Boy, is Philips' TV range complicated, or what? Before typing a single word of this review, I've had to do a good hour of research with various press kits, online materials and a huge instruction manual before I could pinpoint exactly where the 32PFL9603 fits within the Philips hierarchy.
The simple fact is that Philips is rare in the TV world for employing a wide range of different technology generations across its current TV models. To some extent these different generations are signposted by pricing, but that only tells part of the story.
And so questions I've had to answer have included what sort of Ambilight system the 32PFL9603 carries; which generation of Philips picture processing the set uses; whether there are any quirks within that processing ‘suite' (there were!); what native resolution it's got; and even what type of sound system is onboard.
I tell you all this not simply to make you think that reviewing TVs is a hard life (!), but simply to alert anyone thinking of buying a Philips TV to the fact that you have to be more careful to read the ‘small print' than you do with any other brand I can currently think of.
Anyway, now that's all out of the way, let's get down to business. Starting with the fact that the 32PFL9603 could just be the most attractive 32in TV Philips has ever built, and is at the very least a rival for the classiest moments from design-minded brands such as Loewe and Samsung.
The black panel around the screen gets the ball rolling with its intensely reflective finish and tastefully rounded corners, all offset by an elegant silver trim. But where the set really stands out is with its distinctive translucent ‘cowl' that curves forward from the TV's rear to stand proud from the rest of the TV bezel by a centimetre or so.
As well as looking attractive in its own right, this cowl serves two handy practical purposes as well. First, it helps push sound from the TV's ‘invisible' speakers down its sides towards your seating position. And second it adds a subtle extra dimension to the set's Ambilight Spectra 2 system.
Ah yes, Ambilight Spectra 2. Ambilight describes the situation - still unique to Philips, so far as I know - whereby LED lights built into the TV's sides can emit coloured light in sympathy with the colour content of the image being shown.
The Spectra 2 bit shows that the Ambilight system in the 32PFL9603 is a) a ‘stereo' incarnation, meaning light spills only from the TV's left and right sides, not the top edge as well, and b) that the Ambilight processing includes a new ‘timing delay' element that enables the light reproduction to more effectively present movement, emphasising the sense of brightly coloured objects passing from one side of the screen to the other.
Needless to say, as well as making long-term viewing more relaxing, all this Ambilight Spectra stuff merely enhances the 32PFL9603's aesthetic glories.