Typical Price: $1,069.99
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: The Philips PFL5907 LED TV has impressive picture quality for the price, anchored by relatively deep black levels, good shadow detail, and a natural color palette in most areas. The TV has a diverse feature set, including MediaConnect PC mirroring.
The bad: The Philips exhibited a really shallow optimal viewing angle. Colors could be better; its reds and blues lack the vibrancy of some of its rivals', while near blacks can look purple.
The bottom line: The Philips PFL5907 series has commendable picture quality and features, making it one of the better LED TV values.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
In my native land of Australia, Philips hasn't sold a television in four years -- not because the TVs aren't popular, they just aren't actually sold there. Here in the U.S., it's almost easy to think the same thing, especially when Philips releases lackluster models such as the mellifluously named 40PFL5706, which CNET reviewed last year. But you know what? The company has picked up its game; the new PFL5907 series is actually pretty good!
Its strengths include deep black levels and good shadow detail for an LED TV, natural-looking color in most scenes, and a good mix of features -- including a unique mirroring solution for compatible TVs. Yes, its picture has its bad points, too, and those combined with lack of 3D make it an inferior value compared with the excellent Vizio M3D0KD, for example, or one of the better cheap plasmas like the Samsung PNE450 series. That said, the Philips PFL5907 is still worth considering by people who want a well-balanced, aggressively priced midrange LED TV.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch Philips 46PFL5907/F7, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Models in series (details)|
|Philips 42PFL5907||42 inches|
|Philips 46PFL5907 (reviewed)||46 inches|
|Philips 50PFL5907||50 inches|
|Philips 55PFL5907||55 inches|
While its competitors toss out rectangular pieces of plastic that masquerade as the sole support of 80-pound glass weapons, Philips has adopted a more elegant and sturdier approach to TV stands. The Philips PFL5907 features a swiveling, heavy, tempered-glass base that adds to the weight of the TV in an anchoring, rather than harmful, way. The design of the TV is otherwise nondescript, with a piano-black gloss frame surrounding the screen.
How do I put this delicately? Philips' remote is weird! It's the gadget equivalent of a one-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms -- it has two back buttons. Additionally, the horizontal (rather than vertical) arrangement of its Channel and Volume buttons is counterintuitive.
Philips' menu design is reminiscent of those iconic
T-shirts from a few years ago, with a similar black-on-white starkness and contemporary feel. It's fairly easy to navigate, too, even if the VU meter-like icons for each setting's value would be better replaced by actual numbers.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit|
|Smart TV||Yes||Internet connection||Built-in Wi-Fi|
|3D technology||No||3D glasses included||No|
|Refresh rate(s)||240Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes, No|
|Other: MediaConnect PC Mirroring|
Philips' MediaConnect service, introduced last year, lets you mirror whatever's on your PC screen. As it suffers from significant lag, making mousing and typing a frustrating experience at best, its main purpose is to stream music and video. In use I found it to be very fiddly, and it would only run with my PC set to 1,024x768-pixel resolution over a state-of-the-art router (an older router, despite being Wireless-N, wouldn't allow it to work at all). Last year this feature was still unique, but as WiDi and AirPlay mirroring have gained more support, it's become even less relevant than it was before.
Otherwise the PFL5907's features are typical for a midrange edge-lit LED TV. As it doesn't have 3D, you don't have access to 3D Blu-ray content, but that also means you don't have to pay through the nose for peripherals you probably won't use. The 5907 includes a new 240Hz motion compensation engine for smoothing/dejudder that Philips calls Perfect Motion Rate. This feature joins Philips' Pixel Plus HD picture processor.
Smart TV: Until LG and Philips' Smart TV Alliance comes into effect, Philips continues to use its NetTV platform. Its charcoal-gray interface looks a bit dated and somber compared with the slick, rich 2012 smart TV offerings of LG, Samsung, and others.
