Philips 46PFL7007 full review
Philips' 2012 TVs may have arrived at the eleventh hour, but if the 46PFL7007 is anything to go by, it looks like it was worth the wait.
Also available in 40in and 55in versions, the 7007 is only two steps down from the flagship 9707. It's a beauty to behold, with a thin 5mm metal bezel and a smart wedge-shaped stand, which can also double as a wall mount.
It's an LED edge-lit 3D TV using active shutter glasses, of which you get one pair in the box, and has a built-in Freeview HD tuner, Wi-Fi, the signature Ambilight LEDs which light up your wall with colours to match the on-screen action, plus Philips' latest Smart TV hub.
It's not only the bezel that's super-slim: the set itself is just 30mm deep. There's also a fantastic array of ports and connections including five HDMI inputs.
See also: group test: what's the best 3D TV?
Philips 46PFL7007: Smart TV
One of the areas in which Philips' previous TVs were lacking was internet services. With the new version that's no longer the case. Press the remote's Smart TV button and, after a short delay, you're presented with a thumbnail of the current video source, and some icons for online services.
These include the all-important iPlayer (where you get the choice of SD or HD streaming) and YouTube. The rest of the (presently) limited selection includes TED Talks, Ebay, MeteoGroup, Absolute Radio, Aupeo, CNBC Real-time and, slightly oddly, TomTom HD Traffic. There's Twitter and Facebook integration, a web browser (more on that below) and Skype, which gets its own icon in the main menu.
To use Skype, you'll need the £100 PTA317 webcam (you can't use any old USB model you have lying around, but the PTA317 actually costs around £60 if you shop around), but it's a great way to communicate with friends and family on the huge screen. The camera itself has two noise-cancelling microphones and offers a decent wide-angle view of your room so several people can be seen at once. The Skype app is easy to use and sound quality was good during our tests.
The portal doesn't include any other TV catchup services, nor BBC News, but we're told Blinkbox and at least one other video-subscription service will be added in an update shortly.
The web browser isn't a reason to buy the TV. It's not a bad effort, but as there's no cursor it can be tricky to select links and text boxes unless you connect a USB mouse (which you can). Plus, it doesn't support Flash, so many web videos can't be played.
Philips 46PFL7007: remote
The bundled remote is an RF unit, which is welcome as it doesn't need line of sight to communicate with the TV. Flip it over and you'll find a split QWERTY keyboard that's comfortable enough to use with your thumbs.
This makes it much more feasible to write those Tweets and Facebook updates as well as searching for YouTube videos or entering your Wi-Fi password. It doesn't work in every app, though, with iPlayer being a frustrating omission.
If you have an Android or iOS device, you can download the Philips MyRemote app which replicates the remote's buttons and has some other nifty features.
One is Simply Share, which allows you to show photos, music and videos from your smartphone or tablet on your TV via Wi-Fi. We tried this on an iPad, but it couldn't find our TV. Philips says a firmware update coming in November for the TV will fix this.
Another feature (Wi-Fi Smart Screen) which will be included in the same update is the ability to stream the live broadcast showing on the TV straight to your smartphone or tablet.
Another feature, which is only on tablets, is a programme guide. This is arguably easier to browse than the version on the TV itself, and doesn't interrupt your TV viewing. If you find a show you want to watch you can tap it to switch straight to it on the 46PFL7007.
Philips 46PFL7007: media playback and hard disk recording
As you'd expect, the 7007 can play back a variety of video, photo and music formats, both via its three USB ports, and across your network.
The menus for playing media are fairly nippy and easy to navigate. Connect a flash drive or hard disk and the media player will launch automatically, allowing you to select the type of media you're after at the top of the screen. It's then a case of navigating to a particular folder and playing the contents.
It's great to see MKV support along with AVI, MP4, MPEG and WMV. Naturally, JPG photos can be viewed, and as well as MP3 for audio, you can also play WMA and Apple's AAC files.
If you press the Pause button after connecting at least a 32GB USB drive, the 46PFL7007 can format it and use it to pause live TV. If you also want to be able to record broadcasts, you'll need a 250GB or larger disk. Recordings are encrypted, so you can't copy them to a computer.
However, we'd recommend using a hard disk only for pausing and rewinding live TV (which works well). Recording both SD and HD shows is possible but the system is unwieldy. You can't pause or rewind during recording, nor can you even watch another source, which seems unnecessarily restrictive. Plus, features you might expect to see, such as Series Link are missing.