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Philips 47PFL6907T review

TV & AVReviews
7/10
, 08 Feb 2013Reviews
Philips 47PFL6907T review

The 47PFL6907T hails from Philips’ PFL6900 LED range, positioned somewhere in the middle of its line-up (below the 9000, 8000, 7000 and DesignLine series). Being a midrange set, it finds a balance between features and affordability, throwing in a generous array of technology without pushing the price tag too high.

It’s one of two sets in the 6900 range, joined by a 42in version (42PFL6907T). The range is characterised by two things – its use of ‘comfortable’ passive 3D technology (dubbed Easy 3D) and its borderless design.

Design and features

The 47PFL69067T features a bezel-free design, which is supposed to make it look as though the screen extends to the very edge of the set. This is certainly the case when switched off, because all you can see is a thin aluminium strip running along the sides. But when you turn it on, there’s a 1cm black strip running around the edge of the picture that spoils the effect. However, this discrepancy doesn’t stop it being a good-looking TV.

The removal of the bezel also allows the picture to blend more seamlessly with the Ambilight Spectra 2 feature, which projects coloured light onto the wall behind (on two sides of the screen) in a bid to make the picture more immersive.

The look is topped off by a brushed black chamfer at the bottom, while the tabletop stand is basically a thin metal bar that makes the space below the set look open and airy. Overall build quality is superb, as you’d expect from a £1k set.

In terms of connections the set generously provides four HDMI inputs (three of which are side-facing), three USB ports, SCART and component inputs (which require the supplied adapters) and VGA PC input. The line-up is completed by a Common Interface slot, optical digital audio output and an Ethernet port.

The 47PFL6907T is packed with features. We’ll start with its passive 3D talents, which are bolstered by the inclusion of four pairs of glasses in the box and the ability to convert any 2D source into 3D. 3D depth adjustment allows you to tailor the image to taste, while a Two Player Full Screen Gaming mode allows two gamers to simultaneously enjoy full screen pictures when wearing optional 2D gaming glasses.

Also on the spec sheet is built-in Wi-Fi, which means you don’t have to mess about with a LAN cable to access its web features. These include Smart TV - Philips’ Internet content portal, which includes a decent (and unusual) range of apps. When we first fired up the home screen, the selection included BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook, Picasa, AUPEO!, Viewster, Napster, Absolute Radio, CNBC, iConcerts, CineTrailer, Meteonews, Screen Dreams and Funspot games. However, you can add more apps to the home page in the App Gallery, including Acetrax and several on-demand adult movie sites (Hustler, Private, Forno and Brazzers). Finally, a smart TV feature I can get on board with.

The list also includes Blinkbox, a bunch of radio apps, National Rail, Films & Stars, eBay, MyAlbum, TomTom HD Traffic, TED Talks and Foreca. I still want to see more UK catch up TV sites (Demand 5, ITV Player and 4OD, for example) but there’s no denying that Philips’ online offering is interesting.

There’s also an open Internet browser, which can be controlled using the remote, a USB keyboard or mouse, and Skype video-calling with an optional TV camera (PTA317/00).

The 47PFL6907T’s DLNA certification allows you to stream files over your home network. The list of supported video files is useful, covering AVI, MPEG-1/2/4, WMV, XviD and AVCHD, although DivX isn’t supported and despite saying it can play MKV, our 1080p movie was deemed an ‘unsupported file’.

On the music side it’ll play MP3, WMA and AAC, plus you can view JPEG photos. The same file types can be played from USB memory devices, and with a memory device connected you can also pause live TV and record Freeview programmes from the eight-day EPG.

Picture processing comes courtesy of Philips’ Pixel Precise HD engine, which isn’t as powerful as the Pixel Perfect HD engine found on its more expensive sets, but it still boasts a bevy of image enhancements.

These include HD Natural Motion, Clear LCD (which ups the frame rate to match the panel), Advanced Sharpness, Dynamic Contrast, Dynamic Backlight and Colour Enhancement. It also uses 600Hz Perfect Motion Rate to remove judder and motion blur from moving images, and advanced micro dimming technology on the edge LED panel.

As for picture adjustments, you can select from a list of eight presets or tweak contrast colour, sharpness and noise reduction yourself. There’s a lot to get your head around, which could be a bit daunting for newbies, but picture perfectionists will love this level of control.

Operation

The 47PFL6907T’s dual-core processor makes operation nice and quick, plus the onscreen menus are attractive and pragmatic. Hit the Home menu button and the semi-transparent display offers options like Watch TV, Smart TV and Source – each one represented by a simple white icon.

The setup menu is laid out in two rows – one offering quick access to key activities like ‘search for channels’ and ‘connect to network’, while the other gives access to TV, channel, network and software settings. It’s all very simple and friendly, without feeling the need to show off like its rivals.

Selecting Source displays all of the available inputs with cute icons, including Network. This is where you’ll find your DLNA content, displayed in classy menus which load up your content quickly (even if you have a big collection). The Smart TV menu also looks great, using an engaging colour scheme and icons for each app. It also plays live TV in a small screen so you don’t miss anything while browsing.

