Philips 42PFL7404 £800
2nd Feb 2010 | 10:30
A few minor niggles fail to marr what is an impressive LCD TV
After producing a stream of extravagantly specified premium TVs, Philips is finally catering for the less well off with the 42PFL7404, and we hope this doesn't mean too many cut corners.
It certainly doesn't look cheap: the glossy black bezel is extremely slender, and is dramatically offset by a transparent cowl curving forward around the TV's extremities. However, there's no sign of Philips' usual Ambilight technology.
The set lacks the extravagant fifth HDMI and Ethernet port of models higher up the range, but most users will likely find the four provided HDMIs and the multimedia-savvy USB port more than adequate.
As per every Philips TV these days, even the relatively affordable ones, the 42PFL7404 is stuffed with picture processing. The 'engine' here is called Pixel Precise HD – a system that's roughly half as powerful as Philips' flagship Perfect Pixel HD engine.
While the former can't handle as many pixels per second as its bigger brother, it still tackles such issues as motion blur, colour saturations, SD upscaling and noise suppression more potently than any other TV at this price range.
In fact, when fully optimised, the 42PFL7404's images can look sensational. The sharpness with which it presents standard and high definition is a joy to behold, especially as the provided motion processing removes practically all traces of judder and blurring from objects as they traverse the screen.
Colours are phenomenally intense, too, radiating off the screen with such force that we almost suspected they were trying to hide other problems such as a poor black level response, perhaps.
But, actually, the black levels are good by LCD standards, and while its pictures aren't as polished as those of Philips' awesome 9000 series (there's more grain and shimmering around objects with the motion processing engaged), they have nothing to be ashamed of. As long as you are careful with the set's many picture adjustments, that is.
If you're too heavy handed with the noise reduction, pictures become soft. Conversely, too much motion processing can produce lots of distracting side-effects. And some of the sharpness tools can lead to graininess if set too high.
It only takes a little initial experimentation and a reasonable level of ongoing commitment to keep things looking tickety boo, though, and your efforts are always handsomely rewarded.
Add to all the picture glories some solid audio that's rather light on bass, and the 42PFL7404 adds up to a really compelling option for anyone whose budget points them towards the sub-£1,000 flatscreen price bracket.
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