Don't Know Which HDTV To Buy? Try Our HDTV Selector Tool

Philips 37PFL9632D Test Verdict

by Vincent Teoh
26 January 2008

SUMMARY
Philips 37PFL9632D delivers very good picture quality on the whole, but may not appeal to gamers, HTPC users or videophiles.

PROS
> Ambilight improves perceived blacks and contrast
> [100Hz Clear LCD] significantly reduces motion blur
> Strong SD performance due to superb video processing

CONS
> Calibrated blacks could be better (no manual backlight control)
> Input lag may impair gaming performance or cause lip-synch delay
> Exhibits deinterlacing artifacts with 1080p/24 signal

Pros

  • Ambilight works well to improve perceived blacks and contrast
  • [100Hz Clear LCD] delivers the highest motion resolution measured on an LCD TV to date (but introduces halos around moving objects; see Cons)
  • Strong standard-definition performance thanks to some superb video processing
  • Very good colour decoding with no significant colour push
  • White balance controls available in user menu permits near-D65 greyscale calibration
  • Solid (though quirky; see Cons) connectivity with 3 x HDMI 1.3, 1 x USB, etc.
  • USB port can be used to view JPEG photos, listen to MP3s, and update the TV firmware
  • Swivelling pedestal stand comes pre-attached out-of-the-box for quick setup
  • User menu extensive yet reasonably easy to navigate
  • Stylish infrared remote control with decent tactile feedback
  • [Settings Assistant] can help nontechnical viewers achieve an attractive (though likely inaccurate) picture

Cons

  • Calibrated black level not as deep as those on Sony and Samsung SPVA panels
  • No manual backlight control available in the user menu
  • Input lag (100ms slower than a Samsung F96) may impair gaming response, or cause external lip-synch delay
  • Converts incoming 1080p signal to 1080i before reconverting it back to 1080p
  • Cannot convert video-based 1080i to 1080p without losing resolution
  • Exhibits deinterlacing artifacts with 1080p/24 signal
  • [HD Natural Motion] and [100Hz LCD TV] introduces deinterlacing artifacts in the form of shimmering halos around moving objects
  • Only part of the settings can be saved independently per input
  • High-pitched whine during standby (may be specific to my set)
  • Weak speakers with poor dynamic range, soundstage and resolution
  • Limited off-axis viewing angle
  • Connectivity is slightly quirky (no VGA input; digital audio out is coaxial; component audio in is a 3.5mm mini jack socket)

Conclusion

The Philips 37PFL9632D boasts two unique selling points not offered by flat screen TVs of other makes: Ambilight that acts as bias lighting to improve perceived blacks and contrast; and [100Hz Clear LCD] which delivers the most substantial reduction in motion blurring I've seen on an LCD TV so far. If one of these features appeals to you, then a 9632 or 9732 – essentially the same panel as 9632 but with an extra top-side Ambilight – LCD television from Philips should rank first on your shopping list.

That said, the Philips 37PFL9632D is not without its shortcomings... I can similarly think of certain groups of viewers who should think twice before spending their hard-earned cash on this LCD television. Gamers who do not wish to bear an input lag handicap which may affect their performance. PC users who need a VGA input, or desire crisp sharp 1:1 pixel mapping without experiencing screen flicker/ tearing. Videophiles who want to watch movies without being distracted by telecine judder OR deinterlacing/ interpolation artifacts (because of the video processing you can't eliminate one without introducing the other).

Don't get me wrong: the picture quality of the Philips 37PFL9632D is generally very good, with its standard-def performance being particularly outstanding. But versatility is certainly not its strongest suit, given its limitations in gaming response, HTPC usage and 1080p handling.

Qualified Recommendation

3.5 Star Rating: Qualified Recommendation

Back to: 37PFL9632D Review

Discuss this article at our new HDTVTest forum