Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Philips 47PFL9632D Review

47in LCD
Philips have produced one of the best large screen LCD TV's.
HD Ready: yes
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Rating: 91%

Reviewed: 24 December 2007


Along with many other flat panel manufacturers, Philips have realised that style sells. The Philips 47PFL9632D introduces us to a subtle departure in style for the Dutch electronics manufacturer whose latest range of LCD TV's have evolved into high gloss units with slightly rounded corners.

Just as visually dramatic as previous LCD TV's, the slim outer grey 'grille-like' bezel on the 47PFL9632D along with wider inner glossy black screen frame will undoubtedly gain an instant following.


The Philips 47PFL9632D is identical in terms of specification to its 52in and 37in siblings, and almost identical to the 32in model. What all of the larger screens share is a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. The screens Full HD resolution is able to map, pixel for pixel, the highest quality input onto the screen without the need for downscaling. Screens with a 1366 x 768 resolution would have to downscale a high quality input (e.g Sky's 1080i format) to fit.

Screen: 47in 16:9
Sound System: Nicam
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Contrast Ratio: 8,000:1
Brightness: 550cd/m2
Other Features: Perfect Pixel Engine, HD Natural Motion, 100Hz Clear LCD.
Sockets: 3 HDMI, 2 SCART, Component Video, Composite Video, PC input.

By rights, the latest incarnation of Philip's Picture Processing Engine should be Pixel Plus HD 4, but the Dutch manufacturer believes there has been enough technological development packed into this system to warrant a completely new name, 'Perfect Pixel Engine'

Perfect Pixel Engine, like previous picture processing technology from Philips, has been designed primarily to enhance picture sharpness with both High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) sources and improve natural detail and colour performance. A main element of this system, 'HD Natural Motion circuit' improves on 'Digital Natural Motion' by employing greater amounts of processing power to improve motion fluidity.

100Hz processing and 14-bit colour are the other main constituents of the new Perfect Pixel Engine. 100Hz processing inserts an extra picture frame into the equation to take the frame rate up from 50 fps (frames per second) to 100 fps, improving motion handling capabilities. 14-bit colour offers a much larger range of colours and potentially far more realistic and natural images.

The 47PFL9632 introduces a new version of Philip's acclaimed 'Ambilight' system which delivers light from the sides of the LCD screen to enhance/complement the current scene. With a fully back-lit LED (replacing the previous fluorescent source) which glows through the purpose built frame surrounding the LCD panel, with light actually shinning through the frame, Philips describes the effect as "bringing light and color to life in an unparalleled, highly visual and immersive fashion, drawing the audience into the full emotional experience".


On a larger screen, Full HD has the platform to show us what its all about. Of course, the screen itself has to be capable enough to take advantage of the configuration. With High Definition (HD) material on the 47PFL9632 we become immediately aware of its capabilities. We have come to expect excellent HD pictures on flat screens, but on the 47PFL9632 they are pristine. The quality of the screen along with Full HD produce a level and sharpness of detail not bettered by any LCD TV. Colours are superb, with a vibrancy and subtlety which makes the whole viewing experience full of realism and immensely enjoyable.

LCD Motion handling capabilities, for a long time placed firmly in the shade by Plasma screens are now giving their gas filled rivals a serious run for their money. The Philips 47PFL9632D while not a huge leap forward from the likes of Panasonic and Sony, and their take on 100Hz processing, is nevertheless a significant improvement in this respect, displaying a fluidity of motion not seen previously on an LCD TV.

Black levels are again at least a match for for the best large screen LCD TV's, and provide a platform for an incredibly rich and vibrant colour palette. 14-bit colour provides an exceptional range of colours which translate into highly realistic and wholly natural images even with tricky skin tones.

Before we get too carried away, we have to point out that black levels are still behind the best that plasma technology can offer, and motion handling capabilities, although impressive, will not appeal to everyone. Many of you out there prefer the more natural motion handling capabilities of plasma, while LCD can appear over processed and just too vivid.

Switch to Standard Definition (SD) material and the 47PFL9632 is a very competent rather than an outstanding performer. It is a mark of how far flat panel technology has come that we were not overly impressed with SD on this panel. The performance in this respect does not encroach to any great degree on the viewing experience, but pictures to show the odd signs of video noise especially with lower quality Freeview material. The best SD performers of course are more expensive, and the 47PFL9632D while not falling into the budget category of LCD TV is one of the best SD performers for its price.


