Philips thinks differently. The brand has a long history of going its own way in consumer electronics and its individualistic vision is all evident in the features and tech of the 40PFL7605. The brand’s trademark Ambilight mood lighting (here in its Spectra 2 iteration) literally helps the screen standout from the crowd.
Philips online proposition is equally unique. Rather than just offer a walled garden, it sports an embedded browser for unfettered web access. Given the levels of incompatibilities you’ll encounter online (lack of Flash for example), it’s debatable if this gives a better user experience than optimised portal sites, but it’s again a point of difference. Heck, even the cute oval remote is unusual.
For short-listers, however, the biggest point of difference will be the lack of Freeview HD. An oversight which we’ve come to expect now.
The screen is extremely thin, just 41.5mm, thanks to the use of Edge-LED backlighting. This downsizing is quite an achievement given that the cabinet also accommodates a pair of Ambilights.
The set’s user interface is distinctive. A giant Home button on the remote takes you to a graphical menu to select inputs and tweak settings. It’s very intuitive. Once the TV is online, you can browse your network for media. File playback across the network is unpredictable. Test AVIs recognized by other screens in this group test would not play, while others co-operated and all MKVs were fine. When read from USB, all test files played as expected.
The screen offers a friendly wizard to optimize picture settings out of the box, but it’s worth digging deeper and experimenting with the brand’s Pixel Plus HD bouquet (home of 100Hz Clear LCD, HD Natural Motion, Dynamic backlight and contrast control).
HD Natural Motion may remove cinema judder, but it also adds a slight smudgy halo around moving objects. The best setting to negate this is Minimum. Of course, not all the picture processing is sledgehammer hard. Enhanced Sharpness, for example, is very subtle, pulling out texture and nuance in the image without any excessive edge enhancement or ringing. Subjective motion picture clarity is comparable to the Samsung set, at around 800 lines.
Despite the set’s thinness, audio is surprisingly good. Proprietary Smart Sound post processing has a number of filters which enable a good balance between speech clarity and mid-bass. For general viewing it’s the best audio performer in the group.
The Philips 40PFL7605 has all the makings of a great mid-range TV, with impressive sound and picture quality and excellent online access. The lack of a Freeview HD tuner does hole it below the waterline somewhat, though.
Philips 40PFL7605 launch date: Out now, link Philips
Philips 40PFL7605 price: Around £850