Obviously the usual Philips rider applies here. Namely that if you want to get the very best out of the Essence, you’ll have to spend way more time tinkering with the multitude of settings it provides than you’d have to with a ‘normal’ TV. Failure to do this – and to gain at least a basic understanding of what all the picture options actually do – can lead to problems such as overt glitching over fast motion, overstressed edges, and even a few overcooked colours.
Particularly controversial is the HD Natural Motion processing, which reproduces motion with a mesmerising fluidity, but also tends to throw up some pretty aggressive glitches, even on its minimum setting. Some people can’t tolerate this feature at all, though I personally think that it’s fine with normal TV shows, only becoming problematic with sport, HD movies and console games.
But in any case, the key point about this feature – and one that many other reviewers seem to forget – is that you can deactivate it entirely if you don’t like it. And even if you do, the increase in judder that results only marginally taints what are still absolutely stellar LCD pictures.
We guess you might argue that it’s not great to pay for a high-spec feature like HD Natural Motion that you don’t ultimately use. But while the Essence is certainly very expensive for a 42in LCD TV, for me the unique nature of its proposition and the extent of its innovation just about justifies the cost, with or without HD Natural Motion.
Turning finally to the speaker bar supplied with the 42PES0001, it’s good without quite being brilliant. On the upside, it’s capable of good volume levels, and the soundstage remains startlingly open and detailed even when pushed really loud. On the downside, there’s not quite enough bass around to provide a truly satisfying counterpoint to the treble enthusiasm. But let’s be fair here; in the context of the audio produced by many normal flat TVs, never mind one just 40mm or so thick, the Essence’s efforts are actually pretty good.
On paper, I guess that the Essence’s claim to fame as the easiest TV to hang on the wall ever probably sounds a bit dull compared with stuff like LED backlighting and the Aurea Light Frame. But in reality, the extremes to which Philips has taken its wall-hanging goals with the Essence while also keeping a firm grip on aesthetic beauty AND performance standards has resulted in a product which, dare I say it, seems at least a little touched by genius.
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