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Philips 50PF9966 Plasma TV

The 50PF9966 50 inch plasma is one of four new high-end Philips TVs that introduce its new visual enhancing technologies such as Ambilight and Pixel Plus 2. It also doubles as a mood lamp.

Upside
Philips' Ambilight is a back-lighting system built into the rear side panels of the TV that adjusts ambient lighting around the television to match the colour of the content featured on screen. With a soft glow on the wall behind the set, Philips claims that users will benefit from reduced eye strain, as well as perceive better picture quality in terms of contrast, colours and detail.

Ambilight can be set for real-time adjustment of light intensity and colour to complement the viewer's television programming or movies. It can also be fixed on a colour choice of the consumer's preference - red, green, blue, white or combination thereof - when the set is on or off.   So it can be used for normal ambient room lighting when the TV set is in standby mode.

To reduce glare and reflections on the screen, Ambilight technology is also coupled with an external light sensor to determine how much light there is in the room. It then can control the TV light output accordingly. A dark room will trigger less light, whereas a bright room will drive more light output.

Pixel Plus is a digital picture processing feature which improves the resolution of still and moving pictures. Philips claims that Pixel Plus 2 improves colour reproduction and increases resolution, picture depth and contrast ratio by up to 30 per cent over a conventional television by creating more brilliant colours and true natural details from any image source.

Other picture enhancing features include Full Active Control that automatically analyses the incoming signal and adjusts the key picture settings on sharpness, digital noise reduction, colour and contrast at a rate of 50 times per second. Its Digital Natural Motion function also estimates motion in the picture and corrects juddering movements.

Throw in Virtual Dolby Surround, HDMI connectivity, full Dual Screen and PIP to simultaneously watch two different channels and you're looking at a pretty complete plasma package.

Downside:
The theory that the ambient lighting reduces eye strain and improves picture perception is certainly sound, but the real-time colour adjustment is reminiscent of the Saturday Night Fever dance floor - the rapidly changing red, green and blue lights are distracting, but presumably you'd get used to it over time.

Note too that this feature-laden HD model is not the one to break any price barriers for the mass market.  The $12,699 price tag will scare off the big screen posers.

Outlook
With great looks, great technology and ambient room lighting as a bonus, this Philips plasma should please the tech heads and interior designers alike.

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