The 47PFL9632D is not perfect, but is arguably good enough to be at the head of an elite leading pack of 40in + LCD TV's.


DNA origami

Nanoscale folding of DNA, also known as DNA origami, was pioneered by Paul Rothemund at California Institute of Technology. The process allows researchers to create arbitrary two-dimensional shapes at the nanoscale using DNA. Novel designs have included the smiley face and a coarse map of North America. DNA origami was the cover story of Nature on March 15, 2006.

Rothemund's process involves the folding of a single long strand of viral DNA aided by several smaller "staple" strands. These strands serve to provide structural support for the larger design. To be used in DNA origami, images must be able to be drawn using a single long DNA molecule. The design is then fed into a computer program, which calculates the placement of individual staple strands. Each staple binds to a specific region of the DNA template, conferring the property of self-asssmbly to the process.

The output of the process is an image composed of pixels roughly 6nm in size. Designs are directly observable via atomic force microscopy.

In his paper, Rothemund conjectures that it may be possible to extend his raster-filling layer process to three dimensions.


DNA nanotechnology

DNA nanotechnology is a subfield of nanotechnology which seeks to use the unique molecular recognition properties of DNA and other nucleic acids to create novel, controllable structures out of DNA. The DNA is thus used as a structural material rather than as a carrier of biological information, making it an example of bionanotechnology. This has possible applications in molecular self-assembly and in DNA computing.

Introduction: DNA crossover molecules

Structure of the 4-arm junction.
Left: A schematic. Right: A more realistic model.[1]
Each of the four separate DNA single strands are shown in different colors.
A double-crossover (DX) molecule.  This molecule consists of five DNA single strands which form two antiparallel double-helical domains, on the left and the right in this image.  There are two crossover points where the strands cross from one domain into the other.  Image from Mao, 2004. [1]
A double-crossover (DX) molecule. This molecule consists of five DNA single strands which form two antiparallel double-helical domains, on the left and the right in this image. There are two crossover points where the strands cross from one domain into the other. Image from Mao, 2004. [1]

DNA nanotechnology makes use of branched DNA structures to create DNA complexes with useful properties. DNA is normally a linear molecule, in that its axis is unbranched. However, DNA molecules containing junctions can also be made. For example, a four-arm junction can be made using four individual DNA strands which are complementary to each other in the correct pattern. Due to Watson-Crick base pairing, only portions of the strands which are complementary to each other will attach to each other to form duplex DNA. This four-arm junction is an immoble form of a Holliday junction.

Junctions can be used in more complex molecules. The most important of these is the "double-crossover" or DX motif. Here, two antiparallel DNA duplexes lie next to each other, and share two junction points where strands cross from one duplex into the other. This molecule has the advantage that the junction points are now constrained to a single orientation as opposed to being flexible as in the four-arm junction. This makes the DX motif suitible as a structural building block for larger DNA complexes.[2]

Tile-based arrays

Assembly of a DX array.  Each bar represents a double-helical domain of DNA, with the shapes representing comlimentary sticky ends.  The DX molecule at top will combine into the two-dimensional DNA array shown at bottom.  Image from Mao, 2004. [2]
Assembly of a DX array. Each bar represents a double-helical domain of DNA, with the shapes representing comlimentary sticky ends. The DX molecule at top will combine into the two-dimensional DNA array shown at bottom. Image from Mao, 2004. [2]

DX arrays

DX molecules can be equipped with sticky ends in order to combine them into a two-dimenstional periodic lattice. Each DX molecule has four termini, one at each end of the two double-helical domains, and these can be equipped with sticky ends that program them to combine into a specific pattern. More than one type of DX can be used which can be made to arrange in rows or any other tessellated pattern. They thus form extended flat sheets which are essentiallt two-dimensional crystals of DNA.[3]

DNA nanotubes

In addition to flat sheets, DX arrays have been made to form hollow tubes of 4-20 nm diameter. These have been dubbed DNA nanotubes by analogy with the similarly-shaped carbon nanotubes.[4]

Other tile arrays

Two-dimensional arrays have been made out of other motifs as well, including the Holliday junction rhombus array as well as various DX-based arrays in the shapes of triangles and hexagons.[5] Another motif, the six-helix bundle, has the ability to form three-dimensional DNA arrays as well.[6]


Hitachi, Canon, Panasonic tie in flat-panel displays

Hitachi, Canon and Panasonic have agreed to a wide-ranging collaboration that will see the three companies share the cost, burden and benefits of development and production of flat-panel displays.

