However, it’s not all bad news. Colours are solid, with a convincing reproduction of the Apocalypto’s bronzed Mayan skin tones and the rich greens of the jungle, while the screen’s terrific contrast range makes it really excel with dark scenes – shots of Jaguar Paw’s wife and child down a hole at night are surprisingly easy to watch, and you can make out the texture of the rocks and other details within the shadows.
Sonically there’s not much to write home about – the speakers reduce Apocalypto’s thrilling sound down to a predictably thin and weedy whisper, but through a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones (such as the Panasonic RP-HC500s which we used during the test) the sound is fulsome and genuinely dynamic, with dialogue, effects and music sounding crisp and undistorted.
Playback of JPEGs is also adversely affected by the 234-line screen, but a few of our heavily compressed MPEG-4 video clips didn’t look too bad, possibly because they were a more natural fit for the screen’s resolution. MP3 audio files and CDs are hugely enjoyable through headphones.
Philips’ excellent work in the styling department is undone by its decision to include a screen with a resolution significantly lower than that of DVD, resulting in pictures that lack detail and definition. If LG can include a higher-res screen on their DP391B 8in model then it’s a shame that Philips couldn’t have done the same. It doesn’t make the PET940’s picture quality a complete disaster though, and the kids watching in the back of the car probably won’t notice the difference, but viewers with more discerning tastes might not like what they see.