Another significant finding on the 50PF9631D is a digital tuner, complete with customary back up features like a 7-day electronic programme guide and the facility to set reminders for upcoming programmes.
There are so many other more minor features contained within the 50PF9631D’s onscreen menus that they actually make its operating system a little unwieldy at times, despite the best efforts of a likeable remote control. But we’d definitely recommend that you muster the courage to explore what the TV has to offer, for tucked away in the menus are such gems as MPEG noise reduction for tidying up digital broadcasts; an Active Control function that can adjust a variety of image elements automatically to optimise an incoming picture; a contrast booster; and Philips’ Digital Natural Motion technology for making moving objects cross the screen more clearly and cleanly.
To be honest we’re not sure we like the impact of DNM – it tends to make us feel a bit queasy. But at least it’s only an option you can turn off if you’re not happy with it.
Before we get into the picture standards delivered by all the 50PF9631D’s promising technologies, we should look at its connections. For as well as ticking our favourite HD boxes by including two HDMIs and a set of component jacks, you also get a USB port for streaming in such digital media files as MP3s, MPEG 1 and 2 movies, plus JPEG stills; and digital audio inputs and outputs. The only connection niggle is that there’s no D-Sub PC input, leaving the HDMIs as your only PC option.
Finally putting the 50PF9631D to work on a few of our favourite sources, we have to admit we felt a touch disappointed with the way its pictures turn out. The main over-riding problem is that there are sometimes quite considerable amounts of noise in the picture.
For instance, with digital tuner broadcasts from Sky or Freeview the set tends to rather exaggerate MPEG decoder blocking and mosquito noise, even with the TV’s various noise reduction routines in operation. What’s more, we’re not just talking about standard definition here; even high definition images can look a touch rough around the edges.