Philips 42PFL9803H 42in LED LCD TV - Philips 42PFL9803H

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Philips 42PFL9803H 42in LED LCD TV


Our Score:


Other significant features of the 42PFL9803H are the multimedia playback options opened up by its provision of USB and DLNA-certified Ethernet ports; and a little something called the Perfect Pixel HD processing engine. This fearsomely powerful new system incorporates elements designed to improve contrast, colour, motion response, fine detail levels, and noise reduction, among other sundry items.

Other recent Philips sets to use the Perfect Pixel HD engine have delivered excellent picture quality so long as you're willing to commit to repeated and regular tinkering within the TV's onscreen menus, so hopefully the system won't run into any unexpected hitches with the 42PFL9803H's LED rather than LCD picture system.

While the Perfect Pixel Engine proves very important when you're watching the TV, though, the most important part of what is a truly outstanding performance is actually the set's LED backlighting.

For starters, it ensures that the 42PFL9803H's black levels are absolutely unbelievable. Watching the scenes in the bat-filled catacombs of Batman Begins on Blu-ray is a revelation, as the TV seemingly effortlessly achieves levels of almost complete blackness that not only thrash anything seen from any normal LCD TV, but also outgun every plasma we've seen with the possible - and it is only possible, not definite - exception of Pioneer's latest KURO plasmas.

What's particularly awe-inspiring about the 42PFL9803H's black levels is the fact that as well as suffering with seemingly no visible greyness or clouding provided you use the set's Dynamic Backlight option, they also manage to retain lots of subtle shadow detailing in dark areas. If I'm honest I'd slightly feared that the LED approach of ‘turning off' areas of the picture to achieve extreme black levels might leave a few depth-creating shadow details and greyscale subtleties lost in the dark. But instead dark scenes on the 42PFL9803H look almost spookily three dimensional and natural.

As a self-confessed black level obsessive, the 42PFL9803H's contrast talents alone are enough to make it immediately the most straight-up cinematic LCD TV I've seen. But it's got plenty of other goodies up its sleeve too.

Starting with its colours. LED lighting has long been associated with richer, more expressive colours, and since the LED tech is here also joined by a Philips wide colour gamut system, it doesn't even seem all that shocking to find colours during a run-through of Disney's Sleeping Beauty looking so rich, bright, clean and fully saturated that you'd swear the film had only been made yesterday.

Not that the 42PFL9803H only does animation colours well, mind you. It also shows a deft and natural touch with most ‘real world' film and video sources, with only a marginal tinge of green in one or two skin tones stopping the TV from hitting colour perfection.

More kudos needs to go to the 42PFL9803H for its motion handling. The ability to adjust lighting locally in different parts of the screen has the potential to reduce normal LCD's ‘step and hold' motion flaw, and this seems borne out in the greatly reduced levels of blur on show when watching sports or action scenes.


November 17, 2008, 6:49 am

what does the "Danish water supply" have to do with this television? Philips is a DUTCH company.


November 17, 2008, 8:35 am

There might be 'something pretty amazing in the Danish water supply' indeed (especially considering the ladies of Copenhagen), however in conjunction with Philips, the 'special' ingredient would more likely be in the Dutch water...

Matthew Hunt

November 17, 2008, 10:12 am

Danish water supply? Shouldn't that read Dutch water supply? Good looking TV though, nice review.

Jacob 1

November 17, 2008, 1:35 pm

yeah, I did also stumble upon that =) Did you write the review late =D

And I'm Dansih, so you should have heard me last night, talking to my girlfriend, looking like 1 big questionmark, saying, "Philips ISSN'T DANISH, IIIIIIIIIIS IIIIIIIIIIT?" =D

Geoff Richards

November 17, 2008, 1:42 pm

An honest slip of the keyboard I'm sure guys. This has been corrected. The Dutch and TrustedReviews - both orange, so let's stick together :)


November 17, 2008, 1:47 pm

Two things. The aluminium surround - not sure about that - and the price - eek! ٠ grand for a 42" TV. Is is really worth 100% more than say a Panasonic TH42PZ81?

James Egginton

November 17, 2008, 4:54 pm

Hey all. I got this set myself on Friday and I agree with this article completely. The level of details in this screen is amazing and the balcks are fantastic. one thing to note which was picked up on in this review is that it is really important you get your setting right. One example is that if you set you Brightness too hi you are going to see severe cases of Blooming whereas get them just right and you'll be amazed at the picture.

One thing I would like to point out which I don't think was mentioned in the review is how this TV set deals with Game consols. As people may know the previous Philips LCDs have had a terrible time with Lag making some games unplayable. Well I am pleased to report that this is no-longer the case with this LCD tv. They have create a GAME mode that minimises most of the processing the TV is doing whilst not compromising the picture quality. i was able to play Guitar Hero on hard and still achieve my usual high scores so that is another import thing that Philips have got right for this tv.

Jordan McClements

November 17, 2008, 5:25 pm

I think (and I am sure many would agree these days) that you should have 'Power Consumption' in the spec sheet.


November 18, 2008, 6:38 am

I wonder if they will be making a new version of the HTS8140 Ambisound Home Cinema System in the same aluminum/silver as these TVs. If I were to get one of these (I'm in the US so I think I have to wait) I'm glad the sound got good praise as I'd like to get a soundbar from Philips to match.

My guess is Philips will upgrade other products to have the same look and match them all; they're good at that. :)



November 26, 2008, 11:35 pm

So, the ultimate question - this or a 50" KURO?


November 27, 2008, 6:36 pm

One of the best LCD Tv's what i have ever seen. If some one ask me, what i choose. I answer. I choose Philips 42PFL9803H.

It's realy something amazing in LCD TV


February 14, 2010, 5:20 am

does anyone have a recommended list of settings for various/general viewing?

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