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42PFL7662D Benchmark Test & PQ

by Vincent Teoh
6 July 2007

Calibration

The Philips 42PFL7662D's limited number of controls in the user menu permits little room for manoeuvre when it comes to calibration. Of the 4 fixed preset picture settings, [Soft] – with a CCT in excess of 9000k – was actually the nearest to D65. Without entering the service menu, this was the best I could achieve (I based my calibration around [Colour Temp] "Warm" in "Personal" mode):

CCT RGB Tracking
[Colour Temp] "Warm" CCT
RGB Tracking

Overall colour temperature was cooler than ideal, ranging between 7000k and 8000k from 20% stimulus onwards.

Colour

Calibrated CIE
Calibrated CIE with reference to REC 709

The plotted red, green and cyan colour points were slightly off REC 709 reference. But the biggest concern was the presence of red push, which could not be completely eliminated even after toning down [Colour] to the minimum tolerable level without desaturating other colours.

Benchmark Test Results

Stuck pixels 1
Screen uniformity Backlight bleed bottom right corner; mild banding
Overscanning on component 0% when [Native Resolution] is "On" (only 1080i)
Blacker than black Passed
Black level Average
Black level retention Unstable
Colour chromaticities Average
Colour decoding Red push
Scaling Average
Video mode deinterlacing Average; limited jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing 3:2 and 2:2 passed only in 1080i
Viewing angle 90°
Motion blur Average for LCDs
Digital noise reduction Average
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
1080p/24 capability (PS3) Accepts 24fps, but judders
1:1 pixel mapping Yes, when [Native Resolution] is "On" (only 1080i)

Black Level

I've never seen any LCD TV without backlight control do well in the blacks department, and the Philips 42PFL7662D was no exception. Subjectively its minimum black luminance was similar to that on the LG 42LF65 (which I reviewed and lambasted recently), but the black level on 42PFL7662D during calibration actually measured 66% lower than that on the LG 42LF65.

This was due to dynamic dimming (i.e. the black level fluctuates depending on the average brightness of the picture), which unfortunately persisted in some form even after disabling [Active Control] and [Contrast+]. While the intention to enrich the blacks is commendable, black level fluctuation can be quite distracting (more on this later) when you're watching the television in a dimly-lit environment like I do most of the time.

I explored the service menu to see if there was any obvious option to turn off this dynamic dimming, but had no success chiefly because I wasn't prepared to experiment with options of which the functions I do not know. Without a service menu operation manual in front of me, triggering the wrong option might lead to catastrophic consequences... a risk I could not take knowing that I had already voided the warranty by entering the service menu.

I believe the culprit to be Dynamic Contrast Enhancement, which could be switched off from the user menu on the Philips 42PF9831D, but not so on the 42PFL7662D. I have contacted Philips to see if they can shed any light on this matter.

Sharpness & Detail

You can attain 1:1 pixel mapping by turning [Native Resolution] (under the [Features] > [Display] submenu) to "On", but only in 1080i and not 1080p... the option is simply not available when fed with the latter signal. When in 1:1 mode, the Philips 42PFL7662D fully resolved each horizontal and vertical single-pixel lines on test patterns, indicating that display bandwidth was not throttled.

Now for the bad news. The [Native Resolution] setting could not be saved on my review unit, meaning that I had to manually enable it every time I changed input source or switched the television off and on.

In its favour, [Native Resolution] can be engaged over component in 1080i – now at least you have a choice whether to preserve or remove overscan on component input.

Video Processing

Video mode deinterlacing on the Philips 42PFL7662D was average at best – I would rank it on the same level as Samsung 40M86BD LCD and Panasonic 42PX70 plasma. You would invariably see jaggies especially on poor quality source.

The 42PFL7662D correctly detected both 3:2 and 2:2 sequences and applied the relevant pulldown techniques, but only in 1080i and NOT 480i/ 576i where film mode deinterlacing is arguably more important (because the artifacts are more obvious). Easy way out? Either upscale your DVDs to 1080i, or send a progressive signal from your DVD player.

1080p/24 Capability

Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not exactly familiar with the ins and outs of the Sony PS3, having just bought it less than one week ago thanks to everyone's donation. My key question concerns the 1080p/24 output (naturally). In the PS3 menu, you can set it to "Automatic" or "Off".

