Philips 37PF9731/69 LCD TV

The 2006 Philips 37PF9731 LCD TV has all the bells and whistles packed into a 114mm-thick chassis that's both sleek and sensuous.


8.3
CNET Rating
7.3
User Rating


We first chanced upon the 9731- and 9831-series LCD TVs during Philips' Ambilight event held in Belgium earlier this year. Then, both models were centered on a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution panel, plus a whole slew of new and enhanced in-house technologies.

Fast forward to July and the latter was deprived of its ultra-high resolution badge due to mounting concern over high production costs. This left the Dutch company's 37PF9731 as the only 1,920 x 1,080-pixel model in its flat-panel stable amid the barrage of new 1080pers churned out by its Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese competitors.

Design
The 37PF9731 is one of the few panels we have came across which are both handsome and functional. The choice of an all-round black piano frame gives the set a special touch of class, while the frosted glass pedestal stand matches perfectly with the glossy facade. For easy accessibility, the quick-access inputs, twin USB port and multislot card reader are conveniently situated on the chassis's left. Right on the opposite end is a bank of TV controls for impromptu channel selection and volume adjustment.

Unlike the 42PF9831, the 9731 comes with only a three-sided version of the Ambilight Surround system. This dynamic ambient lighting system is centered on arrays of lamps which are integrated flush within the left, top and right sides of the cabinet. Though it is hard not to assume its impact on the width of the TV, we are glad to report that the extra components contribute little to its overall bulk which stands at 770 x 991 x 114mm. These measurements are pretty much in line with most other 37-inchers found in the market.

To match the eye-catching panel, Philips has shipped an equally sexy remote in the bundle. The clear acrylic-wrapped stick features a set of well-spaced buttons, as well as a large tactile five-way navigation wheel. Besides the ergonomic form factor, the remote also ranks high in versatility, capable of controlling up to four Philips A/V boxes. Our only gripe here is the lack of dedicated input buttons. In their places is a dedicated key which calls up an onscreen scrolling list for user selection.

Initial setup of the TV was a breeze, thanks to an intuitive onscreen picture-based configuration. Fine-tuning was via a selection of photos, videos or music tracks representing the various A/V parameters. All that was required was to make a choice between the options based on one's personal preference. For amateurs and advanced users, Philips has also thrown in a comprehensive suite of settings comprising a fair mix of basic and advanced variants. These are annotated with a brief description of their functionality for clarity, just in case you are out of reach of the well-written user manual.

Features
The buzz on the latest Philips comes from its ultra-high resolution LCD panel which sports a 1,920 x 1,080 multimillion pixel count. Picture fidelity aside, the set is also capable of delivering a very competent 6,000:1 contrast and blazing-fast 3ms response time performances. Wrapping it up are the more mainstream 550cd/m2 brightness and 176-degree viewing angle which stack up well against other 37-inchers such as the Sharp LC-37BX6M and Hitachi 37LD8800TA.

If you are a techno junkie like most of us here at CNET.com.au, the 9731's seemingly endless list of bells and whistles will definitely sound like a sweet lullaby. Most notable is the souped-up version of its popular picture-processing engine, the Pixel Plus 3 HD. To address the inherent LCD's motion reproduction issue, its engineers have also implemented the Clear LCD technology. This combined with its Digital Natural Motion enable the TV to reproduce what the company claims as "extreme motion sharpness".

When it comes to onboard multimedia playback, the Philips' implementation has an edge over the competition in terms of connectivity and format compatibility. The inbuilt twin USB ports support portable media players, digicams and thumbdrives, while its 8-in-2 card reader is compatible with CompactFlash, Secure Digital and Memory Stick, among others. Playable multimedia format-wise, the set readily accepts MP3, MP3 Pro, JPEG, XviD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4, plus version four and five of the popular Web-centric DivX videos.

Though we acknowledge Philips' long-time European roots, the provision of two SCART terminals in substitute for a single component-video socket is a bad call that does not go down well in our books. The same goes for the Common Interface slot and network port which are not even documented in the user manual. The saving grace here may very well be the dual HDMIs and a unique digital audio input/output connectivity. The former are unfortunately up to 1080i-ready, depriving the 9731 of the bragging rights of a true full-HD badge.

Performance
We kicked off the performance assessment by tuning into free-to-air broadcasts. What greeted us onscreen was clean reception matched by well-defined contours, easily one of the better picture qualities garnered so far. That said, you will probably be in for a nasty shock by the sudden outburst in volume, switching from video to TV input. This is caused by an unbalanced sound level which can be resolved via the Delta Volume correction in the software menu.

Moving onto the AVIA test patterns, the PF9731 exhibited a mild red push similar to its 42PF9830 even after the SpyderTV calibration. The panel did, however, render a perfect display during our run of the challenging greyscale tracking test. This was replicated in Blade 2 where intricate shadow details were easily picked up in the dark warehouse fighting scene. Philips has also gotten it right with the Pixel Plus 3 HD processing. We found most DVD clips reproduced with a 3D-like feel without the side effect of an accentuated background noise.

Our reservation on the awkward pairing of a full-HD panel in a small 37-inch TV was quickly dismissed by the strong HD showings. Running off a 1080i feed via an HD generator, we were amazed by the strong depth-of-field demonstrated by the looping demo. Enabling Digital Natural Motion (DMN) did wonders for Xbox 360's Ridge Racer 6 with a fluid-like motion which complemented the vibrant graphics. However, we would suggest against using DMN for slow-moving programs as it tends to create an artificial "fast-motion" effect.

