Test Bench: Philips 42PFL7432D 42-inch LCD HDTV Page 2

I was generally impressed with the solidity of the image on this HDTV, especially with film-originated material, which did not suffer any obvious exaggeration of noise or the sparkly, "busy" quality that in the past has flagged for me that I was watching an LCD flat-panel. But I did detect some video processing issues. One was that, for reasons unknown, the Philips simply did not recognize 1080i signals via HDMI from our Sencore 403 video generator, a fairly popular industry tool that has never exhibited this symptom with any other TV. It did accept 1080i via HDMI from our Scientific Atlanta cable box and both a Panasonic Blu-ray and Toshiba HD DVD player, which enabled me to use disc-based high-def test patterns to check performance on 1080i HDMI input signals (see below). The set had no trouble taking 1080i signals from our generator via analog component in or 720p via HDMI or component.

Another cause for concern came when the set showed image instability on the deinterlacing tests on the Blu-ray and HD-DVD versions of the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark disc. These torture tests are designed to tax the TV's ability to maintain detail and stability while deinterlacing 1080i signals. But at the same time it failed these tests, the set readily passed the disc's various jaggies tests for deinterlacing, as well as the film-clip portion of the film-mode deinterlacing test (this involves a slow pan across stadium seats, which looked unusually smooth and solid). The set also passed the film-mode 2:3 pulldown compensation test on the standard DVD version of the HQV disc. Given these results, it's possible that some evidence of image jitter or moiré might be occasionally evident on certain scenes in some 1080i program material with this TV, but I never saw anything distracting or objectionable in several hours of HD cable viewing. And to put this in further perspective, it's not unusual for some very good TVs to have trouble with the Benchmark deinterlacing tests, including the Samsung LNT-5265F LCD we reviewed in September alongside this Philips.

As noted, the TV fully resolved 1080i and 720p static test patterns via HDMI as delivered by our high-def disc player and HDTV signal generator, respectively. But 1080i and 720p patterns from the generator delivered via the analog component-video inputs were slightly softer and showed some mild noise in the finest (highest-frequency) portions of the pattern.

Picture uniformity on full-field gray test patterns of various brightness was pretty good for an LCD, most of which seem to suffer from some degree of inconsistency of brightness across the screen, mostly in dark scenes. Typically this is evident as the central portion of the screen being either slightly lighter or darker than the left and right thirds, but the Philips displayed an unusual pattern on the darkest patterns (30 IRE and below) in which top-right and bottom-left corners were a bit brighter than the center. It wasn't terribly noticeable even on the test patterns, but, again, it's possible that evidence of this may be visible on certain dark movie scenes. Overscan, the portion of the image cut off at the screen edge, measured 0% in the TV's pixel-for-pixel mode and 3% in the widescreen mode.

Even with the Philips's noise-reduction menu option turned off, it did a better job than most TVs in cleaning up the noisy film clips provided as a test on the Silicon Optix HQV standard-def test DVD. This ability to process and tame 480i/p signals was also evident in cable broadcasts, which generally looked pretty good out of the gate compared with their appearance on many sets I've tested. Turning on the noise-reduction option further cleaned up the noisiest signals with only minimal loss of detail, and the circuit didn't appear to have any notable affect on already-clean HDTV signals. The set's MPEG noise-reduction option, however, did virtually nothing for mosquito noise, the compression-related halos that sometimes appear around the edges of objects in compressed digital video (such as DVDs, satellite and digital cable transmissions, and digital TV broadcasts).

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