What is the Philips 46PFL9707?
But it isn't just the ISF that Philips have been taking advice from recently, as it seems Mother Nature has also been lending a hand. Who would have thought that the unique design of a moth's eye could revolutionise the TV world? Well it seems that the light rejecting capabilities of their eyes, designed over millions of years of evolution to help them see better in their nocturnal world without attracting predators, also works rather well when applied to a filter on the front of your TV. Philips are using this exciting new technology on their flagship 46PFL9707 and once you include all the other features this particular TV has to offer, it starts to look like a very interesting prospect.
In fact Philips have pulled out all the stops as far as the 46PFL9707 is concerned, offering a complete set of features including Micro Dimming Premium, 1200Hz Perfect Motion Rate, 3D Max Clarity 1000, 2D to 3D conversion, two player full screen gaming mode, Perfect Pixel HD Engine, Smart TV platform, built-in WiFi, dual sided remote and an included Skype camera. There's also Philips' unique Ambilight Spectra XL feature, which offers real potential when used correctly in its ISF Warm White setting. To Philips' credit, they have also taken the decision to use a slightly deeper chassis in order to include a full LED array, promising a much better backlight performance. It's fair to say we've got some serious expectations as far as the 46PFL9707 is concerned, so let's see if it lives up to them.
Design and Connections
The 46PFL9707 has an excellent selection of connections at the rear and when many manufacturers are cutting back on HDMI inputs, even on their flagship models, it's refreshing to see Philips include a total of five - three at the rear and two at the side. What's even better is that the three HDMI inputs at the rear are downward facing, allowing for easy wall mounting without the need to have cables poking out of the sides. Finally a manufacturer has seen the light, thank you Philips! 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 and, on the European model at least, a satellite socket as well. Our review sample was a European model which is why the satellite socket is visible in the photo of the rear connections but we should stress this is not available on the UK model.
The 46PFL9707 comes with two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses which, if the logo on the side is anything to go by, are made for Philips by RealD. With their glossy black frames, the design is a little '1960s Michael Caine' but they are robust and not too heavy, with reasonably wide sides to block out ambient light. The glasses can be recharged and whilst the lenses are darker than some other makes, at least they're neutrally tinted. There is an on/off button on the inside, between the two lenses at the top of the frame, 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. Unusually these days, the glasses use infrared, so you'll need line-of-sight and we noticed that the IR transmitter interfered with our PVR remote when we were watching some pre-recorded side-by-side 3D content. Our only other comment would be that given the general size of the frames, it would be more sensible to make the lenses larger as we were sometimes aware of them at the periphery of our vision.
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.
Audio and Features
Whilst the 46PFL9707 doesn't have a built-in camera, it does come one included as part of the package. The camera is extremely easy to setup and install and worked perfectly with the Skype app built into the 46PFL9707. This is great news if, like us, you find the ability to make Skype video calls from your TV a genuinely useful feature. If not, or you just don't like the camera ruining the clean lines of your lovely new TV, you can always take it off. We suspect that Philips, as with all other manufacturers, will be building cameras into future generations of their TVs.
The other big selling point of the 46PFL9707 is the inclusion of a Moth Eye filter on the front of the panel which is designed to significantly reduce reflections. This new design of filter takes, as the name might suggest, its inspiration from moths, who have evolved special nanostructures on their surface of their eyes that eliminate reflections, thus hiding them from predators. These same properties are applied to the filter on the front of the 46PFL9707, thus eliminating most reflections and improving the perceived dynamic range of the panel. We can certainly attest to the remarkable properties of the Moth Eye filter, with almost no reflections being visible on the screen itself when watching TV with a lot of ambient light in the room. In fact, when you combine the Moth Filter with the native black level performance of the panel itself, the results are some of the most impressive blacks we've ever seen from a LCD TV - day or night.
The 46PFL9707 has a two point white balance control that is listed as the Custom Colour Temperature setting in the ISF Expert Setting sub-menu. As the name suggests, you adjust two points on the greyscale to vary the amounts of red, green and blue in order to set the correct colour temperature for white. 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. The other objective is to ensure that the greyscale has a smooth transition from black to white in shades of grey, with no obvious discolouration. If you look at the graph above you can see that amounts of red, green and blue are now reasonably close at each interval and as a result the DeltaEs (errors) are mostly less than one. A DeltaE of less than three is the cut off point at which the human eye can no really distinguish any errors, so this is an excellent performance from the 46PFL9707. The gamma curve was also improved slightly and was now hitting our target of 2.2 exactly. There was 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. It would be nice to see Philips add a full ten point white balance control in future models to allow for greater accuracy.
Things weren't so easy with the saturation and luminance, where a single control was being used to adjust two different elements of colour. As a result we were forced to compromise slightly when it came to green, where we chose a more accurate luminance at the expense of a slightly over-saturated colour. We did this because the eye is more sensitive to errors in luminance but it did mean that the over-saturated green also slightly affected yellow and cyan. However the overall errors for all six colours were still below the threshold of three and the luminance measurements were all spot on, as was the colour performance of red and blue. This is generally an excellent performance but hopefully Philips will add a separate luminance control in the future, which will then allow an even greater degree of accuracy.
The other decision Philips took was to use a full LED array, which does mean a slightly deeper chassis but results in a vastly superior backlight performance. We can't tell you how pleasing it was to see a uniform backlight, with no clouding or bright corners and edges. Instead there was an even backlight with lovely deep blacks and once you included the micro dimming and moth eye filter into the equation, you started to see a level of performance that could give a plasma a run for its money. The excellent uniformity was evidenced by the checker board shown above, where you can see consistent measurements that delivered an impressive ANSI contrast ratio 2,637:1. The only downside to the full LED array was that very occasionally you got slight banding on camera pans but frankly that's a small price to pay for a screen uniformity and contrast performance that's this good.