Philips' latest development is Smart Cloud, which means that the installed apps are updated automatically, with no need to root around in an app store yourself. Unfortunately, the addition of Smart Cloud icons does confuse the interface a little. The App Gallery function is confusing, too, as it seems like it should be an App Store, but it simply gives an even more limited selection of apps than what's offered by the front page.
The standout apps here are Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, YouTube, and Pandora; the main video service missing is Amazon. While Philips has the obligatory Facebook and Twitter apps, it does lack a Web browser or the handy Skype. If you're a puzzle game fan, though, the free inclusion of Bejeweled 2 should keep you busy for a time.
For a look at the full Philips NetTV suite and how it compares with competitors', check here.
Picture settings: One of my colleague David Katzmaier's complaints about last year's Philips was its lack of picture controls. However, in 2012, tweakers like ourselves will rejoice! The TV includes a two-point grayscale as well as a Color Management System (CMS). While it doesn't work that well (see the calibration notes for more on this) at least it's a start. My only gripe is that as soon as you touch a control in one mode -- Cinema, for example -- it immediately switches you over to Personal, which can be confusing. Philips isn't the only manufacturer to do this, though.
More annoyingly is that when you're watching NetTV content, the TV switches to Standard mode, which enables the smoothing dejudder mode by default and can't be changed. If you're a videophile and a fan of Netflix, this isn't the TV for you.
Connectivity: Though the PFL5907 is Philips' current flagship, in terms of where it sits in the market it counts as a midrange TV, and from that perspective its appointments are generally impressive. Users will appreciate its four HDMI ports and two USB ports, though without anything other than a USB media browser available and no Skype camera accessory, you probably won't need the second USB port. The TV also has a component input and a composite input. Internet connectivity is handled by both an Ethernet port and onboard wireless.
Philips' greatest accomplishment in the PFL5907 is that it can communicate deeper blacks than TVs twice the price or more and yet still convey intricate shadow details. While TVs like the LG LM7600 are better in some ways, they can't conjure up as much contrast as this Philips can. Uniformity was pretty good with only a little purple tinge in the corners, and while I did use the dynamic backlight function it thankfully lacked the blooming of the price-competitive Vizio M3D0KD while offering almost as much contrast.
Where the Philips falters, however, is in color fidelity. While the inclusion of a CMS is laudable, it didn't work well in practice, and colors lacked the richness seen on competing sets. Skin tones looked natural, but reds lacked saturation and came out looking orange, while blues were also a little purple. Meanwhile, green was just great!
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.
|Comparison models (details)|
|Samsung UN55ES8000||55-inch edge-lit LED|
|Panasonic TC-P55ST50||55-inch plasma|
|Vizio M3D550KD||55-inch edge-lit with local dimmingLED|
|LG 47LM7600||47-inch edge-lit LED|
Black level: The Philips was an impressive performer in this area. In my lineup the only LED TV with deeper blacks and a punchier picture was the Vizio M3D0KD, which suffers from more backlight blooming than the Philips. While the Samsung ES8000 is a beautiful-looking television that does offer a decent picture, the Philips easily had it licked in terms of absolute black. Both the Samsung and the Philips offered solid contrast from bright lights to deep shadows -- something that the competitive LG LM7600 struggled with, looking duller overall -- but the Philips came out on top with its deeper blacks.
But at this price, you'd expect there to be some compromises, and there were. Blacks had a tendency to veer toward purple; this was evident during the "Creation" chapter from "The Tree of Life," which features a mostly black screen. The edges of the screen would turn purple, and I found this wasn't a side effect of dynamic backlight -- the problem was worse with it switched off. By (ahem) contrast, all of the TVs we compared it with, from the Vizio up to the ES8000, showed a more natural shade of black.
