Philips 37PFL9603 review

This new Philips Ambilight LCD TV is packed with technology, but is that enough to justify its premium price in such a competitive market? Tested at £1500.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

If you like a premium product (or you have money to burn), jump right in

Pros

  • +

    Good looks, extensive spec

  • +

    impressive sound by flatscreen standards

  • +

    deft, natural images

Cons

  • -

    Occasionally flustered by fierce motion

  • -

    expensive

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Our July issue featured an eight-way Supertest of the best new 37-40in LCD TVs around. Sony's excellent KDL-40W4000 40-incher claimed top spot – it sells for around £1300. It follows that Philips has its work cut out if it's going to justify the 37PFL9603's lofty price tag.

If the barrage of exciting-sounding technology that the Philips (opens in new tab) includes is anything to go by, mind you, the 37PFL9603 has half a chance.

The company's 'Perfect Pixel' HD engine supposedly processes 500 million pixels per second, and colour processing offers a palate of (count 'em!) 2.25 trillion colours. A claimed 30000:1 contrast ratio is promising too, and the screen's ability to reduce light output to just five per cent suggests deep blacks and stark contrasts.

On top of all this number crunching, the '9603 packs four HDMI inputs, plus the latest variant of Philips' 'Ambilight' rear-firing ambient lighting technology. This is all wrapped up in smooth, attractive frame with no visible speaker grilles. If any 37in LCD is worth £1500 in this day and age, the Philips would appear to be it.

Colours are vibrant and natural
In practice, the '9603 gets an awful lot right. Watching fast-moving sport via the integrated digital tuner, we're impressed by the picture's stability, though during the most violent motion there's evidence of hard-working processing. Colours are vibrant and natural, and skin-tones convince.

Switching to a 1080p/24fps viewing of I Am Legend, the Philips impresses with its clean contrasts, considerable depth of field and smooth edge definition. Uniquely among screens of this size, the '9603 sounds reasonably broad and substantial, with dialogue kept clean and distinct.

So what you are left with, dear customer, is a value judgement. There's no doubt the Philips 37PFL9603 is among the best 37in LCD TVs around – it may not be immune to motion blurring in extremis, but the bulk of its performance is spot on. Are you prepared to shell out the premium price?

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