy with a silver strip along the bottom and a chrome stand that actually swivels - which makes a nice change these days. The chassis measures 4cm deep and the Philips is surprisingly heavy for a LCD TV, reflecting the decent build quality and beefed up sound.
    Philips 65PFL9708S Design and Connections
    Philips 65PFL9708S Design and Connections


    The Philips has an excellent set of connections including a dedicated HDMI input for 4K content.

    The PFL96708 uses a combination of sideways, downward and rear facing inputs. Along the bottom are three standard HDMI inputs, a dedicated satellite connection, an aerial socket, a SCART input and an optical digital out. Facing sideways there is another HDMI input, three USB ports, a CI (Common Interface) slot and a headphone socket. Also at the side is a fifth dedicated HDMI input for 4K content - although it isn't HDMI 2.0 - instead there is a separate motion processor for ultra HD content. Finally, facing to the rear are an Ethernet port, an analogue stereo audio in, a component video input and a service connector. This is an impressive set of connections and thankfully the sideways facing inputs are a reasonable 20cm from the edge.
    Philips 65PFL9708S
    Philips 65PFL9708S

    Philips have included their rather clever dual sided remote control, which uses gyroscopic sensors to determine which way around it is orientated, allowing you to use it as a standard remote or as a full QWERTY keyboard. The remote buttons are sensibly laid out and the keyboard certainly makes using the smart features easier. There is no built-in camera and microphone but Philips include an add-on adapter for those that want to make Skype video calls. Finally there are six pairs of passive 3D glasses included, although if you want to use the dual gaming feature you will need to buy those glasses separately.

    Menus

    The PFL9708 uses Philips current menu system which, thanks to hex-core processing, is 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, Network Settings and Software Settings - each of which offers the choice of a simplified or more detailed version.
    Philips 65PFL9708S Menus
    Philips 65PFL9708S Menus

    All the key image controls can be found in the Picture menu, and the advanced calibration controls are located in the ISF Expert Settings sub-menu. Here you can choose the Colour Temperature, with a choice of Normal, Warm and Cool, along with a Custom setting which gives you access to the two point white balance control. 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. Unusually Philips split the standard TV controls, with the backlight, colour and sharpness appearing in the main picture menu, whilst the brightness and contrast are located in the ISF Expert Settings sub-menu.

    Features

    The Ambilight feature remains unique to Philips and if you choose the ISF Warm White setting, the results can be very effective. This setting introduces a static white light equivalent to D65 around three sides of the TV. We remain fans off this feature because it provides an easy way of adding biased lighting and thus improving the perceived blacks at night. Philips have done all the hard work for you and installed dozens of tiny LEDs along the rear top and sides of the chassis, so all you have to do is select ISF Warm White on the remote. The results were excellent and in the evenings we turned off all the lights and just used Ambilight to deliver the right amount of biased light for a very comfortable and enjoyable viewing experience.
    Philips 65PFL9708S Features
    Philips 65PFL9708S Features

    There is already a separate review of the current Philips Smart TV system, which can be found here, and 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. Philips has recently expanded their platform, adding greater 'cloud' functionality and a Drop Box feature, as well as the almost ubiquitous Netflix. Given Philips liberal dutch origins, it shouldn't be too surprising too discover that there are also quite a few apps for more 'adult' services that cater to the discerning gentleman. As with previous Philips TVs we remain impressed with the remote app - it is well designed, has good functionality and is available for both iOS and Android.

    Philips have made remarkable progress in beefing up the audio on their TVs and the 65PFL9708 continues that winning streak.

    Audio Quality

    Philips have made remarkable progress in terms of beefing up the audio on their TVs and the 65PFL9708 continues that winning streak. We've seen some interesting approaches to try and improve the inherently poor audio on modern super-slim TVs - with LG adding a retractable sound bar, Sony including big front firing speakers and Samsung building them into the frame. Philips seem to have taken a more obvious approach and just made the chassis a bit deeper and increased the amplification. The PFL9708 certainly takes full advantage of the greater stereo separation afforded by the larger panel. The increased width and deeper chassis also accommodates larger speakers, which results in an improved audio experience. The sound was clean and clear, with a generous soundstage that was nicely immersive, whilst keeping dialogue perfectly intelligible and anchored to the centre of the screen. Music sounded open and wide, extending beyond the screen's already wide 65-inches. The bass response was also impressive for a TV, the mid-range was well represented and the top end never sounded harsh. Sound effects were also well rendered, often seeming to come from places where we knew there weren't speakers - so well done to Philips and their clever engineers.

