Philips TV remotes are usually a cut above their peers and, in design terms, at least, the 40PFL7605's is no different.
Curved and rounded to the hilt, it's cleverly designed to have the click-wheel beneath your thumb in a natural position. As well as being able to toggle around menus, the 'up' button brings a choice between displaying programme information, an eight-day electronic programme guide or a mosaic/grid-style display of available channels.
The EPG, too, is excellent – it floats translucently over the channel you're watching, but has a light feel; fonts are large and scrolling between two-hour chunks of the schedules is done by using the right-hand clicker on the remote. If only it was graced by a few hi-def TV channels.
At first glance we thought Philips had made a serious faux-pas by forgetting to include keys on the remote to control a connected Blu-ray player, but we were mistaken – the 'down' button on the click-wheel reveals a pop-up screen with all kinds of options including scanning and chapter skip controls for anything connected via HDMI.
The usual input switcher and numbered buttons (which are set too low down on the remote for comfort) are included, but the remote sticks to its streamlined style by using four slim strips that each lay across three buttons. As well as being incredibly low-impact, they're also much more comfortable to use than a regular remote.
Our only complaints are that the numbers are too low on the design (they would be easier to access if they were more central) the clickwheel is prone to fingerprints and that the lip around the remote protrudes too far, making using the left/right buttons a bit of a squeeze.
Ambilight functions have also been improved. As well as setting the intensity of the light, It's now possible to set Ambilight to take into account the colour of your walls and adjust its light output accordingly – that's crucial if you have a mauve or green wall, something that would usually (in former incarnations) render Ambilight all but invisible.
The 40PFL7605 proves extraordinarily proficient at playing almost any video file from USB, with all kinds of DivX files – including DivX HD – loaded quickly, as well as MPEG, MP4, MKV and WMV files. The only files that wouldn't play from our test were AVCHD, MOV and WMV HD. MP3, AAC and WMV music files are also handled.
That same list applies to streaming over a network, which is a cinch to set-up and works surprisingly well. The menu system is rudimentary, but it's relatively quick and stable, with videos streamed in our test all of excellent quality.
Despite being refreshed and redesigned, Net TV is a mere distraction at best, with a fairly slow and cumbersome interface that doesn't react well to commands from the remote. There's nothing at all to watch unless you pay subscriptions, and no option to stream movies.
There is an open browser, but Net TV treats the internet as nothing more than a nice-looking RSS feed; no video can be played and web pages are tackled by scrolling down across every single link on a page, with an average scrolling speed of around one millimeter per second. In an age of iPads, touchscreens and gesture tech, it's jarringly analogue.