What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Tue, 9 Dec 2008, 3:00pm

Philips 37PFL7603D

Tested at £800
100100
5

Undeniably brilliant performance, coupled with unique style and features

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For

  • Unique style
  • Ambilight technology
  • Full HD
  • incredible realism
  • smooth motion, great detail
  • good tuner

Against

  • A touch more expensive than rivals
  • black levels not always rock solid

The review of this 37in Philips comes on the heels of a Group Test victory for its 42in sibling back in October's issue of the magazine.

Were it possible for inanimate objects to feel confident going in to a magazine Supertest, which the Philips does in our January 2009 issue, then this set surely would.

Instead, we feel confident on the Philips' behalf, now that the company seems to have struck the right balance between premium quality, features, and an affordable price tag.

Stereo Ambilight adds to the experience
As ever, the Philips cuts a striking figure among the mass of black boxes that crowd our testing rooms. This is a two-channel Ambilight set, which means the vertical light strips fitted to the back of the left and right sides of the set change colour to match the corresponding colour on the screen.

The resulting effect is intended to give a more relaxing viewing experience by bouncing the colours off the wall behind the screen.

While the technology takes getting used to, we do think it adds to the experience – if you don't agree, you can always turn it off.

The tech spec sheet is impressive
Don't be thinking that's the end of the features though. Philips' Pixel Plus 3HD is here, as is HD Natural Motion and the company's HDMI control system, Easylink.

It's a Full HD, 1080p/24fps compatible screen, and there are four HDMI inputs, with one on the side of the panel. It is not, however, a 100Hz screen.

Watching the Blu-ray disc of Hellboy 2 the sense of depth and realism is exceptional – this is a picture that looks good enough to reach out and touch.

Motion is handled smoothly, though we opted to turn the HD Natural Motion feature off, and colours are bright, vital and yet still utterly realistic. Only in darker scenes did we question the level of insight that this set uncovers.

Exceptional HD and good with DVD
Sending an unscaled DVD image, there's no issue delivering a detailed, clean picture that manages true, if not always utterly solid and detailed black shades.

Switch to the Freeview tuner and, but for the Panasonic TH-37PX80's class-leading performance, this Philips set would be the champion in its sector, thanks to its clean, smooth, sharp images.

Picture performance is naturally the key, but we're impressed by the sound, too, which is clear, authoritative and nicely balanced with surprising bottom end presence.

A classy performer from start to finish, the Philips 37PFL7603D has a wealth of positives with barely a bad word in sight – it's a genuine contender for top honours.

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