If you're a fan of really high-end TVs - TVs with crazy feature counts, huge screens and exotic designs - the credit crunch is proving a bit of a nightmare. For so far as we can tell the crunch accounts for the apparent no-show in the UK of Philips' 52in 9603 and 9703 TVs, and the seemingly very limited stocks of the 47in 47PFL9603D we're looking at today. Dealers just don't seem to think us AV punters are interested in spending the best part of £1,600 on a TV right now. But surely if something's good enough, it will always find a market, right?
Our quest to discover if the 47PFL9603D is indeed good enough to overcome the crunch begins with its suitably opulent-looking design. This is really distinctive stuff, combining a gloriously glossy black bezel with a transparent shroud curving forward from the TV's outer edge. Plus there's the ‘small' matter of Philips' Ambilight Spectra 2 system, which sees bold pools of LED light being emitted from the TV's rear sides to make the viewing experience more relaxing and immersive.
You can, if you wish, set this light to be ‘static' and constant, and in any colour of your choosing. But we strongly advise you to set it to Active, which means the colour and character of the light changes in response to the content of the picture you're watching. Since this is a ‘stereo' incarnation of Ambilight, moreover, you can have different colours coming from each side of the screen if that's what the picture you're watching requires.
To be fair, the stereo Ambilight system feels a little distracting and aggressive at first. And there's definitely a problem with it if you regularly watch TV from quite an angle down the side, as you a) don't get the full immersion effect and b) can see the actual ultra-bright LED light source stuck down the TV's edges. But provided you can sit more or less right in front of the TV, based on my own experience I'd be pretty surprised if after a few days you don't find yourself wondering where Ambilight has been all your life!
The high-end feel established by the 47PFL9603D's design is merely reinforced by its connections. Four v1.3 HDMI jacks get things off to a cracking start, but these are joined by a couple of groovy multimedia aids: a USB 2.0 port, and a DLNA-certified Ethernet port so you can stream in files from your PC. The amount of file formats supported is unusually generous too, including MP3s, .alb slideshows, MPEG videos and JPEG stills. There's a standard PC input as well, along with everything else you'd expect of any decent flat TV these days.