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Philips Cinema 21:9 56PFL9954H 56in LCD TV - Philips Cinema 21:9 56PFL9954H
The strangest thing of all about the Cinema 21:9 aesthetically, though, is the way its extra width just somehow feels right, for want of a more technically accurate explanation. The glossy black finish and gently rounded corners of the set's bezel are attractive in themselves, certainly. But they're not enough to explain the chorus of 'oohs' and 'aahs' that invariably escaped from the mouths of anyone I showed the TV to while I was testing it. It's as if the TV's very shape seems to make it instantly more attractive.
Given that the Cinema 21:9 is clearly established as the flagship model in Philips' latest TV range, it's no surprise to find its elongated rear panel absolutely heaving with connections. Highlights of what's on offer include a stonking five HDMIs (one down the TV's side), a dedicated D-Sub PC port, a USB port that can play back all sorts of different multimedia file formats, and an Ethernet port which, happily, can be used either for accessing files from a networked, DLNA-certified PC, or for accessing Philips' new online service. Even better, you can access the Internet service wirelessly, if you like, via the TV's built-in Wi-Fi system.
Philips' online service is currently unique among mainstream TV brands for offering you two options: 1) access to Philips' own managed content, designed specifically to work with a standard TV operating system, and 2) access to the world wide web at large. I won't go into more detail on all this here as I covered it at length in the recent review of Philips' 32PFL9604. But suffice it to say that the system is very polished in its presentation, and even the full Internet access isn't as tricky to handle via the TV's remote as you might anticipate.
Given the amount of features Philips likes to throw at even its relatively mid-range TVs, it's no surprise at all to find the Cinema 21:9's onscreen menus almost overwhelmed with stuff. Occupying the lion's share of the options, of course, is the TV's video processing. For driving the screen is the latest version of Philips' extremely powerful Perfect Pixel HD engine, with its Perfect Natural Motion, Perfect Contrast and Perfect Colours components - all of which can be tinkered with to within an inch of their lives to suit your individual tastes.
That's far from the end of the video processing story, though. For also extremely eye-catching is the appearance of Philips's first 200Hz engine, created by combining 100Hz processing with a scanning backlight running at a 50 per cent duty cycle. Hopefully this will further enhance the extensive impact on reducing motion blur and judder delivered by the Perfect Natural Motion system.