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Although this might seem an odd thing to say at the start of a plasma TV review, it’s really noticeable right now how almost everyone is pulling out of the rear projection TV market. Why bring this fact up here? Because it’s likely down to TVs like the 50PF9631D that the rear projection market is finding life so hard.
For not so long ago you’d be looking at prices far north of three grand to secure yourself a flat TV of 50in or more, while rear projection offerings of the same size could be had for under £2k. But today we have before us not only a 50in plasma TV from a usually premium brand going for £1,975, but a 50in plasma TV that’s anything but basic in its specification.
You only have to look at it to see it’s no plasticky cheap job, as it glistens with quality thanks to its glossy black bezel. It even sports Philips’ Ambilight technology, whereby fluorescent tubes down the TV’s sides throw out pools of light that can be coloured in sympathy with the main colour tones of the picture. What’s more, the 50PF9631D’s Ambilight system is the ‘stereo’ incarnation, whereby different colours can be emitted from each side.
Although Ambilight has a utility as well as an aesthetic function in that it’s proven to make the viewing experience more relaxing, its potential significance to the 50PF9631D’s performance pales by comparison to the likely impact of arguably the TV’s most important feature: Pixel Plus 2 HD processing engine.
Pixel Plus 2 is a proprietary Philips image-boosting system renowned for its beneficial impact on colours, edging and especially fine detail, so we’re certainly pleased to find it living on such an affordable big-screen TV as this one.
That said, Pixel Plus 2 HD is not the very latest version of Pixel Plus; a third generation complete with some impressive new noise reduction techniques can be found on Philips’ high-end flat TV models. But Pixel Plus 2 remains impressive in its own right.