philips 40pfl8505h review

Let's get the bad news out of the way first here: the 40PFL8605H does not have a Freeview HD tuner. This is a startling omission on an otherwise feature-packed set.

Philips openly admits that it underestimated the interest in Freeview HD when putting together its 2010 TV range, and has reduced the prices of all its TVs to compensate for its error of judgment.

There's a good chance too, it seems to us, that many potential buyers of the 40PFL8605H will have an external HD source, either a digital recorder with Freeview HD built in, or a Sky HD box.

But it's still a shame that we're going to have to talk about this missing feature every time we review one of Philips' new sets. Just as well, then, that there's enough going on elsewhere for the 40PFL8605H to score top marks for features.

Excellent contrast

The edge LED lighting system driving the 40PFL8605H delivers a very promising claimed contrast ratio of 500,000:1 with the assistance of a dynamic backlight and various contrast processing tools.
The edge LED system also enables a profile that's just 50mm deep at its thickest point.

Its completely flat fascia also sports a tasteful, slender black bezel, with further flourishes coming courtesy of a transparent shroud sitting around the TV's extremities and a smart little silvery metallic protrusion from the centre of the bottom edge containing recessed buttons for manual operation.

Ambilight

Philips has also boosted the 40PFL8605H's aesthetic flare by integrating Ambilight into its slender form, so you can enjoy pools of light from the TV's sides coloured to match, with startling accuracy, the image content.

As well as its aesthetic value, Ambilight is scientifically proven to make long-term viewing less tiring, especially when you're watching a screen capable of such extreme brightness as the 40PFL8605H.

Detail 1

In typical Philips style, the 40PFL8605H is extremely well stocked with connections. Four HDMIs should be enough to satisfy pretty much any digital source list, even one that will have to include a digital HD receiver thanks to the lack of a built-in Freeview HD tuner.

But where the 40PFL8605H really makes its mark is with its multimedia capabilities. These begin with an Ethernet port through which you can either access Philips' NetTV online platform or content stored on a DLNA PC. What's more, Philips goes considerably further than many rivals with both of these Ethernet options.

Its DLNA potential, for instance, is bolstered by compatibility with a really strikingly long list of multimedia file codecs. And its online platform is currently unique (though Sharp and Loewe are going to follow suit) in offering a built-in Opera browser for accessing the internet at large.

Rival brands have so far limited you to online content from service providers with who they've done deals, accessible via operating systems streamlined for TV.

Internet video access

Philips also has a passably well-stocked, ring-fenced online area for anyone who can't be bothered with the inevitably fiddly web address input system. Highlights include Picasa, myalbum.com, YouTube, and a number of subscription content providers, including Box Office 365 and the Cartoon Network.

Two further points need to be made about the Ethernet. First, it can be replaced by Wi-Fi if you add Philips' optional PTA01 USB dongle. Second, rather less happily, it can't be used to access future Freeview HD interactive features for the simple reason that, as mentioned earlier, the 40PFL8605H doesn't have a Freeview HD tuner.

The 40PFL8605H's USB port hinted at back there isn't only used for adding the optional Wi-Fi adaptor; it can also play back lots of multimedia file formats from USB storage devices. And one final very nifty connection is an SD card slot offering storage for video downloaded from NetTV.

The 40PFL8605's other big feature draw is its Perfect Pixel HD Engine video processing. Boasting 500 megapixels of processing power versus, there's not really any part of the picture that this image engine doesn't go to town on. Its most striking results can be seen with motion clarity, general sharpness and colours, but there's plenty more going on.

Some people, of course, are wary of complex processing systems, so Philips has provided a plethora of options through for turning off, on or even adjusting the power of most fine-tuning tools.
It is worth learning your way round these features and revisiting them regularly to ensure you're always getting the best out of the TV, though.

Yet more processing for the 40PFL8605's pictures comes from a 200Hz engine, while other features of note include a light sensor that can adjust the picture settings in response to your ambient light levels, and an 'invisible' speaker system including two woofers on the TV's rear.