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Philips 32PFL9705 - Many Features, But No Freeview HD Or 3D

John Archer

By John Archer


  • Recommended by TR
Philips 32PFL9705


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

Four HDMIs wrap up the set’s key connections – though surprisingly, only one of these is v1.4 in nature. And that’s only because it offers an audio return channel. Unlike the other sets in the PFL9705 range, this 32in model doesn’t support 3D playback.

The Philips line on this is that it didn’t believe the effect of 3D pictures was strong enough at the 32in size to justify including it. Though at this price, we wouldn’t have minded having the option to decide for ourselves!

The lack of 3D pales compared with the 32PFL9705’s other surprising feature absentee though. For it doesn’t carry a Freeview HD tuner – something we’re already expecting as standard even on sets costing relative peanuts.

With the lack of 3D and built-in HD tuner suddenly knocking its feature appeal, it’s just as well that we still haven’t covered the two real aces up the 32PFL9705’s sleeve: direct LED lighting and Perfect Pixel HD processing.

Of these, the direct LED lighting is the most intriguing – especially as the system comes complete with local dimming, so the TV can illuminate clusters of LEDs individually of each other. This potential for having deep blacks and bright whites appearing simultaneously within a single frame in a way not possible with other types of LCD illumination predictably results in a huge claimed a contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1. This is comfortably the highest contrast ratio we’ve seen on a 32in TV, and actually matches the number put out by Panasonic in relation to its latest plasma TVs.

Perfect Pixel HD, as regular readers will know, is the name Philips gives to its own ridiculously powerful picture processing engine. This engine has proved controversial in the past, with some people feeling that it overcomplicates Philips TVs while also causing pictures to look over-processed. But while we would agree that you have to work harder to get the best out of Philips TVs because of Perfect Pixel HD, we would also say that provided you put the effort in, the processing has historically proved capable of turning out some outstanding results.

In fact, it’s blindingly obvious right away that Perfect Pixel HD processing in conjunction with the direct LED lighting system really does work wonders. Actually, the 32PFL9705’s picture is so aggressively commanding that - unusually for a TV of any size, never mind a ‘mere’ 32in one - no less than three different strengths immediately vie for our attention.

First up, there’s the screen’s truly immense contrast performance. This finds extremely bright, pure whites able to share the screen with the best black colours we’ve ever seen on a 32in flat TV.

Obviously, that’s a pretty big statement to make. But we stick by it. We just have not seen a 32in LCD or plasma TV before that gets rid of the usual LCD grey clouding issue with dark colours as successfully as the 32PFL9705.

What’s more, the 32PFL9705 achieves this without sacrificing as much shadow detail as local dimming LED TVs generally do. Nor (unless you watch from an angle of 40 degrees or more) is there any significant trouble from local dimming LED’s haloing issue, where you can see greyish haloes around very bright objects when they appear against dark backgrounds.

The 32PFL9705’s colours, meanwhile, are so bright and richly saturated that they initially take some getting used to. But this isn’t a fault of the 32PFL9705 – just a result of the tones of most rival 32in TVs looking drab by comparison.

The colours don’t become so aggressive that they make video footage look unnaturally cartoonish, mind, and nor do the aggressive saturations come at the expense of subtlety when it comes to portraying the sort of fine colour shifts that help give pictures solidity and depth.

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September 3, 2010, 12:45 pm

I've been waiting for a review of the 9705 series. I've been holding off buying a new TV, and this is pretty much as I'd hoped. Only thing that bothers me: how does the 2D image quality compare with a Panasonic V20?

Any chance we'll get a review of the 40in?


September 3, 2010, 2:15 pm

This tv was mine, and Id be happy paying the price premium, but again no Freeview HD?! This is utter madness and means yet again Ill be buying elsewhere. What is going on in Philips' head? Good as ambilight is, give me USEFUL features like Freeview HD anytime.


September 3, 2010, 2:26 pm

Hmm, omitting Freeview HD is pretty inexcusable given the premium price point. Very annoying because it otherwise looks like a great option.


September 3, 2010, 5:11 pm

To be honest I've not used TV's built in tuners for a very long time, since getting a Tivo I've always used some sort of DVR. And if you was going to spend £1K+ on a TV I would expect most would do the same. Who watches live-tv nowadays. :)


September 3, 2010, 7:44 pm

"Who watches live-tv nowadays"

Well if I ever do, it's out of a Virgin Media box. Although I do live in range of one of the only two current Freeview HD transmitters, the lack of the tuner is not something that would put my off buying a TV with this kind of image quality.

Nor is internet connectivity something that would make me buy one. And having just seen Avatar in 3D at the IMAX, pretty sure I'm not fussed about a 3D TV either, seems like a gimmick which distracts from the actual film (of course, that's just my opinion, other people might like it!)

Would really like to see a review of the 40" bigger brother of this TV! Nice to see some full array LED tvs instead of yet another Edge-LED!


September 4, 2010, 3:00 am

Ditto to John McLean.

It is however nice to see the design artistry carried over to the remote as well. It's a frequent disappointment that your beautiful new television is accompanied by a some horrid piece of plastic dug up from the bottom of your primary school's television room.

Can Ozyaman

September 22, 2010, 12:20 am


Seems that the sound of 32-9705 is OK+

Just the price ise very high!!

Its my nominee list! with Tosh SL/VL32/Pany 37V2x

For Phil 32-9705 well I'v to wait couple of times in order to get the reasonable price!

Therefore Pany 37V2x are also expensive as well!!



December 30, 2010, 10:51 pm

i have always thought there are three things to look for when buying a tv, they are: picture quality, picture quality and picture quality. most people use some sort of digibox so i dont think its a big problem not having an inbuilt tuner. the review says this is the benchmark for picture quality, thats good enough for me!

i have already seen this tv for less than £950, i think im gonna buy one!

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