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Philips 17PF9945- My Review

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by tartan_guru, Nov 17, 2003.

  1. tartan_guru

    tartan_guru
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    Thought I'd post a quick review of my experience with the Philips 17PF9945- I hope that it will help anyone who is contemplating buying one of these!
    I work in broadcast and as such I am rather sensitive to video artifacts. For over a year I had been watching Freeview on a JVC 28" widescreen CRT, however whilst the image performance of the set was more than acceptable, I had major issues with the geometry.
    I thus had my heart set on a flat panel, and had begun demoing a number of LCD and plasma displays. However I had failed to appreciate how badly MPEG2 compression artifacts would show up on screens of this size and resolution, particularly at my domestic viewing distance of only 2.5m (small rooms are one of the things you have to accept living in London!). Since most of my viewing is of broadcast material rather than DVD, which tends to be of a much lower bitrate than DVD (an issue which is compounded when watching DTT recordings on my TIVO due to the two MPEG encodes), I decided against a large screen TV.
    My search then moved towards smaller screens, and after much deliberation with my girlfriend, we decided that a 17" widescreen LCD was probably the best compromise between screen size/cost and performance.
    After much investigation, I dwindled my shortlist down to two screens:- Sony KLV17HR and Philips 17PF9945 both available at around the £800 mark.
    I finally decided on the Philips after I discovered that it had DCDi, although this feature is completely un-advertised for the European model (unlike the US model) and isn't even mentioned in the somewhat flimsy manual (12 pages of english opposed to the 70 or so in the US one!).
    Initial impressions:-
    Hooking up my Pace DTT box via RGB, I was mildly impressed with the image, but it was clear that some sort of excessive digital procesing was taking place, causing unacceptable levels of image lag and smearing. I soon discovered the "Active Control" setting, and once turned off, the clarity of the image improved ten fold and all of the lag and smearing vanished. I later discovered that active control is optimised for reducing noise in analogue terrestrial signals- and is quite effective in my brief experiment (I haven't watched analogue TV for years!!)
    After much tweaking with the contrast/brightness and particularly the sharpness controls (turned off completely-not really necessary with component video), I have an excellent picture and I have even come to accept the low contrast range.
    The DCDi de-interlacing is excellent, particularly with film based sources where the increased resolution resulting form the 2:2 pulldown is clearly visible. It is very strange going back to the 14" Sony CRT in our bedroom as the 50Hz flicker is now highly distracting.
    I initially had lip-sync issues, however I discovered by accident that the phono outputs on the set have the appropriate delay (another feature undocumented by Philips) thus the problem was solved.
    Due to the high resolution of the set, compression artifacts are visible but my eye is too seduced by the quality of the picture to notice most of the time.
    Conclusion:
    I am bowled over by the picture quality of this set. Yes, the contrast could be improved, but watching Enterprise on this set is quite a cinematic experience, despite the small screen size- no doubt down to the DCDi.
    Philips are unable to tell me whether the European version of the unit will accept a HD signal through the VGA or scart sockets. My only source of HD is an Xbox- as soon as my component lead arrives I will try this out (via a YUV to RGB converter).
     
  2. Londonner

    Londonner
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    Hi

    I came across this LCD TV today and am thinking of buying it.

    My primary usage for it will be:

    1) NTSC Gamecube running either via RGB scart or via VGA (latter using, the official Nintendo 'modded' cable from www.goldenshop.com) thereby exploiting the GC's progressive scan feature

    2) Watching terrestrial TV; possibly running an external Freeview box

    3) Watching movies in PC mode

    I'm therefore very interested in how you got on using the X-Box on it in prog scan mode.

    Also, this appears to be absolutely crucial with this model, I'm looking for the one with the component inputs - is this only available in the USA, or is there somewhere in Europe that I can buy it from?

    Where did you get yours from?

    Cheers
     
  3. tartan_guru

    tartan_guru
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    Hi,

    I got mine from Amazon for £670. I did think about the component version, but since most of my viewing is off air, I plumped for the scart version so that I would get the auto widescreen switching.
    Sadly I have not been able to test progressive/HD support with the x-box yet as the component cable only arrived this morning.

    Obviously, the european screen is unable to natively accept component input as it only has RGB scart.
    My screen did however (rather strangely) come with a sheet showing the system diagrams. It would appear that the euro & US models share the same screen and scaler components. It would be fair to deduce that the main difference between the two models is that the US model uses the YUV input to the scaler chip whilst the euro model has an additional stage to do the composite/ RGB conversion to YUV (I say deduce as i only have the sheet for the Euro model). I attempted to test this by using a CPC RGB-YUV converter. Coverting RGBS to YUV resulted in a stable picture, although the picture was green (which is what you would expect as the screen was expecting RGB). This demonstrates that the screen is able to decode both composite sync and sync on Y.
    Once I have the x-box compont lead I am going to try both progressive and HD modes using the following cofiguration:-

    XBOX (YUV) ---> CPC converter (YUV-RGBS or RGsB)--->LCD (RGBS or RGsB)

    I am hoping that the RGB-YUV conversion in the screen is largely passive and that it will pass progressive and HDTV through to the scaler chip. In theory this should work for both 50 HZ and 60Hz (Pal and Ntsc) although I believe that the xbox is only able to output 60 Hz via component.
    If the Scart input does not work then I plan to fall back on the VGA socket. Via a CPC scart sync separator, I have already confirmed that the screen will not accept interlaced PAL/ NTSC via VGA (screen displays a message saying that it does not support the resolution).

    I am however, confident that NTSC progressive and 60Hz 720p and 1080i resultions should work as they are very close to computer VGA resolutions. I am not so sure about about 50Hz Pal resolutions as LCD's that support 50Hz are fairly rare and my iBook's VGA output won't go that low to test it.

    To test the VGA input I plan on using the following configuration:-

    Xbox (YUV) --> CPC (YUV- RGBS) --> CPC (RGBS-RGBHV) --> LCD (VGA RGBHV)

    Regardless of the results of my experimentation, I suspect that you will be fine if you use the gamecubes VGA output, or if you watch videos via a PC. I'm not a great gamer, but the screen refresh rate seems fine for gaming with no visible image lag. I was infact planning of eventually setting up a HTPC to watch DIVX (which I currently use the Xbox with XBMP to do) and possibly view Euro 1080 when it launches.

    I am hoping to have a play tomorrow and will post my results.

    Regards
     
  4. paulr

    paulr
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    Where is the cheapest place to buy this.
    I looked at one today and am seriously thinking about it.
     

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