A few weeks ago we looked at and were very impressed by Philips' 42PFL7404: an actually affordable 42in model that still offered at least a taste of the heavy duty processing power for which Philips is becoming famous - or infamous, I guess, if you’re one of those people still clinging to the idea that lots of processing inevitably leads to pictures that don’t look natural.
So we thought it made sense with the January sales upon us to look at how well the 7404 Series' 'stripped down' processing approach works on a smaller, much more affordable screen: the 32in, £560 32PFL7404. Will Philips' processing efforts still be visible enough at this size level to warrant stepping up to the 32PFL7404 from ultra-cheap models like Toshiba’s 32AV635D and 32AV615D?
First impressions are promising. For the 32PFL7404’s design is really quite exquisite by the usually cheap and cheerful standards of the sub-£600 32in market. Its unusually slender bezel immediately sets a futuristic tone, which is then reinforced by the way a translucent outer ‘shroud’ curves forward around the main black frame.
The only disappointment for me is that Philips has had to strip all traces of its Ambilight technology out of the 32PFL7404, meaning your viewing experience is not enhanced by any sympathetic coloured light emissions from the TV’s sides. Boo. Though if you’re one of those miserable blighters who finds Ambilight gimmicky and flash, then I guess you’ll be only too happy at its removal from the 32PFL7404.
Philips hasn’t compromised as much as it might have with the 32PFL7404’s connections. There’s still a highly credible count of four HDMIs, for a start. Plus you get solid multimedia support from a USB socket able to take in and play a surprising number of AV file types, and a PC input.
As part of its cost-cutting measures to make the 32PFL7404’s price possible, Philips hasn’t been able to give it the Ethernet port found on the brand’s step-up 8404 and 9000 TV series. So there’s no DLNA PC streaming, and no access to the Internet. But while a pity, this is hardly a deal breaker for the 32PFL7404’s sort of money.
Especially as elsewhere it has some quite nice specifications up its sleeve. It has a Full HD resolution, despite its size and cost, and it claims a contrast ratio of 80,000:1 that ranks as one of the highest we’ve seen on such an affordable 32in TV. And then, of course, there’s the TV’s video processing, which here consists of something called 'Pixel Precise HD' in conjunction with 100Hz.