42PFL4606H/58 - Major issues with current FW (2.07)
I'm a long term supporter of Philips (and a "fan" of Natural Motion since almost a decade), so I came here, instead of f.ex. AVForum. Used to have a fine big screen 100Hz Natural Motion CRT TV (used for SDTV -- I was watching HD content lately on a 23" IPS monitor) that I now replaced with a 42PFL4606H/58. It wouldn't be bad, either, but I'm almost shocked how many ways they managed to compromise it with FW bugs... Most notably, it cannot finely be used now for anything other that watching analog SD channels. I wonder just how could it be put on market in this very premature state?
Well, here is my little bugreport.
1. High level of sharpening (with overshoot all over the place) even with Sharpness set at 0. (It's like the setting of ~6 on the 5405.) Affected modes: TV - digital tuner (SD/HD), any HDMI input (SD/HD) [except in PC Mode], Scart input, USB movie play (SD/HD). ("Adv. sharpness" is of course OFF.)
Perhaps less of an issue for those stuck in the SD age, watching TV from distances of those times. But it's now the age of HD and home theather, with much shorter viewing distances, as recommended by SMPTE and THX. Definitely no need for edge enhancement with a reasonably good quality HD content... (It also makes film grain too much strong.) I sincerely hope there at Philips they don't think HD is about this very artifical and eye banging look that you get now, no matter what. And so it's not intentional.
2. High level of backlight with Contrast = 50 (it affects backlight 50-100) and the Dynamic Backlight function OFF or it being not available, like in PC Mode. So, this way one can use PC Mode at daytime only -- at least without compromising contrast ratio (by setting the Contrast 0-50); and then again, blacks turn into gray (with Brightness set to 45 this time, for minimum digital black level).
The minimum level of backlight must be as low as possible, indeed in case of a panel with a native contrast ratio of ~1000:1. I think it is low enough here with Dynamic Backlight enabled. Now, if only one could set it this low manually, as well, f.ex. in PC Mode, where the Dynamic Backlight is not available...
(1.+2. = bye-bye watching quality Blu-ray movies in the evening... Also, even at daytime, quality HDTV content, f.ex. sport + Natural Motion is a no go, for now. Well, except watching all this from >5m.)
Some other notable/annoying things/bugs(?):
- Frequent swapping of odd and even fields in SD modes. Affected modes: TV - digital tuner (SD), Scart input. (Not tested with 576i over HDMI yet.)
- The digital black levels diverse in almost each mode (TV, HDMI in, PC Mode, etc.) with the same setting. At the default Brightness (50) the digital black level is too low (with Dynamic Contrast = OFF), excpt for PC Mode, where it's a bit too high. (So one have to use different picture settings for these modes.)
- The colors (i.e. HUE) are altered even with everything is OFF. (F.ex. ocean green becomes almost pure blue.) It's not as bad, it makes the image somewhat film-like, but I think it's better be switchable.
- There should be a maximum zoom ratio defined for the Auto fill picture format, to prevent it from zooming the logo to fullscreen in case the other parts of the image is black. :)
- Enabling subtitles in USB movie play makes some fonts too big in the menu.
- Every once in the while the TV stops responding. Disconnecting of main power needed.
- Lowered color precision when playing movies from USB.
Little bugs regarding the demo modes:
- Pixel Plus HD demo: the Natural Motion is on at the right side, instead of the left side.
- Pixel Plus HD demo: it takes always the setting of the Vivid picture mode for the left side, instead of the actual one.
- After setting Colour to 0 and activating Pixel Plus HD demo mode, picture remains B&W until a switch off/on sequence.
- No direct escape from these demo modes.
Some other recommendations:
- Enabling/disabling of subtitles in USB movie play needs to be more easily reachable (not mentioning selections of language [subtitle/audio], which is now not possible).
- Why disable the sensor in PC Mode? There are many PC monitors out there with such a sensor (like f.ex. mine).
- It would be very-very useful if there was an option for the Auto fill picture format mode to keep the right aspect ratio...
- It would be very useful if there was an option for the Super zoom picture format mode to make the difference of inner and outer aspect ratios bigger, making the inner parts of the image more close to normal.
- It would be very useful if there was an option so that Natural Motion were automatically switched off for film/movie content (24p/25p/30p [telecined or not]) and on for video content (50i/60i with 50/60 movements/sec). (Dreaming...)
