Philips 42in Ambilight LED array TV
The best 1080p LCD TV yet?
The brushed silvery sheen of the frame is attractive and smart. It’s a world away from the grey plastic bezels that came and went from TV fashion recently. This one’s plastic as well, of course, but it looks classy. It also packs in what have been called 'invisible' speakers, though in reality they're just tucked out of sight.
While many flatscreens only manage at best average sound, these hidden speakers do their job very well, with plenty of bass and a strong voice channel so you can hear the hero’s deathless dialogue above the explosions and action-movie mayhem.
The 42PFL9803 has in integrated Freeview tuner, so it's ready to go with standard-definition content. It supports MPEG 4 as well as MPEG 2, so it should display HD content when that starts to flow over the terrestrial network. Unless Freeview opts for an alternative version of the DVB-T standard, of course.
In the meantime, there are three HDMI ports around the back to hook up a PlayStation 3, dedicated Blu-ray Disc player - like the Pioneer BDP-51FD, for instance - or other HD-ready gadgets, and there's a fourth HDMI port on the side. Alongside the latter, you'll find a USB port, composite-video and s-video links, a 3.5mm headphone socket and stereo audio RCA jacks.
There are more audio jacks on the back, along with digital audio outputs, plus VGA, component-video and a pair of Scarts for your old pre-HD kit. There's even an Ethernet port, which you can use to tie the telling into your home network and use it to grab content from DLNA-compliant server software running on a PC.
We’ve complained about Philips remote controls before: they look good and work well except for one thing: a scrollwheel that allows you to move up and down a list of options by spinning the wheel. On earlier models, this control was so hair-trigger responsive it was hard to use with precision, and it's not noticeably better here. However, you can also use the dial as a navpad and press the top or bottom of the wheel to scroll options.
The remote is universal
The good news is, the remote will control other devices - just find your equipment in the list at the back of the manual and punch in the codes.