All of this is so far a rather abstract way of bigging up the 47PFL9603D’s picture quality. So let’s get more specific, starting with the set’s extraordinarily good standard definition playback. The 47PFL9603D is a full HD TV, yet the detail-adding, noise-reducing talents of the Perfect Pixel HD engine work near miracles on translating lowly standard def sources onto the screen’s 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.
Not that the 47PFL9603D is only standard definition’s friend, mind you. It also loves HD more than most TVs, presenting top HD sources like There Will Be Blood on Blu-ray with staggering amounts of detail and clarity. What’s more, unlike older versions of Philips’ image processing, the extra detail on show doesn’t leave pictures looking grainy or edges looking over-stressed.
There’s less trouble with shimmering halo noise around moving objects than we’ve seen with previous Philips TV generations too, leaving you freer to appreciate the striking fluidity of the set’s motion handling with HD Natural Motion engaged.
As usual with Philips LCD TVs, meanwhile, colours are exceedingly rich and bright. Colour-rich broadcast fodder like Sky News positively blasts off the screen at you, as do animated Blu-rays like Ratatouille, and colourful games like Viva Pinata 2 on the Xbox 360. Yet thanks to the new colour control element of the Perfect Pixel HD system, despite being emphatically rich, colours are also engagingly and consistently natural.
The 47PFL9603D’s black levels are decent, too. They achieve a solid depth, retain fair amounts of shadow detail, and look consistent, by which I mean there’s no undue flicker caused by the dynamic backlight and no significant light pooling of the sort that so blighted Sony’s 46W4500 in our previous TV review.
For the most part, then, the 47PFL9603D lives up to its relatively high-spec billing, like the other 9-series TVs we’ve seen from Philips to date. However, things are moving very fast in the TV world right now, and for me this fact ultimately costs the 47PFL9603D a little of my usual love.
For instance, having seen Pioneer’s latest plasma TVs and Samsung’s new LED LCD TV, my expectations of black level have recently shifted. So now I feel less forgiving of the 47PFL9603D’s gentle grey clouding over dark areas of the pictures whenever the screen has to try and show simultaneously a combination of bright and dark elements. It doesn’t help the black level situation, either, that the TV seems to suffer a really quite restricted viewing angle, with the tell-tale greyness creeping in if you watch from as little as 35 degrees or so off axis.
I also have to come back once again to the complexity of the TV’s settings. For it really is quite easy to make the 47PFL9603D’s pictures look seriously affected by processing artefacts, or to sell HD sources short, if you don’t have all the image settings correctly organised.
Things are rather simpler when it comes to the 47PFL9603D’s audio, thankfully. There are fewer settings for you to get your head round, making it easier for you to enjoy with real consistency the impressively powerful, wide-ranging and clear soundstage pushed out by the set’s ‘invisible’ speakers.
The 47PFL9603D is a supremely clever, gorgeously designed, feature-laden and high performance TV, just like all the other sets in Philips’ current 9 Series range. And so it’s still a fine specimen of a premium TV. Yet with its relatively high price in mind, my newfound sensitivity to its slight black level and especially viewing angle issues ultimately proves enough to stop me from being able to give the TV the whole-hearted recommendation I’d hoped – if not expected – it would earn.