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If you want definitive proof of the extent to which LCD technology is now muscling in on the big-screen patch traditionally ‘owned' by plasma, then just consider the fact that here we are today gawping at our second 52in LCD TV in successive reviews.

What's more, as with Toshiba's 52Z3030D, the Philips 52PFL9632D is a seriously high-end affair. In fact, if there's a TV out there with more features, we ain't seen it. And that's saying something in these days where brands are starting to throw everything but the kitchen sink at their TVs in a bid to make them stand out from what's become an almost suicidally competitive marketplace.

These features kick-off in suitably showboating style with the 52PFL9632D's design, which stands out from the flat TV crowd thanks to a rather fancy trick called Ambilight.


Regular readers will be familiar with Ambilight, but for those of you that haven't come across it before, it's a technology whereby the TV emits pools of coloured light from its sides that can be sympathetic with the content of the image being shown.

There are various levels of Ambilight sophistication within Philips' current range, with the one on the 52PFL9632D being a ‘stereo' system whereby the Ambilight system can output different colours from each side if a picture demands it. For instance, if a picture is predominantly blue on the left and red on the right, the screen will emit blue light from its left side and red from its right.

If this sounds gimmicky to you, all we can say is that you really owe it to yourself to see the system in action before discounting it. For our experience is that once you've got past the sheer shock value of seeing your TV ‘glowing', the effect is strangely soothing during long term viewing, as well as making the viewing experience slightly more immersive. Plus, of course, it's a heck of a talking point when guests come round.


Before we move on, it's also worth pointing out that the 52PFL9632D's Ambilight system improves over past generations of the technology by using an LED light source, leading to a greater possible colour range and richer saturations.

Needless to say, the combination of Ambilight with the set's jet-black, high-gloss bezel ensures that the 52PFL9632D cuts quite a dash in your living room.

The already-established ‘premium' feel is further enhanced by the TV's connectivity, which includes three v1.3 HDMI inputs, a component video input, a dedicated PC input, and a USB input via which you can play JPEG, MP3, .alb (slideshow) and MPEG1/2 files. The ability to play anything other than straight JPEGs from a USB source is still a rarity in the TV world.

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