Colours, meanwhile, are decently dynamic by the standards of typical 42in TVs without, again, hitting the retina-searing extravagance of Philips’ higher-end sets. Also, while they generally look natural, they lack the extreme finesse and range of Philips’ performance-focused models.
Now for the confessional bit. The impressive overall picture quality described above wasn’t achieved while using the TV in its most economical running mode. The AV fanatic in us just had to be satisfied first, so we initially just calibrated the TV to deliver what we felt was the optimum picture performance.
However, this isn’t to suggest that the Econova’s pictures collapse when you do emphasise its eco settings. In fact, the more reined in, less aggressive look to its eco-driven pictures might actually suit some tastes better than the more dynamic look we settled on. Especially as the reduced brightness output and colour saturations are joined by a noticeably less noisy overall picture feel.
The only thing to warn would-be green viewers about is that the brightness reduction is sufficiently extreme when the TV’s at its most economical that we could probably only recommend you to use those settings in a pretty dark room, otherwise the picture could look flat and uninvolving.
But then what, really, did you expect? It was never going to be the case with the Econova that the only thing you’d have to pay to follow your ecological obsessions was a price ticket premium. Clearly some aspects of the TV’s performance would have to take a hit too.
What’s pleasing is that Philips hasn’t got so holier-than-thou with its ecological thought processes that it’s completely left picture quality concerns to mother nature. Instead, the Econova just gives you a straight choice between mostly excellent picture quality and a respectably but not spectacularly low power consumption, and reduced picture quality but ground-breakingly low power consumption.
Let’s wrap up our generally very positive feelings about the Econova by stressing that Philips hasn’t apparently felt the need to compromise the set’s audio performance in its energy-saving quest. In fact, while the Econova’s sound is no match for the exceptional power and dynamics of Philips’ quality-oriented premium TVs, it’s got more than enough presence, clarity, range and raw power to compete with most ‘normal’ 42in flat TVs.
With the Econova, Philips really has made extraordinary efforts to prove that you don’t have to wear recycled paper underpants to show your love for your home planet. It’s hard to think of any aspect of TV design that Philips hasn’t lavished its green-minded attentions on, yet the set also looks gorgeous and can perform very well too.
Yes, performance levels take a hit when you run the screen using its most environmentally friendly settings. But even then pictures are nothing if not enjoyable, at least in a relatively dark room. And let’s not forget that there’s so much other stuff about the Econova beyond ‘mere’ picture quality matters that mark it out as a truly green TV.
The only potential catch is its relatively high (by 42in standards) £1,200 price. If we’re brutally honest, we’d probably still spend that sort of money on getting as much raw performance quality and/or screen size as we could, rather than paying for the Econova’s eco sensibilities.
But that doesn’t make the set any less worthy, or mean that it won’t still find an audience among well-heeled heroes with stronger eco convictions than we can currently muster.
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