Philips ‘Ambilight’ TVs Go On Sale

Get your very own haunted fishtank.

A number of years back there was a fun little late night review show called ‘The Haunted Fish Tank’ and it took longer than I’d like to admit to work out that was a metaphor for a TV. I’ve always liked that description ever since, but never have I seen it so well personified as with Philip’s ‘Ambilight’ technology.

You may remember I discussed this Ambilight back in June and since then I’ve seen it generate a lot of buzz at IFA. Well following the flagship 42PF9831D, the series is ready to expand.

Three new models are now hitting the streets with the 32PF9731D and 42PF9731D sporting 1366 x 768 (1080i compatible) resolution panels and the 37PF9731D bringing out the big guns with a 1920 x 1080 native 1080p-er. All are on the receiving end of Philip’s latest Pixel Plus technology, have integrated digital tuners with seven day programme guides and boast 2x HDMI ports along with two RGB scart sockets, component video input, S/PDIF in/out and an Ethernet port on the rear. On the side of the sets you’ll find twin USB sockets and a multi-slot memory card reader while PC Link software is bundled to offer easy access to photos, music and movies stored on a computer hard disc.

To once again break it down for the cheap seats, ‘Ambilight’ can – in essence – be described as ‘Glow TV’. To be a little more specific Philips has developed a technology where a backlight border detects and mirrors the predominant colour onscreen and adjusts it in real time. The desired effect is to draw the viewer deeper into the picture by creating a gradient where the onscreen action appears to radiate into the room.

Now I’ve seen this technology up close and personal just a few weeks back when Philips had a whole wall of these sets at IFA. At times I indeed found it compelling but at others – noticeably when a scene changes quickly and the background glow lags ever so slightly behind – it was simply distracting. A view shared by two fellow journos and good friends of mine whom I’d run into at the show. So ultimately these may well be the crème de la crème for something like Laurence of Arabia but not quite so useful for Tim Burton’s remake of Willy Wonka.

Depending on your televisual habits, the 32PF9731D, 37PF9731D & 42PF9731D may have some strong appeal and the picture quality is fantastic, but at £1,799, £2,499 and £3,000 you’ll still require fairly deep pockets for the novelty.

Philips UK

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