The move comes hot on the heels of a tie-up announced last week between Toshiba and Sharp and continues a major realignment in the fast-moving industry.

Under the terms of the initial agreement Canon and Panasonic will each buy a 24.9 percent stake in Hitachi Displays, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi that already makes small and medium size LCD (liquid crystal display) panels. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed before March 31, 2008.

Hitachi said it hopes to accelerate the development of cutting-edge LCD technology through the alliance, which was announced on Tuesday. Competition in the flat-panel display industry is fierce and there is constant pressure on manufacturers to invest in new and efficient production technology to keep prices low and their screens technologically competitive. However a new LCD plant can easily cost US$1 billion [b] or more so companies are increasingly working together to share the costs.

Meanwhile Canon said it hopes to shorten development time and gain a stable supply of LCD panels for its range of digital single-lens reflex cameras. It also hopes to develop new types of displays that can be used in its information management products.

Panasonic, which has invested heavily in PDP (plasma display panel) technology for large-size flat-panel TVs and displays, will invest in a new production line at IPS Alpha Technology. The company is a joint-venture in which Canon and Toshiba also hold stakes although Toshiba is understood to be in talks concerning its exit from the venture. The new production line will help ensure a stable supply of medium-size LCD panels for Panasonic's TV up to about 40-inches in screen size, above which it uses PDPs.

The wide-ranging collaboration and cooperation announced Tuesday is the first step of a series of planned moves that will eventually have Canon take control of Hitachi Displays and Panasonic take control of IPS Alpha Technology, the three companies said.

In addition to the LCD alliance, Canon and Hitachi plan to work together on development of OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays. OLED is a fundamentally different technology from LCD and PDP and has been under development by many display makers for several years. It's viewed by some as a potential replacement for LCD technology because it provides a brighter and richer picture but a lot of work remains before it can be produced in sufficient volume and at a low enough price to compete with LCD.

The world's first commercial OLED TV recently went on sale in Japan. Sony's XEL-1 has an 11-inch screen and is just 3-millimeters thick -- another advantage of OLED because a backlight unit isn't required -- but comes with an equally impressive ¥200,000 (US$1,750) price tag.

Last week Toshiba and Sharp announced plans to work together in the flat-panel display business. Toshiba will buy from Sharp screens for its 32-inch and larger TV sets while Sharp will buy from Toshiba the chips used in its TVs. The cooperation will begin from April next year and will slowly build towards 2010 when two goals are expected to be reached: Sharp will supply Toshiba with 40 percent of its LCD modules and Toshiba will sell to Sharp 50 percent of the chips it needs, they said.

Sony and Samsung Electronics have been cooperating in LCD panel production for sometime and jointly own S-LCD, a manufacturer of cutting-edge LCD panels based in South Korea.


Sharp and Toshiba to Team Up on LCD TV Screens and Chips

Sharp and Toshiba, two proponents of LCD TV technology, to collaborate, the companies announced on Friday.

Sharp and Toshiba plan to closely cooperate in the flat-panel TV business, buying screens and semiconductor chips from each other, they said Friday.

Toshiba will turn to Sharp for the 32-inch and larger flat-panel displays used in its LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions while Sharp will procure from Toshiba the chips used in its TVs. The cooperation will begin during the year from April and will slowly build towards 2010 when two goals are expected to be reached: Sharp will supply Toshiba with 40 percent of its LCD modules and Toshiba will sell to Sharp 50 percent of the chips it needs.

The deal provides both companies with a steadier supply of vital components for LCD TVs. The market for such televisions has grown from 161 million units in 2003 to an estimated 192 million this year and is expected to keep on rising on the back of strong demand and competition.

Some of the display panels headed for Toshiba will come from a state-of-the-art ?380 billion (US$3.36 billion) LCD manufacturing plant Sharp is building in Osaka's Sakai City. Production is scheduled to begin in 2009. The plant will handle mother glass -- the large sheets on which several display panels are made -- of 2.85 meters by 3.05 meters. This size, dubbed 10th generation, is larger than that used by any other display manufacturer and will make the Sakai plant the world's most advanced LCD production center.

The large glass sheets also bring a cost advantage for Sharp. The per-inch price of LCD panels drops with increases in the size of mother glass, so the panels are likely to be more competitive than those from rivals. That's especially important in the TV market, where strong competition has made price a key to success.

