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

John Archer

By John Archer



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


Our Score:


Although there are definitely a few minor niggles, it's really hard to find anything truly bad to say about the 42PFL9803H's LED-inspired pictures. In fact, the only serious problems with the pictures are those you might introduce yourself.

In other words, all sorts of weird and not so wonderful things can go wrong with the picture if you get any of the TV's massive list of settings wrong. For instance: there are motion glitches if you use the wrong level of HD Natural Motion with the wrong sort of source. The Advanced Sharpness tool can make pictures look noisy unless they're of a very high standard in the first place. The wrong level of noise reduction can make pictures look unduly soft. Setting the Advanced Sharpness setting on with the HD Natural Motion off can cause fine details to flicker quite distractingly. Not using the Dynamic Backlight can leave a tiny trace of greyness in dark scenes, while using it can cause the occasional brightness ‘jump'. And so on.

The key thing about all this, though, is that practically everything that can go wrong with the 42PFL9803H's pictures can also be put right by adjusting one or two elements of the processing.

This undeniably makes the TV unusually complex and labour-intensive to use, and there's definitely scope for Philips to try and make things a little less hard work in the future. But looking at the situation from another perspective, the huge amount of picture options at your disposal actually make the 42PFL9803H uniquely qualified to sort out the type of problems many TVs just leave you with no way of fixing.

Although it's of relatively minor significance versus the 42PFL9803H's sublime pictures, I'm happy to report that the set's sound performance is also very good indeed. Two integrated subwoofers on the TV's rear together with a dome tweeter speaker design help produce a really potent combination of a wide dynamic range, widespread soundstage, lots of treble detailing, unusually open and clear vocals, and good, old-fashioned raw power. Excellent.


The 42PFL9803H is very expensive for a 42in TV. It's also at times fussy as hell to use - so much so that it could well take you hours of experimentation before you fully understand what does what to different types of source material.

But frankly, none of this negative stuff really bothers me much. Why? For the simple reason that the 42PFL9803H's LED lighting helps it produce pictures that not only make it the finest performing LCD TV I've seen, but also raise it to a level where it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Pioneer's KURO plasmas. And as regular readers will know, you really can't bestow any greater praise on a TV than that!


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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