Now, don’t go thinking that you’re going to have to feed the 37PF9731D a high definition diet to get good results, because it works its magic just as convincingly on standard definition sources. Using the TV’s built-in digital tuner, the 37PF9731D turned in some of the best looking Freeview images I’ve ever seen. And this is a very important point, since we’re all going to be watching a lot of standard definition TV for some time to come.
But everything wasn’t absolutely perfect. I found that if I chose to watch a Sky HD movie that was presented in an anamorphic widescreen format at say 2.35:1 and wanted to view it in its native aspect ratio, the 37PF9731D obliged, but it also displayed a bright green line at the top of the screen. Absolutely no amount of fiddling could get rid of this line and the only solution was to switch the picture mode to Auto and allow the TV to zoom the image to fill the screen. Having spoken to Philips it appears that this problem is due to the 1:1 pixel mapping employed by the 37PF9731D. If a source isn’t outputting the entire 1080 lines (as it appears the Sky HD box isn’t) then missing data presents itself as a green line.
The simplest solution to this problem would surely be to just not twist the pixels that aren’t receiving data, which would leave that line black rather than green, and would be pretty much unnoticeable. Interestingly, this issue didn’t present itself when I played a Blu-ray movie on the 37PF9731D, so it would definitely seem to be a source specific problem.
But the 37PF9731D has one more little trick up its sleeve, Ambilight. As I’m sure you’re aware, watching TV in a totally dark room doesn’t give you the best experience and also isn’t very good for you. What Ambilight does is throw ambient light around the TV itself, thus creating the perfect viewing environment. The colour of the light also changes to match the image on the screen. Now, I have to say that I was very sceptical about Ambilight, thinking that it was just a gimmick to differentiate Philips TVs from the competition, but having lived with the 37PF9731D in my living room for the past couple of weeks I have become a bit of a convert. Turning the lights off and turning Ambilight on really does create a more pleasant and immersive viewing environment. You can even tailor the intensity of the Ambilight to suit your own personal taste.
The design of this TV is also first rate, so it’s just as good to look at when it’s switched off as it is when it’s delivering those stunning pictures. The glossy black bezel sets of the screen well and highlights the Ambilight effect, while the speaker bar below the screen adds to the overall aesthetics rather than spoiling them. The large glass base gives the whole package a modern and stylish look and allows for very smooth panning. If there’s one problem with the base, it’s that it’s very wide, which means that you won’t be able to use it with some AV stands. That said, if ever a TV was designed to be wall mounted it’s this one!