After a lengthy absence, the 46-inch Philips 46PFL8007 marks a very strong return to the UK TV market for Philips. It's a truly high-end model with a super-slender design, Edge LED lighting and local dimming technology that also benefits from the brand's highest level of picture processing, Perfect Pixel HD.

Philips sensibly enables you to adjust almost every facet of this processing, as well as providing enough colour, gamma and white balance management options to earn the endorsement of the independent ISF calibration group.

It's also equipped with active 3D technology (two glasses are included), expansive multimedia support, and a nicely presented but currently rather content-lite smart TV service.

Best of all, it's the only LCD TV we've seen this year able to produce pictures good enough to give the all-conquering Sony 46HX853 models a run for their money.

We liked

The Philips 46PFL8007 sets the right tone immediately, by looking just lovely in its ultra-thin metallic bezel. Its connectivity is also outstanding, with the provision of five HDMIs being particularly welcome.

Its QWERTY keyboard-carrying remote control is brilliant too, and best of all both its picture and sound quality are outstanding.

We disliked

As usual with high-end Philips TVs, you need to familiarise yourself with the many ins and outs of the reams of picture settings the Philips 46PFL8007 carries if you want to get the best out of it. This can be quite daunting initially.

Also disappointing is the shortage of content on Philips' Smart TV platform, and the slightly high input lag figure we measured even using the set's Game mode.

Final verdict

With the 46PFL8007, Philips isn't just back in the TV market, it's back with a vengeance. For starters, the Philips 46PFL8007's pictures are so good they rival those of the previously uniquely brilliant Sony HX853 series. The set has killer looks to go with its AV talent, too, and is supremely well connected and multimedia friendly.

Gamers might take umbrage at its slightly high input lag, and technophobes might feel daunted by its huge raft of critical picture adjustments. The set could be slightly, cheaper too.

Ultimately, though, the sheer quality of its performance wins the day.

Also consider

The greatest direct rival for the Philips 46PFL8007 is Sony's KDL-46HX853. This set delivers a similarly brilliant contrast performance, with perhaps even a bit more shadow detail - though it's not quite as punchy with its bright elements as the Philips. Nor does the Sony enjoy a super-slim design.

Samsung's UE46ES8000 is another challenger, offering a similar slim bezel design and feature list. Its online features are much more developed, but its backlight handling falls some distance short of that of the Philips 46PFL8007, and its motion and gesture control innovations frustrate more than they impress.

If you'd rather go the plasma route, your best bets would be either the Panasonic P50GT50 (which is slightly cheaper than the Philips 46PFL8007) or the P50VT50 (which is slightly more expensive than the Philips).

Both these models deliver superbly cinematic, high-contrast performances perfectly suited to movie viewing - though if you've got a light room, you might find both televisions looking a bit short of brightness at times.