Well, I've decided to keep this Philips television, for now (it's hard when people are moving the last pieces of sets like the LG 42LD750 from the shops in these very days - for lower prices...), in a hope the mentioned issues (the most important ones, at least) will be resolved soon, very soon... These are rather little things coding-wise, really... (At least I hope these are not HW issues.)
Or should I perhaps start advertising this one ASAP and go for the LG, indeed?
ps. on a positive note, I've found it has a more advanced motion interpolation than most if not all models from last year, incluing those of other brands. It's probably the main reason I didn't sent it back right at the moment I installed it and faced all the mentioned problems. The other being the otherways great image quality. And last, but not least: I quite like the new futuristic remote.
ps.2. gone back to watching HD on my monitor (in the evening, at least), in the meantime...
Sharpness issue remains with FW 2.10
There is a new FW (2.10). They've fine-tuned some aspects of the Pixel Plus HD, so that it not (or less) behaves like every fancy effect is active (at least at a minimum level) even when those are really OFF in the menu. Fine. Also, the response-speed of the menu is faster. Fine.
But, guess, what they didn't touched at all...? The Sharpness issue! (It's still at level 5-6 with the setting of 0.)
All the good things are just ruined by this single one... Sad. :(
Forgive me, but are they blind or what? This way the look of Vivid mode (what's presented in the shops, in itself or with the Pixel Plus HD Demo) is rather ugly already (even with SD material), as its sharpness is at level 12-13 (*) really, already, which is quite over the counter! It scares away possible customers, rather than encourage them to buy this TV... (Except if the TV is in analog SD tuner mode where the sharpness is at the right level, set in the menu.) I can't understand this... :confused:
* The number 12-13 comes from here: 7 is the default setting in the menu for the Vivid mode, which gets raised by 5-6 levels because of the FW issue. So, f.ex. when you set it to 0 it will really be at level 5-6, which is too high already. (Compared to the 5405, 5605, etc. - or the 4606 itself in analog tuner mode.)
So, dear FW developers, I'm sincerely asking you to fix this Sharpness issue, as well, please!
Don't tell it's a HW issue... It's fine in the analog tuner mode. There are also no edge enhancement on one side (**) of the Pixel Plus HD Demo screen, so it demonstrates that it can be omitted here, as well. It's only a question of will or care... It's not like some low-level HW components (HDMI receiver, digital tuner, etc.) has an unavoidable edge enhancement.
(** BTW, there is still a little bug here, that the Pixel Plus HD is ON in the right side, while it says it's ON on the left side.)
It can't be about forced market segmentation, can it? ("Don't make this mid-range set too much good!") It should be enough of a compromise in this price range that it has a panel with only a ~1000:1 native contrast ratio, no LEDs, no DLNA, no NetCast, and so on... It's definitely not too cheap for HDTV and Blu-ray, so that it must be intentionally worsened...
Also, don't tell I should switch to a 2-3x pricely model... F.ex. the 5405 didn't do this. Not mentioning more-or-less similar models of other brands (you can even make the picture look soft, if you want!), even at lower prices. But, please, I don't want to switch to LG! I find NaturalMotion better than TruMotion. Neither Samsung. I would love this TV (along with its futuristic remote) if this "stupid" oversharpening could be abandoned already.
...another month or so of uncertainty and the lack of the ability to watch Blu-ray on it (the way it's meant to do it - even my wife can tell it), in the middle of summer... Great!
I'm sorry for this "rant", but it's very frustrating. You can imagine...
Also frustrated because I've let other people buy up all the remaining LG 42LD550/565/650/750's (***) at discount prices, because I had a confidence in Philips. But, this also halfbaked update...
(*** Somewhat similar sets like the 4606, with a little inferior motion-interpolation and noise-reduction, and just a bit slower IPS panels - but you can at least watch HDTV and Blu-ray normally...)
Now, it seems there are only one last 565 left here (if someone didn't got it already)... Should I go for it, instead of waiting if I can use the 4606 for good, someday? Can anybody tell me anything?
ps. the backlight level in PC Mode is still quite high even at the minimum level (Contrast = 50) - while it could go much lower, like when Dynamic Backlight is ON.