Philips 32PFL9604 32in LCD TV - Philips 32PFL9604

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Philips 32PFL9604 32in LCD TV


Our Score:


Turning at last to the 32PFL9604's picture quality, I've got great news: it's a genuinely huge improvement over anything I've seen from any 32in Philips TV before. No mean feat considering that Philips has already been responsible for some of the best 32in LCD TVs in the business.

There are two main reasons for my enthusiasm: contrast and motion handling.

Regarding the former, the set's black level response is vastly better than anything I've seen before from Philips at this size point. In fact, the extent to which the TV avoids the blue or grey misting effect over even a really dark scene like any of those out on the street during 30 Days of Night is arguably the best I've seen from anyone. Certainly only top-line models from Sony and Samsung can really claim to get close.

I should also stress that these impressive black levels aren't achieved at the expense of shadow detailing, either. In other words, dark parts of the picture look three-dimensional and textured, just like bright parts, rather than looking hollow and flat.

Also striking is how little the 32PFL9604 has to reduce the overall brightness of its pictures in order to make its deep black levels possible. This helps dark scenes retain a level of dynamism that I really believe is unique at this size point of the market.

When it comes to the TV's motion handling, what's happened is that Philips has managed to deliver a marked reduction in the amount of artefacts that accompany the HD Natural Motion element of the Perfect Pixel HD engine. So now you can enjoy the mesmerising fluidity the system introduces - which really is in a different league to anything offered along similar lines by any rival brand - without having to tolerate nearly as many of the distracting side effects that have made the feature such a staple talking point in techie forums across the globe.

The system certainly isn't flawless; there can still be a noticeable flicker around really fast moving elements, such as the arms and legs of a sprinter, and occasionally a swift burst of horizontal motion - especially if it's taking place within a camera pan - can produce a little shimmering halo effect around the moving object. Also you'd be crazy to use the Natural Motion option on anything other than its Minimum setting, and I personally wouldn't use the 100Hz option if you're watching an action film or sporting event. But provided you take these relatively simple precautions, the benefits of the latest Natural Motion circuitry far outweigh the negatives.

Still not convinced? Well, then you can turn off the Natural Motion function entirely. And rather excellently, if you do this, you'll still find that motion looks impressively crisp anyway - just not as judder-free.

Matthew Bunton

June 1, 2009, 5:39 am

How this scores an 8 for value is beyond me at that price.

I recently purchased the Philips Cineos 32PFL9613D based on your review and ended up sending it back I was not impressed with it at all the viewing angles were appauling.

Quite suprising as I normally agree with your ratings of products.


June 1, 2009, 2:12 pm

@Matthew Bunton

well it pretty obvious that TurtedReviews has something good with Philips, not a single new Tv from Philips got a low score lower then 9, the "Philips Cineos 32PFL9613D" your talking about i saw it in a hypermarket and yes your right the viewing angles are horrible for the price you pay, and also the sceen is more noisy then the other cheapest brands.

in my opinion those Philips Tv's are the most over Priced Tvs i ever see, and the ambient lights is useless to me.

Jonathan 6

June 1, 2009, 3:45 pm

I have been waiting and waiting for a premium 32 inch like this. I just don't have big enough houses for a 40 inch monolith, but do want cutting edge features. Thanks Philips and personally I love the new styling over the plasticky predecessors.


June 1, 2009, 4:15 pm


Not only with Philips. Very excited for various products that are mediocre at best (eehm, wanted to say-real crap).

Well, maybe the majority of badly made products promote this attitude.


June 1, 2009, 6:12 pm

Where does this one sit in the Philips product line up? Particularly in relation to the Philips Cineos 32PFL9613D or the 9603D? Is this a replacement, an addition, a revision, what? I know things aren't really as easy as that to clarify, just wondered if anyone knew?


June 1, 2009, 6:14 pm

@ Ahlan - *Sigh* You missed the decidedly average review a Philips product right below this one, then?

