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Making these motion difficulties even more aggravating is the fact that in other ways the 37PF5521D’s HD images are actually pretty likeable. For instance, with relatively static HD footage pictures actually look quite crisp and detailed; a million miles from the softness witnessed with standard definition.
Colours are extremely vivid too, yet during HD viewing this is not achieved at the expense of either colour noise or natural skin tones. What’s more, these colour achievements owe more than a little to a far more respectable black level showing than you’ve any right to expect of such an affordable 37in LCD TV – especially since the depths of blackness portrayed aren’t accompanied by the sort of shadow detail loss we often see on entry-level LCD TVs.
However, we stressed that the 37PF5521D’s colours look great with HD for the simple reason that they don’t look so hot with some standard definition sources, as slightly dubious shades of green, red and skin tones creep into play with some regularity.
The performance from the unusually large speakers stuck down either side of the 37PF5521D doesn’t really justify their size. For while they sound perfectly fine with standard ‘daytime TV’ fare, push a loud movie soundtrack through them and they suddenly show a distinct lack of frequency range and raw power. This can leave action scenes sounding flat and harsh.
We perfectly understand that Philips has had to make compromises with the 37PF5521D to hit its eye-catchingly low price point. The problem is simply that the compromises affect performance too deeply to make the TV an easy recommendation, especially if – as seems likely – you’ll be wanting to watch quite a bit of standard definition footage on it.