Philips 40PFL7007T/12 review
For this review we tested the 40in model in the 2012 7000 series, but it's also available in 46in (46PFL7007T/12) and 55in (55PFL7007T/12) screen sizes. All models have identical specifications except for their dimensions and power usage. We're confident that image quality will be practically identical across the range.
With its silver bezel and brushed metal base, the new 7000 series is a great-looking TV. In order to keep the bezel so thin, Philips has been creative with speaker placement. Rather than squeeze them behind the LCD panel, they’re instead built into the base. This means connecting a cable from the base to the set, but it’s a small price to pay for the two 20W drivers inside. For integrated speakers they produce superb audio, using virtual surround sound to give the impression of depth. They also handle low frequencies very well.
The speakers might have moved, but the 40PFL7007T/12 still has plenty of room for connectivity. Five HDMI ports, component video, VGA and SCART (via an adaptor) provide video connections. Digital optical and analogue audio inputs handle sound and there are three USB inputs for multimedia playback or recording to an external hard disk. It also has 802.11n Wi-Fi built in, so you won't need to use the Ethernet port if you have a wireless network. Even better, it supports DLNA, letting you access networked PCs or NAS devices for multimedia playback. We managed to play all our test files, including DivX, MKV and MOV videos, so you should have no trouble playing back all your content.
There's also a full Smart TV suite, the first product of the open Smart TV alliance, the group hoping to standardise Smart TV systems to ease development for them. Unfortunately, the alliance is a relatively new one and with few other manufacturers on board, Philips has had to work hard to get big names to support it. You get BBC iPlayer (with HD support), YouTube, Picasa, Napster music, AceTrax and the newly added Blinkbox for film rentals. Plus, there are other big-name services due imminently. Unfortunately, Philips wasn't able to tell us exactly which services these might be, but we have an inkling Netflix may be on the way.
It's a shame Philips hasn't got a few more partners on board, because its double-sided remote is one of the better ones we've used for Smart TV. The internal accelerometer disables the buttons facing downwards, avoiding accidental button presses if you squeeze too hard. It’s great for the web browser, but it makes searching for apps and content much easier too. Twitter and Facebook are also integrated deeply into the TV, letting you tweet or post updates while watching a particular program. You can even set up a mini twitter wall, which will update automatically when watching programs with specific hashtags. It's just a shame that this model doesn't have the excellent Wii remote-style pointer which made browsing so easy at this year's IFA show. Instead, you're reliant on the directional pad, which can be tediously slow to navigate certain pages.
The interface as a whole looks gorgeous, with simple icons and high resolution images, but it's not particularly snappy. Animations often lag behind your commands and take a while to load. The TV guide obscures the whole screen and annoyingly mutes whatever you're watching. Considering the Smart TV home screen manages to make room for picture-in-picture, it's a shame not to see it here.
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