    Test Results

    Pre-Calibration

    The 65PFL9708 comes with a reasonably accurate Movie picture style, along with ISF Day and Night presets, which are essentially identical to Movie but offer more advanced calibration controls for use by a trained professional. By choosing one of these three picture styles, you will immediately have a far more accurate image with the greyscale (bottom left) measuring close to our target. There's a shade too much blue across the entire scale, giving whites a cooler hue but the gamma curve is measuring close to our target of 2.2. The same is true of the colour space in the right hand graph, which shows the majority of colours fairly close to their ideal targets. You can see that white is measuring a little towards blue which in turn is skewing magenta and the luminance measurements are generally too high. However overall this is a reasonably good set of measurements that deliver a natural looking image with no unnecessary processing.
    Philips 65PFL9708S Test Results
    Philips 65PFL9708S Test Results

    Calibrated

    The 65PFL9708 includes a two-point white balance control, which allowed us to calibrate the greyscale to a greater level of accuracy. If you look at the graph on the left below, you can see that the amounts of red, green and blue are now reasonably close at each interval and as a result the DeltaEs (errors) are all less than two. The gamma curve has also improved slightly and was now tracking our target of 2.2 very closely, apart from a slight bump at 10IRE. As you can see on the bottom right graph, after calibrating the greyscale, white is now measuring exactly at D65, the square in the middle, and as result the secondary colours 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 (cyan, magenta and yellow) with respect to their targets on the Rec.709 triangle. The CMS on the 65PFL9708 provides individual controls for hue and saturation (colour) but no control for luminance (brightness). However we were still able to get a very accurate colour performance with only a slight under-saturation in red and over-saturation in blue, neither of which were apparent in actual viewing material.
    Philips 65PFL9708S Test Results
    Philips 65PFL9708S Test Results

    As we've mentioned on previous reviews, the colour measurements above are taken at 100% saturation but this is only part of the story. Arguably of greater importance is the accuracy of the colours at lower saturation points because the majority of the content we will be watching won't be fully saturated. When we measured the 65PFL9708 at 25, 50 and 75% saturation points the results were excellent, with the Philips showing some of the best colour accuracy we have seen from a TV. In fact this level of accuracy was apparent as soon as we had finished calibrating the 65PFL9708, with flesh tones and grass having a very natural appearance. Philips are certainly to be congratulated for delivering a level of colour accuracy that seems to escape many of the other manufacturers.
    Philips 65PFL9708S Test Results
    Contrast, Black Levels & Screen Uniformity

    The 65PFL9708 uses edge LED lighting, which is never going to be ideal for a 65-inch screen size but the uniformity on our review sample was actually very good. The graph below shows that the measurements were fairly consistent across the entire screen and the panel was free of any obvious light pooling or bright corners and edges. We measured the panel's native black level at 0.034cd/m2, which is impressive for a LCD TV, and we found the blacks to be very good. The 65PFL9708 was also capable of a very bright image, easily hitting our target of 120cd/m2 and as a result producing an excellent dynamic range and a decent on/off contrast ratio of 3,529:1. When it came to the ANSI contrast ratio the Philips was nearly as impressive, delivering a very respectable 2,864:1. Unfortunately, whilst panel was able to deliver respectable blacks, this did come at the cost of a narrower optimal viewing angle but it shouldn't be an issue. There was some minor banding occasionally visible on camera pans but overall this was an excellent performance from the 65PFL9708 and any shortcomings could be forgiven due to its lower price.
    Philips 65PFL9708S Test Results

    When it came to the ANSI contrast ratio the Philips was just as impressive, delivering a very respectable performance.

    Video Processing

    We put the 65PFL9708 through our usual series of video processing tests and overall it did very well, with the SMPTE 133 pattern, showing cleanly scaled standard definition images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing on the 4K panel. 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 65PFL9708 also performed well in the film detail test and correctly locked on to the image resulting in no aliasing and it also correctly detected both 3:2 and 2:2 cadence. In addition, it had no problems handling film material with both horizontal and vertical scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without any blurring or shredding.

    When it came to 1080i content the 65PFL9708 correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed good scaling and filtering performance in conjunction with the 4K panel. We used the moving wedge patterns to check both the 2:2 and 3:2 patterns and again, the Philips correctly lock onto both. When it came to 24p content the 65PFL9708 had no problems, replicating the frame rate without introducing judder or other artefacts. Overall the motion handling was reasonable, although this being a LCD panel the inherent limitations of that technology will always be there. There was some blurring on fast motion and the odd artefact as well, which could be improved using frame interpolation. However we didn't find these issues to be especially distracting for most of our viewing and it was certainly preferable to the overly smooth frame interpolation features.

    Gaming Performance

    When we first measured the input lag on the 65PFL9708, it came back as 148ms which is very high. Thankfully there is a Game mode on the Philips and activating it reduced the input lag to a better, although still quite high, 70ms. We were able to shave a few more milliseconds off by naming the input as a computer but overall the lowest input lag we could measure was 62ms. This will undoubtedly be too high for any dedicated gamers out there but shouldn't be an issue for the more casual game players out there.

