Philips flagship model 42PF9831D 42-inch LCD TV is something a bit different for home cinema fanatics. Arriving in a box easily big enough for a 50-inch plasma screen is exciting enough, but not as surprising as opening it and not feeling let down to find out that it’s only 42 inch. The 42PF is more than just a TV, it’s a design statement, something that’ll become a part of your living room far more than the average grey or black box and something you’ll have a hard time not falling in love with. Despite the svelte lines and attractively contrasting black and white surrounding it’s more lust than love at first sight though, the love will come later after a few drinks and a dance.
Tempting as it is to keep the romantic imagery running throughout the review, the wealth of technical features and connectivity on the 42PF make such things impossible, so we’ll boil this down to the most impressive features.
Getting the TV tuned and set up is a painless process, all the connectivity you’d expect to find is here including two Scarts, two HDMI ports and the usual additions including an Ethernet and USB ports for accessing content from your PC. To get the full effect from this LCD you really need an HDMI or at least component signal, HDMI in particular sees both sound and image radically improved over standard Scart or composite connections. For those of you with a Sky HD box or an upscaling DVD player with HDMI support this is the part where the heartstrings start going and you can feel yourself really falling for this staggering LCD.
With video resolution support of up to 1080i/720p, a 4000:1 dynamic screen contrast and a 176 degree viewing angle (which means you still get a decent picture at the most acute of angles) the specifications won’t let anyone down. You’ll also find five built-in speakers and an integrated subwoofer, we were so impressed by the sound through the HDMI port we turned off a separate surround sound system just to enjoy it in its natural glory.
More unconventional connections include a 7 in 1 card reader, Ethernet port and two USB ports. The TV is compatible with the majority of image and video standards, so if for example you have a DivX movie on a memory stick, just plug it into the side of the TV and watch away, no fuss, no bother.
We could go on about a range of other features and configuration options available with this Philips, such as the ClearLCD and Aptura lighting technology, but suffice it to say the 42PF addresses most of the current drawbacks of LCD screens and the results are magnificent.
One feature that really does deserve a special mention is the Ambilight. Philips are the first to employ a full surround light that features dynamic colour processing to allow each of the four sides to emit a colour that complements the on-screen image. This changes with the image on-screen to create a virtual screen extension that improves the overall experience to mouth watering levels. Ambilight technology has been proven to reduce eyestrain and improve perceived picture detail, and thanks to the white canvas surrounding mounted into the LCD it not only works against any colour backdrop but also gives the impression that the screen is floating when mounted on a wall.
There really aren’t enough good things to say about the 42PF. If we’re searching for drawbacks it has to be said that image quality does deteriorate somewhat with a standard or non-HD signal, as we’ve already mentioned this is a true HD users dream.
Philips has got just about everything right with the 42PF, it’s not the cheapest 42” LCD out there by a long shot, but you get so much for your money it’s almost impossible not to recommend it.