Welcome to the Internet, please wipe your feet and leave all logical thought at the door.


June 1, 2009, 11:04 pm

had a toss-up between waiting for this model to be released or opt for the 32 inch Samsumg LED 7 series. Opted for the Samsung in the end as I need to purchase some decent speakers in any case and the viewing angles on the Samsung appear far better....


June 2, 2009, 4:58 am

i have to say through the years of watching the flat panel market evolve - mostly by review and seeing the pictures in the stores - which is hardly a great way to get a market overview admittedly - BUT the only TV that's ever truly stopped me in my tracks and I thought WOW! was a Phillips.

So in my den I have currently have two Samsung monitors attached to my computer and a 28 inch HD ready CRT that's ready to be retired to the bedroom. I loved it just because it gave me brilliant whites delicious darks in a way only a good CRT will. Located at around a metre away to complete a 3 screen surround.

Buying a a new 1080 HD screen to be viewed closer than you would expect presents a range of unique problems, it cant be too big my comfort but needs to be big enough if a few pals come around for a game so we have something big enough to sit around.

I think at last MY particular needs will be met by the 32PFL9604 - did I mention it looks great too?


June 2, 2009, 10:17 am

There is not a single TV in the world to make me say wow. The only model that achieved the 51% of the wow factor for me was a Sony.

Hamish Campbell

June 2, 2009, 2:29 pm

So it's not LED? Hmmm I thought everyone's top model would be LED now.

Matt G Baish

June 2, 2009, 3:44 pm

IME Philips have a bad track record when it comes to reliability (conveniently after the warranty period). I switched to Sony about 4 years ago & have had a much better experience.


June 3, 2009, 1:29 pm

Please can we have power consumption listed on the spec page. If you can test "real" power consumption too that would be great - it is an eco-conscience world now and we need to know!

June 3, 2009, 10:08 pm

Most LED tv's are not local dimming LED panels. Without this is a pretty useless feature over a ccfl panel.

I am surprised to here that Philips tv's have a bad reliability. I always had Philips tv's and one of the reasons IS it's reliability. I just gave a way my 100Hz CRT, at 15 years old it still is as it came from the shop yesterday. My other 32" Philips is pure quality as well.


June 4, 2009, 1:48 am

Given Philips seems to get a lot of stick for reliability I thought I'd add my voice to comments.

I too have had numerous philips TV's over the years, which have eventually been passed down to friends and family and they are all still going strong today - in one case some 16 years later.

Admitidly none of these TV's have gone wrong Philips I've yet to sample Philips customer care service which i understand from various posts in the past is dire. OF course having that customer service is a very different kettle of fish to overall quality.

Consequently I have no hesitation in buying another Philips tv


June 5, 2009, 3:21 pm

Any chance that you review the new "midrange" 7404 series as well?

Wyrd Sister

June 9, 2009, 2:37 pm

It would be brilliant if you reviewed the 8404H series as well.


June 11, 2009, 2:00 am

Yeah, a review of the Philips 8404 would be really interesting!


June 17, 2009, 4:16 pm

its really funny when a Philips TV gets reviewed and you start to see all the Philips hate-boys coming here and slamming left right and centre. rarely sees this happening with Sony or Samsung TVs(just to name a few). i was scrolling thru the LCD section of AVForums and MOST of the post with regards to reliabilty (faults, problems) are DOMINATED by brands starting with S. which again to be fair to them, they probably sold more LCDs than Philips.

And yes, the price for this tv is higher than a 40inch Sony W5500, which in my opinion, another great product. however prices in the real world is really another matter. These are MRP, manufacturer's recommended Pricing. another factor we have to add is shelf-life. here comparing a 40W5500(e.g.) which has been available for a few months and a new product only available in the last week or so is quite irrelevant. e.g. in my country, a philips 42pfl7403 with a MRP of S$3.6k(about euros 1.8k) when it was launched in june08 had been sold at S$1.6k (about euros 800) since dec 08. thats more than 50% off the MRP. similarly, a Samsung 40A650 has plummented from S$3k to S$2k when it was discountinued.

also, with regards to true pricing, we have to factor in the manufacturer's M n P mechanics. e.g. a 32pfl9604 @ 999pounds with a free blu-ray player. or a Samsung UE40B6000 @ 1500pounds with a home theatre bundle may appeal to some as well.

