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Philips 46PFL7007 review

TV & AVReviews
9/10
, 06 Mar 2013Reviews
Philips 46PFL7007 review
Best Buy

By its own admission, TP Vision – the joint venture between Philips’ TV division and Chinese company TPV – isn’t currently a major player in the UK TV market.

But as revealed to us at a recent briefing in Amsterdam, the company is looking to change that in 2013 with a wide range of new sets that build on Philips’ enviable TV heritage while bringing some unique design concepts to the table.

The new sets start emerging next month, but in the meantime we’re taking a look at a 46in set from the current 7000 series, a bridge between the ‘zero bezel’ 6900 series (see our Philips 47PFL6907T review) and the high-end 8000 range.

Its upper-midrange status is reflected in the price (£1,300) but for that money you get premium build quality and spec.

Compared with the Philips 47PFL6907T, the 46PFL7007 is equipped with more powerful processing and an extra HDMI input, but more importantly I’m hoping it sorts out the disappointing backlight issue that blighted the 6907’s dark-scene performance.

Design and features

The Philips 46PFL7007 is a gorgeous-looking and robustly built TV. The thin metallic bezel instantly lends a sense of elegance, but it’s elevated to jaw-dropping status by the two-sided Ambilight, which illuminates the wall behind. Unusually, the back of the set is white – a finish that features quite heavily in the forthcoming range.

The whole screen measures just 30mm deep, which is a bonus whether you’re wall or tabletop mounting. It sits on an equally alluring brushed aluminium stand, which cleverly houses the speakers, connecting to the screen using a short cable.

Connectivity is superb. There are five HDMI inputs for all your hi-def and 3D needs, component and SCART inputs (both of which require the supplied adapter cables as the set is so slim) plus VGA for PCs. You even get three USBs for media playback and USB recording, plus optical digital audio output and Ethernet.

Like most TVs these days, the feature list is dominated by its network capabilities and Internet content. These can be accessed in two ways – via Ethernet or built-in Wi-Fi.

Smart TV is Philips’ web content portal, and jolly attractive it is too. The funky design shows the app thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, with live TV and recommended content above it. The line-up won’t set the world alight but crucially it includes BBC iPlayer.

As for on-demand movies, there’s Acetrax and Blinkbox, while others include YouTube, Viewster, Picasa and Facebook. There’s a wealth of other apps in the Gallery too, including adult movie services, radio stations and TomTom traffic info. Not a bad selection then, but the inclusion of just one catch-up TV service means it simply can’t compete with the likes of Samsung and Sony.

On a positive note, Philips says ITV Player, 4OD and Demand Five are coming in the first quarter of 2013, with Netflix due by May – when they’re added, Philips will become a real Smart TV contender.

There’s also an Opera-based web browser and Skype, which requires an optional camera that’ll set you back a hefty £100. Some of Philips’ high-end sets feature built-in cameras, but not this one. Tablet and smartphone users can download the MyRemote app for iOS and Android and stream a TV channel to the device (as well as controlling the TV’s functions).

You can also stream music, video and photos from DLNA servers, a task that the 46PFL7007 performs with minimal fuss. The displays are logical, and it finds content with surprising alacrity, although it wouldn’t play our DivX clips even though it’s supposed to, or a 1080p MKV movie with a DTS soundtrack.

Alternatively you can play media from USB storage devices, plus the set also lets you record programmes from the Freeview tuner onto an external USB hard drive. The single tuner means you can only record what you’re watching, but for recording shows while you’re out it could be a godsend.

Next we come to 3D. The 46PFL7007 uses the active 3D system (or ‘3D Max Clarity 700’ in Philips-speak) which differentiates it from the ‘Easy 3D’ (passive) 47PFL6907. You get one pair of 3D glasses in the box, which is great for bachelors but those with families will need to buy extra pairs at about £80 a pop.

You can convert 2D material to 3D, and when playing two-player video games both players can watch in full screen at the same time. Depth adjustment lets you tinker with the 3D effect.

Finally the 46PFL7007 offers slick picture processing courtesy of the Pixel Precise HD engine, while 800Hz Perfect Motion Rate helps smooth movement using a combination of the panel’s native 200Hz refresh rate, interpolation and backlight blinking. It’s a step up from the 600Hz mode of the 46PFL6907.

Operation

Key to the Philips’ operability is the two-sided remote, which has all the regular keys on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other, which makes it a lot quicker to type web addresses and passwords than most remotes. It avoids any accidental button presses with a sensor that detects which way up it’s being held and disables the side not in use. Superb.

The layout of the main remote side lets you navigate instinctively, rather than gazing down at the buttons all the time. There’s a large direction pad in the middle and nicely separated volume and channel change keys, while lesser-used buttons are clearly labelled – including dedicated keys for Smart TV, Source and Home.

Fire up the set and it’s a breeze from the word go. Helpful wizards run through all the important settings, while the onscreen design is clear and engaging without the in-yer-face look of some rivals.

