They don’t make them like this anymore. At least it has been a very long time since we last had one in to test. We remember when 32 inches was relatively large.
Now, flanked in our testing room by a pair of gargantuan 65-inchers, the Philips 32PFT5500 looks almost tablet-sized.
Powered by Android OS, it should at least be smart as a tablet. Partnered with their Dual Core processor, Philips promises fast and intuitive access to Netflix, YouTube, Spotify Connect, BBC iPlayer and Google Play, and, with what they refer to as Perfect Motion Rate, in the most glorious of high definition.
That level of slickness is certainly present in the design. After screwing the screen to its minimalist stand, the set perches elegantly upon our rack. Though only the tabletop stand is included, there is also the option of wall mounting.
We like its no-frills tidiness and sophistication, essentially framing the picture with just a narrow black rim.
Set-up is similarly simple. Philips has included Micro Dimming technology, which analyses and adjusts the picture accordingly, and the Pixel Plus HD engine is there to help optimise picture quality and contrast.
Fine-tuning is fairly inflexible, meaning we can’t tune to quite the level we’d like, but we can have few complaints about the quality of the picture we end up with.
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Flicking between high- and standard-definition daytime television, there is a good amount of detail with each. Movement is also well tracked. With a repeat of Top Gear, the Philips feels relatively comfortable chasing the cars as they whizz around the circuit.
Contrast is decent as well, especially so considering how restrictive we find the settings. The most vibrant colours are well represented and blacks are dark. More subtlety would be well received, though; detail in things such as hair colour and shadows is minimal.
Switching over to the BBC’s Africa with David Attenborough, a scene of elephants fraternising at night highlights the Philips’ frailties when it comes to distinguishing between blacks and dark greys; the foreground is fine, but we get little clue as to the backdrop.
It’s minor at this price, and doesn’t have an especially detrimental effect upon viewing, but greater insight is available elsewhere.
More after the break
Playing Blu-ray and DVD offers the same relative picture quality as TV broadcast, as it does with sound.
We don’t expect a flatscreen to facilitate the most dynamic or expressive listening experience, but there is enough detail and feeling behind the Philips.
Soundtracks are musical enough – you could happily watch Later… With Jools Holland without a soundbar – and the sound doesn’t harden or become harsh with bellowing voices or the rev of an engine either, as can often be the case when the small try to sound big.
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Ease of use
Sadly, the user experience doesn’t quite stand up to the picture and sound quality when your media is playing.
We streamed videos from YouTube with ease, for example, but couldn’t get a peep from BBC iPlayer, getting as far as clicking on the programme we wanted to watch but for no return.
The general slowness of the interface – the TV guide in particular is in no rush to get ready – probably only lacks a software update, but until such time is frustrating enough to counteract the things Philips have done right here.