Jan Andersen

July 25, 2009, 3:39 am

Well, in the old days Trusted Rewiers were paid for making the review - I dont trust any single review, but compare, and looki for the negative comments - if they all point in the same direction, perhaps ...

A 32" TV is not a 50". Focus is different. 32" is for the bedroom, not for cinematastic pictures. HD signal in, and about all flatpanels behave well, only the nerds can hnag in silly details and forget the major issues. . The chase of the technical black level is about rediculus. The good "old" Pana 50PX600 still looks black.

LED backlight is a flop and should be avoided for TV´s.

The world is goind full HD, any new TV should be full HD, since full HD in is full HD in .... no scalling to other format, which will for sure - especiually on a LCD which is already very buzy - cause delay in the system process.

Looked at Samsung 32B650, but the "thin" sound all reviews commets, no.

Looked at Sony 32v5500 and 32W5500, but they seem to have their problems. Design is from 2004, outdated piano black, and this site gave it 8/10 ...

Looked at the new Samsung 32B6000 with LED, but - thin means "thin" sound.

The 32PFL9604 gets no. 1 rating in about all reviews, so bee it, ordered today.

Sound is more important than ever for a 32", having this small screen and also having a "small" sound is just too much. Thus, unless you have an external sorround system ( who does in a bedroom ) LED TV is out of the question unless you use it for Bloomberg, BBC news etc. But for movies in bed, sound is still ½ of the experience. Which is why I went for this 32PFL9604 - further, I´m tierd of piano mirror frames and poor antiglare, which is another important decision point.

Remote control on the 32PFL5404 is about the worst on the market - it seems they manged to make a true remote for this highend TV. The design of the 32PFL5404 - and the others in the serie- is plastic, poor, piano black, attracting dust like a hoover and absolutely junk - but with a decent/ok picture. Menues too - I hope the 32PFL9604 has a better menu system. For this top price I expect top menues, to remote, top sound, quality etc. W´ll see.

Jan Andersen

July 25, 2009, 3:53 am

Just one more comment.

Like all the other reviewers - this site makes the same mistake. Not a single word about how this set behaves with 1080i signal. 99% of all consumers receives 1080i signales for HD viewing. 1080i is not a triviel event for a television, even in the year 2009. Reviwers are still focusing on blu-ray performance, which about 1% of the readers have and use.

Thus the reviews, when it comes to picture quality ( except colors ) are close to useless, since you dont know how the set will reproduce and handle 1080i - till the set is unpacked and connected, and the naigbour tells you.

Jay Werfalli

July 27, 2009, 4:00 pm

@Jan Anderson. Our method for 'making the review' has never changed from the old days to the new days. We request a product in for review, we review the product in context, and then post the review on our site. Our full-time staff are paid fixed salaries and we commission freelancers to write extra content. No-one is paid directly by any manufacturer so our reviews are unbiased and shall always be. Whether or not our reviewer's opinion agrees with yours is subjective, but all we can say is that we do our best to review products in an honest, matter of fact style so that our readers can make informed purchase decisions.

We agree with you in reference to our comments system - it's a great place to read other opinions and experiences of a product, whether negative or positive, which can really help before buying.

Jan Andersen

July 31, 2009, 2:23 pm

Users review Philips 32PFL9604:

Build quality, design:

Unpacking the 32PFL5404 was just to unpack a plastic TV set, unpacking the 32PFL9604 was done with respect. The 9604 is an exceptional TV with respect to design and build quality - exceptional is a strong word, but think well used here. Usually you can find spots where components dosnt fit, small design flaws, but this time, I could´nt set my finger on a single spot. The buttons on the right edge is replaced by touch buttons surfaced on the chrome strip, not bubble buttons, real touch - very nice.

