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Philips Cinema 21:9 58PFL9955H/12 - Performance and Verdict
You perhaps get a touch less shadow detail in the darkest corners than you might with a top plasma set, but we doubt you’ll notice. Especially as you’ll be so busy lapping up so many other things about the picture quality.
Including its colours. For as with the PFL9705 series, the 58PFL9955H’s colours are stunningly vibrant and well saturated. Yet crucially, this intensity hasn’t come at the expense of either tonal naturalism or subtlety. In fact, the sense of ‘flatness’ that can sometimes accompany very intense colours is nowhere to be seen.
The 58PFL9955H’s sharpness with both HD and standard definition sources is also terrific - especially as the set suffers hardly at all with motion blur, and can have all judder removed with startling efficiency by the set’s Perfect Natural Motion circuitry.
The sharpness achievable with standard definition is nothing short of revelatory, in fact, as the set’s video processing engine adds almost HD levels of detail at the same time as stretching pictures to fill the 21:9 frame (if you wish), all without exaggerating source noise.
In short, watching all sorts of 2D stuff on the 58PFL9955H was quite possibly the most fun we’ve ever had reviewing a TV. Honestly. It’s just impossible to describe just how effective and impactful the 21:9 shape is, especially when it’s combined with the stunning picture quality Philips has got from its 2010 direct LED sets.
The only problems we had with 2D viewing were some slight haloing during off-axis viewing, and the typical Philips situation whereby you need to be very careful indeed with the set’s video processing. Get the set up wrong, and you can end up with softness, noise and processing artefacts. But believe us: the motivation to learn how to get things looking right is mighty high once you’ve seen what the set is capable of.
3D viewing is a touch more problematic, on account of that old 3D chestnut, crosstalk (double ghosting) noise. For the 58PFL9955H definitely suffers more with it than any 3D plasmas, especially those from Panasonic.
However, it actually suffers less with crosstalk than any other brand of LCD 3D TV, in that while it’s there, it looks fainter and less overwhelming. This leaves you freer to appreciate the many good things about the 58PFL9955H’s 3D pictures, such as startling brightness levels and colour saturations by active shutter 3D standards, and high levels of detail.
It also must be said that the 21:9 shape of the TV works great with 3D, with the extra width and impressive screen size making it easier to get lost in the 3D world you’re watching. Especially if you turn off the Ambilight feature, which oddly seemed rather distracting with 3D sources.
So engrossed were we by the 58PFL9955H’s pictures that we almost forgot to pay attention to the set’s audio. Which would have been a major oversight as it happens, since it’s one of the best sound performers around thanks to a combination of raw power and its ability to deliver genuine extremes of bass and treble rather than leaving everything crammed into the mid range like most flat TVs do.
Sure, the 58PFL9955H’s lack of a Freeview HD tuner is irritating, the work needed to get the best from it might seem intimidating, and the crosstalk with 3D (however minimal versus rival LCD sets) is definitely an area for Philips to work on for next time. But ultimately during our time with the 58PFL9955H there were moments - many moments, actually - where it genuinely feels like the best TV we’ve ever reviewed. And it’s this feeling that’s stayed with us far, far more since we reluctantly had to give the TV back than any of the negative stuff.