01/02/2013 14:57 | By John Archer, contributor, MSN Tech

Philips 55PFL7007T TV review

A fantastic 55-inch, super-skinny TV, that fully deserves top marks


What is it?
The Philips 55PFL70007T is a 55-inch TV with an ultra-slim design, built-in multimedia and online functionality, active 3D playback and powerful picture processing.

What’s great?
It looks sublime, it’s good value for what’s on offer, and its picture and sound performance are both outstanding.

What’s not?
The Philips online service could do with more content, signs of backlight clouding with 3D, complex to use.

The bottom line:
Philips’ strong return to the TV fray continues thanks to the substantial all-round design, feature and multimedia attractions of the 55PFL7007T. It’s good value too, all things considered.

Philips 55PFL7007T (© Philips)

Philips 55PFL7007T: Review

With the transferral of its TV business into a new joint venture with TP Vision complete, the Philips brand can finally get back to doing what it does best: turning out innovative and impressive TVs. Only now, if the 55-inch 55PFL7007T is anything to go by, it can do this while also keeping prices competitive.

The 55PFL7007T sets about winning your heart right away, courtesy of a sumptuous design that perfectly blends the subtle (a science-defyingly narrow bezel and ultra-trim rear) and the flash (a wonderfully ‘glinty’ metallic finish).

This being a Philips set, you can even bathe the TV in coloured light courtesy of Philips’ gimmicky-sounding but actually rather effective Ambilight technology, featuring LEDs ranged down the screen’s rear left and right sides.

The stand is a fiddle to attach, but then it’s not just a stand. For tucked away inside it is the TV’s audio system - a neat way of getting round the usual problems with trying to fit decent speakers into super-slim TV bodies.

Philips 55PFL7007T: Connections

The 55PFL7007T is spectacularly well connected too. Tucked away on that svelte frame are highlights of five - yes, five - v1.4 HDMIs, along with three USBs, a LAN port, a D-Sub PC port and built-in Wi-Fi.

The multimedia-related sockets deliver a mixed bag of features. When it comes to playing files from USB devices or networked DLNA PCs the 55PFL7007T is outstanding, offering support for a huge array of video, photo and music files. Less impressive is the Philips Smart TV online platform, which lacks content versus the online services of Sony, Samsung, LG, and Panasonic.

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Particularly troubling is the absence of both Netflix and Lovefilm - though if you’re not already subscribers to these services you might find your streaming movie and TV needs satisfied on the 55PFL7007T by the likes of Acetrax, Blinkbox, the BBC iPlayer, and YouTube. Social media types, meanwhile, may enjoy the Twitter and Facebook apps, as well as appreciating the inclusion of a full QWERTY keyboard on the remote control’s rear side. But still, overall, there’s no ignoring the fact that the Philips online service has a way to go before it’s up there with the best.

Philips 55PFL7007T: Picture technology

The 55PFL7007T doesn’t skimp on picture features. Its edge LED panel is driven by Philips potent Pixel Precise HD processing engine, which extends to almost every aspect of TV picture reproduction. Plus the set delivers a virtual 800Hz refresh rate (via a combination of its native scanning rate, a scanning backlight and motion interpolation processing) to combat LCD’s motion blurring problem.

The extensive tech behind the 55PFL7007T’s pictures pays off handsomely. For starters, pictures are among the most eye-catchingly vibrant around. Colours are explosively saturated across a startlingly wide range for a mid-range TV, and brightness levels are extreme. The fact that such huge and punchy pictures are being created from such a skinny frame seems to defy the laws of physics.

The most brilliant thing about the 55PFL7007T’s extraordinary vibrancy, though, is that it doesn’t come at the expense of black level response. Put on a dark movie scene and rather than the washed out greyness that might have been expected from such a bright TV you get a startlingly convincing deep black colour. What’s even more startling about this is that it’s achieved without using the sort of local dimming system employed by Sony’s outstanding HX853 series.

Philips 55PFL7007T 3D (© Philips)

Philips 55PFL7007T: Sharpness and motion handling

Philips TVs traditionally excel where sharpness is concerned, and this continues with the 55PFL7007T. Its HD pictures are spectacularly crisp, thanks to a cracking combination of extreme detail levels, strong colour blend resolution, and strong motion clarity. In fact, if you call in Philips’ formidable Natural Motion processing engine (at the cost of one or two side effects, like shimmering around large horizontally-moving objects) there’s practically no resolution loss over moving objects at all.

Popping on the pair of 3D glasses Philips provides free with the 55PFL7007T continues the good news - mostly. Detail levels from full HD Blu-rays look high, crosstalk ghosting is minimal, and best of all colour and brightness levels are extremely high for an active (rather than passive) 3D set.

Philips 55PFL7007T: Minor 3D flaws

There are a couple of flaws, though. First, if you’ve got the set’s dynamic backlight feature active, you can sometimes spot a strange pulsing effect across the centre of the image during fast jumps between dark and light material.

Second, by pushing the panel hard to combat the dimming impact of the active shutter glasses, the 55PFL7007T can suffer with some visible backlight inconsistencies during dark scenes, whereby the corners of the picture look brighter than the rest. This problem can also appear on occasion with 2D, but much less aggressively (provided you’ve set the TV’s brightness and backlight to a reasonably low level).

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One more general issue with the 55PFL7007T’s pictures concerns its input lag. We measured 60ms using its Game preset, which is slightly higher than average, and could marginally reduce your skills with some types of console game.

A TV as impressive as the 55PFL7007T deserves to have its review finish on a high, though. So it’s a pleasure to report that the audio delivered by its stand-based speaker system is excellent - far more rich, powerful and open than the flimsy efforts you get from most skinny TVs.

Philips 55PFL7007T: Verdict

Pretty much everything about the 55PFL7007T is attractive. Its design is both fashionably slim and adorably shiny. Its abundant connections cater for even the most high maintenance of AV and multimedia users. Its feature count is high, incorporating as it does active 3D playback, Philips’ latest Smart TV online service, and Philips’ powerful Pixel Precise HD processing system. Its picture and sound quality are both outstanding for the most part. And its £1,700 price seems reasonable for what’s on offer.

In a perfect world the set wouldn’t suffer backlight clouding during dark 3D scenes, would exhibit slightly less input lag, wouldn’t require as much time playing with its processing settings, and would offer more online video sources - especially Netflix and LoveFilm. It might also cost even less, to put clear blue pricing water between it and Sony’s 55HX853.

Overall, though, the 55PFL7007T is another cracking example of why the Philips TV brand is still very much a forced to be reckoned with.

5

Philips 55PFL7007T: Available now - £1,799. Check the latest prices with Bing.

See also:
Toshiba 40TL968 TV review
LG Ultra-HD 84-inch TV review

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