That’s not the only positive thing the Light Frame brings to the 42PFL9903D’s picture quality either. For the vibrancy of the light frame has the cunning effect of seeming to exaggerate the TV’s black level depths, making the image look more contrasty than it would otherwise.
To some extent I guess this is just an optical illusion; the reality is that the black level response of the 42PFL9903’s core panel is only marginally if any deeper than that of the fractionally disappointing 47PFL9603D we reviewed last week. But as optical illusions go, it’s a cracker!
As usual where dealing with the Perfect Pixel Engine, I need to stress that it is possible to really muck pictures up if you’re not careful with some of the huge amount of image tweaks available from the TV’s menus. For instance, if you leave the HD Natural Motion tool set too high, it can cause twitching noise and even, occasionally, a phenomenon during sports where you see three balls instead of one. In fact, you’re probably best leaving it set to Low for most movie and TV viewing, and possibly deactivate it completely during sports viewing.
Leaving the set’s noise reduction routines can make pictures look softer than they need to as well, especially during HD viewing. But provided you’re willing to revisit the 42PFL9903’s on screen menus to tackle potential issues more regularly than you would with a more basic TV, it will still reward you for the vast majority of the time with a really outstanding picture given added impact by the sheer drama of the Light Frame system.
It would have been easy for Philips to have forgotten about audio in its drive to raise its Aurea game. But in fact the 42PFL9903’s sound is very good indeed, delivering bags of distortion-free power and a striking dynamic range – thanks in no small part to the presence of two subwoofers on the TV’s rear.
I’m quite sure there will still be those among you who shudder in horror at the whole Aurea concept, even in the much-improved form on show here. And there will be far more of you entirely unwilling to consider coughing up £2,500 for a 42in TV in the current economic climate, light frame technology or no light frame technology.
But nobody can deny the immense quality of the 42PFL9903’s core AV performance, and I, for one, love the Aurea Light Frame effect to bits. After all, contrary to what naysayers might tell you, I believe it really does enhance your viewing experience in a unique way, and I’m all in favour of anything that does that – even if the unique improvement does come at a price.