How's this for a geek aphorism? Once you've had Ambilight, you never go back. Okay, it doesn't rhyme, but if it's true, Philips must have a fairly large captive market, because it's the only company able to produce these magical glowing TVs. The newly announced 32PFL9604 is the latest TV in the Ambilight range, and it's available in June for about £1,000.
As you would expect for that much money, this is a highly specified TV. You get five HDMI inputs, which has to be some sort of record for a 32-inch TV. It's also DLNA certified, and can grab pictures, video and music off your home network via its built-in Wi-Fi connection. Wired Ethernet is also included, which will be good for the tin-hat wearing wireless refuseniks.
This being a TV from a big company, there are the usual outrageous claims made, most involving ridiculously high numbers. For example, the TV can produce an alleged 2,250 trillion colours. Frankly, we don't know where they're finding them. Mother Nature only manages seven in a rainbow, so this must be quite a shock to the old girl. There's also a claim about an 80,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio -- but like us, you must have given up on these pretty meaningless numbers by now, surely?
The 'perfect natural motion' system is designed to reduce judder to virtually zero. We've seen Philips' processing on, and it's fair to say they do produce a very fluid image. We'll leave it up to you to decide if you like that look on your movies. It's not for everyone, after all. The panel also claims an impressive 2ms response time and has a 100Hz picture mode too, again for improving motion.
The 9604 also takes its audio performance quite seriously, with Philips' dual-speaker system. Simply put, the TV has a couple of forward-firing tweeters and, at the rear, a couple of woofers for low-end bass response. It's a system that works really well, and we've been impressed by it in the past.
There's also a 37-inch version of this TV, setting you back a little more at £1,300, but you might want the extra inches if you're after a more immersive home-cinema experience. It goes without saying, we'll try and nab a review sample as soon as possible and give it a proper workout.