Whatever else you might think about Philips, you certainly can't deny that the brand is a genuine innovator. This has always been true to some extent, but the Philips R&D department seems to have been in absolute overdrive this year, hitting us over recent months with such goodies as new, extremely powerful image processing, a debut LED backlit TV, and most recently a much-refined version of its Aurea Light Frame technology.
But you know, for all the cleverness, quality and sheer flamboyance of some of these earlier TVs, for me the new ‘Essence' 42PES0001 is the brand's most successful innovation to date. Why? Because it combines elegance with cold but brilliant practicality so effortlessly that it has to be seen to be believed.
The key to what I love about this TV is that every single inch of it has been designed to make it the ultimate ‘hang on the wall' TV. This might seem rather odd when I tell you that the TV actually ships fastened to a neat desktop stand, but believe me: the Essence takes the basic ‘hang it high' concept and, in increasingly typical Philips fashion, ‘turns it up to 11'.
For starters, the 42PES0001's screen is astonishingly slim; just 38mm deep, to be precise. What's more, this stunning slimness isn't compromised by any unfortunate big sticky-out bits like the one on, say, JVC's ‘Super Slim' 42DS9 sets. It's worth adding, too, that the 42PES0001's screen weighs under 17kg.
The ‘price' for this is the fact that the screen doesn't actually have any tuners built into it. Instead, the usual digital and analogue tuners are housed in an external media receiver box, supplied with the screen, along with all of the TV's connections.
However, far from being a disadvantage of the 42PES0001, I'd argue that this external receiver box is actually a good thing. For starters, if you're serious enough about wall-hanging your TV to have splashed out the best part of two grand on an Essence, then the last thing you'll want is to have to put up with reams of cables sticking out of it. It's much tidier to have an external connections box, with just a single cable running between it and the screen.
In fact, in this respect the Essence actually outdoes Pioneer's KRP-500A plasma TV, since while the Pioneer system required separate power cables for its screen and media box, this Philips puts power, video and audio through from the media receiver to the screen using just one ‘umbilical cord'.