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Philips 37PFL9632D Picture Quality
Compared to the 2 Philips LCD television we have reviewed in the past, the 37PFL9632D's high-definition performance came closest to being able to compete with the top echelon of LCD TVs. Bright daylight scenes in John McClane's (Bruce Willis) latest adrenaline ride Die Hard 4.0 (Blu-ray) were handled extremely well by the Philips 37PFL9632D, not least due to its calibrated near-D65 greyscale and well-saturated palette lending believable richness to the sort of lush colours that we've come to expect from HD.
The numerous facial close-ups found in the movie looked particularly amazing on the Philips 37PFL9632D. The exquisite detail – for example every last pore, wrinkle and stubble on McClane's weathered countenance – set against the equally refined background almost effortlessly showered the film with wonderful 3-dimensional depth at every other turn.
While objectively the black level on the 37PFL9632D did not measure as low as those on SPVA panels from Sony and Samsung, Philips have an ace up their sleeves in the form of Ambilight. When tweaked to provide constant 6500K bias lighting via the [Colour] mode, the Ambilight improved perceived blacks and contrast on the Philips 37PFL9632D. During the hair-raising tunnel sequence in which opposing streams of traffic were sent hurtling towards McClane and his hacker sidekick, I never found the blacks to be overly grey. Engaging [Dynamic Contrast] would lower the backlight and boost black level, but introduce dynamic dimming and further compromise shadow detail portrayal which was already not as distinct as most plasmas and some of the best LCD TVs.
Knowing that [HD Natural Motion] and [100Hz Clear LCD] can be set independently of each other, I tried out these frame interpolation options on the movie. Because I appreciate the dreamy/ surreal/ cinematic quality afforded by 24fps, personally I have never been a fan of technologies which make films look like video, but I do know some viewers who have taken a liking to this super-real effect. [HD Natural Motion] – even in the "Minimum" settings – did just that (on top of bringing about some shimmering around objects in motion).
[100Hz Clear LCD] appealed to me more due to its visible motion resolution benefits. In the overhead camera shot of a helicopter hovering across Washington D.C. (23:52), the vehicles crashing on the streets were simply more defined and less blurry with [100Hz Clear LCD] engaged. For this reduction in motion blurring, I am willing to put up with some interpolation artifacts (not that I could see many distracting ones anyway), and a smidgen of video feel as a result of increased fluidity.
When fed with 1080p/24 signal, the Philips 37PFL9632D rendered panning shots smoothly without any telltale sign of telecine judder. But it took me less than 3 minutes into the movie to spot the first of many deinterlacing artifacts (from a viewing distance of six feet away) – unexpected line twitters appeared on the frames of the flat-screen panels in the FBI Cyber Security Centre (02:45). Among others, I also noticed moiré artifacts on the front grille of the yellow taxi (22:30), and the roof of the National Data Administration building (26:47).
If you don't know what line twitter and moiré are, or have never been bothered by them, or sit far enough from the Philips 37PFL9632D such that you don't see them, then lucky you. The only way to eradicate these deinterlacing artifacts is to abandon 1080p/24 and send 1080p60/ 1080i60/ 720p signals to the Philips instead, but then telecine judder would resurface. [HD Natural Motion] can take care of judder (let's face it: if you are troubled by line twitter/ moiré/ jaggies, you probably cannot tolerate telecine judder too), but entails its own set of problems.
SD (Freeview Digital Television)
This is arguably the greatest strength of Philips 37PFL9632D. Phenomenal SD (standard definition) video processing ensured that upscaled images retained sufficient detail without overblown edge enhancement, and that jaggies were kept at bay. Whereas on other HDTVs you may need to manually switch between video and film mode deinterlacing depending on the screen content, the 37PFL9632D automatically recognises film-based vs video-based programmes, and applies the necessary processing (though 2:3 pulldown was sluggish, and 2:2 erratic).
[100Hz Clear LCD] as implemented on the Philips 37PFL9632D made the most compelling argument for the continuous development of motion-compensated frame interpolation (MCFI) technology. With [100Hz Clear LCD] engaged, the 37PFL9632D quite simply delivered the highest motion resolution I have witnessed on any LCD television so far. Although there were some circumferential halos around the moving players on BBC One's Match Of The Day, it was a small price to pay in exchange for the dramatic reduction in motion blur. After seeing how well the crowd and the pitch-side advertisements retained their definition even during medium-fast pans, I'm sold on [100Hz Clear LCD]... I would generally enable it for all programmes unless the interpolation artifacts get significantly distracting.
PS3 Console Gaming
My latest project when playing Call Of Duty 4 online is to attain the Golden Mini-Uzi by completing 150 headshots for each weapon in the "SubMachine Gun" category. Now I am not sure if the smaller screen size or my precise knowledge of the amount of input lag (100ms slower than the Samsung F96) played a part physically or psychologically, but since I started playing on the Philips 37PFL9632D, headshots have been harder to come by. On the Samsung LE52F96BD and Toshiba 47Z3030D, I used to average 4 headshots per game; on the Philips 37PFL9632D, I'm lucky if I can hit 2.
Otherwise, I have no complaints about the detail and colour rendition on the 37PFL9632D for high-definition gaming. To preserve rather than crush in-game shadow detail, set [RGB Full Range (HDMI)] on the Sony PS3 to "Limited".
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