As noted earlier, the 42PFL7404’s pictures enjoy the same key specifications as those of the 42PFL8404. The screen is Full HD, the claimed contrast ratio is the same 80,000:1 figure, and image processing comes courtesy of the same Pixel Precise HD engine.
Having gone into some detail about the difference between Philips’ top-line Perfect Pixel HD system and Pixel Precise HD in the 42PFL8404 review, I don’t intend to go over the same ground again here. Suffice it to say that, simply speaking, Pixel Precise HD is roughly half as powerful as Philips’ flagship processor.
The 42PFL7404 also shares the same decent if slightly sluggish onscreen menu system as the 42PFL8404, complete with the sort of extensive picture tweak lists – taking you deep into the workings of the Pixel Precise HD engine – that are now becoming standard with Philips TVs.
As regular readers will know, with the 42PFL7404, as with all of Philips’ processing-heavy TVs, you’ll need to make regular trips to some of the set’s picture features – especially HD Natural Motion, noise reduction and Advanced Sharpness if you want to continually get the best performance out of the set. But the results of this extra effort really are worth your while on the 42PFL7404.
And since we’re freed of the price concerns I had with the 42PFL8404, the 42PFL7404’s overall performance is raised from feeling pretty good to feeling quite excellent.
To be clear on this, I’m not saying the 42PFL7404’s pictures are actually better than those of the 42PFL8404. Clearly this can’t be the case, given that their picture processors and screens are identical. What I most definitely am saying, though, is that the 42PFL7404’s pictures compare much more favourably with the competition around at the much lower sub-£800 price point and so this raises the set’s value significantly.
Getting into more detail on why the 42PFL7404’s pictures are rather excellent for a sub-£800 TV, let’s start with how stunningly sharp and detailed they are. This is obviously most gloriously apparent when watching HD. The still (for me) unmatched levels of detail evident in Gears of War 2’s Xbox graphics are done full justice to by the 42PFL7404, and then some. Similarly, the terrific levels of clarity and sharpness evident in the Blu-ray of Baz Luhrmann’s faintly silly ”Australia” are reproduced in all their glory.
As I noted in my review of the 42PFL8404, the 42PFL7404’s Pixel Precise HD system doesn’t make standard definition pictures look quite as sharp as they do on Philips’ Perfect Pixel HD TVs. But they certainly hold up very well indeed when considered against the £800 competition.
It’s a similar story with the set’s motion handling. For while the 42PFL7404’s motion handling doesn’t remove blur as completely or with as much freedom from side effects as Philips’ Perfect Pixel HD engine, its results in terms of fluidity and motion sharpness still look pretty tasty versus the immediate competition.
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