Hands on with the Philips Ambilight 42PF9831D set

Philips42pf9831d_sc So once you have your HDTV decoder you really don’t need to worry too much about the screen you choose… Well, no. There is clear difference between LCD sets even when displaying high definition signals.

Earlier in the year we looked at both the Sony Bravia KDLV40A12 and the Philips 37PF9830 and found very notable differences between the two. The Philips has a brighter, more in your face picture and better resolution, while the Sony has more understated images which are easier on the eye.

The other day in Bruges we got chance to have a quick hands on with the Philips 42PF9831D the company’s flagship 42inch LCD set for 2006. Philips lined it up against other sets including both the Philips and the Sony in a test scenario which seemed to be reasonably fair, although to be honest we are always pretty cynical about these maker's demos. Nevertheless the set clearly is major step on from its predecessor. It has better levels of resolution, more accurate colour and overall is a more watchable picture.

Philips says that this is down to an armoury of tweaks the key one of which is something called Ambilight. In case you haven’t seen the sets, this is a technology that works by emitting ambient light along the sides of the FlatTV display. Philips reckons that this enhances colour, improves detail and contrast and reduces eyestrain. This is the first set that has Ambilight full surround which has the effect on all four side of the screen – the 37PF9830 only has it on two. It does make a significant difference and really enriches the colours on the screen.

The only real downside is that lights around the screen are lot more prominent than on the 37PF9830 - so the TV doesn't look anything like as attractive. The set also has problems with fast moving images. LCDs always struggle with quick objects which invariably leave a trail of image lag. The 42PF9831D is better than most, but still struggled a little when displaying the Champions League final in HD. The set also boasts Philips Pixel Plus 3 technologies, features a digital TV tuner and has USB and memory card slots. It’ll go for around £3500 when it launches in a couple of months time.

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