A few days back we checked out one of the cream of Philips’ current flat TV crop, the Cineos 37PF9731D. And we liked pretty much everything about it – except, perhaps, its rather hefty price tag. So today we thought it made sense to see how well Philips’ LCD talents hold up when it tries to deliver a large screen LCD aimed at the ‘budget’ end of the market. The model seemingly best suited to such an investigation is the 42PF5421: a 42in TV that’s yours for under £1200.
It’s pleasing to discover that aside from not boasting Philips’ striking Ambilight technology, the 42PF5421’s aesthetics show little sign of suffering for the price-cutter’s art. The high gloss, ‘piano black’ bezel looks every bit as nice as it does on more expensive Philips offerings, and the build quality feels robust.
The first serious signs of corner cutting only become apparent as you hook up your source gear. The biggest initial scare concerns the lack of a D-Sub PC input. Thankfully closer investigation reveals that the set’s two HDMI jacks can be set to accept PC instead of video feeds – but that’s hardly ideal given the likelihood that many people reading this review will find themselves needing two HDMIs just for video duties over the next few months.
The other problem is that there’s no connection evidence – CAM slot, digital audio output – to support a built-in digital tuner. As feared, this does indeed prove that the 42PF5421 is a Freeview-free zone. Still, though this is disappointing, if you’ve already got a separate digital TV source such as a Sky+, Sky HD or cable receiver, then the lack of a digital tuner in the TV isn’t really much of an issue.
The key specs claimed by Philips for the 42PF5421 show an HD-friendly native resolution of 1,366 x 768, an actually slightly higher than average brightness output of 550cd/m2, but a worryingly low contrast figure of 800:1. Let’s hope this doesn’t indicate any severe black level deficiencies.