The attractively weighty remote control supplied with the 47PFL9603D actually sports an Apple iPod-style navigation wheel, designed to help you navigate onscreen menus faster. And believe us, even though it can be a bit fiddly at times, you’ll need to use this wheel quite regularly. For if there’s a TV on the market today with a longer list of options and features than the 47PFL9603D, I can’t think of it. Unless it’s Philips’ own PFL9703s!
It would take me all week to cover in detail everything that’s on offer here, so I’ll try and just focus on the most innovative and important stuff – especially as this is not the first TV from the 9603D range we’ve looked at.
The single most important discovery is Philips’ Perfect Pixel HD picture processing engine. This umbrella name covers various processing routines aimed at improving colours, detailing, contrast, and noise reduction, highlights of which are a 17-bit colour booster; a system that digitally expands the difference between the dark and light parts of the image; and HD Natural Motion for generating new image frames between the ‘real’ ones in a source to make motion look sharper and more fluid.
The feature set also includes frame rate-doubling 100Hz processing, again to enhance motion, and there’s all manner of subtlety on offer regarding how gently or heavy handedly all the elements of the TV’s video processing work. In fact, you can turn off all of the processing elements completely, if you wish – though obviously this would seem a bit daft considering that the high-level processing accounts for a good part of the 47PFL9603D’s cost!
As you might be starting to suspect from all this, the 47PFL9603D is certainly not the easiest TV to use. When you first fire it up it takes you through a reasonably helpful setup assistant, and there’s an Active Control option that can take on a number of the image’s adjustments automatically. But beyond that you’re more or less on your own, meaning that if, say, you spot a lot of processing artefacts while watching sport it’s up to you to remember to deactivate the most likely cause, the HD Natural Motion system.
And believe us when we say that you definitely will find moments – quite regularly, in fact – where something about the picture doesn’t look quite right with a particular source until you’ve gone in and tweaked the motion controls, the dynamic contrast feature, the noise reduction tools or whatever.
However, for me the crucial thing here is that while the 47PFL9603D’s toolkit might be complicated, it does include pretty much everything you need to make your pictures look very good no matter what sort of source footage you throw at the TV. You just need to put the effort in to make sure you’re using that toolkit properly. Commit to this level of effort, and you’ll be saved from the sort of forced compromises you get with less advanced processing engines.