This one is the 32PFL7404H, which is a 32”, 1920x1080p LCD-based TV. The only difference I can find (going from Philips' specifications) over the cheaper 5000-series model is that this 7000-series based display includes Philips' “Pixel Precise HD” video processor, whereas the cheaper model includes “Pixel Plus HD”. There's also a third HDMI input. At this price level, we don't get access to higher-up features such as Ambilight, Internet TV access, or LED backlighting.
Design and Connections
Once this is done, pressing the HOME button on the remote displays a 3x3 grid view. Here, the devices conneted to the TV are displayed as icons (after they've been added to the menu), making changing inputs easy even for technophobic users. Selecting “Setup” allows us to delve further into the controls. The top level adjustment is “Smart Settings”; from here, I chose “Cinema” and then moved onto the “Picture” menu to make modifications. Like other Philips displays, there is no dedicated Backlight control, but instead it is bundled together with white level control in a setting called “Contrast”. Lowering this control will at first dim the intensity of the backlight lamps, and when these are at their lowest allowed light level, the TV will then begin digitally altering white level. Ideally, these should be two separate controls, because White Level sometimes has to be adjusted by a few clicks to improve Greyscale purity in the brightest areas.
Next, we have a traditional black level control (“Brightness”), a Colour control, a sometimes-accessible Hue adjustment, a Sharpness control, and “Noise Reduction” (temporal averaging, which reduces background noise movement). The next control is “Tint”, which controls Greyscale (the colour of grey). If we set it to “Custom”, “Custom Tint” (User-accessible Greyscale control) is unlocked. We can use this option with a measuring device and specialised software to correctly set Greyscale; more on this later.
Enabling the aforementioned option also allows the user to turn on “100 Hz Clear LCD”, which uses the same motion estimation principles to improve the motion resolution of the screen. At least one LCD manufacturer (Samsung) is allowing the user to gain the motion resolution improvements brought about by 100hz/200hz LCD technology without introducing the irritating “smooth motion” effect – it would be nice to see other manufacturers follow suit here. ”Advanced Sharpness” selectively enhances edges in the image, and “Dynamic contrast” and “Dynamic backlight” control the white level and backlight intensity in an attempt to produce a punchier image (at the expense of stability), and are better disabled. There is also a subtle MPEG Artefact Reduction control.
Backing up a level, we have “PC Mode”. This is an important option for image quality. Many HDTVs are coming with “Game Mode” or “PC Mode” options, the primary use of which is to cut out extraneous processing and avoid input lag. Most extraneous processing is just that – extraneous; unnecessary for those of us interested in high quality video, so these controls are often worth turning on even if you have no interest in using a computer with the display. In this case, “PC Mode” turns off any sharpening, overscan, motion estimation, and chroma degradation. With “PC Mode” on, the TV processes the coloured components of the picture in full resolution (4:4:4 sampling); and it avoids a colour misalignment (Y/C Delay) issue that exists normally. Fortunately, turning “PC Mode” on did not impair the TV's ability to deliver smooth results from 24p sources (some computer-centric modes are based around the normal PC rate of 60hz and cause problems, but not here).
For video content, the TV did a somewhat decent job of smoothing jagged diagonals, but they were still visible for the most part. Finally, scaling was decent, but not exceptional: fine details were a little soft, but there was also no excessive ringing.
With 1080p HD content, I made sure that there was no distortion going on. When the TV is not in “PC Mode”, very high frequencies can become distorted and “busy”, however as usual, “PC Mode” sorts this out. Also, there's the aforementioned Y/C Delay (colour bleed), which, again, PC Mode sorts out. In this configuration, there were no Luma or Chroma bandwidth limitations, so the entire picture was reaching the screen.
In its default, processing-heavy mode, the 32PFL7404H lags by an eye-watering 180ms! That's not a typo – one hundred and eighty milliseconds! Fortunately, enabling “PC Mode” cuts this ridiculous figure to a much more reasonable 30ms, which is perfectly suitable for almost all gaming.
After calibration, with Contrast (which controls the Backlight on this screen) set to 85, power consumption measured 99 watts.
The fairly accurate Greyscale and Colour did help the image's appeal, but these characteristics, while very important, cannot make up for limited contrast. Still, on the plus side, 24p content from Blu-ray Disc played back without judder, and when correctly configured, the TV was showing every drop of detail present in the source without any degradation (well, except for when the somewhat blurry movement – this is an LCD, after all).
- 4 HDMI inputs is more than usual
- Device-driven on screen display is good for ease of use
- Built-in speakers better than many other displays
- PC Mode allows user to disable unwanted processing
- 24p input handled correctly
- Black level is lacking, robs picture of depth, especially in darker environments
- No 3D Colour Management System for picture fine-tuning
- Menus are slow to react, EPG is especially tiring
Philips 7404 (32PFL7404H) LCD TV Review
If you somehow land up with one, the 32PFL7404H isn't a terrible display and would do the trick in a non-critical viewing environment such as a bedroom. My biggest concerns with it aren't necessarily confined to one area - it's just that better LCD displays can be had for less money.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
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