Another interesting side effect of the 42PFL9803H’s relative motion talents is the way I found myself more comfortable with the ‘max’ setting of Philips HD Natural Motion engine than I have with Philips’ normal LCD TVs. With those other LCDs the processing glitches I experienced using HD Natural Motion on Max were often very distracting, but with the 42PFL9803H, perhaps because the processing doesn’t have to continually work quite so hard, I sometimes found the Max setting to seem more natural looking and less glitchy than the lower setting! That said, I’d still recommend turning the HD Natural Motion off completely while watching sport or particularly frenetic action films such as, well, pretty much anything directed by John Woo…
The main focus of HD Natural Motion is, of course, to counter the usual LCD problems with judder and resolution loss as objects cross the screen. And it works so well on the 42PFL9803H that its pictures, when there’s movement going on, are way cleaner and clearer than you’ll see with practically any other LCD TV we can think of.
This plays a key role in another 42PFL9803H talent: outstanding detail and sharpness with HD footage. Philips’ processing engines have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to bringing out or even adding detail to pictures and the 42PFL9803H continues the trend. Its HD images frequently look breathtakingly packed with texture and the lovely image minutiae that makes HD so utterly lovable. Especially since, as we’ve seen, the 42PFL9803H’s HD images don’t break down nearly as much as with normal LCD TVs when image elements start moving about.
Don’t assume from all this talk of HD that the 42PFL9803H doesn’t care for standard definition, though. On the contrary, the Perfect Pixel Engine can upscale standard def images to the screen’s Full HD resolution uncannily well, adding sharpness and detail without nearly as much accompanying video noise as usual.
The 42PFL9803H has two final aces up its sleeve, meanwhile, which actually mark it out as superior even to Samsung’s LE55A956 LED set. The first of these ‘aces’ concerns blooming, where particularly bright elements can appear with a noticeable misty ‘halo’ around them. This is markedly less pronounced with the Philips than with the Samsung – so much so that you may not ever be aware of it on the 42PFL9803H unless you deliberately set out to look for it.
The 42PFL9803H’s other big advantage over the Samsung LED model concerns viewing angles. We found we could watch the Philips from much further down its sides without the picture degrading. In fact, in this respect the 42PFL9803H also scores another plus over the vast majority of standard LCD TVs, too.