We put the 46PFL9707 through our usual battery of video processing tests and overall it did very well, with one minor exception. Starting off with the SMPTE 133 pattern, the 46PFL9707 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 46PFL9707 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 46PFL9707 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 both the 2:2 and 3:2 patterns and again, the 46PFL9707 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 46PFL9707 was very impressive for a LCD TV. We checked the headroom performance of the 46PFL9707 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 46PFL9707 also correctly showed detail down to a video level 17 and reference black below that to video level 0.
If you're the kind of person who places great importance on responsive gaming then you'll need to select the Game mode on the 46PFL9707 or else be faced with an input lag of around 125 milliseconds. The Game mode does the trick in cutting down on any unnecessary processing by reducing input latency to around 50 milliseconds, which isn’t too bad but it's at the top end of the scale this year, with most averaging around 40 milliseconds. In 3D the lag is much bigger, measuring 129 milliseconds in Game mode, so even casual gamers might start to notice a delay that big. If you're only a casual gamer and not interested in 3D gaming then the lag on the 46PFL9707 probably won't be an issue and you'll benefit from the superb picture. If you're a serious gamer and the lag is important, there are faster and considerably cheaper options available.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 48W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode: 89W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 117W
Philips 46PFL9707 Picture Quality 2D
The accuracy of both the Movie and ISF picture styles is another major factor, as is the addition of calibration controls which can deliver a near reference level of image accuracy. Te micro dimming also played its part, help to deliver deeper blacks without robbing the image of shadow detail. The quality of the video processing is also excellent and the motion handling, especially with 24p content was absolutely superb, whilst the high definition panel itself delivered a wonderfully detailed image. The result is a picture that at times didn't look like an LCD TV at all, which is surprising. We use Pioneer Kuros as our reference TVs and so we become very used to the look of plasma, as a result LCD can often look very digital or processed. This wasn't the case with the 46PFL9707, we found ourselves really enjoying the images it produced and even in side-by-side comparisons with the Kuro it held up to scrutiny.
There really is no greater praise than that for any TV and we found ourselves perfectly happy watching anything and everything on the 46PFL9707. In fact regardless of what content we watched, the 46PFL9707 did a fantastic job, from the best Blu-rays to standard definition TV broadcasts. Of course when it came to Blu-rays, the 46PFL9707 could really show what it was capable of, with the Avengers Assemble, for example, looking absolutely stunning. The beautifully rendered images were no surprise given the source content but high definition TV broadcasts were equally as impressive, with the gorgeous vistas and camerawork on the BBC's recent Africa being expertly delivered by the 46PFL9707. The same was true with Six Nations Rugby, where 46PFL9707 handled details like the crowds or the pitches wonderfully but also had no issues with the fast motion, even with all the motion enhancing features turned off. The same was true of a DVD double bill of Sweeney! and Sweeney 2, where the image accuracy brought the nicotine stained late seventies vividly back life!
Philips 46PFL9707 Picture Quality 3D
- Respectable black levels
- Impressive dynamic range
- Excellent backlight uniformity
- Good out-of-the-box performance
- Excellent performance after calibration
- Superb video processing
- Moth Eye filter is a definite winner
- ISF Ambilight setting has real potential
- Surprisingly good built-in sound
- 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
- Occasional minor backlight banding
- 3D performance suffers from crosstalk
- Unable to detect 2:2 cadence
- Input lag is a bit high
Philips 46PFL9707 TV Review
Quite simply, the Philips 46PFL9707 delivers the best 2D picture we have seen from a LED LCD TV to date. We'll explain why we think that in greater detail later but if you're looking for a one sentence summary, there you go. However, before we cover the picture quality in more depth, let's quickly go through the 46PFL9707's other attributes. The design is refreshingly different, if a little Apple-esque and the build quality is excellent, as befits a flagship model. There are plenty of well positioned connections, including 5 HDMI inputs, 3 of which are at the rear facing downwards.
There is a clever double sided remote with a well laid out set of buttons on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other. In addition to the remote, the 46PFL9707 comes with a Skype camera and two pairs of rechargeable active shutter 3D glasses. The menu system is attractively designed, intuitively laid out and thanks to the dual core processing, it's quick to navigate and responsive. The Smart TV system is not as comprehensive as some of the competition but it handles networking and streaming well and the remote app is excellent. The speakers are built into the stand but this unusual approach certainly works and the 46PFL9707 has some of the best audio we've heard from a TV in a long time.
The 46PFL9707 includes Philips' Ambilight feature, which we found to be particularly useful when set to ISF Warm White. The inclusion of ISF calibration controls is a welcome addition, allowing for a highly accurate image but we were glad to see that Movie and ISF picture presets also offered an excellent level of accuracy out-of-the-box. The video processing was superb, as was the motion handling and the black levels and dynamic range were very impressive for a LCD TV. The use of a full array LED resulted in a fantastically uniform backlight and the Moth Eye filter worked brilliantly, eliminating reflections and improving blacks. As a result of all these factors the 2D images produced by the 46PFL9707 were absolutely superb, making any content we watched look wonderful.
Unfortunately the same wasn't true of the 3D images, which suffered excessively from crosstalk. The 3D images were accurate and certainly bright enough but although objects near the screen had plenty of detail and three dimensional depth, those in the background were marred with crosstalk. So as good as the 46PFL9707 is with 2D content, if you're a huge fan of 3D then sadly it isn't the TV for you. Otherwise any other issues are all minor such as an inability to lock onto 2:2 cadence, some occasional banding, a limited viewing angle and a slightly high input lag. The only other issue is the price tag, which is at the higher end of the scale but, realistically, all this technology and performance was never going to come cheap.
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Our Review Ethos
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