LED is In: The trend is clear: get rid of CCFL and replace it with LED for the backlight in a LCD TV. Why? LEDs are more energy efficient. LEDs when used in an edge-lit configuration can allow for really thin profiles. LEDs are greener as they do not make use of mercury, a carcinogen, used in CCFLs. LEDs in a direct-lit formation can be used in conjunction with local dimming technology to bring about some spectacular contrasts and deep blacks.
Direct-lit LED Backlight: Philips’ 9704 LED Pro line of LCD TVs seem to be using a direct-lit LED backlight as the depth (without stand) is 89 mm or 3.5 inches (source: The Home Cinema Centre–you can find the full product specification here). It’s not very thin but it isn’t very thick either. To compare, Samsung’s UE40B7020, a 40-inch LCD TV with a LED backlight, has a depth of just 29.9mm or 1.18 inches (source: Samsung UK). Unless you absolutely must mount your LCD TV on the wall and make it as flush to the wall as possible, I would recommend going with a slightly thicker LCD TV that uses direct-lit LED backlight technology. I’ll tell you why.
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: Philips states a 5,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Yes, we all know that stratospheric dynamic contrast ratio specifications like this one are not to be trusted. But there are two exceptions. Stratospheric dynamic contrast ratios are definitely possible with OLED TVs and LCD TVs with LED backlights combined with local dimming. Although I haven’t seen the 9704 LED Pro line of TVs from Philips with my own eyes, I expect the picture quality to be exceptionally good with contrasty pictures and deep blacks. The thinner edge-lit LED backlight technology cannot be paired with local dimming as of now so it will not have contrast ratios as good. But if you wait just a bit LCD manufacturers are working hard to marry local dimming and edge-lit LED some time in 2010.
Motion Blur Not a Problem: Frequency is 200Hz, quadruple the normal 50Hz that is standard in Europe. But we all know that 100Hz or 200Hz won’t do much to reduce motion blur. If you haven’t already, read “Mid to High-End LCD TVs: Motion Blur a Non Issue“. The article explains what DisplayMate‘s Dr. Raymond M. Soneira found testing for motion blur on mid- to high-end LCD TVs: motion blur is a non-issue. Maybe it’s just psychological: we like bigger numbers that might mean better technology. 200Hz sounds much better than 50Hz, doesn’t it? The response time is very fast at just 1ms, probably a gray-to-gray (GTG) specification.
Ambilight Spectra 3: Philips has a unique technology called Ambilight that surrounds the TV itself with colors that reflect the video content. The overall effect is a more immersive viewing experience. The 9704 LED Pro line has Ambilight Spectra 3 that automatically adjusts both color and brightness of the surrounding light.
Expensive: The 40-inch 40PFL9704 and the 46-inch 46PFL9704’s LED backlight also helps with energy conservation: the 9704 LED Pros are up to 50% more energy efficient than previous models. You need to connect five video sources? Go ahead. These two models come with five HDMI ports. Availability is slated for December with the 40PFL9704 going for Â£1,799 (around US$3000) and the 46PFL9704 requiring a hefty Â£2,499 (about US$4,100).