Philips 42PES001 review

It's far from cheap, but if you want a great-looking object that's also a great-looking screen, this Philips set is for you Tested at £1800.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

We thought long and hard about docking the Philips a star on the basis of its hefty price – but ultimately if you want a great-looking object that's also a great-looking screen, the Philips is hard to criticise


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    Svelte looks

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    simple to wall-mount

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    separate media box

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    impressive, convincing pictures from all sources


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    £1800 is a lot of money for a TV in the current market

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Of course, we're familiar with the concept of a premium product. Some people would rather shop at Waitrose than Asda, other folks would rather drive an Audi than a Volkswagen – they're fundamentally the same thing, but one offers a bit more panache, more of a feel-good glow, than the other.

There's no reason why this phenomenon shouldn't extend as far as LCD TVs.

Even so, our collective sharp-intake-of-breath at the price of this new Philips screen could be heard clear across our offices and out as far as Teddington Lock.

£1800 is an incredibly large amount to charge for a 42-inch LCD TV these days – last month's LCD Supertest was won by a very impressive Sony 40-incher, the KDL-40W4500, costing £900. What on earth can the 42PES001 offer for double the money?

Well, for starters there are the looks. In a market of me-too, same-again designs (with Samsung an honourable exception), the PES001 (or 'Essence', as Philips' marketing types prefer) is a genuinely great-looking television.

Its narrow bezel means it's physically no bigger than the above-mentioned Sony set despite having a larger screen, and the Philips is slim (3.8cm) and light (16kg) enough to be a realistic wall-mounting proposition.

Simple access to speakers
To make installation even easier, the speakers at the bottom of the set can be removed simply by removing two screws, and the TV comes with a self-levelling wall-bracket.

Usefully, the provision of a media box (or 'connectivity hub') to deal with all processing and the the Philips' many inputs means there will only ever be one connection to the screen.

In performance terms, the PES001 again scores heavily. Like so many Philips screens of recent past, the PES001 is a bit of a pain to get the best from – Philips' extensive picture processing options require in-depth investigation.

See all Philips TV reviews

The on-screen menus are certainly clear enough, and the remote control is both a tactile treat and simple to use, but Philips' crown as manufacturer of the most laborious TVs to set up seems safe for a little while yet.

Nevertheless, perseverance brings big rewards. Via either its analogue or digital tuners, the Philips offers stable, detailed and convincingly coloured TV pictures.

Black levels, both in terms of detail and outright 'blackness', are impressive, and motion is tracked doggedly. Scrolling text stays intact from one side of the screen to other, and skin-tones are lifelike and natural, as are contrasts.

HD images are exceptional
The Philips is equally impressive at the other end of the picture-quality scale – 1080p/24fps Blu-ray images.

From the animated vibrancy of Wall-E to the grungy look of American Gangster, the PES001 seldom puts a foot wrong. Its brilliantly even back-lighting makes very dark (or very bright) images consistent and smooth, detail levels are lavish and the colour palette is broad and convincing.

The same is true of standard-definition DVD images. The Philips upscales confidently, and oppresses noise and motion issues where less capable screens struggle. Even the sound from the neatly integrated speakers is a cut above the (admittedly more affordable) norm.

So it's really a question of priorities. Yes, you can pick up a set that performs almost as well for substantially less cash, but if you go into your next TV purchase with your eyes (and wallet) open, you won't regret forking out for the PES001.

It's a flexible, fantastic-looking and, above all, high-performance flatscreen that we adore.

See all our TV Best Buys

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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