I hope I'm not wrong in saying that in the "Automatic" mode, the PS3 will try to send a 1080p/24 signal to the television. If the TV doesn't accept it, or has a EDID implying that 24Hz is not supported, the PS3 will revert to 1080p/60.

Should that be the case, the only way to find out for sure if the PS3 is outputting 1080p/24 or 1080p/60 is if the television can display some information about the signal received. Not a problem on the LG 42LF65: "1080p/24" (or some variation thereof) was stated on screen, confirming that the panel accepted 1080p/24 signal (but juddered possibly as a result of a screen refresh rate that's not a multiple of 24Hz).

But I had no such luxury on the Philips 42PFL7662D... the only info I could retrieve on the signal received was "1080p". Regardless, a judder which exhibited the same pattern as that found on the LG 42LF65 (smooth-smooth-jerk) was present, making me suspect that the television did accept 1080p/24 but was let down by screen refresh frame rate conversion.

Picture Quality

Freeview Digital TV

How much pleasure you get from watching standard definition content on a high definition screen is always going to depend firstly on your viewing distance and secondly on the quality of the screen. I'm afraid I didn't like Philips 42PFL7662D's SD performance, even when sitting from 8-10 feet away.

Somehow the Philips 42PFL7662D did a poor job of hiding the pixel grids, which was more obvious compared to most other LCDs I've tested. There were other flaws: mild red push, indistinct shadow detail, but most unforgivable of all greyish blacks that subdued the entire image and rendered screen unevenness more visible on slow pans.

Frustrated, I spent most of the time watching HD...

BBC HD Satellite Broadcast

The higher resolution and detail delivered by [Native Resolution] 1:1 mapping, coupled with HD 709 colours which are on the whole richer, made me a much happier viewer. The image was far from being a threat to the cream of the crop, but it was now at least palatable.

Esteban thumbnailEsteban in Kill Bill Kiddo thumbnailBeatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill

One thing that annoyed me no end while watching "Kill Bill Volume 2" on BBC HD was the amount of dynamic dimming taking place on the Philips 42PFL7662D. Every 10 seconds the backlight would flicker brighter then darker (or vice versa) when changes in the average brightness level reached a threshold. With only some bias lighting illuminating my lounge at night, my eyes are particularly sensitive to black level fluctuation, and on that occasion it incessantly drew my attention away from the movie.

The sequence where Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) was buried alive highlighted the problem most clearly. First there was still some light seepage into the coffin; then total darkness engulfed Beatrix as the coffin was sealed. She turned on her flashlight and started trashing about the coffin. Exhausted, flashlight off. Flashlight on for a methodical inspection of the coffin interior. Flashlight held in mouth as she sawed through the ropes tying her wrists with a razor blade.

Each cut and each zoom of these scenes generated a different brightness level, which was swiftly followed by a dip or rise in black level as the 42PFL7662D adjusted its backlight, in the process destroying any sense of continuity from one moment to the next. Panasonic plasmas are also notorious for black level fluctuation, but I don't remember them being as conspicuous as this.

Nadal thumbnailRafael Nadal in Wimbledon Nike thumbnailNadal's Nike shoe

Rain delays meant a fair amount of Wimbledon replays on BBC HD... I got to enjoy some tennis of the highest quality. Is it me, or it beggars belief that Rafael Nadal had to play 5 days to finish one match, while Roger Federer's been resting for all that time? I guess the only way the Swiss is not going to collect his fifth consecutive Wimbledon this year is by pulling a muscle laughing.

The level of motion blurring on the Philips 42PFL7662D is about what one would expect for a mid-level LCD TV... slightly better than that on the LG 42LF65, but worse than a plasma.

PS3 Console Gaming

Gran Turismo HD

As a rule of thumb video games are not mastered to D65 imaging standards, so I went with the [Multimedia] preset to inject more vibrancy to the picture. Again I'm not sure what the PS3 was doing, but the signal received by the 42PFL7662D (over HDMI) when playing Gran Turismo HD Concept appeared to be 1080i, and therefore I could achieve 1:1 pixel mapping and no overscan through [Native Resolution], fully unleashing the detail derived from high- definition gaming.


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