A potentially much less likeable point about the huge amount of picture options at your disposal is that they’re actually rather important! This means you not only need to familiarise yourself with what all the options do if you want to get the best from the 42PFL9603D, but that you also should revisit some of them on a regular basis, adjusting them to suit different types of footage.
For instance, if you make the mistake of leaving the Perfect Natural Motion facility set to ‘on’ while watching sports footage, you might well find yourself faced with the regular appearance of some really quite nasty glitches over fast-moving objects – to the point where you could actually see three cricket balls racing to a boundary rather than one. Or if you leave the noise reduction systems set to ‘on’ while watching HD sources, you’ll find the picture looking softer and less detailed than it otherwise would.
It’s important to stress here, though, that other than perhaps wishing the 42PFL9603D was a little better at adjusting some of its processing automatically to suit different footage types, I’m not complaining about the flexibility the 42PFL9603D at all. Far from it. I’m merely making the point that this is a TV can be all things to all men, but only if you’re willing to put more into it than you would have to with a ‘normal’ TV.
Anyway, with all that talked through, it’s time to reflect on what sort of pictures the TV can produce when it’s set up correctly. And the short answer is: pretty damn spectacular.
As with the 32PFL9603D, arguably the single most striking thing about the 42PFL9603D’s pictures is their outstanding sharpness and detail – with standard as well as high definition sources. In fact, I’ve never seen standard definition pictures look so crisp, detailed and ‘pseudo HD’ on a 42in TV as they do on the 42PFL9603D, while the amount of texture and pixel-perfect precision on show in detailed HD shots such as those of the city of gold in the ”National Treasure 2” Blu-ray is even more striking on this 42in screen than it was on the stunning 32in.
It’s extremely refreshing, too, to find that the extra sharpness so commonly associated with Philips’ image processing is here accompanied by far less unwanted side effects than we’re accustomed to seeing. And so there’s none of the previous tendency to slightly over-cook sharply contrasted edges; no tendency to exaggerate any MPEG noise that might be in the source; and, as the actors walk around the golden city they’re only very rarely shadowed by the shimmering halo effect, even though their motion is far more fluid and blur-free than it is with practically every other LCD TV we’ve seen.
It’s actually possible, in fact, that the exceptional fluidity of motion on the 42PFL9603D might initially look weird to you. But all I can say is that after living with this TV for a couple of days, I actually found going back to the slightly juddery, indistinct motion of my normal TV a little annoying.