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 Tuner: Digital 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.