Ghosts R.I.P

A man haunted by crosstalk, John Archer praises an LCD TV that might be able to handle the third dimension after all

This direct LED TV is the first 3D-capable model I’ve seen from Philips, and it’s also the first active 3D LCD TV to convince me that LCD tech might eventually conquer its crosstalk nemesis.

I find the biggest hurdle to accepting 3D is crosstalk noise. This ‘double ghosting’ artefact has plagued every 3D LCD TV I’ve seen, really undermining the format’s credibility and, indeed, watchability. Philips hasn’t built 3D into the 46PFL9705H, instead bundling it with an external IR transmitter (as well as two pairs of Philips’ active shutter glasses). If you want integrated transmission, you’ll have to get the second-gen 21:9.

Night at the Opera

The 46PFL9705H is beautifully built, with considerable panache emanating from the way its Ambilight technology casts pools of coloured light from three of its sides.

It’s supremely well connected, thanks in particular to its provision of four HDMIs, and reams of multimedia support via USB, Ethernet and built-in wi-fi connections. You can even access the open internet via a built-in Opera browser.

The only notable omission is a built-in Freeview HD tuner, which may be a deal-breaker for some potential buyers.

Provided you’ve had the TV warming up for at least an hour (LEDs need to do this before looking their best with 3D), the TV produces a hugely heartwarming 3D experience. On the one hand, it delivers in spades the expected LCD 3D benefits of excellent brightness, more dynamic colours and greater sharpness versus 3D plasma screens, while on the other it suffers markedly less crosstalk noise than any other active 3D screen to date.

I’m not saying the 46PFL9705H’s 3D pictures are crosstalk-free. They certainly show more of it than Panasonic’s plasma 3D screens. But thanks, most likely, to a combination of its direct LED lighting and Philips’ über-powerful Perfect Pixel HD/400Hz video processing, crosstalk is reined in to what I consider tolerable levels.

The 46PFL9705H isn’t just surprisingly good with 3D, though. It’s also a sensational 2D performer. With HD the set’s knack with fine detail, colours, motion clarity and contrast (thanks to the use of local LED dimming), is consistently jaw-dropping. Its Perfect Pixel HD engine also makes the 46PFL9705H truly exceptional at turning standard-def fare into decent ersatz HD.

Even the 46PFL9705H’s audio is in a different class to most flat TVs, using a split woofer/tweeter arrangement to produce a dynamic range and level of clarity that humbles almost all rivals.

As usual with a Philips TV, I have to qualify my positive findings by saying that some aspects of its vast arsenal of processing tools can be detrimental rather than helpful. For instance, the Super Resolution feature should be left off, as it can make edges look stressy and unnatural; and Perfect Natural Motion should be used with caution, and never set above its lowest power level.

But, provided you’re willing to learn your way around the TV’s processing pros and cons, the 46PFL9705H truly represents the state-of-the-art in LCD screen tech – it’s only really it’s lack of an HD tuner that stops it scooping top marks...

HCC VERDICT

Highs: Stellar 2D pictures; the least crosstalk we’ve seen with 3D from an LCD TV; well built; attractive
Lows: No Freeview HD; processing tools need careful use
Performance: 5/5
Design: 5/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Specifications

Full HD: yes including 1080p/24
Tuner: yes Freeview (not HD) and analogue
Component video: yes one input (rear)
HDMI/DVI: yes 4 v1.4 HDMI input
PC input: yes 1 D-Sub Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Sound: 30W RMS Brightness: 500cd/m2
Contrast ratio: 10,000,000:1
Dimensions (off stand): 1088(w) x 671(h) x 69(d)mm
Weight: 23kg
Also featuring: 400Hz (200Hz plus scanning backlight); NetTV online service; USB media playback; direct LED lighting with local dimming; Perfect Pixel HD processing; anti-reflection screen; DLNA support; wi-fi built in; MP3, WMA, AAC, JPEG, H264/MPEG4 AVC, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, WMV9/VC1, AVI, MKV media support