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Any enthusiasm we might have finally started to feel towards the 32PF5520D, though, slowly dissipates again as we get stuck into its picture performance.
The first and most disappointing problem is a lack of black level. Feed the TV a particularly dark film like Alien, and you’ll find yourself straining to see through the grey mist which hangs over everything that’s supposed to look black. As well as being tiring on your eyes, this problem also leaves the picture looking a bit one-dimensional and uninvolving.
The next aspect of the 32PF5520D’s performance that perhaps reveals its age relative to some of the newer kids on the block is the way it struggles with movement. Moving objects appear blurred and indistinct, suggesting that the screen’s LCD response time isn’t as fast as we’d like. This problem contributes to a general lack of sharpness, meanwhile, that’s severe enough with standard definition broadcasts to at times make them look almost out of focus.
Philips TVs can usually be relied on to produce excellent colours – but not the 32PF5520D. Things look solid enough during bright scenes, we guess, with some decent vibrancy and tones. But the less aggressive palette of darker scenes looks muted and flat.
We should in the interests of fairness say here that even with all these problems this Philips set isn’t actually a bad picture performer. In fact, with HD sources two of the key problems – motion smear and lack of sharpness – are considerably reduced, making HD sources at least fairly enjoyable. But by no means can the 32PF5520D’s pictures ever be described as better than average.
There’s nothing in the 32PF5520D’s audio to put a smile on our faces either. The speakers have a go certainly, but ultimately a lack of sheer power and range means that bass can sound dislocated and unclear, while treble details are quickly squeezed out as soon as there’s much going on in the mid-range.
We have no argument with the idea of Philips leaving one of its older models on shelves at a reduced price; we’re all in favour of anything that lets people get their hands on an HD Ready TV more cheaply. But the 32PF5520D simply asks you to make more compromises with connectivity, pictures and sound than we feel comfortable with, even at £800.