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Philips Cineos 42PFL9803H review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1970
inc VAT


32in, Freeview, 1,920×1,080 resolution, 3D: , 4x HDMI

We’ve reviewed two Cineos HD TVs recently that use traditional fluorescent tube backlights.

However, the catchily named 42PFL9803H is Philips’ first TV to use LEDs. It has 1,152 of these arrayed behind its LCD panel, which are organised into 128 sets of nine. The light emitted from each set can be independently controlled. This allows the TV to dim the backlight in darker areas of the image, while maintaining full brightness in light areas. It gives a better contrast ratio than the uniform backlighting of a fluorescent tube.

As with previous Cineos models, this one has adjustable motion processing, which can turn jerky 24p video into ultra-smooth movement. At its maximum setting things can look unreal, and it’s a matter of taste whether you like your movies to look like an episode of Casualty. There’s also Ambilight Spectra 2, which is a series of LEDs on the rear sides of the TV that produce colours that match the image onscreen. As we’ve said before, Ambilight is a real benefit, as it makes images look larger as they seem to extend into the room.

There are comprehensive quality settings that allow you to tweak the colours to your liking, whether that’s vibrant and bright or less saturated and more lifelike. We particularly like the Settings Assistant, which splits the screen in half and asks you to pick which side you prefer, then creates a custom profile from your choices.

The result of all this technology is simply stunning picture quality. Blacks are deeper than on any other LCD TV we’ve seen, and colours are excellent. This is no truer than when watching Blu-ray movies, since the 1,920×1,080 resolution lets you see every last detail, down to a speck of dust on a jacket. Impressively, the black bars above and below movies are actually black, with no faint backlight glow, so look similar to those on a plasma TV. Add in the superbly smooth motion processing and Ambilight, and the Cineos draws you into whatever you’re watching like no other TV.

You get all the inputs you’d expect on a £2,000 HD TV, but the VGA and component inputs share a set of stereo audio phono jacks, which is inconvenient if you have devices connected to both.

There are a couple of other foibles (shared with all other Cineos models) that we’d like to see addressed in a future firmware update. First, when you switch to the programme guide there’s no video window or audio for the currently watched TV channel; it simply cuts it off. Second, it’s hard to see what you’ve keyed in from the remote when changing channels, as they appear in a tiny blue font.

These are minor gripes, but when you’re spending almost £2,000, you can expect perfection. The one-year return-to-base warranty is also disappointing at this price. The image quality is stunning for an LCD TV, but we don’t think it’s worth paying twice the price of the almost identical 42PFL7603D.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****


Viewable size 32in
Native resolution 1,920×1,080
1080p support Yes
Aspect ratio 16:9
HD ready yes
Contrast ratio 30,000:1 (2,000,000:1 dynamic)
Brightness 500cd/m²
Speakers 2x 15W


DVI inputs 0
D-sub inputs 1
HDMI inputs 4
Component inputs 1
S-Video input 1
Composite inputs 1
Audio outputs stereo phono, coaxial S/PDIF
Other headphone output, CI slot, RJ45 LAN (DLNA)


Tuner type Freeview
EPG 7 day


Power consumption standby 0W
Power consumption on 153W

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £1,970