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Philips 47PFL9732D review: Philips 47PFL9732D

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Connectivity is solid on the 47PFL9732D, beginning with the trio of HDMI inputs on the back panel. There's also a bank of analog AV inputs; the first offers a choice of component video, S-Video, or composite video; the second only composite video; and the third only component video. Additional rear-panel connections include a coaxial optical digital output (most TVs use optical) and an unusual matching input for getting digital audio from source devices to play through the TV's sound system. Unlike most flat-panel LCDs, this Philips lacks an RGB-style PC input. A set of AV jacks on the left side of the panel, with composite and S-Video, offers easy access. The same-side panel bay also includes a headphone jack and a USB port, the latter for displaying digital photos on the screen and playing digital music files though the TVs speakers.

Philips 47PFL9732D
The side-panel includes a USB port in addition to the usual AV inputs.

The Philips 47PFL9732D delivered acceptable black-level performance and very good color temperature after calibration, and in certain tests its 120Hz mode did address image blur relatively well. But those strengths are balanced by weaknesses in primary color accuracy and off-angle performance.

During setup, when we executed our customary calibration to achieve optimal image quality in our darkened theater, we definitely appreciated the Philips user-menu color temperature detail controls. That's because the set's most accurate color temp preset, labeled "Warm," was entirely too bluish compared with the standard. After adjustment, however, the Philips was nearly perfect (see the Geek Box for details). For our full user-menu settings, click here or scroll down to the tips section.

To evaluate the Philips 47PFL9732D's picture quality, we set it up alongside a few competing and reference HDTVs, including the Pioneer PDP-5080HD and the Sony KDS-55A3000 (our current black-level and color references, respectively), as well as the 120Hz Sony KDL-46XBR4, the Westinghouse TX-47F430S, and the Olevia 252FHD (three large-screen LCDs). We watched Rescue Dawn, set in the lush jungles of Vietnam, on the Sony PlayStation3 at 1080p resolution. (In case you're wondering, we traded out our customary reference Blu-ray player, Samsung's BD-P1200, because it refused to play that disc--among others--and the Sony delivers excellent BD playback in its own right).

Black-level performance was about average among late-model LCDs. Black areas, for example the deep shadows inside the hut where the POWs are kept in lockdown, looked deeper than on the Westinghouse and the Olevia, although not as deep as those on the Sony LCD or either of the reference sets, for example. Shadow detail was also average, showing less than the Sony but more than the Westinghouse in the folds of Christian Bale's outfit as he unlocks the handcuffs, for example, and we appreciated that black remained neutral, as opposed to becoming bluish as we saw on the Olevia.

We did notice some uniformity issues in darker areas, however. The sides of the screen appeared lighter than the middle--a common affliction among LCDs, but a bit worse than average on the 47PFL9732D. This issue becomes more obvious as you move off-angle to view the set from the sides as opposed to straight-on. We also noticed some very minor brightness variations across the entire screen in bright scenes with camera movement, such as when the camera pans over the sky when Bale surveys the jungle from his outcropping, but they were basically invisible in most other scenes and even when the camera stopped moving.

Off-angle performance on the Philips was among the worst we've seen recently on any LCD. When seen from one spot to either side of the sweet spot in the middle of the couch, darker areas became noticeably lighter, and from more extreme angles the problem worsened considerably.

The set's accurate post-calibration color temperature contributed to good-looking skin tones, from Bale's relatively healthy look early in the film to Jeremy Davies' sickly pallor. Primary and secondary colors, on the other hand, looked much less accurate than we'd like to see, and, surprisingly, measured much worse than on the 42PFL7432D we reviewed previously. The numerous shots including jungle foliage revealed the Philips' bluish greens--worse than those of any other TV in the room--and the way-too-intense skies and greenish-looking water accentuated its inaccurate cyan. Like everything else, the difference would be less noticeable outside of a side-by-side comparison, but nonetheless we believe people sensitive to color accuracy will definitely notice, especially in material including lots of natural colors.

To evaluate the performance of the Philips' 120Hz mode and its ability to reduce motion blur, we checked out a "motion resolution" test from a disc we obtained from Pioneer. As you'd expect, Pioneer's plasma, along with Sony's SXRD-based rear-projection set, looked best on this difficult test, which consisted of a fixed shot with cars moving across the screen. The license numbers on the cars appeared less blurry in 120Hz mode on the Philips than the Westinghouse and Olevia LCDs, and about the same on the 120Hz Sony KDL-46XBR4. Seeing the difference on program material, such as the football and hockey matches we watched, was a lot more difficult, but if you're sensitive to motion blur (and don't want to get a plasma or an RPTV) then getting a 120Hz model might be a good move. Of course, since the Philips lacks the de-judder processing found on the Sony and others, we didn't see any smoothing of motion when we engaged its 120Hz mode.

The Philips, as expected, did resolve every line of a 1080i and a 1080p resolution source, and details on the set looked as sharp as on any of the other HDTVs in the room. We did appreciate the fact that the 47PFL9732D passed the film resolution loss test from the HQV Blu-ray disc--which most HDTVs fail--but for some reason it failed the video resolution loss test, which most HDTVs ace. Go figure. Either way, we'd prefer to see the film test pass, although as usual we had a difficult time spotting the difference in program material.

With standard-def sources, tested using the HQV DVD at 480i resolution via component-video, the Philips 46PFL9732D turned in a solid performance. We noticed that the highest-resolution lines in the color bar patterns, while fully resolved as they should be, would flicker every few seconds regardless of picture setting. This isn't a huge deal, though, because we found the flicker difficult to spot in program material. The Philips cleaned up the edges of moving diagonal lines extremely well, and rendered the stripes on a waving American flag as cleanly as any TV we've tested. Details on the stone bridge and grass were a bit softer than some sets we've seen, but not terrible. Each of the four noise reduction settings did a progressively more aggressive job of trading fine detail for less noise, and maximum did an extremely good job. Finally, the set engaged 2:3 pull-down.

Note that we did not test the Ambilight feature on this television because it's identical to the one found on the 42PFL7432D. Please refer to the Performance section of that review for details.

Before color temp (20/80) 9,203/7,402 Poor
After color temp 6,438/6,489 Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 1790K Poor
After grayscale variation +/- 63K Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.654/0.324 Average
Color of green 0.221/0.645 Poor
Color of blue 0.144/0.078 Poor
Overscan 0 percent Good
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Yes Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Yes Good
1080i video resolution Fail Poor
1080i film resolution Pass Good

Philips 47PFL9732D Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 250.1 130.7 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.26 0.14 N/A
Standby (watts) 1.4 1.4 N/A
Cost per year $76.80 $40.54 N/A
Score (considering size) Good
Score (overall) Average

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