Our 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
Reviewed on

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 audioPerseverance 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.

More after the break

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.