Philips 9000 (32PFL9705/12) review: Philips 9000 (32PFL9705/12)

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Typical Price: £1,300.00
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4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Extremely deep black levels;. Rich, vivid colours;. Great picture-processing;. Full internet access.

The Bad Awkward remote and menu system;. No 3D or HD tuner;. The price!.

The Bottom Line The 32-inch Philips 32PFL9705/12 is expensive and can be a little fiddly to use, but it delivers stunning picture quality and impressively beefy sound.

8.8 Overall

With a price tag of £1,300, the Philips 32PFL9705 is hugely expensive for a 32-inch screen. Philips believes the set's combination of direct LED backlighting, which produces deep black levels, and Amblight, which improves the TV's perceived colour depth, will convince you that its picture quality is worth every penny of the hefty outlay. So, is this really the case?

Bright lights

The telly certainly looks like a premium set thanks to the attractive brushed-aluminium finish and the thin transparent strip that runs around the outer edge of the screen. Philips' new three-sided Ambilight system can be seen when you peak around the rear of the TV. You'll find strips of lights arranged across the two sides and top of the telly. The Ambilight system, which projects colours onto a wall behind the set to match what's on screen, may sound like a gimmick, but once you've used it you'll appreciate just what an effective feature it is.

There are plenty of ports for connecting your AV kit up to the set including four HDMI ports, a set of component inputs, a VGA input and a Scart socket. As well as this, Philips has added two USB ports along with an Ethernet connection for media playback and Internet video-streaming. The TV even has Wi-Fi built in, which is a boon since most other sets require the use of an expensive dongle.

Lost on a remote island

A series of installation wizards guide you through the process of tuning in the channels, setting up the networking features and adjusting the picture and sound options. But once all this is done, you'll find the TV's remote control and general navigation system takes some getting used to.

The 32PFL9705's over-simplified remote takes some getting used to.

Although the design of the remote looks neat thanks to its oval shape and brushed-aluminium finish, Philips has over-simplified it by removing too many key buttons. For example, there's no 'info' button to bring up information about the show you're watching via the Freeview tuner. Instead, you have to dive into a menu and find the information in there. The menu system is also a little annoying to use, as many features take multiple button-presses to access, which slows down navigation. We weren't fans of the electronic programme guide, either, as it's particularly sluggish.

Web of features, but no Freeview HD or 3D

Nevertheless, the 32PFL9705 is one of those rare TVs that actually has full Internet access built in. Its Opera Web browser means you can view standard websites on this set. Its other Internet features, however, aren't as impressive as rival sets, such as those from Samsung, Sony and Panasonic. There's no BBC iPlayer support, for example, although you do get YouTube and Dailymotion widgets.

Also disappointing, given the high price of the TV, is the lack of a Freeview HD tuner and support for 3D. If you want 3D, you'll need to step up to one of the larger screen sizes in the 9000 range, as Philips doesn't think its worth including on a smaller screen such as this.

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