Design and Connections
The 40PFL5605 has a rather limited selection of inputs compared to many of its competitors, but on the plus side, most of them are facing down, which makes mounting the display flush to a wall much easier. The only problem is that the inputs are identified by raised black letters on a black background, which are almost impossible to read, making it difficult to work out which connections are which. I had to get under the display and look up to see what connections were there and attach the various cables. The connections that face down are; 2 HDMI inputs (one of which is v1.4 with audio return); 1 SCART connector; a VGA socket; an aerial socket; a RCA digital out and audio in connector. Facing out, there is also a component video in and audio in, using RCA connectors as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. At the side there is a third HDMI v1.3 input, as well as a Common Interface (C.I.) slot and a USB port. Once again the connections are identified using black raised lettering that is almost impossible to read but this was less of an issue because obviously the side is easier to see.
The initial set-up wizard starts off sensibly enough, with the 40PFL5605 asking you for your location and whether you are setting up in a store or at home. Then you tune in the Freeview channels, which took nearly 10 minutes and is a bit slower than I’m used to. Then you are asked if you wish to set the picture up, which involves choosing from a series of side by side images. This personal preference approach is the very antithesis of how to set up a display and is a far cry from other manufacturers, who use actual test patterns in their Picture Wizards. Next, you must allocate the different inputs to the devices you have connected to them, so, for example, you can allocate your Blu-ray player to HDMI 1. To select that input, when using the display, you must go into the Menu and select the desired device, there is no separate button for selecting inputs on the remote. I found this frustrating but I suspect it is very useful for the technologically challenged.
Once set up, the majority of the functions are accessed by using the Home menu button although there are other buttons. including one which Philips calls Experience, which gives you access to Picture Format (which changes the aspect ratio), Smart Picture (for frequently used picture settings), Smart Sound (for frequently used sound settings), Speakers (to configure TV speakers for Philips EasyLink) and Picture Shift (to adjust the position of the picture). Finally there is a button called Options, which offers convenient settings related to what is on screen, this is quite an important button as it provides additional choices, when in other menus, such as the EPG.
The Home menu offers you the following choices: Help, which allows access to the electronic user manual; Watch TV, which switches back to the aerial source if another source is currently selected; Browse USB, which allows you to browse a connected USB storage device;Scenea, which switches to the Scenea wallpaper; Add Your Devices, which allows you to add new devices to the Home menu and, finally, Setup, which allows access to the Picture and Sound controls as well as other TV settings.
Within the Advanced TV Settings are all the picture controls although, as mentioned, some of these can be accessed by other menus and remote buttons also. The Smart Picture function allows you access to all the different picture modes, which includes the usual selection of Vivid, Natural, Game, Energy Saving, Photo, Standard, Cinema (which I used for the out of the box measurements) and Custom (which I used for the calibrated measurements). Like other Philips displays, there is no dedicated control for the backlight, instead, the Contrast control changes both the backlight and the white level. There are however the other standard controls such as Brightness, Colour, Hue (only accessible with NTSC signals), Sharpness, Noise Reduction and Tint, which is actually a wwite balance control. In addition there is an option to set the Picture Format (aspect ratio) where the best option is Unscaled which, as the name suggests, will display a high definition image without any scaling. There is also a control for the Light Sensor that controls the dynamic backlight, as well as controls for changing the picture size (Screen Edges) and the position of the picture (Picture Shift).
Finally there is an option called Pixel Plus HD which allows access to the additional video processing controls. First there is ‘HD Natural Motion’ which uses frame interpolation to create smoother images but, like all these features, just ends up giving everything a video-like quality that ruins most images, in my opinion. The ‘100Hz Clear LCD’ function also uses the same algorithm to try and improve the motion resolution and thus gives images a similar processed look. It would be better if Philips gave you the option to double the frame rate to 100Hz, without frame interpolation, as this might actually improve the image. The Advanced Sharpness control results in selective enhancement at the expense of actual resolution. Both the Dynamic Contrast and Dynamic Backlight functions automatically adjust the backlight and white level in an attempt to improve the dynamic range of the display but is inconsistent and best left off. The ‘MPEG Artefact Reduction’ is designed to reduce MPEG artefacts like blocking and the ‘Colour Enhancement’ over-saturates the colours for a more vivid image. Finally there is a control for adjusting the gamma setting of the display.
