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Philips 9000 (46PFL9705H/12) review: Philips 9000 (46PFL9705H/12)

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The 46PFL9705H/12 sits near the top of Philips' current line-up of TVs and includes a number of high-end features, such as direct LED backlighting, the most advanced version of the company's Ambilight system and support for 3D. Priced at £2,100, however, these features certainly don't come cheap.

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Philips 9000 (46PFL9705H/12)

The Good

Deep black levels;. Rich, natural colours;. Excellent picture processing.

The Bad

Poor Internet features;. No HD tuner;. Pricey.

The Bottom Line

The classy 46-inch Philips 46PFL9705H/12 produces some startling pictures and has top-notch sonics, but the LED TV's line-up of Internet services is weak and it lacks an HD tuner.

Shine a little light 

Philips has avoided the glossy black look that afflicts most of today's TVs and instead opted for a classy brushed-aluminium finish with a transparent lip that runs around the edge of the set. It looks fantastic and is a refreshing change from the norm. Also, since the TV uses direct LED backlighting, it's impressively slim at just 69mm deep.

The TV is equipped with Philips' updated Ambilight system that uses three rear-mounted strips arranged across the top and sides of the TV. These lights project colours from the back of the TV onto the wall behind in sympathy with the images shown on the screen. It may sound a tad gimmicky, but it actually works superbly well and helps to increase the apparent richness of on-screen colours.

Around the back, you'll find a pretty comprehensive line-up of sockets, including four HDMI ports, a set of component inputs and a pair of Scart sockets. There's also a USB port, integrated Wi-Fi and Ethernet for digital-media playback. Format support for media streaming is good, as the set supports both DivX and MKV.

Where's the Web?

On the flip side, the TV's Internet features aren't great. It does have the Opera browser on board to give you access to standard websites (although without Flash support), but the line-up of Internet TV services is poor. It lacks features such as the BBC iPlayer, which you'll find on TVs from manufacturers like Sony. Another disappointment is that the TV doesn't include a Freeview HD tuner, so if you want to watch channels in high definition you'll have to invest in an external set-top box, which is a little ridiculous given the set's price tag. Still, if you're a Sky subscriber this won’t really be an issue for you.

When it comes to picture processing this set has some serious muscle, including Philips' Pixel Plus HD and a 400Hz engine (the latter achieved via a 200Hz refresh rate and scanning backlight). Getting the most out of these features is often tricky, as the menu system is disjointed and confusing to use. Stick with it, though, and you'll find the TV really can produce some stunning pictures. The direct LED backlighting helps it deliver the deepest black levels you'll find this side of a plasma screen, and colours are exceedingly rich without looking overly saturated. High-definition sources also look impressively sharp, while even standard-definition can be made to look decent with some tuning of the picture engine.

The set's picture-processing engine is tricky to set up, but can produce excellent results with a little perseverance.

To watch 3D material on the TV, you first need to connect up the 3D kit. This includes an IR transmitter that sits on top of the set (a little like the one that comes with the Nintendo Wii and two pairs of active shutter glasses. Setting up the IR transmitter is easy as it just plugs straight into the back of the set. It does look ugly sitting on top of the TV, though, and we're not sure why Philips hasn't just integrated the transmitter into the chassis like most other manufacturers.

3D uncomfortably

Also, the glasses are the worst we've come across so far. They're big, heavy and generally uncomfortable to wear. They do come with a range of swappable nose bridges that allow you to change the height at which they sit on your face -- something many other 3D glasses don't have.

It's a shame the design of the 3D glasses isn't better, as the TV's 3D performance is actually very good. Despite the dimming effect of the glasses, it still manages to produce bright and punchy 3D images (certainly brighter than those you'll get from 3D plasma displays), and the sense of depth while watching Monsters vs Aliens on Blu-ray was very impressive.

Shh... no crosstalk! 

Unfortunately, Philips hasn't managed to solve the problem of 3D crosstalk -- ghosting around the edges of objects -- that currently afflicts all LCD 3D sets. That said, the ghosting is fairly subtle here and only really appears on objects in the further distance. As a result, it's certainly much better than the likes of LG's posh Infinia LX9900, and similar to what you get from Samsung's best 3D sets.

Another area where this TV really stands out is in the sonic department. Philips has cleverly added a mini subwoofer to the rear of the TV to increase its mid-range and bass response. This really does help the set to produce fuller and richer sonics than pretty much all of its thin-screen rivals.

Conclusion 

The Philips 46PFL9705H/12 puts in an impressive performance in terms of both picture and sound. It's also one of the best LCD screens out there when it comes to 3D. In saying that, we're not fans of its convoluted menu system and, given the high price, we think it needs to offer better Internet features. We're also a little baffled that it doesn't include an HD tuner, when the majority of its similarly priced competitors do.

Edited by Emma Bayly