The 32PFL9705’s sharpness, meanwhile, is startling in three different ways. First, the set’s ability to reproduce every pixel of picture information with a high definition source is mesmerising, totally disproving the theory we sometimes hear that you can’t really appreciate HD on screens as small as 32in.
Next, the 32PFL9705 proves exceptionally accomplished at upscaling standard definition, throwing in so much extra detail – while also managing to suppress video noise – that the results look at least halfway to being high definition. Outstanding.
Our final sharpness ‘hit’ concerns the 32PFL9705’s motion handing. The usual LCD problems with motion blur and judder just do not appear if you have both the set’s 200Hz and HD Natural Motion tools in play. What’s more, provided you stick with the Natural Motion system’s minimum or, just possibly, medium settings, the judder-reduction and motion clarity are delivered without generating the usual motion processing artefacts.
Some people will never like the sort of heavy duty motion processing offered by the 32PFL9705. But if you’re one of these people, you can always just turn the processing off without damaging the other picture enhancements. In fact, Philips provides the flexibility to turn off, down or up pretty much any element of its processing engine.
Actually it’s arguably been a bit too helpful in this respect. For as noted earlier, as with many Philips TVs before it, you do need to commit to learning your way round and regularly revisiting the 32PFL9705’s onscreen menus to ensure the picture always looks its best with different source material.
For instance, if you’re watching something extremely bright and colourful, like Toy Story or Shrek, you might well spot shifting patches of brightness around some of the objects in the picture, caused by the machinations of the local dimming. Unless, that is, you turn the set’s Dynamic Backlight option to Standard or even off, rather than using the Best For Picture mode that arguably delivers the best results with less colourful material.
Similarly, if you set the set’s Perfect Contrast option too high, it can cause pictures to look flickery, as the brightness adjusts too aggressively to changes in the image you’re watching.
While it might be nice if Philips’ colossal processing brain could now react a little more intelligently to these sort of issues itself, we should say that the quality and power of the picture processing engine is now such that unwanted side effects are far less likely to appear than they used to, reducing the number of times when you might need to tweak things.
Plus, of course, the results of your efforts will be truly stunning picture quality. And there can’t be much a better motivation for many of our readers than that.
As with last year’s 9000 series, the 32PFL9705 isn’t just about tip top picture quality, though. It also goes the extra mile to partner those stellar pictures with some unusually enjoyable sound quality. Bass levels are far more potent and deep than they are with any other 32 TV we can think of bar, perhaps, premium brands like Loewe and B&O. Yet bass never sounds overwhelming, thanks to an open-sounding mid-range and plenty of treble clarity.
Philips’ trick for making this level of audio performance possible on the 9000 series is to separate out its woofer and tweeter speakers, siting the woofers on the rear so that they can pump up the bass volume without compromising the sound coming from the dome tweeters on the set’s front. Given how successful this approach is, it’s surprising other brands haven’t nicked the idea yet.
Despite the aggravatingly absent Freeview HD tuner, by combining its powerful picture processing engine with some startling new local dimming direct LED finesse, Philips has set a new performance benchmark for the 32in TV marketplace. Admittedly it’s a benchmark most people probably won’t be able to afford, but at least the price is justified.