But the main event here is the LED backlighting – a feature Philips calls Dynamic Backlight. Philips claims a massive contrast level of two million to one, which is impossible to measure outside of the lab. What matters, though, is that it means the TV should deliver plasma-like contrast levels.
Let’s take the same white lettering on a black background test we used for the Samsung LED-backlit LE40A786 set. In the opening credits of Hitman, the tight white lettering was impressive. There was glint of grey between letters, but the light spill beyond the lettering was minimal. It wa certainly better than Samsung’s screen managed on the larger white on black writing that opens the film Sleuth.
Beyond that, the black levels are largely strong, sharpening up dark images and giving them extra definition. The luscious island greenery of Lost looks succulent and the skin tones of the desperate marooned islanders bright but convincing.
But, excellent though the contrast levels and the colour palette are, with the out-of-the-box settings, the Samsung has the edge on the Philips. When you’d switched the Smart LED on, the LE40A786 presented more striking blacks and even more stand-out contrast instantly.
This is why the 42PFL9803 is only almost a runaway success. Sure, you can tune the Philips to match and even beat the Samsung’s default settings, but the tweaking isn't straightforward, requiring lots of trial and error.
Still, the Philips screen exceeds the Samsung’s capabilities when it comes to widescreen film with an aspect ratio greater than 16:9. On the Korean set, the black bars at top and bottom of screen glowed grey – something completely absent here.
The Ambilight only illuminates the sides, not the top too
Philips hasn’t included an equivalent of the demo feature which on the Samsung set divides the screen in half to show exactly how the image is improved by the fancy backlighting. Even if the result is underwhelming, seeing the difference between on and off is instructive and here it’s an annoying omission.
For £2,000. . .
. . . does this Philips improve the content of whatever's appearing on screen?
We currently find that around 80% of everything pumped out on Freeview is utter crap. (But then, we're watching it on a 26" JVC CRT that cost £140 on eBay three years ago.) If spending £2,000 on this Philips television -- Gawd though, a television! -- will reduce the crap level to, say, just 33%, then is it worth buying?
And after three years, will it still be worth a lorra money? Our JVC's worth £50 according to recent eBay sales, so it's shed two-thirds of its value.
A superduper Philips like this -- assuming, it doesn't actually blow up / break down / fall over, like every piece of Philips equipment we've ever had before -- had better not lose money at that same rate.
People daft enough to lose £1,400 in three years on a device to watch crap TV ought to be the subject of a TV documentary themselves.
**** Paris, especially in ambient lighting. Or 100% pitch black. ****
So what do you do when an LED needs replacing..?
Why not OLED?
OLED panels are 20 Euros a piece in normal sizes, end customer price. That's why you find them in MP3-Players, mobile phones and other devices.
The great thing about Philips HDTV boxes is the ease with which the software for the TV can be updated, just hit the 'update software' option in the menu when viewing digital TV and it will grab the latest software over the airwaves, providing support for new features. My 32PFL7962D has had several software updates since I bought it a little over a year ago, each one offering new features and sometimes support for additional codecs.
If the standards for high-def over the airwaves change, I'm sure Philips will update their software to accommodate those changes.
Thanks for that link, excellent document... I just found out about the 16:9 marketing fallacy and I'll wait until someone produces a 21:9 display in a sensible size...