Toshiba currently holds a stake in IPS Alpha Technology Ltd., an LCD manufacturing joint venture created with Panasonic and Hitachi. The IPS line uses an older 6th-generation technology and will need substantial investment if it is to remain competitive in the market.


Sony KDL-32S3000 Review

32in LCD
Excellent budget buy from from Sony.
HD Ready: yes
Resolution: 1366 x 768
Rating: 89%

Reviewed: 24 December 2007


Finished largely in matte black, the KDL-32S300 doesn't quite have the impact of some of the higher end Bravia models, but nevertheless maintains Sony's tradition for producing quietly classy, supremely well built flat panel LCD TV's.

The looks may be too conservative for some, but Sony have yet to produce an LCD TV that doesn't add a discreet touch of style to your living room.


As an entry level offering from Sony, the KDL-32S3000 loses the Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080), 100Hz processing, or the ability to accept a 1080p input of higher end panels, but it does retain the impressive Sony Bravia picture processing engine of the 'V' and 'W' series.

Screen: 32in 16:9
Sound System: Nicam
Resolution: 1366 x 768
Contrast Ratio: 1600:1 (8,000 dynamic)
Brightness: 450cd/m2
Other Features: BRAVIA Image Processing Engine, Live Colour Creation, BRAVIA Theatre Sync.
Sockets: 3 HDMI, 2 SCART, Component Video, Composite Video, PC input.

What's more, connectivity is impressive with 3 HDMI inputs, 2 Scarts and the usual composite, component and s-video inputs.

There is no 'x.v.Colour' on the KDL-32S3000 (x.v.Colour is based on xvYCC, a new international standard for video signals that defines a colour space nearly two times wider than the existing sRGB standard) but it does come equipped with LIVE COLOUR CREATION which is Sony's integrated solution for wider colour reproduction.

WCG-CCFL (backlight) technology allows the KDL-32S3000 to achieve approximately 95% of the NTSC (National Television System Committee) video signal colour gamut – representing a 140% improvement on LCD TVs that feature traditional fluorescent backlights. WCG-CCFL incorporates a different type of luminescent material to produce more accurate and deeper reds and greens

By combining the BRAVIA ENGINE and WCG-CCFL backlight technology, Sony claim to provide far truer and more accurate colour tones for enhanced picture depth and clarity.

Theatre Sync, which is Sony's name for CEC (Consumer Electronic Control), is a control standard that functions over HDMI 1.3. The technology facilitates one-touch control over compatible devices and in practice means that if you fire up your compatible DVD player, the all connected devices such as your LCD TV will also spring into life.


Like its bigger brother the 40S3000, the most impressive aspect of the KDL-32S3000 is its black level performance. The abilities of the KDL-32S3000 are not going to trouble the best Plasma's or even LCD's in this respect, but what this screen achieves is a black level which belies its status as an entry level LCD TV. Crucially, there are no obvious signs of greyness across darker scenes.

The KDL-32S3000 proved to be a more than competent performer when handling Standard Definition (SD) sources. Simply as a result of more pixels being squeezed into a smaller area, the 32S3000's picture is perceived as a little sharper and more detailed than the 40S3000. This screen actually tells us a lot more about the features it does not posses, namely 100Hz processing and Full HD resolution. The higher end features certainly work, but we were impressed with how little impact there absence had on the 32S3000.

Unfortunately, the colour reproducing abilities of the 32S3000 cannot live up to and take full advantage of the excellent black levels. The WCG-CCFL backlight is partly to blame with a slight lack of uniformity across the whole of the screen producing less than wholly consistent colours. This is certainly a minor flaw of the KDL-32S3000, but colours nevertheless maintain a vibrancy that few other LCD's can match.

As we expected, the KDL-32S3000 achieves an excellent level of detail and sharpness with High Definition (HD) material. Colours are absolutely stunning, with a vibrancy and sharpness that we have come to expect.

Although fast action material is prone to a little blurring, on the whole the SD performance of the KDL-32S3000 was excellent. Inevitably, poorer quality Freeview sources show some signs of degradation, but on the whole, this screen will satisfy all but the most demanding of consumers for SD performance. SD performance is not quite there yet when compared to your CRT, but the gap is narrowing.


Apart from a few minor flaws, the KDL-32S3000 is a very competent all round performer. It makes you think twice about how much benefit is derived from high end features such as Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution and 100Hz picture processing. The 32S3000 cannot match the cheapest budget offerings on price, but its worth a little extra.