Pros: Good picture, dearth of inputs
Cons: Sound, some pixelation, "whine of death"
My intention this weekend was to purchase a Panasonic 42" Plasma TV, but after a great amount of searching and reviewing LCD and Plasma TVs I finally settled on the Philips 42PFL7432D 42" LCD TV as Best Buy had this TV on sale over the weekend for $1,499.99.
Being the father of 4 kids who can not turn off the lights let alone the TV when they are finished watching, the thought of purchasing a Plasma TV bothered me as I was concerned about the "burning" of images if the picture remains static for too long. I also did not want a DLP or LcoS rear projection TV as we were looking for something to mount on the wall. This TV met all of my criteria, LCD and 1080p, perfect!
When I went to BestBuy to purchase this set, I meandered around the displays and I can honestly say that this TV did not garner any excitement. In fact there was a 47" Westinghouse display that did look really good. After checking the spec and what the Philips offered, it did seem like a no brainer. Also, BestBuy does have a 30 day return policy, so I felt as though that would be some insurance if I was disappointed in the quality of the picture. Ultimately, I purchased this "on a wing and a prayer", hoping the reviews I had read on other forums were true. I have always had a great respect for Philips brand name, so that did have an impact on my decision.
My son and I opened the packaging and were quite impressed. The TV was well packed and included the display, remote control, a Quick Start Guide, User Manual, and much to my surprise a very nice and very well made swivel stand - I may have rethink the wall mounting...
The stand required some assembly, but Philips included all of the necessary tools, basically a hex wrench. It was easy to assemble the stand, though getting the stand into the display took a little bit of effort.
The TV at 77 lbs. was a bit heavier than I expected. With two of us it was easy to place on a table where we had our 20" tube TV. The dimensions of the TV are 41.2" wide x 27" high and only 4.6" deep.
Finally, it's time to plug it in. I hooked up a very basic antenna, my sons XBOX and Ninentdo Game Cube. After starting up the TV you are asked to answer 8 questions about the picture you are viewing, much like going to the eye doctor. 6 "Better or Worse" questions about the picture you are viewing and 2 "Better or Worse" questions regarding the sound you are hearing. The TV sets up the picture based on your answers and automatically adapts to your personal preferences. Very cool, though I do believe there are some tweaks we could make to improve the picture. It is important to note that this TV does allow some fine adjustments to picture. As far as the sound goes, the bass is just OK and the rest of the sound is fairly middling, bordering on tinny. I believe hooking up a sound system is in order here.
One aspect of this TV that really caught the attention of my wife is the Ambilight 2. This consists of LED displays on either side of the TV that change as you watch the picture. It makes for a thoroughly engrossing experience as the lights around the TV match those of the screen while you watch. This truly enhances watching TV while in a dark room, and it does reduce eye strain.
The next step was to dial in the local over-the-air channels through the antenna. We receive 12 analog channels and 18 digital channels. The pictures on the analog channels are terrible. They are like looking at an old TV where you have to move rabbit ears all around the room just to make them palatable. The standard definition and high definition pictures are enchanting. They truly are phenominal, very crisp, very clear, and very rich in color. Professional TV connosieurs say that a drawback to LCD TV's is that they do not show true blacks, but on this TV, I find that the blacks are black. They do not look grey at all.
Our next effort was in playing the Microsoft XBOX. Again very good colors through the component cables. The picture was great. In playing the Nintendo GameCube with the S-video input I was again impressed with the color. One thing this TV does if left in automatic sizing mode is that it will adjust the picture the fit the TV. Really neat in watching this happen though there are times when you do have to set the picture size manually as people can become bloated if the screen is stretched to wide, or short and fat if compressed narrowly.
The Philips has 3 the following inputs:
2 S Video
2 Component, though on one of the settings you must choose between S- Video or component.
1 Composite Video
1 USB port for software upgrade and USB devices
There are side inputs that include S-Video and USB hook ups.
The only disappointment with this TV is the 1 RF/Coaxial input. I have the Dish Network 2-Box to 4 TV set-up. Because we use an internal cable to attach this TV, I have to choose to hook-up the DISH or use the antenna. I would have liked to use both. It is my personal recommendation to Philips to include 2 RF/Coaxial inputs.
In my final analysis, would I say this is a great TV? I think it is a very good TV. The only comparison I can make is to the Sony KDS-R50XBR1 that we own. It has some flaws, but it is a great TV. On this TV, I can see some pixelation and jaggedness of the images on the screen, as for the Sony, I can not. However, that TV was twice the price of this one, and it is a different technology. Is this picture amazing? Yes, when compared to the CRT TV we still own it is amazing, and I am sure to a first time buyer of HDTV it will amaze and astonish them just as mine did. In the end, I am very happy to own this TV, the picture is very good, it will serve my family well, and hopefully we are future-proofed for some time. I do whole heartedly recommend this TV for TVs in this price range as it offers a great number of inputs, and a great ability to adjust colors, tint, fine-tuning as well as other options.
This TV, though it was a good performer, had to be turned off as we received the "whine of death". If it was not disconnected every night, there was a horrible screaching sound emanating from the power supply - as it was loud.