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Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV review

John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

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.

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August 5, 2009, 7:18 am

Why oh why is Philips still peddling lcd when LED is the future? Given the price I expected this to be a pre-requisite.

Geoff Richards

August 5, 2009, 1:00 pm

@James1000 - a TV is simply defined by its backlighting technology, just as not all 1080p TVs are automatically better than 720p models...

Edge-lit LED backlighting facilitates a thinner chassis, but as John quite rightly points out, does that *really* matter so much when the TV is on the wall, or pushed into the corner of your living room?

This model achieves excellent image quality via the extra grunt Philips has thrown at its processing power; the Perfect Pixel HD system doesn't come cheap, but it allows it to outshine lesser models. And of course there's the Ambilight system too.

There's life in the "old" tech yet :)


August 5, 2009, 3:42 pm

@Geoff, if the TV is in the corner of the room then depth seems irrelevant but (for me at least) if it's going on the wall then every mm counts.

Any comment on the Natural Motion system? When I see Philips TVs I usually think the smoothing looks plain weird - you can almost see the system kicking on and off. Same with some of the latest Samsung LED systems. Anyone else find this? Can you tone this down (on both Philips and Samsung) to a natural level without turning it completely off?


August 5, 2009, 3:51 pm


Sounds as though you're another victim of Samsung brainwashing (sorry marketing) getting you to believe there's such a thing as LED TV - as Geoff quite rightly points out these so called new LED TVs are the same LCDs but with LED backlighting. LED Edge lit TVs (eg Samsung B8000) are only marginally improved over traditional CCFL. It's LCDs with direct LED backlighting with local dimming that you should be looking out for! But even these are still LCD! The true next gen tech TVs are OLED which are still in development.

Samsung - misleading the nation!

Darren Burn

August 5, 2009, 8:07 pm

Quick question - does the Philips Net TV allow you to therefore go onto the iPlayer website and watch content directly from there on your TV - or would you need to hook up a HDMI laptop


August 7, 2009, 3:43 am

Yes it seems the term LED is the new buzz word for people who want to believe in fairies - last year it was 1080p being a neccessity or your set will not be HD.

Can anybody guess what next years will be??

I am placing my bets on "HD Freeview Built In".


August 7, 2009, 6:15 pm

@Davidcrofter - sorry to disappoint but I dont actually believe in fairies. Common sense on the other hand... Just to educate you lcds have been dogged by contrast issues when compared to plasma. Therefore led is (for the rationally minded) a logical progression as this addresses this issue to some degree.Why are you in denial of such a thing?


August 7, 2009, 9:08 pm

@james1000 - Your missing the point. Technically these so called 'LED TVs' are still by definition LCD and come with the inherent drawbacks (degrading picture of axis, motion blur). The only thing that is different is the rear lighting and that like the other parts of LCD TVs have been improving over the years but the method of the tech has always been the same ie. a transmissive display unlike plasma or OLED or SED or CRT etc. etc.

LCDs with local dimming rear lighting (see im not specifying LED - another lighting could be employed) with the ongoing LCD panel improvements are in my opinion the pinnacle of LCD tech!

The next gen TVs are OLED and if they are not, I'll eat my hat (pending whether or not I'm wearing a hat)

Jan Andersen

August 13, 2009, 5:23 pm

I just baught the 32" in this serie ( 32PFL6404 ), and remain with the question, does this TV serie have LED backlight ?

Aggree that LED backlight with individual LED control, local dimming, is a flop and should be avoided ( at least in todays attempts ). Examples like the Samsung B7000 made me go for a regular backlight.


But plain LED backlight should be the optimal, both in terms of energy and uniform backlight.

Lee Marshall

October 20, 2010, 1:50 pm

Just bought one of these from Marks & Spencers with a five year warranty for only £599, reduced from £999.



October 24, 2010, 12:11 am

Thanks to Lee Marshall... I just purchased one too(eventually, long story)... I await its delivery with eager anticipation. M&S... £599 5 year warranty.....:)


November 5, 2010, 6:06 pm

@ Lee Marshall - Whoa, are you serious about that price? How/ where did you get that from? Any particular branch of M&S? Was it new? Any info greatly appreciated as I would love to get my hands on one for that price

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