Philips 32PFL7404 £699
27th Sep 2009 | 09:00
A no-nonsense TV offering excellent pictures
By Philips' lofty TV standards, the 32PFL7404 LCD TV can be considered a bargain model, with its price tag of just £700.
Despite packing technical gems such as 100Hz processing and HD Natural Motion, the 32PFL7404 does away with many of the features found on the manufacturer's more highly specified products.
In place of the latest Perfect Pixel HD processing, the TV sports the pared down Pixel Precise HD. This means that there's no Perfect Contrast or Perfect Colour, but you do get HD Natural Motion that inserts frames into the picture to create the smoothest image possible.
The absence of internet connectivity and Philips' popular Ambilight frame further boosts the TV's budget credentials. The bezel does still feature the clear plastic lip on the edge, as seen on the Ambilight TVs, but it seems a little pointless in this case.
Adding to the panel's somewhat sparse feature list is a USB port to enable play back of MP3, JPEG, MP4 and AVI files. There's also a light sensor that detects the ambient levels of light in the room and alters the backlight accordingly.
Unsurprisingly for a Philips TV, the onscreen menu system is pleasingly simple. The clearly labelled Home screen incorporates shortcuts to all the various TV functions and inputs including the USB reader, Blu-ray and settings menu.
The remote control fits in nicely with the simple design of the onscreen menus and even includes a dedicated 'Home' button, along with shortcuts to picture and sound setting menus. It's not quite as sturdy as some of the other handsets we've seen from Philips, but it's still comfortable to use and perfectly functional.
The initial set-up menu is child's play, with the set automatically finding all the Freeview channels within just a couple of minutes.
Along with an eight-day EPG, the set also features a TV icon on the Home page for ease of use.
Picture settings are also comprehensive, including HD Natural Motion and 100Hz Clear LCD.
All-round performance on Blu-ray images is excellent. Black levels manage to reach an inky blackness not usually associated with LCD panels.
There is a small amount of picture noise in dark scenes, but never enough to become truly distracting.
The HD Natural Motion feature does an excellent job of removing the judder that is so common on Blu-ray, while ensuring that images are extremely clear and full of depth. Unfortunately, the side effects of this particular feature cause a fair amount of flickering on moving portions of the image. The problem fails to disappear, even with the processing set to minimum.
Despite its obvious drawbacks, the HD Natural Motion function still works wonders in certain areas of the picture. The TV's 100Hz Clear LCD processing does a sublime job of removing image blur.
Pictures are left clean and smooth, even on excerpts containing plenty of rapidly paced action.
What's more, colours are bright and energetic with realistic toning, resulting in a pleasingly cinematic look. The set's audio isn't exactly groundbreaking, especially when compared with Philips' larger TVs, but there's still plenty of quality here.
The sonics are clear and faithful, while a pseudo-surround sound mode helps to add depth and dynamism to movie soundtracks.
Although not particularly exciting when it comes to the special features, this no-frills set from Philips offers a strong performance at an affordable price, easily outperforming the majority of its similarly priced rivals.
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