Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Philips 42PFL7432D/37 42-inch LCD HDTV

The Philips 42PFL7432D/37 is a set that will certainly make a bold statement. It is among one of the nicest looking sets we've seen, and it comes loaded with plenty of extras. The set's gloss-black bezel and smoked-glass base with swiveling post is a design triumph. This 42-inch set features a native resolution of 1080p (1920x1080) and can handle 1,080i content with ease, while upscaling 720p accordingly. It handles standard definition TV content very well too, and has a bright and clear picture. But don't worry about the brightness hurting your eyes. Philips Ambilight will make sure you don't suffer eyestrain from prolonged viewing in the dark.

While often considered a novelty feature by its rivals, the Ambilight system with Philips plasma and LCD HDTVs is in fact a very good feature to consider, especially as it casts a subtle light behind the set. After all, don't you remember when your mother and teachers said not to sit too close to the TV, or to watch TV in a dark room? Well, the Ambilight allows you to watch TV while further immersing you into the experience.

For those not familiar with it, it is an exclusive feature with step-up models from Philips. Essentially it is LED-driven light bars that are the back edge of the sides of the set and this cast a light onto the wall. These can be basic white, but the company has highlighted the ability to cast colors that correspond to the onscreen action. Personally we think that a subtle white light does enough of the job, and it makes sure that your guests don't accidentally trip over the coffee table while heading to get a snack! This 42-inch LCD set also looks quite good with ambient room light as well. The screen reflects very little light, and this is a set that you can comfortably use regardless of the time of the day without the need for serious home theater black out curtains.

Regardless of the time of the day the Philips 42PFL7432D/37 produces a very vibrant picture with good black levels and very lifelike colors. The set features multiple widescreen modes, including an auto-format feature to get the most out of your picture viewing. The 3D comb filter also ensures that aforementioned standard definition content doesn't look grainy or over saturated. The set also includes Philips Prefect Pixel HD engine, which is basically used to increase the number of lines from various content to improve the quality. We typically find this to be a rather hit or miss feature. While some of the content does look sharper, other sources just look too sharp and have the look of lower quality video. Fortunately, this is an easy enough feature to turn off. Additionally, the set's digital noise reduction helps rid excessive digital artifacts and jaggies. The multiple autopicture modes will also help ensure that you can get a good picture if you don't have the time (or patience) to manually adjust the color and contrast.

What we found truly impressive is that this set boosts a total of three rear HDMI inputs, so the Philips 42PFL7432D/37 can easily handle your HD needs. However, we were surprised to find that the AV1 was used for composite, S-Video and one of the component inputs. Thank goodness for the second dedicated component input along with side S-Video/composite input. In truth, one S-Video input is probably all you'll need, but having to share the component seems like a poor design choice. The set does however include headphone output--a feature we always like to see--as well as USB input for viewing of JPEG photos. Additionally, the set boasts both coaxial audio input and output, so the TV can easily handle your digital audio needs.

Speaking of audio, this is the one area where the set comes up a little short. The built-in stereo speakers are a mere 8-watts per channel. Obviously this is enough for those times when you want a few minutes of TV without powering up a surround sound system, but said system is practically required to get the full experience from this set. As this is one of the more affordable 42-inch 1080p models out this year, it is worth considering--you can spend the savings on a better surround sound system.

Pros: Ambilight system, three HDMI inputs
Cons: Mere 8-watt speakers, Pixel Plus can be a bit too much, component input shared with composite/S-Video

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