And so to the moment of truth: is the Perfect Pixel Engine all it’s cracked up to be? Actually, yes, it is.
Its single greatest achievement can be seen in the way it handles moving objects. Everything from a sprinting footballer to a gentle camera pan is immaculately handled, with silky smoothness and practically no sign whatsoever of LCD’s tendency to lose resolution over moving objects. Even better, the smoothness now looks entirely natural rather than forced as it did with Philips’ old Digital Natural Motion system.
So good is the 32PFL9632D’s motion handling, in fact, that we can honestly say that it’s the first LCD TV we’ve seen that truly conquers this traditional technological weak point. Outstanding!
And it’s a talent made all the more remarkable because even though it’s only achieved through a huge quantity of heavy duty image processing, this processing seems to generate practically no unpleasant side effects at all.
With none of the customary LCD motion blur to distract us, we’re also free to soak up the remarkable sharpness of the 32PFL9632D’s pictures. With HD material the amount of detail and texture on show is truly jaw-dropping, even on a screen as small as this one, and the icing on the cake comes from some terrific, noise-free crispness.
Not that the 32PFL9632D’s sharpness is reserved exclusively for HD, though. Standard definition images also look almost uniquely crisp, as the Perfect Pixel Engine proves as versatile as it is powerful. And again this extra crispness is achieved without unpleasant side effects like processing shimmer or dot crawl, except perhaps while watching the very poorest quality channels on the Freeview digital platform.
The Clear LCD system, meanwhile, helps the 32PFL9632D produce some impressively deep black levels by the standards of 32in LCD technology, and this talent together with, we presume, the new 14-bit colour processor, also aids the 32PFL9632D in serving up terrifically rich, dynamic but still natural colours that look great with everything from Eastenders to the cartoonish delights of Team Fortress 2 in Valve Software’s Xbox 360 Orange Box package.
For all the 32PFL9632D’s quality, though, we feel there is still room for picture improvement. For instance, really, really fast-moving and small objects, such as a golf ball in mid flight, can cause the Perfect Pixel Engine to generate a curious ghosting effect around them. If you’re experiencing this with something you’re watching, though, deactivating some of the various Perfect Pixel elements in the onscreen menus can usually get rid of it.
Next, while good by LCD standards, we feel there’s still even more black level potential to come from the Clear LCD backlight system. And finally we couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed by how much contrast the image loses if watched from more than around 35 degrees down the side.
While the 32PFL9632D’s pictures may not yet represent complete perfection, they get pretty darned close to it, and might certainly be argued to deliver the best pictures yet seen on a 32in LCD TV. Especially since they put to the sword more fully than any TV before LCD’s pesky motion resolution problem.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about all the picture strengths we’ve described, though, is the fact that we’re seeing them on a 32in TV. Frankly we’re positively drooling about what Perfect Pixel might achieve on something a little bigger.