The 42PFL7404’s colours also make an impact in comparison with much of the direct competition. They are explosive in intensity, unusually expressive, and usually quite accurately toned.
More decent news concerns the TV’s black level response. Normal images combining a mix of bright and dark content look punchy and dynamic, while predominantly dark scenes are engaging, reasonably detailed and adequately layered.
Sure, there’s a slight grey cloudiness to proceedings that you don’t get with Philips’ 9000 series or, more tellingly, Samsung’s cheaper Samsung B650/B550 LCD models – or any number of Panasonic’s plasma TVs, come to that. The dynamic contrast system occasionally causes noticeable brightness jumps, too. But generally things are perfectly good enough to let you watch even darkness-dominated films without feeling distracted.
There are a few issues, though, that even the 42PFL7404’s significantly cheaper price can’t quite excuse. The set’s viewing angle is alarmingly limited, for instance, presenting a potentially big problem to living rooms with seating positions down the sides of the TV rather than directly in front of it.
Also, the Pixel Precise system can cause a little grittiness and edge over-emphasis with some standard def sources, especially if they’re of a low native quality. There’s sometimes shimmering, too, around large moving objects if you leave the HD Natural Motion system on with high-octane sources the system can’t keep up with.
The 42PFL7404 isn’t quite as accomplished with its sound as it is with its pictures. As with most ‘invisible’ speaker systems, there’s a distinct lack of bass in the mix, which can leave action scenes sounding rather shrieky and thin. With this in mind, it’s a shame Philips couldn’t run to the rear-mounted subwoofers found on some of last year’s sets.
But at least voices generally remain clear and believable, even under duress, and there’s a surprising amount of width and detailing to the soundstage produced during action scenes.
While the 42PFL8404’s higher price held back it’s value score and indeed it’s overall one, the 42PFL7404’s aggressive pricing turns things neatly on their head. In fact, the shift engendered by the cheaper price is here so dramatic that it’s persuaded me to give the 42PFL7404 a TrustedReviews Recommended award even though both sets use the same picture engine.
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