What Hooked Us:
Accurate 24p reproduction.
Crisp motion depiction.
Why We Grumbled:
Awkward channel navigation.
The Final Verdict:
The 42 PFL 7404 is a great all-round TV with a sleek design. It scores further plus points for its passable video processing, decent colours, and relatively powerful sound. On the other hand, the Philips’ low contrast ratio means it has no place in the dark home cinema.
In this respect, all the Philips offers is a USB media player for photos, videos, and music.
You get the full range of connections, with just one small omission: The Scart socket doesn’t accept S-Video signals.
Of course, for 849 GBP, you obviously can’t have everything. On the 42 PFL 7404, which measures a sleek 23 millimetres deep, you’ll have to make do without Philips’ Ambilight technology, for example — this is only available in pricier models.
Still, there’s a three-way tuner with support for HDTV and CI+. Enthusiasts will love the fine-tuning of colour temperature, as well as the various image-enhancement settings and a backlight with both manual adjustment and automatic light-sensor control.
The black and blue menu has both advantages and disadvantages. The huge typeface, for example, means you can read it from far away. But the interface covers the whole picture and reacts sluggishly. On top of that, the digital cable channel list lacks a sort function. Analogue programmes and DVB radio stations simply tag onto the end of the list, instead of appearing in a list of their own.
The well-built remote control matches the TV’s design and sits comfortably in the user’s hand.
Praise goes, on the other hand, to the automatic aspect ratio adjustment, which even chooses the correct setting for broadcasts in unusual formats. We liked the remote control for its combination of top build quality and clear button layout. The handset also offers a back button and direct access to the TV’s picture menu.
Confusion reigned supreme in the test lab when we connected Pioneer’s BDP-LX 52 Blu-ray player to the Philips: The TV switched to the wrong HDMI input every time we pressed the “Top Menu” button on the player’s remote control. The solution to the riddle: We first had to switch off the Philips’ “EasyLink” setting, which allows the user to control a number of HDMI devices via the TV’s remote control.
Picture Quality of Standard-Definition Signals
The Philips takes an unusual approach to picture setup: The new user is directed to use their own photos in a split-screen mode (found under “Settings assistant”) to decide which picture settings they like best. But this process invariably leads to overly colourful and oversharpened presentation.
You’ll get the most natural picture if you select the “Cinema” preset before tweaking the image — you can then save your tweaked settings under “Personal” (see Ideal settings, below). When adjusted accordingly, the analogue TV picture looks superb — detail-rich and free of noise.
With “HD Natural Motion” activated, fast-moving texts glide legibly across the screen. The motion enhancement eliminates film judder, as well as getting rid of double edges and making motion in general appear more fluid. But the motion clarity depends on the contrast setting — the brightest picture is also the blurriest.
In 576i (PAL) signals, the HDMI input delivers a decent picture with passable de-interlacing. But you can see slight line-flicker in especially critical test scenes such as the camera pan across a beach in “Six Days Seven Nights”.
Picture Quality of High-Definition Signals
Although the HDTV video processing tends to slightly over-sharpen fine details, this effect won’t bother you during films. Other than that, the video processing works tidily, and even 24p signals appear accurately on the screen.
Tip: If you’re planning on displaying mostly 720p and 1080p signals and don’t need the motion-smoothing technology, you should switch to “PC mode”. Here, fine details no longer show artificial sharpening, and therefore display more precisely and authentically. The PC mode is also useful for up-scaled 4:3 signals, since this picture-format setting is otherwise inaccessible.
Black-and-white films such as “Casablanca” show convincing, although slightly cool, greyscales — this is because of the slightly raised colour temperature of 7,100 Kelvin. In colour films, the strong primary colours and skin tones impress.
Weaknesses appear in dark pictures such as those in “Kingdom of Heaven”: The low contrast and the strong residual illumination emerge as the arch enemies of picture depth. This problem was particularly noticeable in dark viewing conditions, so the Philips delivers its best subjective impression when viewed with some low ambient light.
Although the 42 PFL 7404 has an extremely compact casing and the speakers don’t point directly towards the listeners, the TV’s sound is still relatively powerful. Music, however, sounds slightly off-colour.
Smart Setting: Personal
Noise Reduction: Off
Advanced Sharpness: Off
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Dynamic Backlight: Best picture
MPEG Artefact Reduction: Off
Colour Enhancement: Minimum
Picture Format: Unscaled
These settings apply to realistic playback of HDTV/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations might necessitate slight adjustment.
Dimensions & Weight Details
- Dimensions & Weight Details : Panel with stand – 110.6 cm x 30.9 cm x 71.7 cm x 25.3 kg
- Input Video Formats : 576i/p, 480i/p, 1080i/p, 720p
- HDMI : 3
- Dynamic Contrast Ratio : 80000:1
- Resolution : 1920×1080
- Brightness : 500 cd/m2
- Image Aspect Ratio : 16:9
- Diagonal Size : 47″ – widescreen
- Power Consumption Operational : 149 Watt
- Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep : 0.15 Watt
- Weight : 20.1 kg
- Width : 110.6 cm
- Height : 66.6 cm
- Depth : 9.2 cm
Digital TV Tuner
- Digital TV Tuner : DVB-C, DVB-T