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Philips 32PFL7404 review

Philips' 32" HDTV is a pared down set with plenty of quality where it counts

Our Verdict

Not quite reference-standard, but this versatile and dependable LCD TV with 100Hz is still very good

For

  • Easy to use
  • No blur
  • Good contrast
  • Lots of detail
  • Cinematic realism

Against

  • Flickers using frame insertion

Those following Philips' meteoric rise up the TV charts this year will know that this 32-in set, at £700 (or less if you search online) is one tempting prospect. But while it's packed with top technology such as 100Hz (to reduce blur) and HD Natural Motion (to get rid of judder from Blu-ray), a few features have been given the boot.

Features

It is a shame that the 32PFL7404 only has Pixel Precise HD instead of the latest Perfect Pixel HD picture processing that's so impressed us on recent high-end sets. A lite version of its bigger brother it may be, (there's no Perfect Contrast or Perfect Colour), but it's basically the same.

The main success of Perfect Pixel HD is HD Natural Motion, which is included on this set. By inserting predicted video frames, the system is capable of creating super-smooth and often dizzyingly realistic pictures, primarily from Blu-ray discs.

Philips 32pfl7404 front

Despite that, there is evidence that the 32PFL7404 is a budget set, at least by Philips' standards. Absent is internet connectivity, either wired or wireless, as well as Ambilight – although a remnant of that light show so loved by Philips can be seen on the 32PFL7404; a trademark plastic hood surrounds the screen, although it's really designed to catch the Ambilight LEDs. It seems redundant here and needlessly clutters the frame.

Inserting a memory stick of digital files is pleasingly fruitful; embedded software is capable of playing MP3 music, JPEG photos plus MP4 and AVI video files. Helpfully, the set only lists titles of files it can actually play, alongside a thumb-nailed preview.

Ease of use

While not as comprehensive as other models in Philips' canon, there's a good selection of picture settings with which to experiment. The Pixel Precise HD menu includes settings for HD Natural Motion; 100Hz Clear LCD and dynamic sharpness, contrast, backlight and colour enhancement.

The onscreen menu system on the 32PFL7404 is impressively simple. A 'Home' screen includes shortcuts to digital TV, the USB reader and settings, and you can add icons to any input you choose, complete with labelling such as Blu-ray and games.

The remote plays its part in this easy life, with a dedicated 'Home' button alongside the play/ff/rw keys for USB video and a Blu-ray player, plus shortcuts to picture and sound settings. It's flimsier than most Philips remotes, but it's typically functional and remains a class above most of its rivals.

Philips 32pfl7404 remote

Setting up Freeview channels is a cinch; the set tunes them all in within a couple of minutes. There's a simple eight-day EPG and a 'Watch TV' icon on the 'Home' screen makes this commonly used function easy to access.

Picture

Scenes from our Blu-ray test discs do reveal some impressive black levels that help to create extra realism. However, there's a modicum of picture noise in dark areas, though it's never serious and nightclub scenes from Trainspotting on Blu-ray remain unusually clear.

While very effective at removing the irritating 24p judder so endemic to the Blu-ray format, and adding incredible depth to what are always super-clean and highly detailed pictures, HD Natural Motion does go a bit too far on the 32PFL7404.

The side effects are costly; flickering around moving parts of the picture gets more distracting on this set than on Philips' pricier TV.

Even with the processing set to minimum, a test scene from Trainspotting highlights the problem. As Renton looks through his binoculars, flicker surrounds the park's joggers, while Sick Boy's waving rifle is obscured by similar artefacts and some blur.

The infamous bar brawl scene also reveals the positive and negative sides of the TV's processing. As Begby holds court, the camera pans back and an almost 3D-like scene is created, though his jerky head movements are plagued by flicker.

Philips 32pfl7404 side

Problems aside, HD Natural Motion is occasionally worth persevering with, although the 32PFL7404 has plenty of other skills. Its 100Hz Clear LCD feature gets rid of blur; there's hardly a trace of it even during high-octane scenes, such as the movie's fast-paced intro sequence.

Sound

The 32PFL7404's sound quality isn't a patch on bigger sets from Philips, but there's plenty of clarity to both sound effects and dialogue, as well as a useful 'pretend' surround sound option that does improve the ambience of movies.

Value

While it's a more basic offering with less star quality, it's arguably more proficient where it counts, more polished in terms of usability, and more solidly made than other brands at this price.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeLCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Digital TunerDVB-T
Number of HDMI Ports4
Number of SCART Interfaces2
Product Family7000
Brand NamePhilips
Screen Size81.3 cm (32")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle176°
Vertical Viewing Angle176°
Analog TunerPAL, SECAM, NTSC
USBYes
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)11.80 kg
RMS Output Power20 W
VGAYes
S-VideoYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
ColourGlossy Black
Brightness500 cd/m²
Comb Filter3D Y/C
Sound SystemSurround Sound
Product Series7000
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesChannel Labeling, Favorite Channel Selection, Teletext, Picture in Picture, Auto Program
ManufacturerPhilips Electronics
Product Model32PFL7404H
Product Name32PFL7404H 32" LCD TV
Manufacturer Part Number32PFL7404H
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.philips.co.uk
Marketing Information

Featuring the stunning pixel precise HD and fantastic invisible sound, enjoy the pleasure of the movies in your living room. This full HD 1080p display combined with a super slim design, ensures you're always part of the action.

Package Contents
  • 32PFL7404H LCD TV
  • Tabletop Swivel Stand
  • Power Cord
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Certificate
  • Remote Control
  • Batteries for Remote Control
Response Time3 ms
Weight (Approximate)9.80 kg