Philips 19PFL3405

The LED craze is in full swing so it’s no surprise that the energy saving and super-slim tech has made its way down to the 19-inch size. Philips has been one of the most dedicated exponents of LED technology in the last few years, experimenting with various high-end arrays in various TVs, but until now it’s concentrated exclusively on the more lucrative 40-inch plus market.

But with the UK rapidly approaching a “HD-ready TV in every home” situation, the market for digital TVs for bedrooms and kitchens is quickly ballooning. So what better way to appeal to the masses than with the 19PFL3405, a LCD TV that’s easily one of the most attractive around.

The frame is gloss black - no surprises there - though a red-tinged strip along the bottom of the bezel is more unusual. It sits above some surprisingly good speakers.

Although they’re rated at just 3W, these stereo speakers manage to deliver a soundstage that’s just about adequate for digital TV duties.

As well as various audio modes dubbed Smart Sound, there’s even an Incredible Surround option that does widen the soundstage. That’s a welcome victory since there’s no way the 19PFL3405 would normally be attached to a separate sound system. If you do want to hook it up to a nearby hi-fi or similar, the 19PFL3405 does possess a set of analogue stereo audio outputs on the rear, which ought to do the trick. 

Speakers on Philips TVs are usually more impressive than most, but it’s pleasing to hear an above average performance on a small, budget TV.

Another pleasing similarity of the 19PFL3405 to its high-end brethren is its user interface. It’s not identical - here the nicely laid-out “mosaic” channel lists and electronic programme guide are presented in black and white, not colour, but they benefit from the same high-res graphics. The EPG, which shows 2 hours of schedules over 8 hours, is a bit of a letdown; when activated you can’t watch (or listen to) a TV channel, while toggling through the schedules is a laborious process.

Central to the system is a home screen, which presents icons for watching TV, adding icons to the home screen for individual components in your home ents system (so, a “Games” icon can get you straight to an Xbox, for example, without having to toggle through video inputs), and inspecting files on a USB stick.

Sadly only MP3 files and JPEG photos can be played through USB, which does seem a little short-sighted since the 19PFL3405 is likely to be used in a bedroom or study where digital media is more relevant.

LED backlighting means great pictures, right? Not so on the 19PFL3405, which presents a rather patchy brightness and significant problems with motion blur. Contrast and colours are decent, but Freeview and even Blu-ray lack fine detail and depth.

Verdict

Nicely designed and well presented it may be, but this 19-inch LED-backlit LCD TV doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to picture quality with blurring and a lack of detail a consistent problem.