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Philips 47PFL9632D review: Philips 47PFL9632D

Using image processing and Philips' Ambilight technologies, the picture quality on the 47PFL9632D is extraordinary. This TV produces levels of sharpness, purity, motion clarity and fluidity that, for its price range, are unprecedented in the LCD world. Let this television's hard work reward you

Alex Jennings

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3 min read

LCD technology has two core problems that to some extent blight almost every LCD TV we see: poor black levels and a loss of resolution when showing moving objects.

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8.8

Philips 47PFL9632D

The Good

Picture quality is generally outstanding; great looks; Ambilight; good connectivity; immense feature count.

The Bad

Requires care at setup stage; occasional processing artefacts.

The Bottom Line

Philips appears to have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at producing better pictures from the 47PFL9632D -- and its efforts have paid off handsomely in the form of some of the best big screen LCD pictures to date. Add this to the TV's great looks and a features list as long as the Great Wall of China (well, nearly), and that £1,700 asking price starts to look very reasonable

With its new 47PFL9632D, available for around £1,700, Philips reckons it's finally solved both problems once and for all. And you know what? It might just be right.

Strengths
After that intro, we're really duty bound to get straight down to the technologies that make the 47PFL9632D's picture quality so special. For starters, in place of the usual single, always-on backlight found in most LCD TVs, the 47PFL9632D uses an array of individually-controllable hot cathode fluorescent lights (HCFLs).

This has two benefits. First, it allows the screen to produce a scanning effect like that seen on old CRT TVs, resulting in much sharper motion reproduction. Second, it should boost black level response since the screen can respond to dark parts of a picture much more individually than is possible with a single backlight.

The other key element of the 47PFL9632D is its Perfect Pixel Engine image processing. This takes the impressive detail boosting, noise-reducing elements of Philips' renowned Pixel Plus system and puts a host of new stuff on top. Included in this new stuff is 100Hz processing, which doubles the PAL scanning rate in a further bid to make motion look clearer.

Then there's HD Natural Motion, which interpolates extra frames of image data to make motion look more fluid and smooth, plus new 14-bit picture processing to help produce a richer, more subtle colour palette.

Provided you're a little careful how you use them, all these various technologies work together superbly in producing levels of sharpness, purity, vibrancy, motion clarity and fluidity that, for our money, are unprecedented in the LCD world. Those crazy robotic action sequences in the HD DVD of Transformers, for instance, have simply never looked better -- so much so, in fact, that you almost forget to notice the gaping holes in the film's storyline.

As if the 47PFL9632D's picture quality wasn't astounding enough to garner your interest, the set also scores with its connectivity -- which includes three HDMIs -- plus its almost endless features list and its design, greatly enhanced by Philips' Ambilight system.

Weaknesses
After reporting so many glories, you probably won't be shocked to find that we haven't a great deal negative to say about this television. But there are a couple of niggles.

The worst is the appearance of a slight processing glitch whereby small, very fast-moving objects like a cricket ball hurtling toward the boundary can appear with a kind of 'echo' image around them. This is a thankfully rare occurrence. Also, we occasionally spotted slight shimmering artefacts around the edges of one or two moving objects.

Finally, we urge you to be very careful with the settings you choose for the 47PFL9632D. If you set things like HD Natural Motion and noise reduction too high, they can start to have a negative rather than positive impact on picture quality. We suggest you arm yourself with a copy of ace TV setup aid Digital Video Essentials, a good half hour of your time and a little common sense as soon as you get your 47PFL9632D home if you want to get the best from it.

Conclusion
As with all really complex things, the 47PFL9632D demands more user knowledge and TLC than most TVs. But provided you show it the respect it deserves, it pays you back in fine style with some of the most spectacular pictures yet seen on a flat TV.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday