After dipping my toes in Philips' mid-range waters last week, we're back in flagship territory today with the 42in 42PFL9664. And the first thing to say about it is that it's really, really thin.
The bezel is just 25mm across, and even more strikingly, the TV sticks out a mere 49mm round the back. And before you ask, no, there's not an edge-lit LED in sight. This is 'straight' LCD technology, only thinner.
As I've often noted before, I'm not generally particularly excited by the prospect of a very slim TV. After all, who's going to notice a missing inch or two of butt when a TV is hanging on a wall or pushed into a corner?
But in the 42PFL9664's case, I will at least concede that its slimness really does help make it one of this season's more attractive TVs. Especially as Philips has managed to squeeze a 'stereo' version of its unique Ambilight Spectra system on there, whereby LEDs down the TV's rear sides pump out light in sympathy with the colour content of the image you're watching.
The only negative thing I might say about the design is that the two-tone grey and black fascia might be just a touch masculine for some people's tastes. But then I always was a big girl's blouse.
There's nothing at all negative to be said about the 42PFL9664's connections. A class-leading five HDMIs lead the way (four on the back, one down the side), amply supported among other things by a USB input that can play all manner of weird and wonderful multimedia file formats; a dedicated PC port; and an Ethernet port. While this latter jack can be used to access files stored on a PC, it also reminds us of the Net TV functionality sported by Philips' 9000 series TVs.
I won't go into great detail on Net TV again here, having already explored it thoroughly in earlier reviews (especially the 32PFL9604). Suffice it to say that it's for my money easily the best of the current online services offered via a TV, partly thanks to the amount of content that's been specially formatted to work with your TV remote, but mostly because Philips is the first mainstream brand to grant you unfettered access via your TV to the World Wide Web at large.
Obviously, the interface for exploring the web isn't as simple or helpful as that of a normal PC. But it's about as streamlined as it will ever be unless Philips does the sensible thing and launches an optional keyboard/mouse kit.
One last key point about the 42PFL9664's online functionality is the fact that while you can use the Ethernet port, the TV also has built-in Wi-Fi as standard - another major advantage over rival online TVs.