Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
Our Philips entrant isn’t all that inexpensive, going $500 over our upper price cut off. Still, it is instructive to see what this extra $500 delivers.
It provides all the leading edge picture processing technology that marks the $5000-plus category, albeit in a slightly smaller picture size, plus a true high definition picture with 1920 x 1080 pixels.
You get three HDMI inputs, sufficient analog options, and a nifty side-mounted USB socket from which you can display JPEG photos or play MP3 music. Photos scale appropriately to use the full resolution of the screen, providing the highest possible quality.
All video signal standards are supported, including the hottest new standard: 1080p24. This provides film-like smooth picture motion. Even on the best movies there can still be some ‘judder’ during camera pans, but this TV also has Philip’s Natural Motion processing which smooths this out. You aren’t going to see a smoother picture anywhere than with this TV.
The TV delivers on colour and fine picture detail. For 1080 sources it has an aspect ratio called ‘Unscaled’ which maps the all the pixels from the incoming signal onto display pixels without any change in size. This was great for Blu-ray and HD DVD, but if you live in an area where HDTV is broadcast at 1440 x 1080 instead of 1920 x 1080, the picture becomes narrow so you can’t use this mode with the internal HDTV tuner.
All the digital TV functions worked well, except that the ‘Guide’ key only gives ‘Now’ and ‘Next’ program information, not the whole day’s worth provided by some stations.
The only weakness is in black levels, and that only in comparison to plasmas. It beats all the other TVs here on that front. The TV also has Philips’ Ambilight to deliver a backlight behind the TV. You can configure how this works, or switch it off completely.