Philips 42PFL9703 review

This is one of the best 42in screens out there. Whether it's worth the money, only you can decide Tested at £1600.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

This is one of the best 42in screens out there. Whether it's worth the money, only you can decide


  • +

    A handsome, distinctive TV

  • +

    superbly detailed images

  • +

    superior sound


  • -

    Byzantine set-up process

  • -

    seems pricey, even for this level of performance

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Some manufacturers seek to persuade you it's possible to make a 42in LCD TV discreet. Philips knows that's nonsense, so instead chooses to make its big tellies as elegant and interesting as possible.

The extensive specification, Philips' unique Ambilight technology (here on three sides) and fine build quality all bolster the good early impressions.

But then there's that sharp-intake-of-breath price-tag.

Set-up is complicated. There's sub-menu within sub-menu, and it's more of a trial to get a Philips screen looking the part than with any nominal competitor.

Detailed images and distinct audio
Perseverance brings rewards, though. The 42PFL9703 eventually delivers lavishly detailed pictures from the Blu-ray remaster of The Godfather, and shows a deft touch with colours, contrasts and skin tones.

Though it's not quite the 'blackest' LCD we've seen, low-light scenes retain fine details, and depth of field – an Ambilight strong suit – is prodigious.

On a lesser scale, these traits are apparent in both DVD playback and from either tuner.

TV reception, in particular, impresses with its natural colours and secure edge definition. In all circumstances, the Philips sounds chunkily distinct.

The Philips doesn't do enough to warrant five stars, though. We've no issue with picture or sound – and we're au fait with the idea of a premium product.

Compared with the Sony KDL-40W4500 that took our Product of the Year Award, though, the '9703's performance isn't the improvement the price suggests it should be.

What Hi-Fi?

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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