Philips Aurea II 42PFL9903H 42in LCD TV
A stunning screen that brings truly trance-inducing experience
Review How in-your-face do you want your TV to be? Why not try one with a frame that lights up? This is not just Philips' Ambilight effect, this is second-gen Aurea, where the frame sprays multiple colours at you from the front too.
So as the picture in a nature show switches from succulent leaves to a tiger’s face, so the frame snaps from variegated green to bright orange and black stripes, extending the main picture with soft-focus mimicry. And with the Ambilight matching those colours on the wall behind, Philips achieves a remarkably immersive effect.
Philips' Aurea II: a huge improvement on Aurea I
The first Aurea, released in late 2007, had a frame design so uncompromising that it divided opinion. It was curious, with the light frame curving out at you with a matte finish to the coloured lights embedded into it.
Take two is much better, with the light bezel now flat-fronted thanks to a sheet of Perspex that covers the entire front of the telly. Between the screen and the light frame is a narrow border, which on the first model was dark and noticeable, but here is much more neutral and understated. It’s a huge improvement, style-wise. The look is still going to be pretty divisive and it’s certainly worth easing yourself in gently with the frame intensity and brightness set low.
Even so, there will be people who just don’t get it. Light behind the TV is one thing, but coming out of the front too? They’ve got a point. There are times when it seems intrusive – a harrowing documentary about death and poverty doesn’t benefit from Hollywood lights flashing around the grim images, but light-entertainment shows like The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, look brighter, brasher and more fun when the gold lamé in the studio spills in to the frame and the wall behind.
The usual connector set around the back
Moreover - and this is the clincher - watch it for an hour or so and then turn the frame and Ambilight off – there’s a dedicated button for this on the sleek remote. Suddenly, the picture looks comparatively dull and unexciting. Of course, there’s more to this TV than the light frame, but if you don’t like the effect, this isn’t the goggle box for you. Not least because, if you do use it with the light frame switched off, the whitish bezel round the picture is intrusive.
Love my lantern
I have the first gen Aurea TV hanging on the wall in my living room. It's definitely a marmite like product in that it polarises opinion like no other TV. My kids (18 and 9) absolutely love it, whereas my wife is not so keen (but then she would have preferred a 14" portable tucked away in a cupboard somewhere). So admittedly, for the first few days we spent more time watching the bezel of the TV than the screen itself, but after that initial acclimatisation, the Aurea lightshow genuinely creates an immersive experience - so much so that I now find watching any other TV slightly soulless no matter how good the actual picture is (Pioneer plasmas included). I guess if you've made up your mind that the Aurea is rubbish or gimmicky then nobody is going to change your opinion, but if you're curious, I think you will be presently surprised about how good these TVs actually are.
Having said all that, £2,500 to £3,000 is way too expensive. But then again pricey and its marmite qualities means it will remain quite an exclusive product...
Oh one unexpected benefit - this year there is no need to string the Christmas lights up outside the house, instead I'll just leave the curtains open and light up the street...
Does anyone know?
Does the Ambilight thing work well in games?
Seeing is believing
I have the first generation £3K Aurea 42" LCD hanging on my wall at home and I absolutely love it! I would never go back to a non-Ambilight TV and I only hope Philips are still producing Aurea models when I'm ready to upgrade in about 7-10 years! :) The pictures in this review don't do the Aurea justice, to be honest.
BTW I work in Financial IT (still!) :)
i trust these are more to your standards? - mono screen, lots of valves. 10 minute warm up time, and cost roughly the equivelent to £2500 when they were released :p
Have they not heard of the recession? They need to stop this multicoloured tomfoolery and bring out a cheap one that only glow around the edges in black and white.