With LCD prices plummeting faster than an overweight skydiver, there’s no denying that at £2,600, Philips’ 37PF9830 seems a bit on the expensive side. After all, you can get 37in LCD TVs elsewhere for as little as £1,300. But then to be fair, the 37PF9830 is no ordinary 37in LCD TV.
For starters, there’s the way it looks. With its black inner frame, slick silver ‘middle’ frame and further black outer frame, it’s strikingly pretty. Its svelte frame hides a couple of groovy design tricks, too. First, the seemingly plain left and right sides of the TV’s fascia are in fact stereo speakers. You can’t see them because they use NXT flat panel speaker technology, but we assure you they’re there. Fancy.
‘Secret’ design element number two becomes extremely unsecret as soon as you switch the TV on, as a blaze of coloured light erupts from either side of it, giving you your first glorious taste of Philips’ unique Ambilight technology. Ambilight works by using two fluorescent tubes built into the TV’s rear to pump out light coloured either in sympathy with what you’re watching, or else set manually to any hue you like. The processing which analyses the picture to automatically choose a sympathetic colour works continually too, providing a kaleidoscope of ever changing colours as you watch a film or TV programme. The version of Ambilight on the 37PF9830 even works in ‘stereo’, putting out one colour on the right and another on the left should the picture content dictate it.
This isn’t just some fancy design gimmick, either. The idea for Ambilight was borne out of independent research suggesting that casting a sympathetic aura of light around a TV can make the viewing experience easier on the eye and more relaxing. And from our experience, this really does seem to be the case.
Dragging our eyes away from the Ambilight effect for a moment, we find a decent collection of connections on the 37PF9830’s rear. Not least among these are separate HDMI and DVI digital inputs, both capable of taking either HD video or PC feeds. More HD goodness comes from a set of component video jacks, while elsewhere there are two USB ports and a multi-format memory card slot via which you can enjoy MP3, JPEG or ‘.alb’multimedia files played directly on the TV.