Philips 42PFL9703D

We had high hopes for the Philips 42PFL9703D, but a poorly performing 100Hz mode and some set-up quirks means the TV isn't quite the Bravia killer we first thought.

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury

We had a sneak peek at Philips' 9000 series televisions a few weeks ago and we were mightily impressed. We described it as a "Bravia killer". The main feature on display was Philips' Perfect Natural Motion technology, which is a competitor to Sony's own 100Hz MotionFlow.

Philips told us its version features twice the processing power of the previous generation, and treated us to a technology demonstration video. In comparison to the latest-gen Sony and Samsung TVs beside it the 9000 series seemed to compete quite well, showing zero judder or artefacts.

All well and good, but how does the TV perform now that we're able to test it under less "controlled" circumstances. You can imagine our bemusement when we found the Philips didn't perform up to our, admittedly lofty, expectations...

The 42PFL9703D is a fairly stylish set, featuring the new Flare styling, which could be described as a combination of the iPod Touch and Sony X-series. The "Flare" itself culminates in a clear plastic lip which has divided opinions within the team — and we think you'll either love it or hate it.

Like several other TVs we've seen recently it features rear facing ports, rather than downward facing ones — this is great for connectivity but it makes wall-mounting a little tougher as you'll need a thicker bracket.

The remote is a good looking thing, and it's also very easy to use with a friendly appearance and lack of clutter. The rubberised buttons also have a pleasant tactile feel under your fingers.

We've yet to see Samsung's 7 series televisions in Australia, but Philips 42PFL9703D competes with it on almost every point. Connectivity is a strong suit, with a DLNA-certified Ethernet port for streaming media from your network, USB connectivity and four HDMI ports. Other inputs include two SCART and a single combined VGA/component input. If you want to connect a PC and a component-output device at the same time you will be disappointed.

The 1,920x1,080 resolution screen features Philips' latest processing know-how including a 55,000:1 dynamic contrast, 24p support and a Wide Color Gamut backlight for better colour reproduction.

Philips' own literature describes Perfect Natural Motion as designed to "eliminate juddering effects that are visible with movie-based picture content". On the other hand, Sony and Samsung make claims about 100Hz being designed to provide clearer pictures during fast action scenes and sport. Philips knows where the strength of this technology lies.

Another differentiating factor between this and its competitors is its start-up "wizard". It takes its cues from PC set-ups and gives you a series of side-by-side pictures and asks you to choose which you prefer. While we initially applauded this approach to easy calibration it was difficult to choose which was more "correct" sometimes. After the five-minute routine, we found that the system chose "Advanced Sharpness" for us which resulted in overly grainy pictures. We turned it straight off again.

When we saw Philips' original 100Hz demo, we secretly hoped it wasn't too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was.

In theory, a technology designed to reduce pan judder is a good idea, but we venture that almost no movies — save obscure "proof-of-concept" films — feature pans and no other type of movement. This was obvious when we tried watching any kind of non-panning movement on-screen. Artefacts or "haloing" was a constant distraction. This system may be great for sweeping camera shots of scenery, but unfortunately we'd suggest turning it off altogether.

Despite our disappointment with the Natural Motion engine, we were mostly pleased by the panel's performance elsewhere. The 42PFL9703D is a high-definition panel and its strengths were certainly displayed in Blu-ray playback and HD broadcasts. Only when testing the TV with our synthetic HQV test disk did some flaws appear. We saw a much better performance here from the LG Scarlet. Unlike the Scarlet, however, the Philips showed very good black response off-axis. But if you're a Wii player you may find the amount of vertical contrast lacking, with the TV washing out as soon as you stand up.

One of the latest trends in TV design that the Philips shares is for "invisible speakers". While these designs may mean that a) you can no longer see speaker grilles, it can also mean that b) the sound becomes muffled and indistinct. The 42PFL9703D bucked this trend and showed that though vocals could be a little "cupped", the sound was actually quite good. Simulated Dolby Surround was activated by default which meant some "off-screen" sounds did have a tendency to become muted, though. Changing the audio output to "Stereo" alleviated this a little.

We found that one of the Philips' main features — PC connectivity — was also one of its poorest. This applied when both physically connecting a computer or when trying to connect to a network. Connecting the Philips to our Dell M1330 via HDMI resulted in the TV blinking on and off repeatedly regardless of the resolution. Despite Vista's faults, this isn't normal behaviour for a television. Connecting via VGA wasn't much better as the TV/Vista combination reduced us to 1,024x768 — despite the TV supporting a 1080p PC output. The picture also came out a little garish, with greens in particular getting an unnatural push.