Color accuracy: Overall, the Philips PFL5907 showed a naturalistic touch with color that may not have been as eye-popping as the ST50 plasma's, but was comparable at times with the ES800 -- a TV we praised for its excellent color response. While greens and skin tones were naturally rendered on the Philips, and to human eyes those are two of the most crucial things to get right, the television wasn't as successful with the R and B parts of "RGB."
How can a TV be good at skin tones but weak at rich reds? Some TVs with deeply saturated reds can actually have unrealistic skin tones: everyone ends up looking a bit feverish. Skin tones on the Philips were understated without making people look pale, but strong reds sometimes turned out orange. Blue was also problematic with sci-fi movies especially -- they tend to favor strong monochromatic blue scenes -- and while all of the other screens in my lineup looked consistent during the bluer scenes in "Avatar," the Philips stood out as looking almost lilac. The effects were a lot subtler than they might sound, though, and would only be visible if you were watching something on the PFL5706 side by side with another TV.
Video processing: Video processing was one of the strongest points of the Philips' performance, with a good showing in both of our tests. In the 24p test -- a flyby of the Intrepid aircraft carrier in "I Am Legend" -- the screen was free of the lurches of lesser TVs that aren't able to properly parse a 24-frame-per-second source. On the 1080i test there was no moire visible in the seats of the sports stand, and the slow camera movement was smooth.
Additionally, the Philips was able to clean up video source problems without overprocessing. The PFL5706 was able to get rid of the green ring in the halo that appears at the 24:22 mark in "The Tree of Life," while the LG LM7600 couldn't.
Uniformity: The Philips had decent uniformity for an edge-lit television with none of the backlight clouding -- literally cloudlike blobs of light -- apparent on both the LG LM7600 and the Samsung ES8000, and only a little light leakage in the corners.
One problem was the unusually tight sweet spot on the PFL5907. Sitting just one seat to either side of the best one directly in front of the screen resulted in duller colors, reduced contrast, and bluer blacks. You would have to get fairly far to the side of any of the other TVs in the lineup to experience the same thing.
Bright lighting: The TV has a semigloss coating, which meant it was fairly reflective with direct light. The TV was better than the even-glossier LG at minimizing indirect-light reflections, such as your face or clothing.
|Geek box: Test||Result||Score|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0059||Good|
|Near-black x/y (5%)||0.265/0.2549||Poor|
|Dark gray x/y (20%)||0.3137/0.3317||Good|
|Bright gray x/y (70%)||0.3126/0.3291||Good|
|Before avg. color temp.||9072.6868||Poor|
|After avg. color temp.||6492.0374||Good|
|Red lum. error (de94_L)||4.464||Poor|
|Green lum. error (de94_L)||0.9467||Good|
|Blue lum. error (de94_L)||3.2461||Poor|
|Cyan hue x/y||0.233/0.3361||Average|
|Magenta hue x/y||0.3227/0.149||Good|
|Yellow hue x/y||0.4172/0.5099||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|1080i Deinterlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||680||Average|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||330||Poor|
|Product Description||55 in LED-LCD, Philips 55PFL5907|
|Diagonal Size||55 in|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||49.6 in x 2.4 in x 29.4 in - Without stand|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Input Video Formats||1080/25p, 1080/30p, 1080/50p, 1080/60p, 720/60p, 480/60p, 1080/24p, 480/60i|
|PC Interface||VGA (HD-15)|
|LCD Backlight Technology||LED Backlight technology|
|Image Aspect Ratio||16:9|
|Digital TV Tuner||ATSC|
|Analog TV Tuner||NTSC|
|Additional Features||PerfectContrast, Active control, Deep Color, MPEG artifact reduction, Digital Noise Reduction (DNR), Dynamic contrast, Pixel Plus HD, Remote Control Pass Through, One touch Play, System Standby, LightSensor Technology|
|Speaker System||2 speakers, Subwoofer|
|Sound Effects||SRS TruSurround HD|
|Remote Control||Standard remote control|
|Power||AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )|
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Rating: / 5
on December 31, 1969
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