The old series has a plastic design and is junk, they tried to improve the design on the new 8404, but its still junk and plastic, other versions have a light color, still junk.

Please note - the official picture shows a light gray stand and bezel, its not - the color is dark gray !


The remote is a huge improvement over the 5604, very nice design, a tad too heavy for my taste - the battery port is opened by using a coin-lock - either to give it a solid impression, or in order to avoid that the battery port jumps loose when you drop this heavy remote on the floor. Functionality of the remote is average - the team who decided on the functionality should be fired and replaced. There is light in the ON/OFF and the 3 top buttons, but only when you press them .... whats the idea of having light in a button only when you press it - further the buttons light up when you press any button - waste of energy.

Picture quality SD digital, SCART:

Exceptional - the best picture I have seen on any LCD yet. The options of picture settings are plenty - I chosed to make a set-and-forget in the "Personal" profile, since the menu system is multi step in order to adjust picture quality. The team who made the menu system should be fired and replaced, they should buy a Panasonic and learn !

My "set-and-forget" is:

- Personal setting

- All OFF

- Color temp to normal

- Color on 50

- Contrast high, 70-90 ( depends on the room )

- Light 60 - 80 ( depends on the room )

- Sharpness 0

The minute you set color temp to normal, and disables all picture improvements, you are reworded with a very natural picture. Even an old Trinity movie plays without the LCD´ich look, just as on a CRT or plasma.

Picture quality 1080i , HDMI:

Running HD, such as EurosportHD Tennis with native HD recording, the set behaves about flawless, there may be some jagging now and then, but not on the mentioned EurosportHD event - thus jagging etc depends of the source quality. It seems like the HDMI input is calibrated differently, so a "set-and-forget" is similar, but with color set to 46 and sharpness to 4.


My grandmother used to have a red lamp behind the CRT for many years - I suppose she invented the "Ambilight", the tradition in my home is a white lamp behind the 50PX600 throwing light on the wall. Always saw the Ambilight as a gimmick, not for me. However - now finally having a set with Ambilight, I see the advantage - it gives a more relaxed TV viewing for your eyes. You could put a lamp behind the TV, but here its build in with many color options, intensity etc, you can turn it on and off on the remote - a wide button at the bottom of the remote, one of the only well placed and designed buttons on this remote. I landed on RED light, lowest intensity as "set-and-forget".


Part of the decision point, very good sound for movies, punchy bass and surround adds the last - having a 32" with a small sound is just too much. The mix of picture quality, the Ambilight, the sound, the surround gives an exceptional movie experience on this 32".

NET TV, Ethernet:

Personally I dont know what to use the NET TV for, if I want to surf the net I use my notebook, if I want to hear radio I turn on the radio, if I want to watch YouTube, I use my notebook. Only use for NET TV is for easy updates, perhaps for weather reports in the morning - and for streaming movies on demand in the future.

Upgrade of the software is done without USB keys etc. However, unfortunately, makes the responsible for the SW to think he can send buggy editions on the market - as the consumer can update easily. And the NET TV is buggy. After updating the SW, it will stuck in the first menu, only way to exit is by rebooting the TV. You have to disconnect the LAN cable every time you start a new session. If you unplug the LAN cable, the set will freeze and show a bright white screen. I´m sure they will fix this in the future, and the update is very easy. The team responsible for the NET TV should be fired and replaced.


This is in my opinion an exceptional TV set, if you got the funds buy it, if not wait till it drops in price. If you just want a TV set and dont care about build quality and design, I suppose the 8404 and others are just fine.

Jan Andersen

July 31, 2009, 4:18 pm

There is one important button mising on the remote:

To toggle between day and night setting in terms of light/contrast, as contrast on this set is quite extreme.

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