    Energy Consumption

    • Standby: 0.0W

    The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:

    • Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 120W
    • Calibrated 2D Mode: 175W
    • Calibrated 3D Mode: 228W

    Philips 65PFL9708S Picture Quality SD/HD

    At least until 4K becomes more readily available, anyone buying a 4K Ultra HD TV is going to primarily be watching upscaled HD or SD content on it, so the quality of the video processing is key. This is an area where the 65PFL9708 performed extremely well and not only did upscaled HD content look very impressive on the 4K panel, even SD content managed to look quite passable. This is undoubtedly in part due to the accuracy of the overall image and the decent black levels and dynamic range. All of which combined to produce natural and detailed images that really took full advantage of the higher resolution panel. Whilst you obviously can't add things that aren't already there, the additional pixels in the 4K panel do give the video processing engine more flexibility and as a result jaggies and other such artefacts are less pronounced. The amount of sharpening being employed was also used judiciously and the resulting images had a greater sense of perceived detail. Aside from the slight banding and occasional motion blurring mentioned previously, the upscaled images were free of any distracting artefacts. Whether web were watching Blu-rays, HD broadcasts, SD broadcasts or DVDs, the 65PFL9708 always delivered an accomplished and very polished performance. Of course as with any display it is very dependent on the quality of the sources, so don't expect the Philips to perform miracles with low resolution heavily compressed material but with a decent source it's amazing how good it can look.

    Philips 65PFL9708S Picture Quality 3D

    As is the case with the majority of 4K TVs that we have reviewed, the panel uses passive 3D (or 'Easy 3D' as Philips call it) rather than active. Since the higher native resolution of the 4K panel allows for passive 3D to deliver full 1080p to each eye, the results can be genuinely impressive. Problems such as flicker or crosstalk are completely eradicated and the 3D images are clear, bright, detailed and highly immersive. We have recently picked up a number of 3D discs, including Planes, Epic and Turbo and all three looked spectacular on the 65PFL9708. Colour and greyscale accuracy were spot on, whilst the motion handling with the 24p 3D Blu-rays was equally as good. The level of detail was astonishing and thanks to the decent blacks an inherently bright panel, the 3D images had plenty of impact and 'pop'. The larger screen size also helped and overall the 3D experience was both enjoyable and immersive. Whilst the primary reason for buying a 4K panel is to future-proof yourself to a degree, there's no denying that for 3D fans there is an immediate benefit.

    The use of passive 3D on a 4K panel delivers some very impressive results.

    Philips 65PFL9708S Picture Quality 4K

    The lack of 4K content remains something of a problem and this wasn't helped by Philips failing to provide some for our review period. Luckily we had plenty of 4K content that has accumulated from previous reviews and so we were able to test the 65PFL9708 to a degree. Certainly using the dedicated HDMI input for 4K content the results looked spectacular and although the material was primarily the usual travelogue footage, nature shots and abstract close-ups but we did have some more dynamic scenes including skydiving over Dubai. As is always the case, the level of detail on display is breath-taking and served to whet our appetite for future 4K content and we look forward to seeing more movie content at the higher resolution.

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Excellent colour and greyscale accuracy
    • Impressive video processing
    • Reference 3D performance
    • Excellent screen uniformity
    • Solid build quality
    • Comprehensive set of connections
    • Decent audio perforemance
    • Attractive price

    Cons

    • Some minor banding
    • Occasional motion artefacts
    • Smart platform still limited
    You own this Total 4
    You want this Total 6
    You had this Total 2

    Philips 65PFL9708S 4K Ultra HD TV Review

    The Philips 65PFL9708 is a very welcome addition to the ranks of new 4K Ultra HD TVs on the market. It's design might seem rather pedestrian but in all honesty we prefer the simple gun metal bezel and unfussy stand and it's good to see that it can swivel. The included two-sided remote is excellent and there are six pairs of passive 3D glasses and an add-on camera and microphone for Skype video calls. The 65PFL9708 has an extensive selection of connections, including a dedicated HDMI input for 4K content. The menus system is sensibly laid out and easy to navigate, whilst the calibration controls are capable of delivering an impressive level of accuracy. There's built-in WiFi but despite some recent additions, the smart platforms remains fairly limited. However the networking and remote app features are excellent and if Philips can add some more video-on-demand services, the system has potential.

    The 65PFL9708 is capable of an pleasingly accurate greyscale and colour performance and in fact the colour accuracy at lower saturation points is amongst the best we've seen. The video processing is also excellent, perfectly scaling the lower revolution content to the native 4K panel without resorting to excessive sharpening. Whether we watched HD or SD content, the 65PFL9708 could take full advantage of its panel to deliver natural and detailed images with a decent dynamic range. What little 4K content we have looked spectacular on the Philips and the passive 3D was equally as impressive. There were a couple of minor issues including some occasional banding and motion blur but then that's to be expected, regardless of the resolution this is still a LCD panel. However overall the performance was excellent and any shortcomings could be overlooked, especially at this price point. In fact the Philips 65PFL9708 delivers a very tempting combination of performance and value, making it easy to recommend.


    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

    8

    Screen Uniformity

    8

    Colour Accuracy

    10

    Greyscale Accuracy

    10

    Video Processing

    9

    2D Picture Quality

    8

    3D Picture Quality

    10

    Sound Quality

    8

    Smart Features

    7

    Build Quality

    8

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Value for Money

    9

    Verdict

    8

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