Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV - Philips 42PFL9664

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV


Our Score:


After being ever so slightly disappointed by the pictures of one of Philips' mid-range TVs last week, the 42PFL8404, I approached the 42PFL9664's images with a touch of trepidation. Especially as its claimed contrast ratio is the same 80,000:1 figure quoted by the 42PFL8404, which for me exhibited definite signs of LCD's grey mist problem when trying to show dark scenes.

But thankfully my concerns prove entirely unwarranted. The Perfect Contrast bit of the 42PFL9664's Perfect Pixel HD engine enables it to deliver clearly superior black level response to that of its cheaper sibling. I wouldn't say there's no greyness at all; Philips LED models can go even deeper, and thus portray more detail in dark picture areas. But by 'straight' LCD standards the 42PFL9664's handling of dark scenes is excellent.

Its motion handing is also very impressive indeed. Philips' motion handling processing has historically generated some serious debate in AV circles, with some people just unable to live with the visible side effects the processing engine can sometimes generate. But the latest Perfect Pixel HD engine takes another huge stride towards eradicating these artefacts.

They're not completely gone; edges of moving objects can still sometimes show a sort of shimmering halo around them, and really fast motion can occasionally flicker. However, the regularity and severity with which these problems arise is vastly reduced even over last year's flagship Philips TVs - so long, at least, that you're careful with some of the picture processing settings. For instance, make sure you only set the HD Natural Motion system to minimum for films, and potentially turn it off completely for anything sporty you might be watching.

With the pseudo-200Hz system also doing a subtly effective job of keeping motion blur out of the picture, it's easy to appreciate the phenomenal sharpness of the 42PFL9664's images. HD sources are portrayed with all their detail looking almost exaggeratedly intact. But even standard definition pictures look far sharper than usual, as Philips' exemplary rescaling processing avoids the softness and noise problems associated with lesser video engines.

Yet more good news concerns the 42PFL9664's colours. The set employs 17-bit RGB colour processing at a time when many other TVs are struggling to get past 12 or 14-bit, and as I'd expect this results in some of the most finely defined colour blends and tonal shifts around. This fact joins forces with the great black levels and sharpness to help the 42PFL9664's pictures look exceptionally solid and three-dimensional. As well as being subtly defined, colours are resolutely natural in tone, so long as you use the Standard or, possibly, Cinema presets.


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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