Philips 42PFL9603D £729
19th Aug 2008 | 11:33
Can Philips' most sophisticated processing system yet win over the doubters?
The Philips 42PFL9603D features the very latest iteration of the company's processing technology, complete with a plethora of new efforts to resolve such controversial 'glitches'.
The new version of Perfect Pixel HD brings in wizardry aimed at improving contrast and colours, as well as the motion and sharpness enhancements key to the previous Perfect Pixel generation.
Before getting into all that, though, I've got to praise the set's design. Part of Philips' Design Collection, the 42PFL9603D really does look sumptuous with its gloss black bezel, unique transparent outer 'shroud', and stereo Ambilight system, where coloured light sympathetic to the image content spills from the left and right sides.
Philip's sleek styling
Connectivity is good too, thanks to four v1.3 HDMIs, Ethernet port for home network integration, and USB port able to handle a variety of multimedia file formats.
With pretty much every element of the Perfect Pixel Engine adjustable in the endless onscreen menus, the 42PFL9603D is not for the faint-hearted. But provided you're willing you commit to regular tinkering,
the 42PFL9603D can reward you with quite sensational pictures that I doubt any would argue with.
Particularly outrageous, as usual with a Philips TV, is the amount of detail visible in not only HD but standard-definition feeds too. Every fibre of Sweeney Todd's distinctive waistcoats are perfectly defined, along with every whisker on every soon-to-be-slashed throat.
This detail prowess is emphasised by the fact that the set is, for the most part, free of motion blur – even with the HD Natural Motion and 100Hz systems deactivated.
Colours, meanwhile, are grandstandingly vigorous, but also claim a great natural tonal range, and the set's black level is among the deepest and most detailed I've yet seen from an LCD TV.
However, you must invest time in the set's menu system. If you don't deactivate the HD Natural Motion mode during sports viewing you can get ghostly echoes of fast-moving objects like cricket balls. And if you don't turn off the 'Advanced Sharpness' feature during standard-def viewing, edges can look stressy.
I also strongly advise keeping all noise reduction off during HD viewing, and only at minimum with SD – it can soften images too much. Provided you follow these simple (?) rules, though, the 42PFL9603D's pictures are amongst the best in the LCD world right now.
Audio is no slouch either, as a couple of subwoofers on the TV's backside help it produce a nice mid-range, effortless clarity and lots of power on tap.