After seemingly forever, the negotiations between Philips and Chinese TV manufacturer TPV Technology are finally concluded, and the resulting TP Vision joint venture has at last borne serious new fruit in the shape of a big new Philips TV range.
This new range will be topped, excitingly, by a new 9000 series including the second generation of the exclusive Moth-Eye technology that impressed so much on the Philips 46PFL9706. But just one step below this November-launching flagship television is the feature-packed Philips 46PFL8007 series. And this 46-inch member of the high-end series is under scrutiny today.
The Philips 46PFL8007 certainly looks the part, with its fashionably skinny bezel and metallic finish. Its design is also innovative, thanks to its carriage of Philips' latest Ambilight system and the inclusion in the provided stand/wall mount of an audio system that will hopefully help the TV avoid the skinny sonics of most slim TVs.
It's packed with features too, including active 3D playback, Philips' new Smart TV online service, and the latest version of Philips' powerful Perfect Pixel HD picture processing engine.
You can also record from the built-in Freeview HD tuner to USB HDDs, while AV enthusiasts will be chuffed to discover that the Philips 46PFL8007 is endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), indicating that it's got all the tools you need to get a 'professional' sheen to its pictures.
If the Philips 46PFL8007's admittedly somewhat steep looking £1,700 (about AU$2,676/US$2,744) price tag is too high for you, Philips has a few cheaper models in its new range too.
The new 55-inch Philips 55PFL7007 and cheaper 46-inch Philips 46PFL7007 continue the ultra-thin design theme, and carry many of the same features, including active 3D playback and Smart TV functionality.
The only really big differences are that the 7007 models only ship with one pair of 3D glasses vs two with the 8007s, and use Philips' step-down Pixel Precise HD processing rather than the Perfect Pixel HD system.
A further step down are the Philips 55PFL6007, 46-inch Philips 46PFL6007, 42-inch Philips 42PFL6007 and 32-inch Philips 32PFL6007. Another £200 or cheaper than their equivalent Philips PFL7007 screen sizes, these models use a passive rather than active 3D system (with four pairs of free glasses), and 400Hz processing rather than 800Hz.
The Philips 46PFL8007's design is a real eye-catcher, thanks to the sub-1cm width of its metallic-looking bezel. This design also means it will take up less space than most 46-inch TVs.
Another striking design feature finds the Philips 46PFL8007's speakers built into its stand/wall mount. This makes for extra faffing around when it comes to attaching the TV to the stand or wall mounting it, but hopefully your efforts will be rewarded with a sound quality superior to the tinny efforts churned out by most ultra-slim TVs.
Yet another key design element of the Philips 46PFL8007 is its Ambilight system. This uses LEDs ranged down its rear sides to either provide you with an illuminated backdrop of your colour choice (warm white if you use the ISF setting), or else a dynamic colour scape that can correlate with surprising accuracy to the local colour content of the picture you're watching.
This dramatic effect isn't just for show, either. Philips has plenty of research under its belt to suggest that having a light behind the screen makes for a more relaxing experience, while matching this rear light's colours to the image content can make your viewing feel more immersive.
The Philips 46PFL8007's connections are outstanding. Particularly impressive is the appearance of five HDMIs when no other TV around right now offers more than four.
But there's also an abundance of multimedia support, including three USB ports, a D-Sub PC port, and built-in Wi-Fi through which you can access files on networked PCs or Macs, or else go online with Philips' new Smart TV system.
The USB ports can be used for playing AVI, MKV, H264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9/VC1, AAC, MP3, WMA, and JPEG multimedia file formats, or you can use them to record from the TV's built-in Freeview HD tuner to USB flash drives.
Philips' previous online service wasn't especially memorable, chiefly because it didn't have enough content. And sadly this continues to be the case with the Philips 46PFL8007.
Whereas the likes of Samsung and LG now have apps by the hundred on their online platforms, at the time of writing Philips just has BBC iPlayer, Facebook, YouTube, CNBC Real Time, Napster, Picasa, Absolute Radio, Aupeo, Viewster, Funspot, Euronews, iConcerts, TomTom HD Traffic, ebay, Films and Stars, Ted Talks, MeteoConsult, MyAlbum and, um, a couple of adult services from Hustler and PRIVATE.
Particularly noticeable by their absence are any free catchup services beyond BBC iPlayer, and the subscription/rental likes of Netflix, LoveFilm and Acetrax.
Philips tells us that Blinkbox is due to go live before the end of October, with another rental service incoming - hopefully - during November. But even once these services go live, Philips will still fall short of most of its big-name online TV rivals.
The Philips 46PFL8007 does also provide an open web browser, mind you, which might help alleviate some of the content shortage concerns.
While using this, moreover, you'll quickly come to love Philips' new remote control, complete with a full QWERTY keyboard on its rear. More on this in the Usability section of our review.
One final great touch where the Philips 46PFL8007's online features are concerned is Philips' inclusion of a very cute, metal-finished webcam with the TV.
This includes a little gripper bracket that enables you to attach it to the top of the TV, and enables you to use Skype right out of the box. Excellent.
The Philips 46PFL8007's slim design immediately alerts you to the fact that it employs Edge LED lighting technology. Further investigation of this system uncovers a micro dimming engine, whereby the image is broken down into small sections for individual analysis so that the screen can calculate the most effective light output for its LEDs.
The panel enjoys a native 200Hz refresh rate too, but a combination of a scanning backlight and Philips' latest Perfect Natural Motion processing enable the Philips 46PFL8007 to deliver a claimed 800Hz effect for motion reproduction.
This should be enough to remove practically all judder and motion blur from the image, though it remains to be seen if the processing causes other negative side effects.
As with any high-end TV these days, the Philips 46PFL8007 is 3D ready. Philips includes both passive and active 3D TVs in its latest range, but since it sees the active system (dubbed 3D Max by the Philips marketeers) as the premium quality option, it's this that's used on the high-end Philips 46PFL8007.
Philips has chucked a couple of active shutter 3D glasses in for free too, which is nice.
The Philips 46PFL8007 is fully endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), so it's no surprise to find its extensive onscreen menus stuffed with subtle picture adjustments.
These include colour management, multiple gamma presets, white balance adjustments and the facility to change the strength of or completely deactivate pretty much every element of the Perfect Pixel HD processing engine.
As noted earlier, there's even an ISF mode for the Ambilight system, which produces a simple warm white colour.
Philips thoughtfully provides a long list of picture presets on the Philips 46PFL8007, including night and day ISF modes, and a Movie mode that intriguingly turns off pretty much every part of the Perfect Pixel HD engine lest any film purists take umbrage at the work Philips' extensive processing engine is doing.