Philips Cineos 32PFL9603D review:

Philips Cineos 32PFL9603D

Typical Price: £800.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Picture; sound; design; features.

The Bad That remote control wheel will drive you round the bend; not very cheap; bright backlight in dark scenes.

The Bottom Line This is a good, sturdy TV for people who want high-end performance on a smaller scale. Picture and sound both help to sell the package and the styling is clean, fresh and attractive

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

At some point over the last five years TV manufacturers seem to have forgotten that we Brits don't have massive homes. Generally speaking, your average TV room really isn't the sort of size that comfortably accommodates a 50-inch screen.

Philips seems to understand this, but also understands that not having a football-pitch-sized living room doesn't necessarily preclude you from wanting the latest technology and the best picture quality. As a result, the Cineos 32PFL9603 looks great on paper. Let's take a look at how it performs in the real world. It's available now for around £800.

The styling of the 32-inch 9603 is the same as its big brother, the 42-inch 9703. This is no bad thing at all, because the TV is incredibly well styled, and is certainly one of Philips' best efforts. There's a lip that surrounds the TV -- both a styling feature and a practical one, because the TV has two sets of speakers. One set delivers vocal-range sound (high and mid-range) out of a 'horn' and the others are located round the back, and deal with the bass and low-end sounds.

The front of the TV is unbroken, with no controls. There's only a power LED light in the form of a long white strip -- you expect this to double as a power switch, but it doesn't, which is a disappointment. If you want to adjust the volume, the channel or turn the TV on or off, there are some controls on the right-hand side.

At the rear of the TV are the usual connection options. You've got four HDMI sockets -- one of which is on the side, alongside a set of standard-definition composite inputs. You also get component and VGA inputs for analogue sources, such as games consoles and some upscaling DVD players.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the remote control at some point here. In the past we've not minded the Philips remote, which features a scroll wheel. But this method of doing things is starting to grate a little now.

The problem is that when going through menus it's too easy to skip over the item you want. This might sound like a minor irritation, but do it often enough and it'll make you scream. Most of the buttons on the remote are pretty good, but we could happily never use that wheel again.

One of this TV's big selling points is the fact that it features the same high-end picture processing as the more expensive models. This means that even though you've opted for the smaller screen size, you aren't penalised for doing so.

The main attraction is Philips' competent Perfect Pixel HD engine, which maintains a high standard of picture quality. These days you can't totally turn it off, but that's fine by us, because on the minimum settings it does a great job and is unobtrusive. We don't recommend cranking everything up though, unless you're a fan of over-processed pictures.

It's also fair to say that people will be drawn to this TV for its Ambilight feature. We were quite impressed to see the coloured backlights on such a small TV, although here it's the two-sided version, rather than the much more immersive three-sided version we saw on the 9703.

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