Though USB connections worked okay — despite the lack of play controls — it was trying to auto-connect to the CNET network that failed to give us joy. Granted, it's a complicated system, as workplaces tend to be, but the lack of advanced network settings meant that we weren't able to stream from our test PC to the TV. While DHCP set-up may work on a home PC, if you don't know the intimate details of your network you may not be able to connect at all.

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nsa posted a review   

Upon receipt of TV plugged it in and got good audio but no video. Called Philips technical support, they tried but could not help. They told me that that was all they could do and the TV was "out of warranty". I returned the TV to Amazon for a refund (with no hassle). The net result of this experience was disappointment and the decision to purchase a TV retail and under warranty.


newbiii posted a review   

would a philips sound bar HTS8140 improve sound quality of this t.v.?


Gunna posted a review   

The Good:- Awesome SD picture, TV and DVD.
- Wasn't sure about the look at first but it has grown on me.
- Can be greatly rewarded after spending some time tweaking the settings.
- Again - Really Awesome SD picture

The Bad:- Default settings are not good.
- Blacks could be darker (but thats LCD for you)
- Are all the picture enhancers necessary?
- No video streaming, I dont see why it couldn't if Philips wanted.

Has anybody setup the new Philips 42PFL9703D (9 series) with a video calibration disc (eg Digital Video Essential HD)?
I would like to hear what your results were.
What are your settings, did you adjust the colour palet, what picture enhancers do you have active, etc?
I have orded a copy of DVE on HD DVD, which should arrive by the end of OCT. I will post my results when the DVD arrives.


goowak posted a review   

The Good:2ms

The Bad:100 hz and pixel plus can be detrimental
aesthetically not as good as the last series
no ambilight!!!

100hz leaves some to be desired. but all in all with its 2 ms response rate and wide colour gamut it provides colours as good as sony with none of the lag. 3 yr warranty provides good piece of mind, and usb and ethernet are welcome extras. having compared afl between the philips and bravia it is clear the philips is much better and better value for money.


lin3six posted a review   

The Good:-very good picture quality, sometimes its fantastic
-software update a breeze
-made in europe
- Better spec'd than bravia

The Bad:-not as clear as bravia
-poor 100hz & Motion
-colour red sometimes blurs and pixelates
-not enough set up options
-serious lack of inputs...

may as well turn natural motion and 100hz off unless you want a blurry picture in half your viewing, great picture quality, good size, good design..... i should have got a bravia with the recent price drops....


HR5 posted a review   

The Good:Best 100Hz mode in market 10 out of 10

The Bad:Nil

Had new 9-series for 2 weeks now, STILL BEST TV ever!!, can't understand some of reviews comments can't fault 100Hz mode...


gazman1973 posted a review   

The Good:Gorgeous picture in both HD and SD. Sport looks fantastic and I used to hate adds but now love them due to the picture quality :)

The Bad:If I was to faulter anything about this TV would be the lack of Composite ports and having to buy a scart splitter to compensate but its no big deal really as I'm moving most devices over to HDMI.

I was searching for the best TV I could find within budget and by purchasing the 9703 I know in terms of specs and now experiencing it, that it is far more superior to the rest.


HR5 posted a review   

The Good:Full HD 1920x1080, 2ms response time, 17-bit colour processing, great depth of field, blacks, 30w audio dual subwoofer speakers, Ethernet Port, 4x HDMI, 3 year warranty

The Bad:??

This is the BEST LCD TV I've seen!!

Read this story tested this in store 100Hz is still fast BEST I've seen vs Bravia X-series and Samsung series.
KILLS all competition for BEST picture around.
Sales staff at Harvey Norman told me they claim best picture in store!

Bought one love it!! Great design, high quality - MADE IN EUROPE!

Michael 99

Michael 99 posted a review   

Just bought one and it is great. Better than any other LCD I have looked at and I have been looking for long time.


warooboy posted a review   

The Good:Colour, clarity, sound

The Bad:our model has a minor fault with the plastic surround, I know it is there, debating whether to replace the entire unit , but I know it is there, and at nearly 4k, it should be perfect :-)

Excellent picture quality, easy setup

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User Reviews / Comments  Philips 42PFL9703D

  • nsa



    "Upon receipt of TV plugged it in and got good audio but no video. Called Philips technical support, they tried but could not help. They told me that that was all they could do and the TV was "out o..."

  • newbiii



    "would a philips sound bar HTS8140 improve sound quality of this t.v.?"

  • Gunna



    "Has anybody setup the new Philips 42PFL9703D (9 series) with a video calibration disc (eg Digital Video Essential HD)?
    I would like to hear what your results were.
    What are your set..."

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