For me, however, the onscreen menu system handles all the multifarious options pretty well. And although I sometimes found it a bit fiddly, I also applaud Philips’ decision to use an iPod-style navigation wheel on the 32PFL9603’s remote control.
Also helpful is Philips’ Active Control system, which does a surprisingly credible job of automatically adjusting multiple facets of the picture for you. Plus there are a series of well-executed themed presets, which include Movie and Game modes. The Game mode is particularly handy, as it slashes back many of the picture processing elements to reduce (though not, it has to be said, completely remove) any processing-induced ‘image lag’ problems that might otherwise ruin your gaming prowess.
Final features worth a mention are unusually fulsome support of Blu-ray’s 1080p/24 format (thanks to the huge processing power of the Perfect Natural Motion system, which is twice as powerful as last year’s HD Natural Motion); two subwoofers built into the TV’s rear to boost bass response; and finally a new connectivity assistant which helps you – with illustrations – connect all your kit to the TV in the optimal way.
It’s fair to say that the 32PFL9603 talks a very good talk. So it’s just as well it also walks a very good walk.
Particularly striking is the awe-inspiring amount of detail in HD footage. Our trusty ‘Casino Royale’ Blu-ray, for instance, has never looked as detailed and textured as it does on the 32PFL9603. Seriously, even the pixels seem to have pixels!
Take, for instance, the shots in the Bahamas as Bond meets with M after finding the murdered girl in her hammock. There are wrinkles in Judi Dench’s face that I swear I’ve never noticed before, and you can make out individual strands of stubble on Bond’s face even during medium distance shots – again something I’ve not noticed before, at least on a screen as small as 32in.
Not surprisingly, all this new-found fine detail delivers every last drop of high definition’s visual impact, and comprehensively lampoons any naysayers who reckon you don’t really need HD on a 32in or smaller TV.
Adding still further to the image’s unique sharpness and detail is its near-total freedom from LCD’s traditional image blur issue. With Perfect Natural Motion engaged, moving objects look just as clear and textured as they do when they’re standing still. Even though the 32PFL9603 does not, unlike the larger sets in the 9603 range, employ 100Hz processing. (If you’re wondering why this is the case, apparently it’s because the 32in screen comes from a different source to the larger ones, and since this 32in screen boasts an innate response time of 2ms, 100Hz processing was deemed unnecessary).
The extra fluidity introduced by the Natural Motion processing means that you don’t even have the customary image judder to add a touch of indistinctness to proceedings. Actually, the extra fluidity is so striking it takes a little getting used to. But tellingly, once I’d experienced it for a couple of days, I found going back to my old juddery set an unwelcome jolt.
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