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Philips Cineos 42PFL9703D/10 42in LCD TV review

John Archer



  • Editors choice
Philips Cineos 42PFL9703D/10 42in LCD TV


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

Until we get our hands on Philips’ new generation of Aurea TVs, with their unique light-frame design, the brand’s PFL9703D models represent the pinnacle of the brand’s current TV range.

So not surprisingly we’re pretty excited to have the 42in 42PFL9703D/10 sat in our test rooms today. Especially considering how impressed we’ve been recently with many of the sets further down the Philips TV tree.

Without doubt the simplest way to start getting a handle on what makes the 42PFL9703D tick is to consider what it does differently to the 42PFL9603D/10 we looked at a couple of weeks back. Especially as it turns out there are actually only two differences of note.

The first and potentially most important extra trick of the 42PFL9703D/10 is its use of a wide colour gamut LCD panel, designed to produce a more brilliant and wide-ranging colour palette. When we think how aggressive and vibrant colours have been on previous recent Philips sets, the thought of things being ratcheted up another notch is actually a touch scary!

The other big trump card in the 42PFL9703D/10’s hand is its step up to Ambilight Spectra 3 versus the Spectra 2 incarnation found on the 42PFL9603D/10. What this means is that the 42PFL9703D/10 pumps out coloured light from its upper edge as well as its left and right sides, producing a true ‘wall of colour’ around the TV.

While we’ll come back to the wide colour gamut situation later, we might as well make the point right away that adding the third side of Ambilight for the 42PFL9703D/10 really does have quite a profound effect, enhancing Ambilight’s immersive, stylish and relaxational properties to a surprising degree.

Let’s not forget, either, that the Ambilight 3 system is working its magic around one of the most attractive LCD TVs we’ve seen. The way the set’s slender glossy black bezel works in tandem with a distinctive transparent shroud curving forward around from the rear really is a sight to behold.

As is the fashion, these days, the 42PFL9703D/10 doesn’t sport any speakers on its fascia; that would be far too ugly, obviously! Instead sound emerges from around the TV’s rear, with the transparent shroud potentially helping to focus the sound forwards at your seating position.

One interesting little point about the rear-firing sound is that the 42PFL9703D/10 doesn’t have the WooX technology used to up the bass quotient of Philips’ lower-end 42PFL7603D LCD model.

On the surface it seems odd that the top-end 42PFL9703D/10 should ship without a performance-enhancing feature found on a lower-end model. But Philips claims there is method to its apparent madness. For it believes the sort of buyer likely to invest in a TV as luxurious as this one will likely have a separate sound system to run alongside the TV, and so is less likely to need the same sort of audio oomph as buyers of the cheaper model.

Personally, I would have preferred to have the WooX audio onboard the 42PFL9703D/10 so that I could make the decision myself as to whether I use it or not. But hey - I’ve always been demanding that way.

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August 19, 2008, 1:56 pm

Is the LCD vs. Plasma dilemma slowly drawing to a close with this TV? I'm still glad I bought the Panasonic TH-50PZ70 plasma screen a few months ago but have to admit that LCD is improving all the time. Then again, with the latest Pioneer KUROs, the differentiation remains. Well done Philips!

Matt G Baish

August 19, 2008, 2:33 pm

Is there any chance we can get an indication of current reliability of manufacturer products in the reviews? (like an AV version of the JDPower survey). I have had problems in the past with Philips products (plasma telly kaput just after warranty ran out, DVD+RW player locking up on a firmware update and repeated missing of timed recordings, Streamium product just, well, rubbish) but am being lured back by all the recent good reviews. However, looking back over time, Philips consistently seem to do well at review (apart I am sure from a few hiccups) so it would be nice to know how products performed in the long term (i.e. after Philips have well and truly binned support or made it too expensive to consider repair - as per most manufacturers I guess to be honest). Maybe there is a site somewhere detailing this sort of stuff?


August 19, 2008, 2:54 pm

The advanced video processing in the Phillips models is all well and good, but when it comes to gaming they are left behind by the other LCDs in this regard. As with many other Phillips LCDs, the response time is so high that when playing games on a Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 etc you can actually feel the input lag.


August 19, 2008, 5:26 pm

A nice review but the relatively poor viewing angle of this panel, and probably every other LCD TV out there, is the deal breaker for me.

The Pope

August 19, 2008, 6:29 pm

Phantoma - this model is rated at 176º (H)/176º (V) viewing angle (which is fairly typical) so is that really so bad? How small is your lounge room? I have no problems with L/R viewing angles on my 50" Samsung, and that's DLP rear projection...


August 19, 2008, 6:55 pm

Hmm nice but I'm not going to pay top dollar for a TV that I have to tweak every time I change video sources. I'd still go for a Kuro.


August 19, 2008, 8:26 pm

I'm also curious about comparisons in picture quality between plasma & LCD TVs...if the latest 'Kuro' sets represent '10' on a 1-10 scale, where would this Philips TV come? Echoing Matt G's comment, I'd also be interested in a reliability survey, as I've also had reliability issues with Philips equipment in the past.


August 21, 2008, 3:55 am

Am really want to ask the reviewer how the Philips Cineos 42PFL9703D/10 42in LCD TV manages to perform with the PS3 since am intrested of buying the TV with PS3 console. Are there any kind of input lag?

andrew 9

October 25, 2008, 2:11 pm

I would love to be able to confirm the 10/10 score for this TV but I have not yet been able to view HD from my sky HD box via HDMI. I have spoken to Philips who claim that it is an incompatability problem they are having since Sky updated their software about a month ago! At present they claim that they have no solution for this. When I call Sky they seem unaware of this issue. If you are planning to get this otherwise wondeful TV to view Sky HD then I would advise that you look into this issue before forking out the best part of two grand! I would be interested to know if anyone else has experienced this problem.


October 1, 2009, 1:57 am

I like reviewer to comment on viewing angle of this set and every other TV's when reviewed.

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