Most of the menus are arranged in a row over a semi-transparent background, which allows you to keep track of the programme behind it. The icons are large and stylised, making it very easy to find what you want. Despite the dual-core processor inside, there’s an element of sluggishness to the cursor movement, though it’s not a major issue.

It makes up for this in other areas, like the way it detects connected sources automatically and breaks down the setup menus into quick and more thorough menus. There’s a wealth of adjustments in the Picture menu, affording you complete control over the basic image elements and more complex processing.

Other onscreen menus, like Info, 3D and Options menu provide quick access to certain settings as you watch.

Despite lacking a live TV screen, the EPG is expertly designed. It uses the classic left-to-right timeline with a spacious programme grid peppered with large text and channel logos. The background is a natty blend of pinks and purples. Helpful shortcuts are found at the bottom, while the synopsis is accessed by pressing Info. The large Freeview info banner also looks great, but limits you to now and next information.

Performance

The 46PFL7007’s 2D hi-def pictures are instantly arresting thanks to their detailed sharpness and vibrant, natural-looking colours. There’s a clarity and punch about the image that makes it hard to look away. This is most noticeable with bright, colourful movies – Monsters Inc’s intricate CG looks stunning – but it can equally be applied to darker movies thanks to excellent contrast and shadow detail.

Most pleasing, though, is the black level performance that consigns the memory of the 46PFL6907’s misty pictures to the bin. The depth and contrast of the picture is consistent across the screen and blacks look remarkably solid. You can easily make out background detail during dark scenes, which wasn’t always the case on the 46PFL6907. To achieve this, however, you do need to select the right contrast modes in the setup menu. I found the best combination was to turn off Dynamic Contrast completely and select the ‘Best Picture’ mode in the Dynamic Backlight menu.

In fact you have to be careful with the processing in general, as it’s very easy to induce artefacts if they’re not used judiciously. Particularly troublesome is Perfect Natural Motion, which causes a shimmering effect around the edge of fast-moving objects or camera pans when set to Maximum, but in Minimum it does a more transparent job of removing judder and blur.

As ever, Ambilight continues to prove why it’s one of the best TV innovations of recent times, adding a sense of depth and immersion to the image.

Freeview HD picture performance is very impressive too, making the procession of daytime TV shows on Channel 4 HD look crisp, bright and boldly coloured. Standard def channels look more washed out and noisy, but remain watchable.

As you’d expect, the set’s active 3D system delivers a lot more detail than the 46PFL6907’s passive tech, which makes the image sharper and more absorbing. It also shines surprisingly forcefully through the glasses, highlighting the inherent brightness of the pictures. That said, there is a bit of crosstalk in places, which impinges slightly on the overall clarity of the 3D effect. 2D-to-3D conversion is surprisingly good (particularly with Freeview HD channels), lending a convincing sense of depth to mundane daytime guff like A Place In The Sun and Countdown.

Sound

The 46PFL7007’s audio prowess is boosted considerably by the clever speaker system built into the stand. It boasts bigger speakers and more powerful amps (2 x 20W) than you’d normally fit into a TV chassis and therefore it kicks out a much bigger sound.

It’s fulsome and imposing, which works just as well for TV material as it does for movies from a Blu-ray deck. Key to this is bass depth, which lends oomph to the booms and bangs of action scenes as well as padding out voices. Dialogue is remarkably clear and authoritative, while treble is crisp and open.

Verdict

With its stunning looks, impressive picture quality and lengthy feature list, the Philips 46PFL7007 is a terrific TV and a clear step-up from the 46PFL6907 in terms of performance. I also love the QWERTY keyboard on the remote, which makes notoriously difficult TV web surfing a little easier.

An ingenious speaker system provides better sound than your average slim-screen set, plus a decent range of network functionality expands your horizons beyond Blu-ray and TV. That said, until more big-name apps make their way to Smart TV, the online selection pales in comparison to Philips’ rivals. It’s also a little sluggish in operation, but niggles aside the 47in Philips 46PFL7007 is a top-notch set that produces some excellent pictures.

Specifications

Manufacturer and model

Philips 46PFL7007

Screen size (inches)

47

Resolution

1,920 x 1,080

Backlight technology

Edge LED

Picture engine

Pixel Precise HD

Digital tuner

Freeview HD

3D ready

Yes

3D technology

Active

3D glasses supplied

Yes, 1 pair

2D-to-3D conversion

Yes

Wi-Fi

Built-in

Online content

Smart TV

DLNA streaming

Yes

Smartphone control

Yes

Contrast ratio

500,000:1

Brightness

450cd/m²

Refresh rate

800Hz Perfect Motion Rate

Speaker power

2 x 20W

Energy efficiency class

A

Dimensions (with stand, W x H x D)

1,042 x 665 x 206 mm

Dimensions (without stand, W x H x D)

1,042 x 599 x 29.8mm

HDMI

5

Component

1

Composite

0

SCART

1

Digital audio output

1 (optical)

PC input

1 VGA

USB

3

SD card slot

No

Ethernet

Yes

CI slot

Yes

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