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Philips Aurea 42PFL9903H 42in LCD TV - Philips Aurea 42PFL9903H

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Philips Aurea 42PFL9903H 42in LCD TV


Our Score:


That's not the only positive thing the Light Frame brings to the 42PFL9903D's picture quality either. For the vibrancy of the light frame has the cunning effect of seeming to exaggerate the TV's black level depths, making the image look more contrasty than it would otherwise.

To some extent I guess this is just an optical illusion; the reality is that the black level response of the 42PFL9903's core panel is only marginally if any deeper than that of the fractionally disappointing 47PFL9603D we reviewed last week. But as optical illusions go, it's a cracker!

As usual where dealing with the Perfect Pixel Engine, I need to stress that it is possible to really muck pictures up if you're not careful with some of the huge amount of image tweaks available from the TV's menus. For instance, if you leave the HD Natural Motion tool set too high, it can cause twitching noise and even, occasionally, a phenomenon during sports where you see three balls instead of one. In fact, you're probably best leaving it set to Low for most movie and TV viewing, and possibly deactivate it completely during sports viewing.

Leaving the set's noise reduction routines can make pictures look softer than they need to as well, especially during HD viewing. But provided you're willing to revisit the 42PFL9903's on screen menus to tackle potential issues more regularly than you would with a more basic TV, it will still reward you for the vast majority of the time with a really outstanding picture given added impact by the sheer drama of the Light Frame system.

It would have been easy for Philips to have forgotten about audio in its drive to raise its Aurea game. But in fact the 42PFL9903's sound is very good indeed, delivering bags of distortion-free power and a striking dynamic range - thanks in no small part to the presence of two subwoofers on the TV's rear.


I'm quite sure there will still be those among you who shudder in horror at the whole Aurea concept, even in the much-improved form on show here. And there will be far more of you entirely unwilling to consider coughing up £2,500 for a 42in TV in the current economic climate, light frame technology or no light frame technology.

But nobody can deny the immense quality of the 42PFL9903's core AV performance, and I, for one, love the Aurea Light Frame effect to bits. After all, contrary to what naysayers might tell you, I believe it really does enhance your viewing experience in a unique way, and I'm all in favour of anything that does that - even if the unique improvement does come at a price.


November 5, 2008, 4:05 pm

Is it me, or does Phillips use its Aurea technology to take away from the fact that at the core, their TVs are generally above average, and never at the top of the pile? I can't remember the last time someone mentioned Phillips in the same sentence as Sony, Samsung or Panasonic, who currently have some of the best TVs on the market, in a positive light.

Andy Vandervell

November 5, 2008, 4:29 pm

Not sure why you have that impression. We've always regarded Philips TVs very highly and with good reason. Aurea is simply an adjunct to the normal TV features.

Paul 7

November 5, 2008, 5:12 pm

Video review please???


November 5, 2008, 5:22 pm

A stunning set and I absolutely love the Aurea Light Frame effect. But I just don't think I could bring myself to shell out � for a 42" screen. In fact having just seen a full HD 1080p 42" set with a Samsung panel at Ebuyer for under 𧻞 (with 96 customer reviews giving an average 5/5 rating for the set) I wonder where the extra � of value comes in with this Philips one.

Geoff Richards

November 5, 2008, 5:54 pm

@Rsaeire - I think the number of 9 and 10/10s disagrees with you:


@Paul - sadly, the logistics of shipping these large TVs around the country means we aren't doing video reviews of TVs at this time. We are still developing our portfolio of video reviews and I can assure you TVs is on the list for the future. :)


November 5, 2008, 9:08 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watc... is apparently a video of the set in question.

prag fest

November 5, 2008, 10:15 pm

> 2 grand for a 42" telly? Nah, you're alright.

Matthew Bunton

November 5, 2008, 11:15 pm

No matter how good it is supposed to be that price is crazy imo.

I'll take a 50" Pioneer Kuro anyday over this.

lams 007

November 6, 2008, 5:50 am

Does this Tv looks better than a pioner Kuro?? maybe the second generation KUro


November 7, 2008, 3:19 pm

@Geoff - One needs only look at the users’ comments on AVForums and other such forums for their experience with Phillips TVs. I appreciate your comments regarding the review scores, but dozens of users can't all be wrong.

Jake Santman

November 8, 2008, 10:14 am

This may be a good TV, but it is the ugliest piece of furniture in my living room. I also hate this "neon light displäy" called Ambilight by Philips

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