Multimedia playback is another forte for this versatile 37-incher. We were able to play back a variety of MP3, JPEG and XviD-encoded media files with little effort and in reasonably good quality. To test storage device compatibility, we plugged in a Panasonic Lumix FZ20 digicam, a generic thumbdrive and an Apple iPod Nano randomly into each of the two USB ports. All were recognised instantly except for the iPod which failed even after numerous attempts.

As with all products we have reviewed, no single TV is perfect and the 37PF9731 is no exception. We were rather disappointed by the fuzzy text displayed off a 1,024 x 768-pixel signal, which is one of the measly three PC resolutions supported by the panel. Another area of contention was the mousy audio reproduction, characterised by an almost non-existent bass presence and mediocre stereo imaging. Engaging surround sound processing did little to enhance the sound quality beyond adding reverberation to an already lacking sonic delivery.

The Philips 37PF9731 is a midsized LCD TV which combines solid picture quality with an innovative lighting system and rich multimedia capability. As with most premium products of its caliber, the panel does not come cheap at AU$5,749. High price and minor blemishes aside, you will be hard-pressed to find another 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 37-incher with similar performance and features.

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Vlatko
10
Rating
 

Vlatko posted a review   

The Good:beautiful image, good colours

The Bad:Pricey, no 1080p input

Extremly good tv,

Philip Supporter
8
Rating
 

Philip Supporter posted a review   

The Good:Good picture quality. 6000:1 contrast ratio. Tons of picture enhancers (Digital Natural Motion, Pixel Plus, Artifact reduction, etc.). 3 YEAR WARRANTY!!!! 2 HDMI inputs. Good support.

The Bad:Not 1080p (but who cares). Viewing angle and color depth not as good as plasma.

I bought a Philips Plasma years ago...it still works well...sold it to a friend...decided to buy this LCD and I am happy although I must admit I had it replaced once but there is a 3 year warranty!!!! I have a monster cable HDMI cable and a PS3 for blu-ray movies. Excellent. Although it is 1080i, LCD screens are inherently progressive and the Philips deinterlacer is top-notch...experts state that anything below 37inches there will be no real noticable difference between 1080i and 1080p anyway and I fully agree. Case in point, I saw a 50inch 1080p Sony Bravia and was not that impressed 1080p is a gimmick and the hefty price you pay for it is not justified. Unless you have a 1080p 24f TV and blu-ray/HD player - forget 1080p altogether. Experts say that contrast ratio is much more important.

seakez
5
Rating
 

seakez posted a review   

The Good:Good size screen
picture quality can be great
amber light is good idea so all other lights in the room can be turned off.

The Bad:Picture quality can be below average at times.
could be more user friendly

I think this unit is ok but not the best. The volume has no level graph. The only way to judge the level is to listen to where you want it instead of seeing a number or bar graph.
Maybe cause i not a tv expert i have not set the finer details up properly on the tv but think it should be more user friendly.
Picture quality at times is great but then you get some shows or channels where you get the ghosting effects from movement of people walking to running in the program.
Not sure if price was good or not compared to other peoples buying price but i bought mine at Harvey Normans for $1700

asiak
2
Rating
 

asiak posted a review   

The Good:none what so ever.

The Bad:this is worse tv ive ever bought, we currently have two of these tvs. They look terrible and philips dont seem to give a damn. first , the picture seems look pixelated with tv broadcast and blu ray. theres always this blury pixelated look in the background especially in darkish areas.
its not a tv fault , its just what philips tvs look like.All my research has proven to me theres no solution to this other than never buying a philips product again.
samsung and sony have amazing lcd/tvs , far superior to philips. ive spent alot of time viewing both and theres no doubt about this. dont waste ur money dont buy philips.

solid picture quality? u gys need to put on ur glasses when tested these tvs.

adya
2
Rating
 

adya posted a review   

The Good:nice picture with some hd channels

The Bad:manual badly translated. No built in hd tuner. u cant seem to load hd channels from the tuner to remote so if u want to change channels u have to get up and walk to the tuner to change them. just like 20 yrs ago.
The black looks awefull . all kinds of flickering in the black not nice.

i wasnt so impressed .

techfan
10
Rating
 

techfan posted a review   

dream spec

Obvious
8
Rating
 

"2 points cut for price"

Obvious posted a review   

The Good:Tons of great specs.

The Bad:Hint of noise. Price.

lower that price tag to be invincible.

Anonymous
10
Rating
 

"Just a wonderful engine!"

Anonymous posted a review   

Anonymous
9
Rating
 

"Just the ticket"

Anonymous posted a review   

Anonymous
7
Rating
 

"too expensive"

Anonymous posted a review   


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User Reviews / Comments  Philips 37PF9731/69 LCD TV

  • Vlatko

    Vlatko

    Rating10

    "Extremly good tv, "

  • Philip Supporter

    Philip Supporter

    Rating8

    "I bought a Philips Plasma years ago...it still works well...sold it to a friend...decided to buy this LCD and I am happy although I must admit I had it replaced once but there is a 3 year warranty!..."

  • seakez

    seakez

    Rating5

    "I think this unit is ok but not the best. The volume has no level graph. The only way to judge the level is to listen to where you want it instead of seeing a number or bar graph.
    Maybe cau..."

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