The EPG is terrific. It fills the screen, making the six-channel programme grid large and easy to read, plus it’s easy on the eye and responsive (a benefit, no doubt, of the dual core processor).

You can skip days using the CH/- keys with a list of helpful shortcuts along the bottom. Pressing the Options key allows you to search by genre too. There’s no live TV screen, but aside from that it’s an excellent EPG. I also like the way the set shows station logos when you change channels, alongside the name of the current programme.

The remote features a sensible button layout, with a direction pad bang in the middle and the labelling is foolproof. It’s got a nice tactile finish but I’m not too keen on the clicky nature of the keys. Weirdly there are no keys for skipping tracks when playing music.

Philips MyRemote App allows you to control the TV on an Apple or Android device. This makes it easier to navigate the menus and browse the internet, plus you can explore the EPG while watching TV. The Wi-Fi Smart Screen feature lets you watch TV channels on the device, as well as push music, pictures and videos from the device to the screen.

Performance

The 47PFL6907T’s picture quality is generally impressive, with one or two caveats. Starting with the good stuff, the set makes brightly-lit Blu-ray scenes look sharp and vivid.

I played the 2D version of Thor on a Sony BDP-S790, and during Thor’s coronation the image is awash with rich colours and intricate detail. The gleaming golds and deep reds blaze from the screen, while the ornate patterns of the background scenery are crisply rendered. In fact, detail reproduction is possibly this set’s most impressive talent. The image is captivatingly crisp and lucid.

This is particularly noticeable during aerial shots of the desert where Thor’s hammer is embedded in the ground – the textures of the dusty surface, bushes and crater ridges look incredibly sharp to the point where you feel like you’re glimpsing it through a helicopter window. This gives the image a sense of three-dimensionality that you rarely see from an LED LCD TV, let alone a midrange one.

And it gets even better when you activate the Advanced Sharpness mode, although it does tend to emphasise grain and crawling, as well as introducing a faint white outline around edges (noticeable as Thor stands silhouetted against a large window).

The wide contrast range and decent black level also help bright scenes look deep and punchy. This is achieved using the Movie preset, which delivers the most satisfying balance of contrast and brightness. Dynamic Contrast and Dynamic Backlight don’t bring much to the party.

The Natural Motion mode does an effective job of making motion look smooth. I switched it on and off during camera pans across Asgard and saw judder vanish before my eyes. Avoid cranking it up to Maximum, though, as it causes a bit of flickering on moving objects – Minimum will do just fine.

If you’re willing to accept that passive 3D pictures can’t match the Full HD sharpness of the active system, then you’re in for a treat. There’s something satisfying about slipping on the glasses and getting instant results, plus the sense of depth and immersion becomes quite addictive.

Pictures are bright, strongly contrasted and free from flicker and ghosting. On the downside they’re a little fuzzy in places and you can see the line structure, which results in jaggies on some edges.

I’m also impressed by the quality of the 2D-to-3D conversion, which lends a convincing sense of depth to even the most mundane material. I even tried it with an old black and white movie on Channel 4 and enjoyed the way it managed to layer actors and objects in the picture.

The only real downside of the set’s performance is its handling of dark scenes. There are stripes of backlight spillage around the edge of the screen and in the corners, which are clearly visible during Thor’s opening scene as he crashes to Earth. This gives the screen a sort of ‘glow’ that compromises its ability to differentiate different levels of black. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t render dark scenes unwatchable, but they do lack the dramatic depth of the best LED sets.

Freeview HD pictures are generally fine, apart from a bit of smudgy motion lag on the pitch during the England v Brazil game on ITV HD, where the processing engine hasn’t quite caught up with the movements of the camera. It can be reduced using Natural Motion but not completely.

Moving to SD, we find the Philips doing a fine job of upscaling DVDs and Freeview channels. Colours look powerful and detail is reasonably sharp.

Sound

The 47PFL6907T’s sound quality is much better than expected, offering a pleasing amount of bass that fuses tightly with the crucial midrange sounds. Crisp treble gives it an open feel, instead of the compressed, harsh sound that many slim TVs offer. That means it can quite happily capture the excitement of a movie or TV drama without distorting wildly when you crank up the volume. Impressive.

Verdict

Its pictures may be flawed, but the 47PFL6907T’s pros for outweigh its cons. For starters, it’s impressively specced for the money, offering Wi-Fi, internet content, DLNA, a wealth of picture processing, passive 3D and four pairs of glasses. It’s also highly attractive, with its bezel-free design and aluminium trim, while its simple but classy onscreen menus and dual-core processing make it easy to operate. Its main missteps are backlight issues that compromise the visibility of dark scenes and some motion lag with fast moving stuff like sport, but its pictures are likeable enough to make the 47PFL6907T a worthwhile, if not essential purchase.

Specificatons

Manufacturer and model

Philips 47PFL6907T

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

Passive

3D glasses supplied

Yes, 4 pairs

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

400cd/m²

Refresh rate

600Hz Perfect Motion Rate

Speaker power

2 x 12W

Energy efficiency class

A+

Dimensions (with stand, W x H x D)

1,066 x 691 x 196 mm

Dimensions (without stand, W x H x D)

1,066 x 640 x 35.3mm

HDMI

4

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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