In addition, the 40PFL5605 also uses LED backlighting technology which combines a minimalistic design with improved image quality and very low power consumption as well as 100 Hz LCD which creates extreme motion sharpness for clear and vibrant images even with fast on-screen motion. The 40PFL5605 includes a 2.1 speaker set up with 40 W sound (2 x 10 W + 20 W virtual power) and there is also ‘Clear Sound’ which is an innovative audio technology that significantly increases the intelligibility of vocalisations, whether spoken or sung. It ensures you hear every word, so you can enjoy what you're watching to the fullest. Finally, the USB connector allows access to JPEG photos, MP3 music and video files on most USB sticks (USB memory-class device). Plug the USB into the slot on the side of the TV and access the multimedia content using the easy on-screen content browser.
One area where the 40PFL5605 did perform well was in displaying video text over film material, it passed both the HQV and Spears & Munsil tests. The 40PFL5605 also passed the sharpness tests without adding unwanted ringing and displayed down to a video level of 17 without crushing black and up to 255 without clipping white. With high definition material, I also found that the 40PFL5605 handled some aspects better than others. It was fairly mediocre in deinterlacing 1080i material but, again, it handled text over film material well. The 40PFL5605 was able to display 24p material correctly, with no judder, and as long as you made sure you had the aspect ratio set to Unscaled, you could see all the detail in the high definition image.
In the calibrated Custom mode (which had most of the extraneous processing turned off) the 40PFL5605 measured an input lag of 40ms which is actually very good and better than a lot of other displays I’ve tested. However in Game mode that improved to less than 20ms which is excellent and should keep even the most hardened gamer happy.
The energy consumption of a LCD display tends to be very consistent and largely depends on the brightness setting of the backlight, rather than being affected by the on-screen images. However dynamic contrast functions will affect energy consumption because these controls vary the backlight and brightness of the display depending on the image. In the Normal mode setting the 40PFL5605 consumed approximately 42w at 0ire and 57W at 50ire and 100ire and using the calibrated Custom setting it measured about 63W at all three levels; the difference was mainly caused by me disabling the dynamic contrast and backlight functions. In standby mode the 40PFL5605 consumed less than 1W of energy, so overall the energy consumption performance was very good.
As usual, I found the motion performance to be quite poor but this is largely a limitation of LCD technology rather than a criticism of Philips. I did however find that neither the HD Natural Motion or 100Hz Clear LCD functions made any difference and, in fact, were detrimental to the image as mentioned previously, so I left them both off. For the same reason I also left the Dynamic Backlight, Dynamic Contrast, Advanced Sharpness, MPEG Artifact Reduction and Colour Enhancement functions off. Aside from the normal motion issues, another weakness of LCD displays tends to be their black levels, unless the manufacturer resorts to tricks like global or localised dimming. Here the 40PFL5605 was again rather weak, producing a very dark grey that never really results in video actually looking black. On the plus side, the use of LED backlighting rather than side lighting does result in a uniform backlight when viewing a 10 IRE screen. The 40PFL5605 clearly uses a VA panel because, as is usual with this type of display, there is a noticeable drop off in contrast when viewed off-axis. Once again this is really a limitation of the technology itself rather than a direct criticism of Philips.
- Uniform LED backlighting
- Good scaling of standard definition content
- Built-in speakers are quite good
- Correct handling of 24p input
- Excellent input lag in Game mode
- Very good energy consumption
- Poor cadence detection
- Black level could be better, resulting in loss of dynamic range
- Off-axis performance is weak
- Lack of CMS or a proper Greyscale control excludes accurate calibration
- Badly designed remote
- Menu system is slow to respond and can be difficult to use
- EPG is very mediocre
- No Freeview HD tuner
- No internet capability or DivX
- Not DLNA compliant
Philips PFL5605 (40PFL5605) Review
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