Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV - Philips 42PFL9664

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV


Our Score:


The only issues I have with the 42PFL9664's pictures, in fact, are mostly familiar ones. First, black levels drop off quite considerably if you have to watch the TV from a wide-ish viewing angle.

Second, with the HD Natural Motion system engaged, areas of very fine detail can occasionally flicker a touch, and small, fast-moving objects like cricket balls can appear with noticeable ghost balls following behind them. Both these issues are to do with the scanning backlight, though, and so if you find a certain source to be particularly affected you can sort things out by just turning the Natural Motion (and thus 200Hz) processing elements off.

Following on from this last point, it's true with the 42PFL9664 as it is with so many other Philips TVs that in order to consistently get the very best from it, you do need to regularly adjust some of the set's processing elements. In other words, you have to be more proactive than you might ideally like to be. For instance, as well as deactivating the HD Natural Motion system for sport, for god's sake make sure you use the provided Game mode when playing console games, for otherwise the delays in producing the picture caused by the TV's huge processing engine will lead to your face being shot off on Call Of Duty with terrifying regularity.

As I always point out, though, for me the key point in all this is that the picture quality reward for your time and effort is exceptionally high.

One final negative point I might add here is that the 42PFL9664's pictures aren't the brightest when calibrated to deliver the best colour and black level response. But this shouldn't be a major issue in a normal living room environment - and you can certainly make the picture much brighter if you're willing to forego a little black level response and colour neutrality.

Most flat TVs struggle to produce a convincing soundstage to accompany their pictures. But despite its puny 49mm depth, thanks to a combination of two integrated subwoofers and two dome tweeters the 42PFL9664 actually sounds remarkably powerful. It can hit genuinely cinematic volume levels without distorting, it's very effective at reproducing the sort of subtle treble details that give a sound mix a sense of life and space, and most striking of all, it delivers some really quite deep and potent bass. In fact, the bass can occasionally sound a touch overwhelming if you don't rein it in via the sound adjustment menus. But I'd give my right arm to be faced with a similar 'problem' with more rival flat TVs!


While I might have only been partially convinced by Philips' attempt to do 'mid-range' last week, the 42PFL9664 continues to show that when the brand is in flagship, no-holds-barred mode, it's very much still an innovative, original and lovably eccentric TV force to be reckoned with.


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

comments powered by Disqus